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CANADA FIRSTS

Nader, Ralph, Nadia Milleron and Duff Conacher
Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1992.165pp, paper, $14.99, ISBN 0-7710-6713-5. CIP


Grades 7 to 9/Ages 12 to 14

Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


It is Canada's misfortune, or good fortune, depending on your point of view, to be a neighbour of the United States. One result of this closeness is that the accomplishments of Canadians are often overshadowed by those of the Americans. We may know more about George Washington than about Sir John A. Macdonald and more about Thomas Edison than we do about Ernest Rutherford. This book attempts to change that and, in the process, give Canadians a feeling of self-confidence.

It is, of course, ironic that the idea for this book came from the mind of Ralph Nader, America's best known consumer advocate. While Duff Conacher, who helped with the book, is Canadian, most credit must go to Nader. He learned to love Canada as a boy while spending summers with his cousins and believes Canadians should be more assertive about their national interests. He hoped that this book would help to give us some backbone.

The book is divided into fourteen categories, including business, sport, food, and medicine. It would have made the book more useful had these been arranged alphabetically in the table of contents. An index of the topics covered would also have been a definite plus.

Most educated Canadians will already know about the people and the achievements listed in Canada Firsts. Younger readers may not, and it is these people for whom the book will be especially useful. It is written well and would be a valuable tool for children trying to think of a topic for a project. While there is not enough information about any of the topics for an assignment, there is enough to give a child a good start.

Most children would be amused to learn that Canadians invented the green garbage bag and the paint roller. They should also know that we have the longest highway and the longest covered bridge in the world. If Canada Firsts stimulates an interest in Canada, it will have achieved its goal.

Canada Firsts is intended to help Canadians know more about their country and is recommended for all school libraries.


Thomas F. Chambers teaches economics and political science at Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology in North Bay, Ontario
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