THE NEW NORTHWEST: THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE FRANK CREAN EXPEDITIONS, 1908-1909
Reviewed by Howard Hurt
Reviewed by Howard Hurt
Volume 22 Number 3
This unpretentious addition to our stock of Canadiana might, at first appraisal, appears to be only of local interest. That is deceiving. Written by a professor of history with the assistance of the National Archives and Saskatchewan Archives Board, The New Northwest has much to offer colleges, secondary schools and public libraries from coast to coast. In fact, depending on the reader, it could serve as a graphic geographic description, a readable example of regional history, or a provocative comment on today's political agendas.
Because there are more than eighty pages of photographs, a few maps and many descriptions of vegetative and climatic conditions, it offers a feeling similiar to many articles in Canadian Geographic. For students or armchair travellers intrigued by little-known lands beyond the North Saskatchewan, this will be a mine of unique information.
Social studies teachers and history buffs will surely recognize a local study that is both simple and interesting. Here is a snapshot of a hopelessly flawed one-year survey motivated by politics and led by a dubious guide. Footnotes, statistics, maps copious photographs and contemporary comments are there for analysis by students exploring this genre or simply to clarify much of what was shaping prairie settlement.
For Canadians concerned with the contemporary politics of immigration, it is all very intriguing. Then, as now, it is clear that politicians and bureaucrats had a vested interest in continuing floods of settlers. Naturally, they exuded confidence that ever greater numbers would generate unrelenting growth. Robert Young, the assertive superintendent of Railways and Swamp Lands, used a deceiving pamphlet and misguided expedition to promote such ideas.
This is a succinct, carefully researched, clearly written and useful contribution.
Howard Hurt is a librarian with the Education Library, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, British Columbia
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