CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 28. . . .March 26, 2010
Part of the “Provinces and Territories of Canada” series, these titles provide a general overview of each of the provinces. The chapters follow an identical sequence, with such topics as geography, climate, natural resources, flora and fauna, tourism, industry, education, early history, government, culture, the arts and sports. Throughout the books, there are “Get the Facts” boxes which offer additional trivia related to the topic and “Keep Connected” boxes which refer readers to a specific web site for further information. At the back of the book is a section about Canada. This double-page spread shows a map of Canada with major cities, lakes and rivers. Both the map and the bands alongside the map - listing the provinces and territories, the date they entered Confederation, the capital city, area and population - are the same in each book. The only difference is the band along the bottom of the page which showcases the featured province’s symbols, such as the flag, coat-of-arms, flower, animal and sport. Also at the back of the book are Brain Teasers, eight questions, some general and some quite specific, which test the reader’s knowledge. A table of contents, an index, and a list of books and web sites for further study are also included.
First to capture the reader’s attention are the bright, colourful covers. The text is easy to comprehend and provides just enough information. Web sites featured in the “Keep Connected” boxes are reliable and not likely to become obsolete anytime soon. Both the information and many of the illustrations are very current, adding to the books’ appeal. Comprised of drawings, maps, charts, black and white archival photos and colour photos, the illustrations, all suitably labeled, enhance the text. There is only one major flaw in the text: the danger in providing examples of famous people- for instance, singers and athletes - who hail from a specific province is that someone inevitably will be left out. In the title about Manitoba, there is a reference to the now-defunct Winnipeg Jets, yet there is no mention at all of two of Canada’s most decorated Olympians, Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes. A glaring omission!
Manitoba: Spirited Energy features information about Canada’s “keystone province” located in the centre of the country. Readers might be surprised to learn that Manitoba consists of more than just flat prairie and boasts more ethnic groups than any other province. Winnipeg, the province’s capital city, acts as a transportation hub for road, rail and river networks. Hydroelectric power, mining and agriculture are featured, as well as facts about the Riel Rebellion, the Selkirk settlers, and the rich and diverse cultural scene. One unfortunate oversight is that, in the section pertaining to plants and animals, the garter snake pits at Narcisse are not mentioned. Named “New Scotland” by a Scottish nobleman because the Cape Breton highlands reminded him of the highlands in his homeland, Nova Scotia is Canada’s second-smallest province. Today, about 25% of the province’s residents are of Scottish descent. In Nova Scotia: Canada’s Ocean Playground, readers will learn about the important role that water plays in the province’s economy (fishing and tourism), industry (hydroelectric power) and recreation (water sports). In fact, the province is only second to British Columbia in the value of its fisheries. Halifax harbour is ice-free year round, a boon to the transportation industry. Featured in this title are several places of interest and historic sites, some of which include the star-shaped Halifax Citadel National Historic Site (the most visited national site in the country) and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which has exhibits of the Halifax Explosion and artifacts from the Titanic.
There is more to Saskatchewan than meets the eye. The only Canadian province with no naturally-defined boundaries, Saskatchewan is a land of contrasts, from its extremes in temperatures to its diverse geography which features prairies, forests, deserts and the rugged Badlands. Relying heavily on agriculture to drive its economy, Saskatchewan also boasts the world’s largest potash mine in Esterhazy. In addition, Saskatchewan: Land of Living Skies showcases some of the province’s ethnic groups and the festivals, events and places which celebrate their cultural diversity, as well as the vibrant arts scene which includes theatre, music, visual arts and writing. It is interesting to note that Saskatchewan pioneered the concepts of credit unions and universal health care.
Providing general information, these appealing books would be a good addition to the classroom, school or public library.
Gail Hamilton is a retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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