A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle

( Doubleday Canada, 2017)

Well, the next volume of his memoirs has arrived and Alan Doyle does not disappoint. Once again we have a rollicking story of the continuing adventures of the front man of the Great Big Sea. In his first book, Where I Belong, we were given the story of how and where Alan grew up in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. In this book we climb aboard with the band in their — station wagon, hatch back, car, truck, ferry, airplane — as they set out to discover the island and the mainland.

Doyle has structured the book so that we encounter the country with him and his band mates. As he crosses over to Prince Edward Island he marvels that an island can have arable soil and an ocean view. In New Brunswick he meets his “cousins” who love music with a slight twist from the Newfoundland brand he is used to, and in Quebec he makes friends with separatists who also love music. The memoir is really an encounter with Canada delivered by a man with a big and open heart.

Throughout their travels across the country the country Great Big Sea is a magnet for the Newfoundlanders who have left home to find work. A poster advertising a gig by the band draws them out from miles and miles. Doyle shares stories of many of these encounters from across Canada and even in Europe. On a flight from Fort McMurray Doyle meets an oil worker on his way home who knows and follows the band. The worker likens his schedule to that of the band–they both have to leave “home” to make their living, but always return home to Newfoundland.

The book is packed with the challenges and triumphs of being a touring band from St. John’s (not to be mistaken for St. John–there’s a story there). If you like music, like musicians, or love this country we call Canada (with a healthy dose of Newfoundland), read this book. You will not be disappointed.


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