Read Kanata Online

Authors: Don Gillmor

Tags: #Historical


BOOK: Kanata
6.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Praise for

“With the bravura of E.L. Doctorow and the elemental force of Cormac McCarthy,
captures the heartbeat of a continent, in a language as visceral and raw as the landscape and lives it chronicles. This is history made flesh, unerring in its portrait of how we make history and are made by it.”

—Nino Ricci, author of
The Origin of Species

“Don Gillmor may well have written ‘The Great Canadian Novel' here. In casting the country as the main character, in tracking Canada through the story and bloodlines of explorer David Thompson, he has shown Canadians their country as never before seen or imagined. Brilliantly written,
is a breathtaking achievement—and one that should bury, forever, the ridiculous notion that Canadian history is dull. It is not; under Don Gillmor's hand, it is a page-turner.”

—Roy MacGregor, author of
Canadians: A Portrait of a Country and Its People

“Unforgettable [and] stunning … Gillmor has such a firm grip on his factual material and the story he's created to link those facts together.
should be required reading for immigrants to Canada, but the beauty of the book is that it will also appeal to anyone looking for a good yarn rich with detail.”

Edmonton Journal

“Gillmor's descriptive writing sings of colour. He creates vivid portraits of a young land endeavouring to reach maturity, its inhabitants challenged by natural disasters,
wars and natural disputes, but constantly struggling not to be defeated … it sure brings Canadian history to life.”

Guelph Mercury

“Don Gillmor dares to write nothing less than the history of the nation in novel form, with a legendary explorer up front … Gillmor['s] style—direct, wry and dramatically astute—might most reasonably be described as Pierre Berton by way of Don DeLillo and HBO.”

Toronto Star

“An ambitious Canadian novel … Fine and demanding reading.”

—Randy Boyagoda,
National Post

“[A] snappily written, fast-paced piece of historical fiction.”

The Globe and Mail

“You certainly can't fault Don Gillmor for lack of ambition … [
is a] maple-flavoured match for that Great American Novel, John Dos Passos's
. (And to give Gillmor extra points for audacity, he aims to do in one book what took Dos Passos a trilogy) … A compelling work …
will make you feel a little less lost when you think of your place in Canada.”

Winnipeg Free Press



is the author of
Canada: A People's History
The Desire of Every Living Thing
. The winner of nine National Magazine Awards, he is a frequent contributor to
The Walrus, Toronto Life,
The Globe and Mail
. He lives in Toronto.



Canada: A People's History, Volume I

Canada: A People's History, Volume II

The Desire of Every Living Thing

I Swear by Apollo


The Boy Who Ate the World

Sophie and the Sea Monster

Yuck, A Love Story

The Christmas Orange

The Fabulous Song

When Vegetables Go Bad

The Trouble with Justin


~ A Novel ~

Don Gillmor


Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0745, Auckland, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in Viking Canada hardcover by Penguin Group (Canada), a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 2009

Published in this edition, 2010

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (WEB)

Copyright © Don Gillmor, 2009

First epigraph reprinted with the permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., from UNDERWORLD by Don DeLillo. Copyright © 1997 by Don DeLillo. All rights reserved.

Second epigraph reprinted with the permission of University of Toronto Press Incorporated, from “Deconstructing the Map,”
26(2), pp. 1–20, 1989, by J.B. Harley.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This book contains certain accounts of conversations and events involving historical figures. Where necessary, facts and conversations involving such persons may have been altered.
is not intended to provide a historically accurate memorial but is a work of fiction involving historical events and people.

Manufactured in Canada.


Gillmor, Don

Kanata : a novel / Don Gillmor.

ISBN 978-0-14-305442-9

1. Canada—History—Fiction.   I. Title.

PS8563.I59K35 2010   C813'.54   C2010-905723-6

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Visit the Penguin Group (Canada) website at

Special and corporate bulk purchase rates available; please see
or call 1-800-810-3104, ext. 2477 or 2474


: Iroquoian for village or settlement,
thought to be the origin of the word

“Longing on a large scale is what makes history.”

Don DeLillo,

“Maps are slippery customers.”

J.B. Harley, “Deconstructing the Map”




The light leaked through red cirrus clouds over the eastern hills as two hawks floated in elliptic descent. To the south a large bowl rose to a narrow ridge defined by the millennial curves of a stream. The Blood had stampeded buffalo off the cliffs into the creek below, their thundering weight suddenly pointless. The Rocky Mountains were visible to the west, and the expansive sky evoked a sense of possibility, the hand of God on the tiller here in the tranquil lee of the oil industry. The wind rushed at the kitchen window where Michael Mountain Horse sat, percussive gusts punching the glass.

When they were children he and his brother Stanford used to wake early to fish the Jumping Pound Creek. It was a good trout stream but during spring runoff some years catfish ran as thick as logjams, their fat, prehistoric bodies filling the creek where it narrowed. One day in May,
Michael and Stanford piled rocks to narrow the creek even further then stood and swatted the fish out of the water like bears. They were slimy and firm and each swat had to be timed perfectly or the fish would slide by. Filled with adolescent purpose, they found a rhythm, the simple destructive fact of being able to do it a justification. After an hour dozens of catfish lay on the stones beside the water, a handful still tossing morbidly. The largest was two feet long, its heavy, monstrous face staring up. Neither of them cared to eat the spongy flesh; it was simply malevolent sport.

The creek was fed from glaciers in the Rockies and their feet were quickly numbed. When they got out of the water, the air stung the wet raw skin. They lay on a large rock that slanted toward the sun warming themselves, and finally slept. When Michael woke, Stanford was sitting up, surveying the fish littered on the stones below, magpies hopping delicately, taking the eyes, the most accessible (and shiniest) part. He remembered Stanford's face, its look of disappointment.

He and Stanford shared a bedroom and Michael recalled the door opening one night and their father standing there in a cloud of gin and they instinctively closed their eyes pretending to be asleep. Michael opened his eyes to slits and watched their father hovering over them, breathing heavily through his nose like a horse on a cold day, looking down, his face a puzzled wound, as if he wasn't sure what he had created and was examining them for clues.

It was Stanford who found their father, a nine-year-old boy led by his dog finding his bloody, peaceful form in the damp grass. He looked like something that had fallen from the heavens, which was true more or less. The dog licked his
ruined face and Stanford just stood there for fifteen minutes, an odd farewell.

ichael's Thursday morning class stared at him, each pudding face empty of conviction. Baxter was curling her white blond hair with a pencil. Hector Grayson sat stonily, and August Purvue had his usual air of distraction. Billy Whitecloud's seat was empty, an absence that filled the room. How did he fly out of that car? Michael considered the stories that had surfaced: unreliable threads, rumours, bold uninformed certitude: “I told you. Guy's crazy. Didn't I say it.”

BOOK: Kanata
6.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Hemlock 03: Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock
Apricot brandy by Lynn Cesar
Ward Against Death by Card, Melanie
Billionaire's Pet 3 by Christa Wick
The Ghost at Skeleton Rock by Franklin W. Dixon
The Fugitive by Massimo Carlotto, Anthony Shugaar
Picture Not Perfect by Lois Lavrisa
Fludd: A Novel by Hilary Mantel