CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 12. . . . February 14, 2003
Like Aboriginal people, early Europeans traveled great distances, risking danger and death as they explored unknown territories. Why did they do it? Some had no choice. Wars or overcrowding drove them from home, and they needed somewhere new to live. Others explored out of curiosity-to find out what was there. Many hoped to find gold or other riches.
The Kids Book of Canadian History is a fine complement to the Kids Can Press 2001 title The Kids Book of Canadian Firsts (CM, 8(10), January 18, 2002). Both books are of a uniform high quality, excellently illustrated and will be welcome additions to any school, classroom, or home library. Carlotta Hacker follows the time-honored timeline and pattern previous generations of elementary school students followed as they began their study of Canadian political and social history. Canadian history, she writes, "is an adventure story full of brave people and bold deeds." Some might say the book offers an outmoded and overconfident evolutionary model of history. Within each of the book's sections students are introduced to the heroes and heroines who strove successfully against historical forces to create the modern democratic nation we live in today. She begins with the story of Canada's First People and the environmental reasons for the development of seven major cultural groupings among these people, as well as briefly describing the differences in each of the major groups. Then followed the arrival of European explorers, missionaries, settlers and French colonial and mercantile development; the clash of the French and British for the control of North America came next, and the British conquest of Canada created the basic linguistic and cultural dichotomy that exists in Canada today. Responsible government evolved in the Canadian colony through the nineteenth century, eventually leading to the creation of true parliamentary democracy. After Confederation in 1867, Rupert's Land was purchased. As the new western territory is opened to the influx of settlers, the new nation faces rebellion at Red River and in the North-West. In the 20th century, Canada continued to evolve to meet the increasing demands of industrialization, depression, wars, and the social upheavals created by feminism, modern life styles, and pluralism. Hacker's assumptions are open to real challenges, but her book helps meet the real need of offering social studies teachers, who might have little academic grounding in traditional Canadian political history, basic frames of reference to work from as they organize their programs.
Ian Stewart teaches at David Livingstone School in Winnipeg, MB, and is a frequent contributor to CM and the book review pages of the Winnipeg Free Press.
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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.