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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  91 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
From the author of Canada: A People's History comes a novel of Canada written in the tradition of such great epics as The Source and Sarum. was inspired by the life of David Thompson, a Welshman who came to the New World at the age of fifteen, and went on to become its greatest cartographer. He walked or paddled 80,000 miles and mapped 1.9 million square miles, cataloguin ...more
Paperback, 509 pages
Published 2010 by Penguin Canada (first published 2009)
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May 19, 2011 rated it liked it
The book that tried too hard. 3 stars might be deceiving but four seems misleading. Don Gillmor is an excellent author. He really impressed me with the dimension he gave historical characters, I think he has a real gift there. He is very good at making supposedly "dull, Canadadian History" come alive. Alas it's the scope of this novel that holds it back. I would have read a whole novel (of this size) just about Thompson and then maybe follow it up with another generation and so forth. Anyways, I ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
Don Gillmor presents Kanata as something of an epic; scratch that, he presents it as the Canadian epic, noting in his author’s remarks that “chief among the many challenges of historical fiction is finding a way to condense a huge volume of material into a coherent narrative” (447).

It isn’t a coherent narrative; he hasn’t condensed a huge volume of material. Instead the novel picks and chooses choice moments and figures from Canadian history (all men, all either politicians or military heroes) a
Emily-Jane Orford
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a great way to read about Canadian history. Gillmor has taken his main character, Michael Mountain Horse, he personifies the country and its vibrant history. Michael leads us on a history tour, which he can trace back to his great-ancestor, David Thompson, a Welshman who mapped the western regions of this rugged country. Michael, a history teacher, teaches us as if we were his students, using his First Nations art of storytelling. Part of the story is being told at the bedside of one of his ...more
Parts of this book deserved a rating of four, but the thread that holds the narrative together was not always present in the story. Mainly told from the point of view of Michael Mountain Horse, a fictional descendant of map-maker David Thompson, the story occasionally meanders off to flashes of history as seen from the eyes of Sir John A., Mackenzie King, Diefenbaker, et al. Unfortunately, I found these side notes to be more interesting than the main character's story, which never really went an ...more
Luis Gurley
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is fair and enjoyable work by Don Gillmor. Sort of an Epic historical Novel where the author, through the life and experiences of fictional and historical characters, attempts to have a snapshot on the building of Canada as Country. It presents some context and a road map that could be used as guide to introduce oneself into Canada history. The reader must be cautious about the veracity and the chronological order of events which are a mix of historical truth and fictional adaptations in or ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I am a fan of historical fiction and was very pleased with this ambitious portrayal of the evolution of Canada. Beginning at the onset of Canada's colonial period and moving through many of the major events that shaped our country, Kanata delivers an exciting portrayal of a country that is still evolving and growing. Gillmor effectively portrays how global events helped define our country. We united to defend against U.S imperialism, shed our ties to the British during World War I, and grew our ...more
Isabel Brinck
Nov 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Started of really well, but it lost its grip on me somewhere along the way. Maybe it was too ambitious: trying to cover too much ground all at once. It's not so much A story as a series of anecdotes that feel only loosely connected even though the protagonist is often the same person. Plus, it is sometimes in first person, sometimes in the third; sometimes speaking in the present tense (even during anecdotes that are not in the book's present setting), sometimes in the past. I have another hundr ...more
Feb 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: social-studies, teen
Kanata is a good book for engaging advanced teens and adults in learning about Canadian history. The story alternates between the musings of Michael Mountain Horse, a teacher in 1960s Alberta, and episodes of history over the previous 200 years involving his fictional ancestors. As an historian, Gillmor is best when he is dealing with actual historical figures and exploring their lives. He is weaker in his writing of Michael Mountain Horse and his insights into how history can act as a map for o ...more
Lisa Horne
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don't know why, but I just could not get into this book. I have no idea why, it has everything I want in a book: subject matter near and dear to me, an interesting and enigmatic main character, written in an Edward Rutherford-ian style, a great author (he was one of 5 people who did the Canada: A People's History, an AMAZING CBC program and books), and more!
And yet...
It failed to hold my interest.
I'm going to chalk this up to just not being in the mood for this type of book and put it in my "T
Feb 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Well it's a well-written piece of historical fiction. I was just a bit sorry that the title was a bit misleading. I expected it to be about Canadian history which it is, in large part, but it also darts about to other places like Spain and China. I don't know enough about real Canadian history to know whether some of the characters are real or fictional, which reflects worse on me than on the book.
I did like the map themes in the book.
Robert Mackay
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Kanata, a historical novel by Don Gillmor, is an engrossing read published by Viking Canada in 2009. Canada's story is told through the eyes of Michael Mountain Horse, a Blood Indian and great-great-grandson of David Thompson. Thompson, whose story is finally a tragedy, shares these pages along with numerous other Canadians: John A. Macdonald, Norman Bethune, Mackenzie King, and John Diefenbaker among others. Written in a very accessible style; highly recommended.
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
A view of Canadian history/ Canada's coming of age without the Ontario/Quebec centrism of most Canadiana. A real treat for someone who has grown up in the foothills of the Rockies west of Calgary. This is a history of the land I know and the small towns I'm familiar with tied into a national and global history.
Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Not a bad read, but I think it works better if you're into Canadian history and are looking for a "grand scale" history of the country. I was, and it served it's purpose. But characterization is thin, and the message is a bit muddied.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Canada is the central character of this book. This book is quite a good, brief history of the nation and some of its major players. David Thompson's great-great-grand children play more of a role in the book that he did, although David was the cartographer that mapped Canada.
May 05, 2011 rated it liked it
I had a hard time getting into the story and keeping all the characters straight, as the author switched back and forth very quickly. But it was good. Really the only time I found Candian history interesting.
Feb 20, 2010 rated it liked it
A very enjoyable book covering Canadian history (after Europeans arrived), through the eyes of a descendant of David Thompson an early explorer who mapped the west. Lots of maps, both real and metaphoric.
Matt Garden
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really good. I found the historical characters in the first half were more compelling and more cohesive than in the second half, but it was all interesting.
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the well written and presented snippets of Canadian history.
Mandy Camus
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Nov 06, 2013
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Jul 02, 2013
Andre Lepine
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Feb 25, 2017
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May 23, 2013
Brian Lesser
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Sep 23, 2011
David G. M. Moore
rated it it was amazing
Jul 07, 2017
Colin Brown
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Jul 23, 2011
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Mar 25, 2014
Andrew Ketel
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Apr 16, 2016
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Feb 20, 2011
Duana Ogden
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Oct 10, 2011
rated it it was ok
Mar 18, 2012
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Author and journalist Don Gillmor was born in Fort Frances, Ontario in 1959 and presently lives in Toronto, Ontario. Don possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Calgary. He has worked for publisher John Wiley & Sons, and has written for a number of magazines including Rolling Stone, GQ, Premiere, and Saturday Night.; where he was made a contributing edi ...more
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