________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 7 . . . . November 30, 2001

cover The Halifax Citadel.

Brian Cuthbertson. Photography by Julian Beveridge.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2001.
72 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 0-88780-517-5.

Subject Headings:
Halifax Citadel (Halifax, N.S.)-History.
Halifax Citadel (Halifax, N.S.)-Guidebooks.
Fortifications-Nova Scotia-Halifax-History.

Grades 4-7/Ages 9-12.

Review by Lisa Doucet.

** /4


Between 1869 and 1871, the 78th Highlanders was one of the two British Army infantry regiments in the Halifax garrison. When Parks Canada chose this regiment for its thematic interpretation of the Citadel, it was bringing to life memories of a well-loved regiment, at a time of peace and prosperity in Halifax. Each spring men and women are recruited for summer employment as guides and animators. They are trained in the 19th-century dress and drills of the 78th Highlanders and of the 3rd Brigade Royal Artillery, which manned the Citadel's guns.

The Halifax Citadel provides readers with a close-up look at one of Canada's best-known bastioned forts. It begins with a fairly detailed description of the fortress: its buildings, geographical features and armaments. It then proceeds to a discussion of the soldiers who lived there and what their lives were like at the time period in question, which is 1869 - 1871. In the second part of his book, Cuthbertson examines the fort's history and describes the genesis of each of the four different structures that emerged over the years to assume the role of the Citadel.

the citadel

     The book has as its subject a most entertaining and colourful topic. Many of the historical points that are brought out will undoubtedly prove interesting to young and older readers alike. It provides a very vivid description of life at this time. In fact, one of the book's chief strengths is this realistic depiction of the daily lives of the soldiers. By not romanticizing their experiences, the author offers readers a candid insight into the time period. Many of the photographs and illustrations are also eye-catching and well-chosen.

     Unfortunately, however, I did find this book to be very dry in its presentation of much of the information. It could have benefitted greatly from the use of anecdotes or stories of individuals to relieve the monotony of much of the text. The style of writing is dry and academic, making the book read too much like an old history text. The format also proved to be very frustrating in that it is often difficult to distinguish between the explanatory text accompanying the pictures and the actual text of the book itself. The book seemed to suffer from a glaring lack of any sort of unifying theme to hold the data together, and it has no clear audience. There is not enough information provided to make it a must-have for researchers or history buffs, and yet it is not elegant enough to make it a coffee table book. The Halifax Citadel will find its niche as a souvenir piece and/or as a homework book in school libraries.

Recommended with Reservations.

Lisa Doucet is a children's bookseller at Woozles in Halifax, NS.

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