Views of the Sault.
Heather Ingram. Illustrated by Graham Smith.
Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Sault Ste. Marie - the Heart of the Great Lakes - is a picturesque city in Ontario's north. Originally a gathering place for native peoples from across North America, Sault Ste. Marie has grown from a remote fur trading post to a cosmopolitan centre of learning, business and industry. Views of the Sault takes both the visitor and the resident alike on a comprehensive tour of over ninety significant landmarks in Sault Ste. Marie and area, leaving out no aspect of the city's long and rich history.I'll admit that I wasn't looking forward to reviewing Views of the Sault. I didn't know anything about this Northern Ontario town; I'd never driven through it, didn't remember meeting anyone from it, nor did I really care about it. However, it didn't take long before I became engrossed in the quaint little histories that make up this book - and came to appreciate the tidbits of anecdotal information I was adding to my store of never-to-be-used knowledge, as well as the town and its people.
If I ever drive down Ontario's #17 highway (that's the Trans-Canada to everyone else) to the geographical centre of North America, I'll come to a twelve foot replica of a loonie, Sault Ste. Marie's roadside emblematic sculpture. The replica is there because Robert Carmichael, the designer of the dollar coin is from The Sault. Driving into town, using Views of the Sault as my guide, I will soon come to Roberta Bondar Park and Pavilion named in honour of Dr. Roberta Bondar, Canada's first woman astronaut, who is also from The Sault.
The book mentions many interesting, picturesque, historical, and modern sights - ninety-nine different places in all. There is the Romanesque style Gore Street Pumping Station; one of Ontario's first venereal disease laboratories; the last passenger vessel constructed for travel on the Great Lakes which is now the MS Norgoma Museum Ship; and the Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Centre, which has many unique displays dedicated to Canada's adventurous pioneer bush-pilots. The Sault also has modern shopping malls, schools, athletic facilities, and all the other things Canadians today believe they need for the good life.
Whether they're about Nanaimo, British Columbia; Yorkton, Saskatchewan; East St. Paul, Manitoba (my home town); or Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia; community histories like Ingram's are vitally important to Canadians. To the average reader a lot of these books' stories and details might seem trite and the people pedestrian, but, as the late Margaret Laurence wrote, "it is in the particular that we find the universal." In our community we find our roots, values and purposes, or, at least, we learn what these were in the past. Conversely, in reading these histories, we might also discover things about ourselves and our way of life that don't make us proud; things that make us want to right historical wrongs or even change our attitudes about the world.
Views of the Sault is a labour of joy and love. Heather Ingram is unabashedly sentimental about her hometown and asks for her reader's indulgence. She brags a bit, but that's all right with me, considering that her motives are pure and her cause is just. Heather Ingram wants the new generation of Sault Ste. Marie residents and all other Canadians to appreciate and share in her town's heritage. Good for you Heather! Your book is the kind that creates the ties that bind. We'll see you at the Bon Soo Winter Carnival in the near future.
Ian Stewart is a small town boy who lives in Winnipeg with his wife and two dogs.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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