________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 15 . . . . March 30, 2001

Transit Across Canada Series.

Michel Barbeau (Director). Pierre Lapointe (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2000.

Subject Headings:
Physical geography-Canada-Juvenile films.
Canada-Description and travel-Juvenile films.
Video recordings for the hearing imparied.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.
Review by Gail Hamilton.



Life: People, Fauna and Flora.

27 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9100 019.

**** /4


Air: Climate.

20 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9100 015.

**** /4


Water: Reserves and Networks.

20 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9100 016.

**** /4


Fire: Energy.

22 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9100 018.

**** /4


Land: Territory and Resources.

25 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9100 017.

**** /4

Recommended both for elementary and secondary students, this superb series of five videos, ranging from 20 to 27 minutes in length, focuses on Canada's climate, landforms, energy resources, water reserves and networks, people, flora and fauna. These multi-functional videos can be viewed as stand-alones or as a group, in any sequence. They can serve as an introduction to or a review of a Canada study or as a jumping off point for further research. Spectacular colour videography shows parts of the country and aspects of its primary and secondary resources seldom seen by students. Cartoon-like maps and animation are interspersed throughout the videos, adding visual interest, a touch of humour and a unifying thread to the series. Narration, offering pertinent and interesting information, blends extremely well with the visual component and is easy for elementary students to comprehend. One of the series' many strengths is that no single region of Canada gets star billing. Inside each video case is a summary of the video's main concepts as well as a chart indicating how each volume can be incorporated into specific topics and subject areas in the classroom.

      In Air, viewers learn that Canada has a strange mix of climates - heat, snow, rain, fog and wind--with temperatures ranging from a record 45 degrees C in Saskatchewan to -63 degrees C in the Yukon. Climate influences how Canadians live: their food, clothing, buildings, moods and recreational activities. Other topics covered are Canada's various regional climates, a brief history of climate changes and inventions, such as snowmobiles, designed to overcome the elements. In addition, there are are highlights of the ice storm of January, 1998, which left four million people in eastern Canada without electricity for several weeks, the costliest catastrophe in Canada's history. Unbelievable footage of the devastation caused by floods, ice storms and forest fires will amaze viewers.

      The premise of Fire is that energy is everywhere, but it must be converted to usable power. Without getting too technical, the narrator gives basic descriptions of several conversion processes used today. Electricity can be produced by solar power, uranium and water, or by burning coal. Following black-and-white archival footage of early forms of energy, the video highlights fossil fuels, petroleum and natural gas, with 80% of it being found in Alberta and providing 75% of Canada's energy. The latter part of the video offers a brief glimpse into possible energy sources of the future.

      Canada's vast land area can be divided into six very different regions: the Cordillera, the central plains, the Canadian Shield, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region, the Atlantic region and the Arctic. In Land, viewers can compare and contrast the landforms and the primary industries in each. The video takes a look at modern-day mining in which a miner sitting in his office can operate underground machinery by remote control. Alberta's Badlands, with their unique hoodoos, the Niagara Escarpment's white cedar forests, the prairies' wheat, sunflower and canola crops and P.E.I.'s potato farming are also featured.

      When it comes to water, Canada is a country of superlatives: it has the longest coastline, the highest tides (Bay of Fundy) and the largest volume of fresh water (Great Lakes) in the world, and more lakes than all other countries combined. And, for trivia buffs, the largest skating rink in the world is the Rideau Canal, equal in length to 125 hockey rinks laid end to end. Water- Reserves and Networks focuses on water in its many forms, including glaciers, icebergs and waterfalls. One of the many concepts in this volume is that water is life, its availability governing land use (e.g. farming and the production of electricity) and affecting the development of towns and cities along former fur trade routes.

      Life-People, Fauna and Flora highlights Canadian settlement, from the first nomadic hunters who migrated from northern Asia to the Vikings and European explorers. Different waves of immigration throughout Canada's brief history resulted in the cultural diversity which makes the country unique. Transportation and communication have also evolved. The flora and fauna portions of the video feature the Sitka spruce and the species of insects which live on the tree as well as how animals have adapted to life in Canada. A timeline, maps and animated sketches add interest.

      The combination of fabulous footage and fascinating narrative makes this series a "must-have." An excellent addition to any library collection!

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

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

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364