You ready to experience the wild world of Canadian Cinema in the most exciting form of all?! Book form?! 

I don’t simply mean tomes about Cronenberg and Egoyan.  I’m talking about stuff like the memoir by the director of Alien Thunder, the history of STUDIO D:  the all-women unit of the NFB, and the Canadian Cinema Quiz Book of 1979!

Canadian Film Books

I made this list because I wanted to know the following:

  • What Canadian Cinema artists, subjects and periods get written about the most?
  • What Canadian Cinema artists, subjects and periods never get written about?
  • Whoa! Someone actually wrote a book about that!? That’s super cool!

I’ve cross-referenced the list of books with the listings of the Toronto Public Library to clarify which ones are currently in circulation. I want to highlight the disparity between what is available to the public, the books that could start a curiosity quest when you accidentally run into them on the shelf while looking for something like Cronenberg on Cronenberg, and the ones whose reach are limited because they mostly get read by academics that are forced to write papers on the topic.

Here’s how I broke it down:

Bold Titles – Denote the books that can be checked out.

Titles that are Underlined – Denotes that the book is not available in the Toronto Public Library System

No Visual Change to the Title – The book is only available as a reference book. You can’t leave the library with it.

Total Books Listed: 145

Total Books Available In The Toronto Public Library System: 138

In Circulation: 49

I personally believe there should be a dedicated Canadian Film section in the Toronto Public Library system that would allow 90% of its books to remain in circulation. I understand that some tomes are incredibly rare and impossible to replace, but there’s no reason that Guy Maddin’s diary From the Atelier Tovar (2003), the University of Toronto monograph on Ginger Snaps (2013) or Shooting from the East: Filmmaking on the Canadian Atlantic (2017) is not available to take home and read. The spread beyond library shelves is how Canadian cinema can be discovered, it’s how Canadian Cinema can get consumed and it’s how Canadian cinema can live on. We can’t have a future without knowing the value of the past.

I’ve organized the list by genre and by date, principally because each category tells an interesting evolutionary tale of how the story of Canadian Cinema was told.

I have refrained from listing any books about Cronenberg because you know they’re out there.

Finally, I’m very aware this is a work in progress and I’ve probably missed half of the books that have been written about the flickering picture shows from my home and native land. Please contact me HERE to share a title that I have missed. Happy reading!

Canadian Film Books

Where to start

Weird Sex & Snowshoes: And Other Canadian Film Phenomena (Katherine Monk) – 2000

A fun history of Canadian Cinema that successfully cherry picks from the research that has come before without ever losing the author’s personal perspective. Don’t be scared by the fact that this book is often included in the curriculum – it’s the good stuff.

Take One’s Essential Guide to Canadian Film (Wyndham Wise) – 2015

A fantastic resource for titles, subjects, and films written in an easygoing style that encourages the reader to read it from cover to cover. Keep a notebook handy to jot down titles.There’s going to be a lot of them.

From the Atelier Tovar: Selected Writings of Guy Maddin (Guy Maddin)  – 2003

Guy Maddin’s a fascinatingly weird dude and his ramshackle collection of diary entries, notes, and film treatments is a fascinating peek into his thinking process. The opening list of film recommendations is an essential look at the specifics of his passions.

They came from within: a history of Canadian horror cinema (Caelum Vatnsdal) – 2014

A great book about the infamous history of Canuxploitation that strikes a perfect balance of clear-headed analysis and behind the scenes process. Make sure you pick up the updated version.

And The Genie Goes To… Celebrating 50 Years of the Canadian Film Awards (Maria. Topalovich) – 2000

I found this book a invaluable look into how Canadian Cinema had been treated in its country since its inception. It’s a warts and all history of Did you know that in 1969 no Best Feature Film Award was given? Or that the Anne Wheeler’s feature Loyalties (1987) was nominated for eight awards but is unavailable on any digital format?

Canadian Film Books


This is where we came in : the career and character of Canadian film (Martin Knelman) – 1977

Embattled Shadows: A History of Canadian Cinema, 1895-1939 (Peter Morris) – 1978

Torn Sprockets (Gerald Pratley) – 1987

Canadian Film History (David Clandfield) – 1987*

In the national interest : a chronicle of the National Film Board of Canada from 1949 to 1989 (Gary Evans) – 1991

Canada’s Hollywood (Ted Magder) – 1993

So close to the State’s : the emergence of Canadian feature film policy (Michael Dorland) – 1998

Cartoon Capers: The History of Canadian Animation (Karen Mazurkewich) – 1999

And The Genie Goes To… Celebrating 50 Years of the Canadian Film Awards (Maria. Topalovich) – 2000

Weird Sex & Snowshoes: and Other Canadian Film Phenomena (Katherine Monk) – 2000

North of Everything: English-Canadian Cinema Since 1980 (William Beard and Jerry White) – 2002

Hollywood North : creating the Canadian motion picture industry (Michael Spencer) – 2003

One Hundred Years of Canadian Cinema  (George Melnyk) – 2004

L’Office national du film et le cinéma canadien (1939-2003): Éloge de la frugalité (Caroline Zéau) / The ONF and Canadian Cinema: In Praise of Frugality – 2006*

Self Portraits: The Cinemas of Canada Since Telefilm (André Loiselle) – 2006

D is for daring : the women behind the films of Studio D (Gail Vanstone) – 2007

Stardust and Shadows: Canadians in Early Hollywood (Charles Foster)  – 2010

Canadian Cinema Since the 1980s: At the Heart of the World – 2012

World Film Locations: Toronto (Tom Ue) – 2014

Hamilton Babylon: A History of the McMaster Film Board (Stephen Broomer) – 2016

Underground : the untold story of the Funnel Film Collective (Michael Hoolboom) – 2016

Canadian Film Books


Vingt ans de cinéma au Canada français-  (Robert Daudelin) – 60 pages – 1967

Dialogue : cinéma canadien et québécois (Michael Dorland, Seth Feldman, Pierre Véronneau,) – 1967

Le cinéma canadien/Canadian Cinema (Gilles Marsolais) – 1968 – (F)

Movies and mythologies: Toward a National Cinema (Peter Harcourt) – 1977

Canadian film reader  (Seth Feldman) – 1977

Self portrait : essays on the Canadian and Quebec cinemas (ed: Pierre Véronneau) – 1980

Un cinéma orphelin: structures mentals et socials du cinéma québécois (Christiane Tremblay-Daviault) – 1981

Femmes et Cinéma québécois/Women and Quebec Cinema (Françoise Audé) – 1983

Take two – (Seth Feldman) – 1984

Practices in isolation : Canadian avant-grade cinema (Richard Kerr, Paul Blain) – 1986*

Documents in Canadian Film – 1988

Image and Identity: Reflections on Canadian Film and Culture – 1989

Canadian Dreams & American Control: The Political Economy of the Canadian Film Industry (Manjunath Pendakur) – 1990*

Canadian Dreams: The Making and Marketing of Independent Films (Michael Posner) – 1993

Essays on Quebec Cinema (Joeseph I. Donohoe) – 1991

Les cinémas du Canada : Québec, Ontario, Prairies, côte Ouest, Atlantique (René Beauclair, Sylvain Beauclair, André Pâquet) – 1992

Black on screen : images of Black Canadians, 1950’s -1990’s – 1992 (only 40 pages)

Brink of Reality: New Canadian Documentary Film and Video (Peter Steven) – 1993

The Cinema of Québec: Masters in Their Own House (Janis L. Pallister) – 1995

Gendering the Nation: Canadian Women’s Cinema (Kay Armatage and Kass Banning) – 1999

NFB kids : portrayals of children by the National Film Board of Canada 1939 – 1989 (Brian John Low) – 2001

Inside the Pleasure Dome : fringe film in Canada (James Reany) – 2001

Hollywood North : the feature film industry in British Columbia (Mike Gasher) – 2002

A Postmodern Cinema: The Voice of the Other in Canadian Film (Mary Alemany-Galway) – 2002

Canadian National Cinema (Chris Gittings) – 2002

Canada’s Best Features: Critical Essays on 15 Canadian Films (Eugene Walz) – 2002*  

Candid Eyes: Essays on Canadian Documentaries (ed: Jim Leach, Jeannette Sloniowski) – 2003

Stage-Bound: Feature Film Adaptations of Canadian and Quebecois Drama (André Loiselle) – 2003

Northern exposures : photographing and filming the Canadian north, 1920-45 (Peter Geller) – 2004

Reel Asian: Asian Canada on Screen (Elaine Chang) – 2004

The Cinema of Canada (ed: Jerry White) – 2006

Working on Screen: Representations of the Working Class in Canadian Cinema – 2006

The romance of transgression in Canada : queering sexualities, nations, cinemas (Thomas Waugh) – 2006

Screening gender, framing genre : Canadian literature into film (Peter Dickson) – 2007

Filming politics : communism and the portrayal of the working class at the National Film Board of Canada, 1939-1946 ( Malek Khouri) – 2007

Rain/Drizzle/Fog: Film and Television in Atlantic Canada – 2009

Toronto on Film (Geoff Pevere) – 2009

The Gendered Screen: Canadian Women Filmmakers ( Brenda Austin-Smith) – 2009

Film in Canada (ed: Jim Leach) – 2010

Indigenous screen cultures in Canada (Marian Bredin) – 2010

Explosion in the Movie Machine (ed: Chris Gehman) – 2013

Film and the City: The Urban Imaginary in Canadian Cinema (George Melnyk) – 2014

Reimagining cinema : film at Expo 67 (ed: Monika Kin Gagnon and Janine Marchessault) – 2014

They came from within : a history of Canadian horror cinema (Caelum Vatnsdal) – 2014

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (Julia Mendenhall) – 2014

Cinephemera : archives, ephemeral cinema, and new screen histories in Canada (ed: Gerda Cammaer. Zoe Druick) – 2014

The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul (ed: Gina Freitag,‎ André Loiselle) – 2015

C.R.A.Z.Y. (Robert Schwartzwald) – 2015

Shooting from the East: Filmmaking on the Canadian Atlantic (Darrell Varga) – 2015

Canadian Film Books


Midnight Matinees: Movies and Their Makers, 1975-1985 (Jay Scott) – 1987

Responses : in honour of Peter Harcourt – 1992


How to make or not to make a Canadian film (André Pâquet) – 1967

Nobody swings on Sunday (Harry Rasky) – 1980

Let’s try it this way : an autobiography (Desmond Dew) – 1984

Closer To the Sun (Garth Drabinsky) – 1995

The reluctant pornographer (Bruce Labruce) – 1997

Plague years : a life in underground movies (James Reaney)  – 1998

Hard core roadshow: A screenwriter’s diary (Noel S. Baker) – 1998

The three Harrys (Harry Rasky) – 1999

From the Atelier Tovar: Selected Writings of Guy Maddin (Guy Maddin)  – 2003

Memoirs of a media maverick (Boyce Richardson) – 2003

This terrible business has been good to me : an autobiography (Norman Jewison) – 2004

Travels in Wonderland (Ulla Ryghe) – 2008

À force de vivre/By Dint of Living : mémoires (Claude Fournier) – 2009

Adventures in Filmmaking (Peter Rowe) – 2013

You’re not dead until you’re forgotten : a memoir (John Dunning) – 2014

Captain Donald’s Quest for Crazy Wisdom (Don Owen) – 2015

Director’s Cut : my life in film (Ted Kotcheff) – 2017

Eyepiece: Adventures in Canadian Film and Television (Vic Sarin and Adrienne Clarkson) – 2017

Canadian Film Books


Inner views; ten Canadian film-makers (John Hofsess) – 1975

The young, the restless, and the dead : interviews with Canadian filmmakers (ed: George Melnyk) – 2001

Reel Canadians : interviews from the Canadian film world (Angela Baldassarre) – 2003

Practical dreamers : conversations with movie artists (Michael Hoolboom) – 2008

Atom Egoyan : interviews (ed: T.J Morris) – 2010

Guy Maddin : interviews (ed. D.K Holm) – 2010

Canadian Film Books

Reference Guides

The Canadian movie quiz book (Michael Walsh) – 1979

The Handbook of Canadian film (Eleanor Beattie) – 1977

The Film Companion (Peter Morris) – 1984

Century of Canadian Cinema (Gerald Pratley) – 2003

Le Dictionnaire du cinéma québécois/Dictionary of Quebec Cinema (2006)

Flashback : people and institutions in Canadian film history (ed: Gene Waltz) – 1986

Great Canadian Film Directors (George Melnyk) – 2007

Take One’s Essential Guide to Canadian Film (Wyndham Wise) – 2015

Canadian Film Books

Individual Artists

The films of Don Shebib (Piers Handling) – 1978

Donald Brittain : never the ordinary way (ed: Terry Kolomeychuk) – 1991

Atom Egoyan (Carole Desbarats) – 1993

Jacques Godbout : du roman au cinéma : voyage dans l’imaginaire Québécois : essai (Donald Smith) – 1995

Telling it : writing for film and television in Canada (ed: Anne Frank) – 1996

The best butler in the business : Tom Daly of the National Film Board of Canada (D.B Jones) – 1996

Home movies : tales from the Canadian film world (Martin Knelman) – 1987

Budge: What Happened to Canada’s King of Film (Barbara Wade Rose) – 1999

Joyce Wieland: A Life in Art (Iris Nowell) – 2001

Joyce Wieland : artist on fire (Jane Lind) – 2001

Don Owen: Notes on a Filmmaker and his Culture (Steve Gravestock) – 2001

Allan King : filmmaker (ed: Seth Feldman) – 2002

Donald Brittain : man of film (Brian Nolan) – 2004

John Grierson : trailblazer of documentary films (Gary Evans) – 2005  

Of this place and elsewhere: the films and photography of Peter Mettler (Jerry White) – 2006

The film work of Norman McLaren (Terence Dobson) – 2006

Cinema as History: Michel Brault and Modern Quebec (André Loiselle) – 2007

Atom Egoyan (Emma Wilson) – 2007

Playing with memories: essays on Guy Maddin (ed: David Church) – 2009

Into the Past: The Cinema of Guy Maddin (William Beard) – 2010

Sidney J. Furie : life and films (Daniel Kremer) – 2015

Canadian Film Books


University of Toronto Canadian Cinema Series

  1. A History of Violence (Bart Beaty) – 2008
  2. Decline of the American Empire (André Loiselle) – 2008
  3. The Adjuster (Tom McSorley)- 2009
  4. The Far Shore (Johanne Sloan)- 2010
  5.  A Married Couple (Zoe Druick) – 2010
  6. My Winnipeg (Darren Wershler) – 2010
  7.  Hard Core Logo (Paul McEwan) – 2011
  8. Going down the Road (Geoff Pevere)-  2011
  9. Passage (Darrell Varga) – 2012
  10. Ginger Snaps (Ernest Mathijs) – 2013
  11. Crime Wave (Jonathan Ball) – 2014
  12. Not a Love Story (Rebecca Sullivan) – 2014
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