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Tapestry Records, 1982.
Distributed by D.C. Heath.
Phonodisc. 1-12", 33 l/3rpm, stereo. $9.98.

Grades 6 and up.
Reviewed by George Gereben.

Volume 11 Number 1.
1983 January.

To most students of history, pioneers are a lost breed, no longer alive even in history books and dusty autobiographies.

However, this record is a testament to the fact that Canadian pioneers do exist. Canada, as a relatively young country, still has living within its boundaries those who remember what it was like coming to a new country and vividly recall these experiences.

What started as a Centennial project for Bill McNeill, has now mushroomed into a CBC radio program (now into its fifteenth year), a book published in 1978, and now a record, a living documentary of those who came and opened this land.

The record follows a loose chronological format, bound together by. McNeill’s narration. It starts with the recollections of a woman who was only six years old at the time of the Riel rebellion in the 1880s, travels through the migration to the West (including words from the late John Diefenbaker), to the battlefields of World War I.

The personal stories related by these pioneers humanize the dry facts found in the history books and bring to life the manners and social and economic conditions of a bygone era.

One of the most fascinating stories is told by Lorne Saunders, a Saskatchewan homesteader, who was forced, by the coming of winter, to live in a hole he dug in a hillside. He stayed there from November to April during one of the first winters of the rush for free land in the West in the early part of this century.

As a supplementary learning resource (one at a moderate cost), the record would enhance the regular lessons on post-Confederation settlement, especially for students in grades 6 to 9.

Despite the age of these pioneers, the sound quality of the record is quite good, and McNeill's voice is a pleasure to listen to. However, special attention must be paid to certain sections as many of the speakers have accents and speak quite quickly.

George Gereben, Hamilton, ON.
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