CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006
This 10-volume series, entitled “How Canada Became Canada,” is a well-researched examination of the events and people that shaped this country. The introduction, identical in each volume, interestingly states that the purpose of the series is to educate not only Canadians, but also their American neighbours, about the story of Canada. Averaging six chapters, the books contain a great deal of information and explain the events in a thorough manner. The text is suited to better readers, not only because of the concepts presented, but also because of the vocabulary. Coloured boxes provide further information specific to the theme. A table of contents, an index, a timeline and a list of books and web sites for extended research are included. Instead of a glossary at the back of the book, new terms and their definitions, typed in italics, appear in sidebars. There are plenty of maps, drawings, photographs and paintings to enhance the text, while a band with a tiny Canadian flag at the top of each page unifies the text and the series.
Before Canada features the geological processes that formed Canada billions of years ago as well as the landforms and regions of today. The author presents theories about the arrival of the first humans to this country and their subsequent migration to different parts of Canada. Various Aboriginal groups and their way of life - homes, food, hunting methods, weapons, tools and clothing - their legends and their dependence on the buffalo are discussed. The book ends with the arrival of the Europeans and explorers such as Columbus and Cabot.
Topics in The Settlement of New France & Acadia include the explorations of Cartier and Champlain, early colonization attempts, the hardships faced by the settlers, and the arrival of missionaries to teach First Nations people about Christianity. With the population largely dominated by the English, King Louis XIV of France sent young girls to wed French bachelors in Canada, his goal being to increase the population of French-speaking people. His scheme worked - the population doubled in six years - but the animosity between the French and English grew. European influence was not always positive. Settlers brought with them epidemics, such as measles, influenza and smallpox, previously unheard of in First Nations groups. The book also has information about the seigneurial system, the development of schools and the founding of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Britain's Canada describes the continuing hostilities between the French and English, King James I's claiming of Newfoundland for England and the decimation of the Beothuk people. Other topics include explorers Radisson and des Groseilliers and the expansion of the fur trade, the impact of the Hudson's Bay Company, the conquest of Acadia by the British, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the establishment of Halifax.
Conflicts, Changes & Confederation begins with the Quebec Act and the repercussions from American colonists. The American Revolutionary War, the Iroquois Confederacy and the Constitution Act, which saw the splitting of the country into Upper and Lower Canada, are also discussed. Explorations of Captain James Cook and Alexander Mackenzie, the formation of the North West Company, the War of 1812 and the conferences leading up to Confederation round out this volume.
From the Atlantic to the Pacific highlights the Red River settlement, Louis Riel and Métis rights and westward expansion. At this time, the government acquired land from First Nations people and signed treaties, obtaining land in exchange for money and promising the First Nations people reserve land, schools, farm tools and animals. Escalating attacks on traveling settlers resulted in the formation of the North West Mounted Police. Other topics in this volume include the development and expansion of the railway, the Northwest Rebellion and the Klondike Gold Rush.
In A Nation is Born, readers will learn about the clash between imperialists and nationalists, the Laurier years, the outbreak of World War I and some of its battles (e.g. Vimy Ridge). There is information about some famous disasters, such as the destruction of the center block of the Parliament buildings by fire in 1916 and the Halifax Explosion in which two ships collided, setting off 2700 tons of explosives in the harbour. The development of labour unions and the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 are covered along with the work of women's rights champion, Nellie McClung.
Crisis at Home & Abroad highlights the stock market crash and the Great Depression, Canada's role in the Second World War, the U-boat attacks of 1942, and the relocation of Japanese Canadians to internment camps. The formation of the United Nations, NATO and NORAD are discussed as well as the Cold War, Newfoundland and Labrador's joining the union, the Korean War and the Suez Crisis.
Redefining Canada features the time of social change in Canada as baby boomers challenged their parents' values and beliefs. The contributions of Prime Minister Lester Pearson, separatism and the FLQ, the Trudeau era and the new Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are covered in this volume. There is also a section about Montreal's Expo 67, a very successful world fair that showcased Canada's achievements.
Canada's Changing Society focuses on the Mulroney years and Mulroney's introduction of the dreaded GST, details of the NAFTA agreement - the disputes over softwood lumber, the Canadian Wheat Board and Canadian beef - and the Quebec Referendum. Canadian Prime Ministers' often strained relationships with their American counterparts, particularly after Jean Chretien refused to support George W. Bush in his decision to invade Iraq, are also discussed. Canada's increasing role in world affairs - from peacekeeping and tsunami relief to helping Americans during 9/11 by sheltering passengers whose flights were diverted to Newfoundland - and the creation of Nunavut are other topics. There is even mention of the cancelled 2004-2005 NHL hockey season.
The final volume, Canada's Modern-Day First Nations, provides a history of First Nations people and their adaptation to life in various parts of the country, particularly in the North. Also highlighted are the both the positive and negative influences of the white man on First Nations people, the important role and contributions of First Nations groups and the controversial treaties and land claims made by First Nations groups seeking compensation for the land that was taken away from them.
An excellent series, definitely worthy of purchase.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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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.