COLUMN: Have map will travel

Write what you know becomes write where you know with the Toronto Public Library’s Reading Map.

Write what you know becomes write where you know with the Toronto Public Library’s Reading Map.

In an innovative new initiative, TPL has set out to map novels set in the Toronto area, browsable by neighbourhood (O Yorkville! O Etobicoke!) to find Ray Robertson’s Moody Food, Joy Fielding’s Lost, Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, or Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin.

From Kensington Market’s Courage My Love by Sarah Dearing to Cabbagetown’s Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Toronto comes to life through the novels set on its streets.

The map is interactive, and growing.

Great novels are set all over Canada — including the Kootenays. So why not start our own fiction mapping project?

It’s a little challenging: unlike Big City authors, who clearly set their novels in New York or London, Montreal or Toronto, rural Canadian writers will rename their locations, presumably to protect the innocent—or the guilty.

It’s a smaller world after all.

Up front or thinly disguised, here are a few titles set right here.

Antonia Banyard’s Never Going Back is clearly set in Nelson as it tells the story of a group of friends returning for a memorial — and the recognition of some long-held secrets.

The stories in D. W. Wilson’s Once You Break a Knuckle are all set around and about here, as are about half the stories in Tom Wayman’s Boundary Country.

And The Kootenay Kidnapper by children’s author Eric Wilson describes an abduction at the Chahko Mika Mall.

In the mystery novels In the Shadow of the Glacier and Valley of the Lost, Vicki Delany renames Nelson “Trafalgar”.

Other re-names of familiar places include Deryn Collier’s whodunits Confined Space and Open Secret, set in Creston-like “Kootenay Landing,” and Holley Rubinsky’s Beyond this Point, set in Kaslo-like “Ruth.”

The smelter town of Grace River in Rebecca Hendry’s novel of the same name  is the stand-in for — can you guess? — Trail!

Angie Abdou’s The Canterbury Trail sets a tale of weekend adventurers confronting the wilderness and their own shortcomings  in Coalton—clearly Fernie. And yours truly set Treading Water in “Bear Creek”, but Renata — a once-flourishing community on the Arrow Lakes — is the inspiration.

Of course there are more and you may know them!

Email me at with your Kootenay-set novels (fiction only for now), and let the mapping begin!

Or better yet, go to our Facebook page (search for Nelson Public Library), see the list grow, and add your own. We’ll do something cool around this for Library Month in October (stay tuned).

Of course, there are plenty of non-fiction books that are also about our area.

Local histories and regional books are tremendously important to our understanding of our history, communities, and culture.

They may delve into the past (Rita Moir’s The Third Crop, John Norris’s Historic Nelson, Sylvia Crooks’s Homefront and Battlefront), involve memoirs (Blue Valley by Luanne Armstrong) or current affairs (In the Path of an Avalanche by Vivien Bowers), or even humour (Creston author Dave Perrin’s Don’t Turn Your Back in the Barn, Sparwood author Bobby Hutchinson’s Blue Collar B&B).

Hutchinson, by the way, is a One Book, One Kootenay shortlist author with her hilarious Blue Collar B&B: Adventures in Hospitality.

Find out what happens when a marathon-running, romance-writing, feisty entrepreneur opens a B&B in Sparwood — and lives to tell the tale — at a special OBOK shortlist reading on Tuesday, June 17 at 7 p.m. at the library.

In the Kootenays we’re blessed with books, writers, and a brilliant setting. We’ve got the compass, and we’re working on the map. And here, the plot thickens.

— Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to

Just Posted

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Pacific Insight to lay off part of workforce

The company says it is transferring automotive production to its Mexico facility

Black belt tests on this week at Kootenay Martial Arts

Grandmaster Brenda Sell returns to assist in testing

UPDATED: Four Nelson marijuana dispensaries to remain open after legalization

Nelson’s police chief has no plans to close them down

Nelson candidates debate climate change at forum

Mayoral and council candidates had the chance to speak on five fictional resolutions

VIDEO: Candidates at Nelson election forum

Mayoral candidates joined 18 council candidates for an evening of very short answers

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Baby boomer buba shares heartfelt novel with Okanagan audience

Pauline Daniel will be at Vernon’s Bookland and library Oct. 20

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Most Read