This Place a Stranger

Canadian Women Travelling Alone

Edited by Vici Johnstone

Sometimes tragic, sometimes uproariously funny, This Place a Stranger is a diverse collection of Canadian women writing about their experiences of travelling alone. From the deceptiveness of the everyday to the extremes of geography, weather and violence, these stories go beyond the usual tales of intrepid male explorers and reveal the varied and unique circumstances in which women travellers find themselves when “going solo.”

When an Afghan soldier asks one Indo-Canadian woman, “Where are you really from,” her false sense of belonging comes sharply into focus. After thirty-seven years of marriage, another woman prepares for her return trip to Africa: vaccination boosters, nausea pills and lots and lots of condoms. A seventeen-hour journey by car through the Great Lakes region of Ontario leads another to dreamlike reflections on the travels of her Anishinaabe grandmothers and the ever-present “fear, worry” she experiences today. In another story, a woman poignantly searches for what many seek on solo journeys—inspiration, renewal, discovery—by returning to Paris only a few years after the painful dissolution of her marriage. But the grey February, a body in pain and the funeral of Mavis Gallant offer a different insight.

With new work from twenty-three emerging and award-winning authors including Yvonne Blomer, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy, Catherine Owen, Karen J Lee and more, these stories explore the unexpected blessings and soul-searching that aloneness offers: clarity, liberation, danger, misery, adventure, devastation and joy.


Contributors: Yvonne Blomer, Nadine Pedersen, Catherine Owen, Kami Kanetsuka, Yamuna Flaherty, Lori Garrison, Karen J Lee, Miriam Matejova, Desiree Jung, Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy, Shannon Webb-Campbell, Kim Melton, Sarah Paynter, Nancy Pincombe, Julia Selinger, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Elizabeth Haynes, Ann Cavlovic, Moni Brar, Trysh Ashby-Rolls, Joei Carlton Hossack, Kelly Pitman, Julie Paul, Vici Johnstone.

“There’s no sugarcoating here: the women lay bare their fears, insecurities, joys, and triumphs as each travels with her strengths and emotional baggage … This Place a Stranger will resonate with any woman who’s had mixed feelings about travelling alone. The common experience of exiting your comfort zone, both geographically and emotionally, is somehow reassuring, and ultimately inspiring.”

–Carolyn Ali, Georgia Straight

“Due to the intimacy in these stories and the vulnerability and courage in the writing of them, this collection of essays is outstanding.”

–May Ann Moore, Vancouver Sun

“This collection has much to offer any reader who wants to understand what it means to travel the world at a disadvantage; to know and accept the risks and still choose to get on an airplane—or onto a boat, bus, or motorbike—alone. These are tales of courage and adventure and danger, and they deserve a wide audience.”

PRISM International

This Place a Stranger is one of the most enjoyable collections I have read for some time; the range of topics, places, and autobiographical avatars collected here should make it of interest to all those—women and men alike—with a passion for travel or an interest in autobiography.”

Alana Fletcher, Canadian Literature