Literary Arts

At the turn of the century, Muskoka was known as Canada’s Literary Summer Capital. The original Reading Circle was established in 1922. The intention of the Reading Circle was to introduce and advance the works of Canadian authors. Chautauqua weeks hosted famous authors of the day such as Bliss Carman, G.D. Roberts, E.J. Pratt and Dorothy Livesay reading from their works, accessible to their readers and discussing issues of the day. Chautauqua provided inspiration and intellectual challenge for its members.

The Reading Circle was organized into four-year cycles where suggested lists of books were given to participants, and lectures and readings would be given to enhance the assigned books. There were formal graduation ceremonies for those who read all the assigned books. Historically the Reading Circle was an extremely important part of the Muskoka Chautauqua, and it continues to be a very active and important aspect of today’s Chautauqua. With the revival of the Muskoka Chautauqua, the reading list developed in 2010 was the first one in 80 years.

Reading Lists


Techumseh – A Drama and Canadian Poems, Charles Mair

A Short History of the Canadian People, George Bryce, M.A. D.D. LL.D.

Messages from Master Minds, J.W.G. Ward

Astronomy for Amateurs

The Canadian Magazine


Builders of the Canadian Commonwealth, George H. Locke

Selections from Sam Slick by Thomas Chandler, ed. Paul A. Wallace

Poems, Isabella Vallancy Crawford, ed. J.W. Garvin

Short Plays by Representative Authors

Canadian Magazine


In the Morning of Times, Charles G.D.Roberts

Lords of the North, Agnes Laut

Canadian Portraits, Adrian Macdonald

William Henry Drummond, John F. McDonald

One Act Plays, Second Series, J.W. Marriott

1927, 1928

The Golden Dog, William Kirby

Little Hearts, Majorie Pickthall

Poems, Archibald Lampman

The Sweet of the Year, Charles G. D.Roberts

Familiar Fields, Peter McArthur


The Summer Before the Storm, Gabriele Wills

Canoe Lake, Roy MacGregor

The Wabeno Feast, Drew Hayden Taylor

Local Library Global Passport, Patrick Boyer

Unlocking the Doors: A woman’s struggle against Intolerance, Eva Olsen

Out of Muskoka, James Bartleman


Theme: “Secrets and Guilt”

Hana’s Suitcase, Karen Levine

The Way The Crow Flies, Ann-Marie MacDonald

Northern Light, Roy MacGregor

The Bishop’s Man, Linden MacIntyre

Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway

A Lifetime of Secrets: A PostSecret Book, Frank Warren


The Hidden World of Huckleberry Rock, Andrew Wagner-Chazalon and Bev McMullen

Room for All of Us, Adrienne Clarkson

John A: The Man Who Made Us, Richard Gwyn

Jeremy’s War 1812, John Ibbitson

Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music … From Hank Snow to the Band, Jason Schneider

Keeper’n Me, Richard Wagamese


Up And Down, Terry Fallis

Navigating Canada’s Health Care: A User Guide, Francesca Grosso

Literary Lapses, Stephen Leacock

The Power of More, Marnie McBean

Healthy Starts Here, Mairlyn Smith

Phoenix: The Life of Norman Bethune, Roderick and Sharon Stewart

Little Ship of Fools, Charlie Wilkins


You Are My Work of Art, Sue DiCicco

Stone Wisdom, Rolland G. Smith

The Soul of Place: Re-imagining Leadership through Nature, Art and Community, Michael Jones

Frontlines, Andrew Wagner-Chazalon


Talking Through Pictures: My Life in Songwriting, Marc Jordan

The Thief’s Journal, Jean Genet

The Beauty of the Husband, a Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos, Anne Carson

The Ballad of Murray McLauchlan: Getting out of here Alive, Murray McLauchlan

The Orenda, Joseph Boyden

With Knowing Eyes: Canadian Women in Song, Beverlie Robertson

The Mayor of MacDougal Street: a Memoir, Dave Van Ronk with Elijah Wald


All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

Room, Emma Donoghue

Late Nights on Air, Elizabeth Hay

The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

The Art Fair, David Lipsky

The Lost Chord, Ian Thomas

The Year of The Flood, Margaret Atwood


Theme: “Children & Youth”

ABC Muskoka, Nola McConnan

Dani, Shailie Dubois

The Adventures of the Dwarfgiants, Steven Jacklin

Origami Peace Cranes, Sue DiCiccio

Martha the Mouse, Karen Lang

2018, 2019


On a First Name Basis, Norm Foster (starring William Colgate and Joan Bendon)

Billy Bishop Goes to War, John MacLachlan Gray and Eric Peterson (starring William Colgate and Cameron Gibson)

The Ladies Foursome, Norm Foster (Maja Ardal, Robin Clipsham, Jane Miller, and Alyssa LaPlume)

For the Love of a Good Man, Jan Jacklin (starring Karen Thorn, Terry Savory, Rosie Delroy


Chasing The Muse: Canada, Lloyd Walton

On the Back of the Wildebeest: The Healing Power of Creativity, Audrey Jolly

The Beleaguered, Lynne Golding

Come Looking for Me: A Novel, Cheryl Cooper


One Eleven, Susan Nairn

The Mending, Lynne Golding

Broken Anchor, Paul Feist

The Real Mystery of Tom Thomson, Richard Weiser

Muskokans Embrace the Roaring Twenties, Patrick Boyer

Treasured Islands: with Generations of Muskoka Memories, a compilation of island inspired writings from the cottagers of Muskoka


Outside the Gate, Carol Newall

The School of Mirrors, Eva Stachniak

Lighting the Stars, Gabriele Wills

Our Darkest Night, Jennifer Robson

Putting Muskoka on the Map, Patrick Boyer

Muskokans Fight the Great War/ Striking Back for the Empire, Patrick Boyer