I came across a link to Project Bookmark Canada recently in the Goodreads CanadianContent discussion group. It is a charitable organization that is creating a “trail” of poster sized plaques or markers that contain excerpts from Canadian books or poems. The markers are signboards and are placed on the physical spot where the excerpt from the book actually takes place. The excerpt on the marker will be the one where that location is referenced. There are and will be locations all across Canada. It’s quite a cool idea and anything that promotes Canadian Literature or “CanLit” is a good thing.
Currently, there are 17 across Canada. It means you could, if you wanted, visit the locations and make a point of trying to find them all should you find yourself traveling through the various locations. It’ll be easier if you’re in Ontario, more specifically, souther Ontario because 13 of them are in Ontario locations, most along the lakes from Kingston to the US border by Niagara. That’s a bit disappointing but let’s hope that the future will bring funding for more widespread bookmark markers.
There is one in my province of Nova Scotia at Port Hastings visitor centre, just across the Canso Causeway in Cape Breton Island. This commemorates No Great Mischief by Alistair Macleod” and was put in place in 2015. We’re hoping to go on a road trip there in the fall so I will make sure we stop and have a look and a photo and I might even try to get my hands on a copy of the book from the library! There’s a marker in Vancouver for The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy and that’s another location I’ll be visiting later in the year so it’s going on my list, too!
It’s even more fun if you have actually read the book. I only recognized one book that I’ve read, Garbo Laughs by Elizabeth Hay. It’s marker is in Ottawa. There’s also one in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and the only other non-Ontario location is in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They started up in 2007 and erected the first bookmark in 2009 in Toronto, at the Bloor Street Viaduct, referenced in “In the Skin of a Lion” by Michael Ondaatje. The most recent one was just a few months ago in the gardens of Castle Loma, Toronto as depicted in a children’s book, The Cat and the Wizard by Dennis Lee.
They have a form on the website to suggest a location and book and I have thought about one for Halifax, where I live. Halifax is famous for the Halifax Explosion in 1917 and there have been several books written with that theme. One of the earliest is Hugh McLennan’s Barometer Rising. Another book I read recently is Tides of Honour by Geneveive Graham. I would like to find a spot that either of those books mentions specifically and suggest it. I have some research to do! They operate on donations with a lot of volunteers as well.
Their website defines their mission statement as:
Project Bookmark Canada is a one-of-a-kind, Canadian cultural innovation. Though many countries have tangible tributes to literature and writers, no other initiative in the world creates a permanent series of site-specific literary exhibits using text from imagined stories that take place in real locations.
Our vision is to blaze a Canadian literary trail connecting hundreds of Bookmarks in cities, towns and other areas across the country.
Word by word and kilometre by kilometre, Project Bookmark Canada is enhancing reading culture in Canada, strengthening our sense of ourselves, and using literature to link local communities to nation-wide conversations.