PERSONAL: Born in Fort Vermilion, Canada; married 1955; wife's name Terumi; children: two sons. Education: York University, Toronto, Canada, B.F.A., 1990.
ADDRESSES: Home—Calgary, Canada. Agent—c/o Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 1615 Venables St., Vancouver, BC, Canada V5L 2H1.
CAREER: Writer and columnist. Worked various jobs in Canada through a youth volunteer program, including at a museum in Kelowna, British Columbia, a nursing home in Ontario, at a conservation park in St. Canut, Quebec, and at an agricultural college; teacher in Japan, c. 1990–95.
AWARDS, HONORS: Canadian Authors Association Award for History, 2001, for Canadian History for Dummies; Libris Booksellers Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year, 2002, for How to Be a Canadian; Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction and Leacock Medal for Humour, both 2002, both for Happiness; Northern Lights Award for travel writing, 2004, for article "Will Ferguson's Canada"; Leacock Medal for Humour, 2005, for Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw; Pierre Berton Award for History, 2005.
Why I Hate Canadians (humor), Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1997.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Japan (travel), Charles E. Tuttle (North Clarendon, VT), 1998.
Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan (travel), Soho Press (New York, NY), 1998.
I Was a Teenage Katima-Victim: A Canadian Odyssey (humor), Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1998.
(With Teena and Bruce Spencer) The Girlfriend's Guide to Hockey, Key Porter, 1999.
Bastards & Boneheads: Canada's Glorious Leaders, Past and Present (political satire), Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1999.
Canadian History for Dummies (reference), CDG Books Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Generica (novel), Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2001, published as Happiness, Perennial (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Ian Ferguson) How to Be a Canadian: Even If You Already Are One (humor), Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2001.
Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada (travel), Alfred A. Knopf Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
Author of column "East Meets West" for Charlottetown Guardian, Prince Edward Island, Canada, c. late-1990s.
SIDELIGHTS: Canadian author Will Ferguson grew up in Alberta and participated in many of the Canadian youth programs sponsored by its then-Liberal government. As an adult returning to his native country after five years in Japan, Ferguson was inspired to write his first book, Why I Hate Canadians, published in 1977. In it he lampoons the programs he participated in and generally takes issue with what he sees as the rather smug nature of Canadian society. "It's clear, though, that the title is meant to be provocative rather than accurate," explained Shannon Kari, reviewing Why I Hate Canadians in an issue of Quill & Quire. "Ferguson really loves Canadians." Canadian Forum critic Heather Robertson conceded the author's points about what she described as Canadian "banality, smugness, prejudice, pigheadedness, Sentimentality."
In Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan Ferguson describes his hitchhiking adventure to northern Japan to see the cherry blossoms as they bloomed along the way. "He captures all of this with great humor, a touch of sarcasm, and a clear affection for Japan," wrote Kathleen A. Shanahan in the Library Journal. In a review in Geographical, Holly Smith commented, "Ferguson's dry sense of humour portrays an insider's view of Japan. The insights that he provides into the Japanese psyche are highly accurate and irreverent." In Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada, the author once again describes Canada through his humorous viewpoint as he takes a family road trip from the west to the east coasts of Canada. A Kirkus Reviews contributor described the travel book as an "easygoing, vernacular companion through the vast regions of the Great North Country." Ravi Shenoy, writing in the Library Journal, commented that the book is an "illuminating account of our northern neighbor."
Ferguson is also the author of Generica, which has also been published as Happiness. The story is a satire on what would happen if everyone's problems were solved, which is exactly what takes place when someone publishes the ultimate self-help book. "The book is amusing and savage all at once," noted Margaret Mackey in Resource Links.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Canadian Forum, November, 1997, Heather Robertson, review of Why I Hate Canadians, p. 39.
Geographical, August, 2000, Holly Smith, review of Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan, p. 95.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada, p. 397.
Library Journal, November 15, 1998, Kathleen A. Shanahan, review of Hokkaido Highway Blues, p. 83; June 1, 2005, Ravi Shenoy, review of Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, p. 157.
Publishers Weekly, November 9, 1998, review of Hokkaido Highway Blues, p. 64; May 9, 2005, review of Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, p. 63.
Quill & Quire, October, 1997, Shannon Kari, review of Why I Hate Canadians p. 28.
Resource Links, October, 2001, Margaret Mackey, review of Generica, p. 56.
Will Ferguson Home Page, http://www.willferguson.ca (September 7, 2005).