King John of Canada.


336 pages
ISBN 978-0-7710-3575-3
DDC C813'.6




Reviewed by Geoffrey Harder

Geoffrey Harder is a public services librarian and manager, Knowledge Common, in the Science and Technology Library of the University of Alberta.


Scott Gardiner shows off his storytelling skills in King John of Canada, an often humorous, satirical story that relays the series of unlikely events that lead to the creation of a King of Canada. Set in the “near future,” Gardiner takes what is essentially the current political and world context and injects a “what if” storyline, loosely based on a domino series of improbable events leading to the appointment of a monarch in Canada. John, a virtuous character but one who at the end of the novel is still more enigmatic than known, is the lucky winner of a lottery process orchestrated to appoint Canada’s new king. John’s character is a mash-up of the best of Canadian sensibility and celebrity, and with panache and presence, John goes about resolving affairs ranging from cultural standoffs and a separatist Toronto, to inspiring his kinsmen through “divine intervention” by bringing royal splendour to the Canadian Football League.

The story is told from the perspective of King John’s right-hand man, Blue, who writes from the isolation of John’s cabin the woods as he attempts to stave off the winter cold and his impending death. Each chapter in the book is written as though it is an entry in Blue’s daily diary, which is an interesting—and at times effective—storytelling technique. In the case of King John of Canada, it felt as though the writing style needlessly broke up the storyline, taking momentum away from the tale. This distraction took some of the fun out of imagining Gardiner’s off kilter, mirror image of Canadian society gone merrily off the rails.

King John of Canada is not your average Canadian novel. Frankly, with so many cultural references to the Great White North, it is hard not to recommend it on this reason alone. Most readers will appreciate the humour and insight into the Canadian psyche that Gardiner provides, and though the reader sees only vignettes of John and his exploits rather than a character study of the man who would be king, King John of Canada is sure to be an entertaining and wonderful activity for those looking to fill their Canada Day long weekends.


Gardiner, Scott., “King John of Canada.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024,