CM . . .
. Volume X Number 12. . . . February 13, 2004
What a great book! In Let's Call It Canada: Amazing Stories of Canadian Place Names, award- winning writer Susan Hughes has encapsulated the many strands of historical events and personages, the primacy of our native people and the influences of our immigrant forebears from so many different places, into an informative and entertaining book which will have its readers returning again and again. As its name implies, Hughes' book, part of the "Wow Canada!" series, sparks the imagination about the why and the how of the naming of the places we call home.
With a country as large and diverse as Canada, this book does not pretend to be inclusive. Instead, Hughes sets out in her introduction her rationale for putting this book together. She writes, "...we decided to focus on the most common reasons for naming, and to include in each category the cleverest, funniest, and most memorable names we could uncover." Let's Call It Canada proceeds in exactly that fashion. It begins with the naming of our country, then each individual province and territory, and expands to include many towns, lakes, rivers, bays and mountains throughout our country. The breadth of Canada, both historically and physically, is overwhelming as the reader explores the 551 place names found in 22 chapters with titles such as "Dazed and Confused: Misspellings, Mispronunciations, and Plain Old Misnaming"; "By Any Other Name: Names from the Pages of Books"; "The World at Our Doorstep: Names From Other Lands"; and "Let Me Tell You: Places Named for Signals and Signs." Each page has several stories to capture the reader's attention whether it is about why Gimli (Manitoba) is called Gimli; who the courageous teenager named Vercheres (Quebec) was; or that Ha Ha Bay (Newfoundland) is not a joke. The book is written as a compilation of diverse vignettes with watercolour and photographic illustrations which add to its reader friendliness. Several vignettes appear on each page, and, although they have unique focuses, they are connected to the common theme of the chapter.
The self-explanatory table of contents is complemented with an inclusive index of all the bold face place names. While there is no formal bibliography or reference list, Hughes has included a listing of further resources both in print and Internet formats for the interested and eager reader.
Let's Call It Canada is a definite must-have for any library whether used by children or not. Anyone who has ever wondered about why a Canadian place received its name will be captivated as will the reader who is just curious about what might be found in a book with this name. The diverse and awesome nature of our country is readily apparent. Any reader, Canadian or otherwise, will say, "Yoho". (see p. 12.)
Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, NL.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.