7 Stories Set in Northeastern Ontario to Cozy Up With This Winter

This list of books will keep you entertained throughout the winter while expanding your understanding of Northeastern Ontario and challenging your imagination.

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer up here in Northeastern Ontario, some lament the passing of summer. Others, like me, embrace the excuse to curl up under a quilt and read the winter away.

The only trouble is deciding what to read. A trick that helps me narrow down the options is having a theme and sticking to it: one month it’s science fiction, the next only memoirs. This winter I decided to stick to books set in the region. It turns out it’s incredibly easy to stock up your shelf with a winter’s worth of books written, not to mention set, nearby. It helps that my local used bookstore, Bay Used Books, has a section dedicated to books by local authors.

If you’d like to sample some of the local fare, try starting with one or two of these Northeastern Ontario stories that range from spooky to poetic.

1. The Wintermen (I and II) by Brit Griffin

The first item (which is technically two) on this winter reads list is an especially relevant one: The Wintermen and its sequel The Wintermen II are novels in which climate change has thrown the world into perpetual winter. Brit Griffin sets her post-apocalyptic thriller in Cobalt, Ontario, where she happens to live. You can find her book online, but if you’re making a trip to Cobalt, be sure to check out White Mountain Publications, where you can pick up a copy in person.

2. Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Another wintery-themed read, Waubgeshig Rice’s brand-new Moon of the Crusted Snow is his second novel. The author and journalist, who is based out of Sudbury and Wasauksing First Nation, sets his post-apocalyptic story (yes, another!) in Northern Ontario where a small Anishinaabe community is cut off from the rest of the world as winter nears. The novel follows the chaos as people from the south flee north.

3. The Dependent, By Danielle Daniel

Apocalyptic novels not your style? Then you may prefer Danielle Daniel’s The Dependant. The Sudbury-based author’s memoir about marriage and the military is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. A personal favourite thanks to its raw and relatable portrayal of life and love, The Dependant is one of those ones you won’t be able to put down (seriously, I read it in one day).

4. The City Still Breathing, by Matthew Heiti

In his uniquely Sudbury story, local author and playwright Matthew Heiti tells the strange tale of a body that goes missing and travels around the city, making its way into the lives of 11 people along the way. Part mystery, part portrait of the city, The City Still Breathing is a dark, hard, and poetic look at life in the north.

5. Forty Words for Sorrow, by Giles Blunt

If you’re a fan of crime novels, and specifically, the CTV series Cardinal, you’ll love Forty Words for Sorrow. It’s the first book in Giles Blunt’s Cardinal series, which the show was based on. Blunt was raised in North Bay, and he sets his story is set in a fictional version of the city called Algonquin Bay. You can find this riveting read locally at Allison the Bookman, a lovely, family-friendly bookstore downtown. The best part? If you’re left wanting more, you can read the rest of the series!

6. The Popchuck Chronicles, by Paul Tofinello

Do you have young readers in your house, or enjoy young adult fiction yourself? Then The Popchuck Chronicles might be for you. The three spooky books that make up the chronicles are by Paul Toffanello, who is from Timmins and sets his story there. It follows three 12-year-olds as they head to summer camp, track sinister happenings at their school, and finally head to Massachusetts to learn about the Salem witch trials.

7. North of Dreams, by J.L. Fizzell

And finally, something a little different, a book of poetry for those who enjoy a good verse. J.L. Fizzell is a Timmins-based poet, and North of Dreams is her third book of poetry. Her work is inspired by the North and touches on love, relationships, and mental health, so if you’re someone who experiences the winter blues, you may find yourself relating to some of her writing. If you’re in Timmins looking for something to read, check out Altered Reality (previously called The Book Bin), where they sell new and used books.

So whether you’re looking for something apocalyptic or prefer romance: there’s a regional read for you. These just scratch the surface, so don’t hesitate to visit the local bookstore wherever you happen to live or be visiting in Northeastern Ontario to see what they have in stock.

About Ella Jane Myers

Ella Jane Myers is a freelance writer and editor living in Sudbury, Ontario who thrives on good food, and loves exploring new communities and the great outdoors.

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