________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 11 . . . . January 30, 1998

cover Canadian Scientists and Inventors.

Harry Black.
Markham ON: Pembroke, 1997.
138 pp., paper, $12.95.
ISBN 1-55138-081-1.

Subject Headings:

Grades 7 - 9 / Ages 12 - 14.
Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4


On my first trip to Bermuda several years ago, the helpful taxi driver who picked me up at the airport pointed out interesting sights along the way. On learning that I was a Canadian, he began to list all the famous Canadians who have lived on Bermuda. As we passed the small cemetery of St. Mark's Church, east of Hamilton, he told me that the famous Canadian inventor of the radio, Reginald Fessenden, was buried there. The driver knew something that most Canadians did not. And he was right. Reginald Fessenden did invent the radio; at least the kind of A.M. radio we turn on each day to hear the news. And Fessenden should be famous, but he is not.
Harry Black has produced a fine little book that should have a long shelf life in middle school libraries. Although not particularly exciting or dynamically presented, it has the quality of those work-a-day, well-thumbed reference books that serve students' and teachers' needs so well.

      Canadians revere Sir Alexander Graham Bell as our outstanding inventor and Sir Frederick Banting as our preeminent medical scientist. However, even though Canadians have been pioneers in all branches of the physical and natural sciences, few of us can name even one or two more of these creative geniuses.

      The book's 28 biographies, each 2-5 pages long, touch on the lives of influential Canadian scientists and inventors who made significant contributions in agriculture, chemistry, physics, medicine, and mechanical technology over the past 20 years. These men and women, writes Black, "made a difference" in the way our modern world has developed, have shaped our daily experiences, and changed the way we understand our universe.

      These are real heroes in Black's estimation. They all deserve proper recognition because their effects and discoveries were derived from hard work, are positive creations, and perennial in their value.

      Of course, Black aims to imbue a little nationalistic spark and sense of historical worth in students with this book. That's a good idea. It's a common assertion that Canadian's heroes are known better outside their own country; scientists and inventors, welcome to the club of the great but unknown Canadians. That's a sad but true commentary.


Ian Stewart, a regular contributor to CM and an historian, didn't know most of these individuals.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364