Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw

Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw

"We are all exiles from our father's land"

In this award-winning book Will Ferguson explores the idea that "Canada is not a country but a collection of outposts."

Part travel diary, part personal memoir, Beauty Tips combines quirky stories from the road with fascinating facts that you likely weren't taught in your grade 10 history class.

The author's affection for Canada is contagious.

About the book



Will Ferguson's award-winning travel memoir Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw blows away the old assumption that Canadian history is boring.

The bestselling author begins with the bold declaration, "Canada is not a country, but a collection of outposts," and goes on to explore the various geographic, linguistic, political and cultural outposts of this vast nation.

Taking us on a personal three-year journey that strays from the beaten path, Will attempts to understand who he is by exploring what it means to be Canadian.

Will does away with traditional chronology. We encounter him at various stages in his life throughout the book: as a single traveller on a freelance adventure; as a teenager trying to escape the North; and as a loving husband and father of a toddler.

From a boisterous poetry slam in Victoria to a face-to-face meeting with a polar bear in the sub-Arctic, and from Uncle Tom's Cabin in Ontario to a renegade republic in New Brunswick, Will steers us through chapters in Canadian history that have had a profound effect on our collective conscience. He has a knack for finding quirky adventure in commonplace settings, and wraps his freewheeling stories in layers of interesting facts and history.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself mouthing "I had no idea!" as you make your way through Will's entertaining account of the depth of history lying just beneath the surface of Canadian soil.

Author Biography

'Will is a huge proponent of Canadian History being looked at in an interesting light. He goes crazy if anyone suggests Canadian History is boring.' -- Publisher of Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw

Will Ferguson was born in 1964 to a large and lively family in the former fur-trading post of Fort Vermilion. After briefly living in Regina Will's parents split up and his mother returned home to Fort Vermilion with her children. At the age of 16 Will quit school with the goal of "seeing the world." His travels took him to the Canadian Prairie cities of Saskatoon and Dauphin. Finding himself broke, stuck in menial work and nowhere near Paris, Will moved to Red Deer to finish high school.

At 19 Will joined Katimavik, which paid "a dollar a day and all the granola we could eat." His travels with the program are retold in his travel memoir I Was A Teenage Katima-Victim! He then travelled with Canada World Youth to South America in 1985, where he lived with a family in the village of Malacatos, Equador, near the border with Peru.

In 1990 Will graduated from York University with a B.F.A. in Film Production and Screenwriting. After a disappointing stint as a location assistant on an ABC television project, Will moved to Japan to teach English.

During his five years in Asia Will backpacked across Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and mainland China. His experiences as the first person to ever hitchhike the length of Japan are recounted in his memoir Hokkaido Highway Blues (renamed Hitching Rides with Buddha). Will has also written a nuts-and-bolts guidebook for backpackers and budget travellers entitled A Hitchhiker's Guide to Japan.

After marrying his wife Terumi in a Shinto ceremony in Kumamoto City in 1995, Will returned with her to Canada, settling on the East Coast. The resulting reverse culture shock inspired his first book, Why I Hate Canadians.

The winner of numerous literary prizes, Will has been awarded the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour twice, for his 2002 novel Happiness™ and his 2005 travel memoir Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw. His bestseller How to Be a Canadian, co-authored with his brother Ian, won the CBA Libris Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year.

Will now makes his home in Calgary with his wife Terumi and their two sons, Alex and Alister. His personal website can be found at


"A fast-moving mix of travelogue and cultural history...Like all good travel writing, it gives you very itchy feet." -- UK Metro "Yet another masterfully entertaining examination of Canuckishness penned by the Calgary author.... In each stop on this coast-to-coast travelogue, Ferguson sneakily wraps a local history lesson in a wickedly entertaining meander through obvious and obscure local landmarks....Insightful and gag-filled....Ferguson's fascination with Canadiana is infectious." -- Calgary Herald

"Ferguson writes like a house of fire...Beauty Tips is a highly eccentric travelogue based on a ramshackle tour of the country's more colourful outposts." -- Vancouver Sun

"Full of surprises... and idiosyncratic charms.... Travel writers don't always get to climb Everest or visit the Taj Mahal, and they can be judged best by what they come up with on a slow day. Ferguson is good when he's sipping a handful of icy water out of Hudson Bay; he's better eating pancakes in a Finnish restaurant in Thunder Bay....Ferguson proves a companionable guide in Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw." -- National Post

"You'll enjoy this book....Ferguson [gives us] lively, thought-provoking riffs on Canadian culture....Anyone who can spin a tale as well as Ferguson, while peppering it with trenchant and often humorous commentary on what it means to be a Canadian traveling through Canada, will easily grab and hold the reader's attention for the more than 300 pages that make up this book." -- Quill & Quire

"A hilarious, observant, personable journey ... With a remarkable ability to examine the weird quirks and cultural absurdities of his motherland through the eyes of a bemused, excited and sometimes cynical tourist, Ferguson brings humour and real life to his search." -- The Observer

"Ferguson is a smart enough writer to know that even in this age of instantaneous information, there is still no substitute for the rugged traveller hiking from outpost to outpost, quill in hand, sending dispatches home for our edification and amusement." -- Winnipeg Free Press

"Humorist Ferguson (Why I Hate Canadians) offers an appealing, brisk account of his many travels in his native land, from the 'England as it never really existed" veneer of Victoria to the 'certain dignified ugliness' of Newfoundland moose. The title story, in which Ferguson has his limbs and his ego massaged at a Saskatchewan health spa, perfectly represents the book's twin charms: Ferguson's comic cynicism, and his descriptions of intriguing events and individuals tied to the places he visits. In this tale, the levity of Ferguson's interaction with a male 'reflexologist' bearing peppermint oil is offset with an account of a hard-luck 1930s Finnish immigrant so desperate to return to his native land that he built an iron ship completely by himself, which stands to this day on the Canadian prairie as a sad but powerful symbol. While humor and history are the book's uniting elements, a lack of narrative harmony results from breaks in chronology and distinct shifts in scene. Ferguson acknowledges as much in his introduction, and while the approach makes the book episodic, it jibes with the author's premise that 'Canada is not a country but a collection of outposts.'" -- Publishers Weekly