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History 20th Century

The Wake

The Deadly Legacy of a Newfoundland Tsunami

by (author) Linden MacIntyre

Initial publish date
Aug 2020
20th Century, Natural Disasters, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2019
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2020
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it



“Fascinating, infuriating, eloquent and cautionary.” Postmedia

A Globe and Mail, CBC Books and Maclean’s Book of the Year

In the vein of Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm and Dead Wake comes an incredible true story of destruction and survival in Newfoundland by one of Canada’s best-known writers

On November 18, 1929, a tsunami struck Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula. Giant waves up to three storeys high hit the coast at a hundred kilometres per hour, flooding dozens of communities and washing entire houses out to sea. The most destructive earthquake-related event in Newfoundland’s history, the disaster killed twenty-eight people and left hundreds more homeless or destitute. It took days for the outside world to find out about the death and damage caused by the tsunami, which forever changed the lives of the inhabitants of the fishing outports along the Burin Peninsula.

Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning writer Linden MacIntyre was born near St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, one of the villages virtually destroyed by the tsunami. By the time of his birth, the cod-fishing industry lay in ruins and the village had become a mining town. MacIntyre’s father, lured from Cape Breton to Newfoundland by a steady salary, worked in St. Lawrence in an underground mine that was later found to be radioactive. Hundreds of miners would die; hundreds more would struggle through shortened lives profoundly compromised by lung diseases ranging from silicosis and bronchitis to cancer. As MacIntyre says, though the tsunami killed twenty-eight people in 1929, it would claim hundreds if not thousands more in the decades to follow. And by the time the village returned to its roots and set up as a cod fishery once again, the stocks in the Grand Banks had plummeted and St. Lawrence found itself once again on the brink of disaster.

Written in MacIntyre’s trademark style, The Wake is a major new work by one of this country’s top writers.


About the author

LINDEN MACINTYRE was the host of Canada’s premiere investigative television show, the fifth estate, for nearly twenty-five years. Born in St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, and raised in Port Hastings, Cape Breton, he began his career in 1964 with the Halifax Chronicle-Herald as a parliamentary bureau reporter. MacIntyre later worked at The Journal and hosted CBC Radio’s Sunday Morning before joining the fifth estate. His work on that show garnered an International Emmy, and he has won ten Gemini Awards.

His bestselling first novel, The Long Stretch, was nominated for a CBA Libris Award, while his boyhood memoir, Causeway: A Passage from Innocence, was a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2006 and won both the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award. His second novel, The Bishop’s Man, was a #1 national bestseller and the winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction and the CBA Libris Fiction Book of the Year Award. His other novels include Why Men Lie, Punishment and The Only Café. MacIntyre lives in Toronto with his wife, CBC radio host and author Carol Off. They spend their summers in a Cape Breton village by the sea.

Linden MacIntyre's profile page


  • Unknown, Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
  • Unknown, CBC Best Book of the Year
  • Unknown, The Heritage and History Book Award
  • Unknown, Atlantic Book Awards

Editorial Reviews

"MacIntyre does more than relate this powerful story. An award-winning novelist, he raises the book to the level of literature." — The Globe and Mail

“MacIntyre is a superb writer, and his book’s two major set pieces . . . have moments of heart-stopping narrative . . . Yet it’s the subtle, nuanced intertwining of family and larger story that gives The Wake its power.” — Maclean’s

"MacIntyre is a great storyteller. . . . A major work by one of Canada's great writers."
Owen Sound Sun Times

“Great, soulful storytelling. All of Linden MacIntyre’s singular capacities—as novelist, reporter, social critic, and intimate chronicler of Atlantic Canada—are in full force-of-nature in The Wake.” — Charles Foran, author of Mordecai: The Life and Times and Planet Lolita

“Fast-paced and near-unstoppable, The Wake is the kind of book you can’t put down. Linden MacIntyre’s relentless voice just won’t let you stop reading, deftly showing how man and nature stacked the dice against the people of small-town Newfoundland.” — Russell Wangersky, author of Whirl Away, finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Burning Down the House

“For generations, the hardy citizens of Newfoundland’s southern shore, where Linden MacIntyre was born, have met unfathomable loss and hardship with enduring bravery. MacIntyre’s deep and abiding compassion for these people shines through in this masterful work.” — Mark Sakamoto, author of Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents, winner of CBC Canada Reads

“Beautifully written, both descriptively and analytically precise, and a significant contribution.” — Elliott Leyton, anthropologist and author of Dying Hard

“MacIntyre can build suspense from thin air.” — Maclean’s

“MacIntyre’s novelistic style and the stories of men, dogs, work, mining, liquor, church, politics, and fate are reminiscent of No Great Mischief, by another Cape Bretoner, Alistair MacLeod.” — Quill & Quire

“MacIntyre isn’t just another face and larynx from television [but] an honest-to-God writer.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“MacIntyre is a masterful storyteller.” — Toronto Star

“MacIntyre is a fine writer.” — Alistair MacLeod, author of No Great Mischief

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