________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 6 . . . . November 12, 1999

Petticoat 1 cover The Petticoat Expeditions Series.

Helena Bonham Carter (Narrator). Pepita Ferrari (Director). Kent Martin (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1997.
$110.95. Order Number: 193C9197 128.

Part 1: Anna Jameson.
23 min., 29 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9197 125.

Subject Headings:
Jameson, Mrs. (Anna), 1794-1860-Journeys-Ontario.
Ontario-Description and travel.
Indians of North America-Ontario-History.

Part 2: Frances Hopkins.
19 min., 32 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9197 126.

Subject Headings:
Hopkins, Frances Anne, 1838-1918-Journeys-Canada.
Fur trade-Canada-History.
Landscape painting-19th century-Canada.

Part 3: Countess of Aberdeen.
20 min., 1 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9197 127.

Subject Headings:
Aberdeen and Temair, Ishbel Gordon, Marchioness of, 1857-1939-Journeys-Canada.
Canada-Description and travel.

Grades 5 - 9 / Ages 10 - 14.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

cover of number 2 excerpt:

History presented in a lively way makes a lasting impression on children.

The Petticoat Expeditions Series, created by the National Film Board, is an excellent way to teach children the contribution that women made to early Canadian history and the situation that women faced in Victorian times. Each film begins with the same narration by English actress Helena Bonham-Carter. She concisely outlines the situation faced by women during the Victorian era, names the other two women in the series and then begins to recount the experience of the woman who is the subject of each video.

     Anna Jameson was an acclaimed author who left her husband and traveled alone in a canoe through Upper Canada during the 1830's. Frances Hopkins was an artist who travelled with her husband throughout the wilderness and painted the vanishing way of life of the voyageurs. Lady Ishbel Aberdeen was not only a social reformer who helped found the Victorian Order of Nurses in Canada and the Canada and the National Council of Women, but a photographer who chronicled her travels across the continent in the 1890's. cover 0f 3These three women defied the constraints of society and their hoop skirts to pursue useful and interesting activities that contributed to the building of Canada and the recording of history. Each video ends with a brief summary of what happened to each woman. The videos are each about 20 minutes long, and actors realistically depict the subjects' lives. The scenes are interesting and well-acted. Bonham-Carter narrates, while voice-overs record the writings of each of the women. Anna Jameson despairs upon arriving in a canoe from England alone on the shores of tiny, muddy Toronto. The Countess of Aberdeen is horrified at the bleakness of the lives of Scottish settlers on the prairies, and Frances Hopkins is enraptured by the hard work of the fur traders. The narration also reminds the viewer that the subjects were influenced by attitudes of their era. For example, Lady Ishbel Aberdeen organized to import British orphans to farms and homes in Canada. At the time, this was considered a charitable thing to do for homeless waifs, but the reality was a life of near enslavement and exploitation for the children.
     A teacher could use any or all these videos to show students different aspects of life in 19th century Canada. Each video can stand on its own, but, combined, they portray the experiences of women, the life of the rich, the poorest colonists, the Metis and aboriginal people and show the situations in different parts of Canada. The Petticoat Expeditions Series is a useful, educational purchase.

Highly recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364