________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005


Canada: A Primary Source Cultural Guide. (Primary Sources of World Cultures).

Lois Sakany.
New York, NY: PowerPlus Books/The Rosen Publishing Group (Distributed in Canada by Saunders Book Company), 2004.
128 pp., cloth, $37.45.
ISBN 0-8239-3998-7.

Subject Headings:
Canada-Civilization-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Civilization-Sources-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4


Since 1969, Canada has had two official languages, English and French. However, the controversy over which language Canadians should speak dates back to before the country was formed. Since England and France’s near simultaneous arrival in Canada, there have been innumerable battles over political and cultural supremacy. Many of the lines that have been drawn between those two cultures are based on language. In England’s and France’s efforts to dominate the culture linguistically, little attention was paid to respecting, much less maintaining, the languages of the First Nations.


Part of a 12-title series, this book provides general information about Canada’s history and what it is like to live in Canada today. Following a brief introduction, the first of eleven chapters features the geographic regions of Canada, their natural resources and climate. Other chapters highlight the language and the country’s commitment to multiculturalism, myths and legends, major civic and religious holidays (including some which are specific to certain areas of Canada, like the maple syrup festivals held in Nova Scotia and Quebec), religion, art, architecture, literature and music, food, daily life, education and the world of work. Several famous Canadians, such as writer Margaret Atwood, architect Arthur Erickson and singer Alanis Morisette, to name a few, are featured. In the section on food, the author discusses the influence of the diversity of the land and its people on regional cuisine. For example, the east and west coasts provide fish and seafood, while the French-Canadians have contributed tourtière and other dishes to Canadian cooking. Author Sakany also discusses the changes in “traditional” families and the implications of an aging society. At the back of the book, there is a section entitled, “Canada at a Glance” which provides a timeline and economic, political and cultural fact sheets as well as a list of web sites for further information. A table of contents, a brief glossary and a fairly extensive index are also included.

     Sakany writes honestly and without bias, even when describing controversial issues such as secession and French signage in Quebec. Though parts of the text might be too difficult for some elementary students, the book has a place in elementary school libraries. There is an abundance of photographs, maps and illustrations to enhance the text.


Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird’s Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

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

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.