Chasing the Chinook: On the Trail of Canadian Words and Culture


275 pages
ISBN 0-670-88243-7
DDC 971'.002





Reviewed by Edward L. Edmonds

Edward L. Edmonds is a professor of education at the University of
Prince Edward Island and honorary chief of the Mi’kmaq of Prince
Edward Island.


Chasing the Chinook comprises Wayne Grady’s commentaries on a
selection of words which he (rightly) regards as expressive of an
emerging Canadian culture. His technique is simple. Each word is
prefaced by a relevant, reliable quotation, followed by his own
observations. His field of reference is wide, including linguistics,
comparative literature, history, geography, science, ornithology,
travel, folklore—and not least, reference to his own growing up in

The author has a simple, straightforward style that is easy to read.
The esoteric finds a place alongside popular parlance; touches of wit
and good humor abound, as do engaging colloquialisms such as “a piece
of cake.” He makes shrewd comments on human nature (e.g., “Birds are
a lot like people ... .”). Grady has a keen regard for etymology, and
a commendably punctilious one for spelling and for the finer points of

In sum, Chasing the Chinook, with its eye-catching cover design, is
worthy of a place on the shelves of any Canadian library.


Grady, Wayne., “Chasing the Chinook: On the Trail of Canadian Words and Culture,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024,