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THE GUMBOOT NAVY: MEMORIES OF THE FISHERMEN'S RESERVE.

Popp, Carol.

Lantzville, (B.C.). Oolichan Books, 1988. 160pp, cloth. $24.95. ISBN 0-88982-091-0. CIP

Adult/Post-secondary
Reviewed by Adele M. Fasick

Volume 17 Number 3
1989 May


Carol Popp interviewed British Columbia fishermen who were mobilized in 1938 to protect the Pacific coast from attack and she has captured some of their memories on tape. A series of short paragraphs, each one by a different speaker, describes the day-to-day operations of the group, the struggle of young independent fishermen to adjust to navy regulations, and the parties that celebrated their camaraderie.

The effect is rather choppy, since there is no indication of who is speaking. Readers without a background knowledge of World War II (and that includes most high school students) will have difficulty understanding the events mentioned.

The most problematic section of the book is the chapter on the internment of the Japanese, immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the fishermen were sent out to round up Japanese fishing boats and their crews. The accounts of this operation given by members of the reserve reflect the attitudes current in 1941a belief that many Canadians of Japanese descent were subversives and that the internment was a necessary defense measure. While this is interesting historical material and can be used to give a feeling for the climate of opinion. It nevertheless repeats a number of unsubstantiated racist rumours about Japanese Canadians.

The author has performed a service to history by collecting these reminiscences and Canadians will be grateful to her for doing so but the material is more suitable for adult historians than for young people.


Adele M. Fasick, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
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