I love books and I love to read books that transport you around the world, in this case to Ontario. When a place becomes a character in a book it brings that place to life.
The province of Ontario is the second largest in Canada, and it is home to Ottawa, the national capital, and Toronto, the country’s most populous city.
Ontario’s most popular attractions are the well-known Niagara Falls, the Lakeside Park Carousel at Catharine’s, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, and Parliament Hill and Buildings in Ottawa. In addition, the province offers great outdoor recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, and skiing.
If you want to transport yourself directly to Ontario through the pages of a book, these are the best novels set in Ontario that will take you there without leaving home. Below you’ll find a list of the best books set in Ontario, spanning various genres.
For books that take place all around Canada, I have another list of the best books set in Canada.
Grab your favorite Ontario books here:
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Novels and Fiction set in Ontario
Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
Four children living in northern Ontario struggle to stay together after their parents die in an accident.
This is the story of how a family faces a sudden and massive bereavement that turns their world upside down from one moment to the next. Kate Morrison, the third child, narrates the tale in flashback mode, twenty years later, looking back on their childhood from her now removed life in Toronto.
At first, they are divided up among relatives, but the plan changes when Luke, her older brother, gives up his teaching college scholarship to get a job and try to keep them together. But now, through adult eyes, Kate sees the struggles, heartbreak, and hardship in the family.
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
It’s a story about WWI but from the perspective of two Canadian Indigenous young men.
When Xavier Bird returns from WWI addicted to morphine and wounded, his aunt Niska embarks with him on a three-day journey towards their home in the Northern Ontario bush. During the trip, Xavier’s memories of his time in the war and Niska’s account of Xavier as a child are intertwined.
It is an exciting book that you will not want to stop reading until you reach the last page.
Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright
It tells the story of two Canadian sisters living vastly different lives in the mid-1930s: 30-something Clara is a schoolteacher in a small Ontario town, and Nora, younger sister, heads down to New York City to enter the exciting new world of radio acting.
While Nora embarks on a glamorous career as a radio soap opera star, Clara, a strong and independent-minded woman, struggles to observe the traditional boundaries of a small and tight-knit community without relinquishing her dreams of love, freedom, and adventure.
This is a moving story of two sisters and their life experiences on the eve of World War II. It is a tribute to friendship and sisterhood, romance, and redemption.
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
The book chronicles the growth of Del Jordan, a girl in rural Ontario in the 1940s, but when she begins to spend more time in the city, she surrounds herself with women: her mother, her mother’s houseguest, and her best friend.
Through these unwitting mentors and in her own encounters with sex, birth, and death, Del explores the bright and dark sides of womanhood.
Although it is classified as a novel, this book is a collection of short stories about the same character, Del.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
With this story, Atwood takes you back in time to the 1930s and 1940s.
At the center of the story is her fascinating narrator, Iris, whose memoirs are mixed with press clippings about her family and a book also called “The Blind Assassin,” the masterpiece for which her sister Laura is remembered. Iris, who is now an old woman, decides to tell her life story and in it, the war, the secrets, the conspiracies, the loves, and the revenge marked the destiny of the Chase Family.
To find out what is hidden behind “The Blind Assassin” you just have to enjoy reading this wonderful book by Margaret Atwood.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This story tackles a post-apocalyptic world in which a super flu has wiped out the majority of the population and explores how our world would change in the face of a major collapse.
After an unexpected deadly virus ends humanity as we know it, where only a few isolated settlements remain of those who have managed to survive, a small group of actors and musicians have an amazing initiative: to create the Traveling Symphony, in order to keep alive a remnant of humanity.
It is a captivating suspense novel that will make us reflect on the life we lead.
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
The novel’s protagonist is Elaine Risley, a fairly renowned painter who, at the age of 50, is summoned to Toronto, the city where she lived for much of her childhood, adolescence, and youth, for a retrospective exhibition of her work organized by a gallery of art.
This trip will be a challenge for Elaine and will be the perfect excuse to look back on her life, accept herself, and release disturbing and painful memories of her.
Non-fiction books about Ontario
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
Chris Hadfield was a Canadian astronaut who dreamed of flying into space when Canada did not have a space program. Today, he has accumulated several days away from this earth and several decades of preparation and effort to carry it forward.
In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible.
Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks, and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement and happiness.
Neglected No More by André Picard
When COVID-19 spread through seniors’ residences across Canada, especially in Ontario and Quebec, the impact was horrific.
Along with widespread illness and a devastating death toll, the situation exposed a decades-old crisis: the inhumane conditions, overworked and underpaid staff, and lack of oversight, that is the systemic neglect towards elders, a highly vulnerable population with complex needs and little ability to advocate for themselves.
In this book, health reporter André Picard reveals the full extent of the crisis in eldercare and offers an urgently needed prescription to fix a broken system.
Saga Boy by Antonio Michael Downing
Antonio Michael Downing wrote a memoir that will get under your skin and stay there.
Raised by his grandmother in the lush rainforest of southern Trinidad, Downing, at age 11, is uprooted to Canada when she dies. He and his older brother are sent to live with his stern, evangelical Aunt Joan, in Wabigoon, a tiny northern Ontario community where they are the only black children in the town.
In this wilderness, he begins his journey as an immigrant minority, using music and performance to transform himself.
Saga Boy is a heart-wrenching but moving story of an immigrant boy who overcomes adversity and abandonment to reclaim his black identity and embrace a rich heritage.
Children’s books set in Ontario
The Secret Life of Owen Skye by Alan Cumyn
Middle child Owen and his two brothers live in small-town Ontario with their parents and uncle and have a knack for getting themselves into ridiculous spots of trouble.
Owen’s days are magical and full of adventures with his brothers as they observe the curious world of adults and ponder the secret mysteries of life, death, and love.
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
It follows two dogs and a cat whose owners have gone on a trip and left them with a family friend. Sure they were left behind, the animals escape and journey home by themselves.
Together, the three house pets faced starvation, exposure, and wild forest animals to make their way home to the family they love.
What Are Your Favorite Books Set In Ontario?
Have you read any of these books set in Ontario? Do you have any favorite books set in Ontario that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
Start with this list of the very best travel adventure books. It includes great reads that will fuel your wanderlust and have you staying up late to finish them. You should also check out the following series of book lists set in other North American destinations:
Know someone else who wants to read books set in Ontario? Then please pin this post.