CM Archive
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Hugh MacLennan
Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1992. 4th ed. 128pp, cloth, $20.00
ISBN 0-7710-5597-8. CIP

Grades 6 and up/Ages 11 and up

Reviewed by Barbara Camfield.

Volume 20 Number 6
1992 November

It is a pleasure to see this classic book reissued in a fourth edition after the death in 1990 of Hugh MacLennan, one of our most renowned novelists. The text has only been very slightly altered since the third edition of 1982. The majority of it's breath-taking photographs have been reprinted with a few variations to illustrate, for example, more up-to-date views of Montreal and Toronto. Since there are minimal changes to the text and photographs, it is not necessary to purchase this new edition if your library already holds an earlier edition.

The photographs, taken by many different photographers, are intended to glorify the land itself. There are no portraits of people. Instead, the concentration is upon the appearance of the land, its seasonal variations, and regional distinctiveness. Cityscapes are interspersed with photos of wilderness, close-up shots of nature and wide-angled pictures of countryside. Each section of the book is devoted to a province or territory, and well-known Canadian natural features and buildings are captured with freshness and imagination. Niagara Falls, the Cabot Trail, Peggy's Cove, Toronto's city hall, and Yoho National Park, to name just a few, are all represented here.

The text, originally composed in 1967 to celebrate the centennial year, smacks of pride and patriotism: " ... this nation is a miracle of illogicality and nothing is more miraculous about her than her stubborn survival despite the continuous efforts of pundits and businessmen to prove that her survival makes no sense." MacLennan talks of the Canadian search for identity, the geographical vastness of the land compared with its small densely populated areas, and the history and distinc­tiveness of the land and its peoples. Despite the fact that his text is somewhat dated, it is refreshing to be reminded, in these present days of political uncertainty, of both the surge of patriotism we experienced in 1967 and the natural wonders of this country.

Highly recommended, though not an essential purchase if libraries hold an earlier edition.

Barbara Camfield is Chief of the Reference and Information Services Division at the National Library of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario.
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