Described as “vital and definitive” by Doug Saunders of The Globe and Mail, my most recent book, Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada’s Energy Future, tells the story of the rise and fall of the Energy East pipeline and examines what that saga reveals about Canada’s debates over climate, energy and oil. It was published by Penguin Random House Canada.
Pipe Dreams was shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for 2018. The prize jury wrote: “Remarkably researched, original, and captivating, Pipe Dreams details the ubiquitous significance of the oil and gas industry in Canada. Jacques Poitras delivers unique insights into the towns, cities, and First Nations across Canada that rely upon or stand against pipelines. This is a vivid cross-country journey through the national debate over complex environmental and economic anxieties and the future of oil. Deeply revealing, Pipe Dreams is a vital read for anyone curious about how we got here and where we are going in the fossil-fuel economy.”
Pipe Dreams was also named Book of the Year by the Calgary-based Petroleum History Society, was shortlisted for the John W. Dafoe Book Prize, and was a bronze medalist at the Axiom Business Book Awards.
The book also won the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick Award for Non-Fiction at the 2019 New Brunswick Book Awards. In her award citation, NBBA judge Donna Kane wrote that Pipe Dreams “takes us on an engaging road trip across Canada, weaving together the multi-layered forces that make a project – and a country – succeed or fail. Intelligent, insightful and widely researched, Poitras illustrates the complex ways in which politics, colonialism, Indigenous rights, climate change and energy use interrelate. Pipe Dreams is a unique and important book, addressing some of the most pressing issues facing Canadians today.”
Mike DeSouza of the National Observer called Pipe Dreams “riveting. … With Canada’s energy wars, climate policies and clean economic future all hanging in the balance, Poitras’s book provides a roadmap that might just foreshadow where Canada’s society and economy is going to wind up next.”
Michael Sobota’s review in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal said the book was “an industrial thriller” and “one of the great books of 2018.” He adds: “This is an important book for Canada right now.” And in a review in Energy Regulation Quarterly, Rowland J. Harrison called Pipe Dreams “a sweeping review of the issues [that] offers valuable insights into the underlying dynamics that have made these projects so controversial. … It is also ‘a good read’, sprinkled with historical background and engaging accounts of some of the behind-the-scenes dynamics at play.”
For more on Pipe Dreams, read excerpts about the role of Indigenous people in the debate and about how the issue played out in Quebec. There’s also a National Post Q&A with me and two op-eds about some of the ideas in the book. Penguin’s listing for the book is here and you can order the book here. You can also follow my book tweets and download the playlist of songs I listened to on my cross-country drive.
Irving vs. Irving
Irving vs. Irving: Canada’s Feuding Billionaires and the Stories They Won’t Tell, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House Canada. The book tells the story of New Brunswick’s Irving family, one of the country’s wealthiest business organizations, and their relationship with the chain of newspapers they own.
Read coverage of Irving vs. Irving from the Toronto Star, Maclean’s, BNN, J-Source (review and Q&A), The Coast, L’Acadie Nouvelle, CBC, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald, Radio-Canada, Toby Couture, and Jesse Brown’s CanadaLand. Read excerpts here and here.
Irving vs. Irving was an Amazon Canada bestseller and on reached No. 4 on The Globe and Mail non-fiction bestsellers list. Irving vs. Irving was also shortlisted for the National Business Book Award and was the winner of the Atlantic Independent Booksellers Choice Award. (My acceptance speech is here.) The book was published in paperback with a new chapter in September 2015.
Some other comments on the book:
I posted some minor corrections and clarifications to the hardcover edition here.
Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border was published by Goose Lane Editions in September 2011 and tells how the drawing and enforcement of the international border between the province of New Brunswick and the state of Maine, the oldest section of the frontier dividing Canada and the United States, has affected the people and communities along it. It has been reviewed in The Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and was shortlisted for the 2011 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and the Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing. “Poitras has the knack of realizing larger truths in portraits of the very particular,” wrote James Laxer in his review for the Telegraph-Journal.
Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy
Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy, the story of the bitter and expensive ownership dispute over priceless works of art housed at Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery, was published by Goose Lane in September 2007 and reissued in paperback in September 2008. It was shortlisted for the B.C. Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and the National Business Book Award, was a Maclean’s bestseller, and was chosen as a Globe and Mail “Best Book” of 2007. It also won two Atlantic Book Awards.
The B.C. Award jury’s citation said: “This book is a journalistic tour-de-force that rips the canvas off Lord Beaverbrook’s cultivated self-image and creates an incisive portrait of turmoil and grasping self-interest within his family. … Poitras has written a gripping narrative that rises above reportage and contributes a significant new chapter to Canada’s post-colonial history.”
In 2010, the gallery and the Beaverbrook U.K. Foundation settled the dispute, a development I covered in an afterword for the e-book edition. A parallel dispute with the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation was later settled as well.
The Right Fight
My first book was The Right Fight: Bernard Lord and the Conservative Dilemma, published by Goose Lane Editions in 2004. It’s my account of how New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative Party spent four decades grappling with how to move beyond its traditional anglophone voting base and accommodate the province’s Acadian population within its ranks. It was shortlisted for the Atlantic Independent Booksellers Choice Award.
Paul Wells of Maclean’s called the book “a feast. … The Right Fight is big history, a story whose sweep and detail far surpass what we’re used to reading. Jacques Poitras tells the story of a century’s worth of New Brunswickers, French and English, struggling to resolve their differences through politics. He brings the toolkit of a fine reporter to the task: curiosity, diligence, and an eye for the human anecdote in this very moving tale.”
I am also a contributor to 100 Photos That Changed Canada and 100 Days That Changed Canada, both published by HarperCollins and Canada’s History magazine, and to Canada Always: The Defining Speeches of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
Lastly, here’s a blog post originally published on the Goose Lane website about my three literary beacons.