________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 9 . . . . January 1, 1999

cover Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Volume XIV, 1911-1920.

Edited by Ramsey Cook and Jean Hamelin.
Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 1998.
1247 pp., cloth, $100.00.
ISBN 0-8020-3476-4.

Subject Heading:

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Alexander Gregor.

**** /4

This is the fourteen volume in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography series, each of which, from the nineteen century on, covers a period of approximately one decade. The entries are of significant figures in Canadian history (who may or may not actually be Canadian) who died during the period covered by the particular volume. The entries, themselves, vary in length from approximately 750-1500 words, and are accompanied by bibliographical information (though not necessarily the sort of references that would be attainable outside a research library).

      Biography can undoubtedly be an intrinsically interesting vehicle for historical understanding. As the Dictionary, itself, claims: "Biographical accounts, perhaps more than legends or fables, reverberate in our consciousness because they turn the spotlight on individuals who are similar to ourselves, and yet different....All Canadians, to whatever ethnic or social group they belong and whatever their place of origin or religious beliefs, may glean from these pages the historical sustenance so necessary for creating their identity" (pp. vii-viii). But it is rather unlikely that anyone below the university level would feel impelled to wander through encyclopedic entries of this sort for purposes of intellectual recreation.

      For the high school level, the approach taken to inclusion of entries (i.e., by time of death) has some obvious problems associated with it. The volume is indexed according to various topical clusters; and, for the more informed (or well guided) student, those various categorizations would allow for some quite exciting investigations, with a range of indexes based not just on vocation (from accountants to surveyors) or thematic issues, but also such additional variables as region, gender, religion, and place of birth. Those clusterings will not, however, reflect the full scope - or even necessarily a representative sample - of the important individuals involved in those areas: only the ones who died during that time. While this would be of use to someone possessing a general understanding of the issue under consideration, the Dictionary would not by itself provide the less experienced student with an adequate interpretative framework. That the teacher would have to provide.

      The Dictionary is a valuable source of scholarship and information - often original and unique to this publication - but its use at the high school level would require considerable assistance and guidance.

Recommended with reservations.

Dr. Alexander D. Gregor is the Director of the Centre for Higher Education, Research and Development at the University of Manitoba.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364