Village of the Small Houses

Village of the Small Houses – Ian Ferguson

Author Ian Ferguson recalls his time as a child living in a remote community in Northern Alberta.

This one is a bit hard to review. Ian has a disclaimer at the beginning of the book noting that this is a “memoir of sorts” in that most of it is true other than the parts that are not. I suppose knowing ahead of time may make it easier when you discover what was real and what was changed, but I was disappointed to find one of the more emotional moments had been completely fabricated. As someone who champions James Frey’s Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard, maybe I don’t have a right to critique these elements of Ferguson’s book, but I would be lying if I didn’t feel a bit manipulated at the end.

That isn’t to say that you should skip this one; not at all. I enjoyed it for the most part. It is a fairly quick and often entertaining read. Although Ferguson won the Stephen Leacock (best in Canadian Literary Humor) in 2004 for this book, there are some particularly heartbreaking moments involving Ferguson’s father and friends Bud Peyen and Lloyd Loonskin.

Having lived in Northern Alberta for a time (although, I would not consider Fort McMurray “remote” even if there is only one road out of town; we did have a Walmart after all) I enjoy reading about life in isolated parts of the country. Village of the Small Houses is less tragic and more humourous, but it feels like an important read nonetheless if only to understand the complex relationship between indigenous and white Canadians.

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