A READER'S GUIDE TO CANADIAN HISTORY: BEGINNINGS TO CONFEDERATION
Edited by D. A. Muise.
Edited by J. L. Granatstein and Paul Stevens.
Volume 11 Number 2.
The past two decades have witnessed an impressive volume of writing on a wide variety of topics in Canadian history. As a result, it soon became very difficult to try to keep abreast of new articles and books. To help alleviate this predicament, bibliographies and reader's guides have been published. The two books being considered here are, in fact, third editions of the 1974 originals. The fact that labour and working-class history has its own chapter in this edition prompted Irving Abella to proclaim, "Canadian labour history has finally arrived!"
The editors felt a need to integrate the most recent writings "into the fabric of our teaching," and to assess the best available and most recent material (prior to 1981). The emphasis is on "professional" writings rather than "amateur" works, structured around "themes within a regional perspective."
In Volume 1, Beginnings to Confederation, some of the contributors include: Fernand Ouellet, Del Muise, C.J. Jaenen, and D. Richeson. In Volume 2, Confederation to the Present, J.L. Granatstein, Michael Bliss, H. Bowsfield, Ramsay Cook, and M. Zaslow are only five of the twelve contributors.
Volume 1 includes topics such as "Canada During the French Regime," "The Atlantic Provinces," and "Britain and British North America Before Confederation." "Foreign and Defence Policy," "Urban History," "Labour and Working-class History," and the various regions of Canada are some of the sections in Volume 2.
Generally speaking, each contributor touches on material such as related pamphlets and journals, general studies, historiography, social history, political and constitutional history, economic development, and biographical works.
The publisher's claim for the books is that they are a "critical assessment of the best and most useful articles, papers and books that have been published." This is not consistently done. J.L. Finlay and D.N. Sprague's The Structure of Canadian History is noted but not commented on. June Callwood's Portrait of Canada is, however, "completely unreliable."
Often different contributors remark on the same book in a different context. For example, Jack Granatstein and Paul Stevens term Ferns and Ostry's The Age of Mackenzie King, "an out-and-out hatchet job." Abella refers to the same work as, "a devastating account and well worth reading."
Both books contain a wealth of information about articles, theses, and other sources on Canadian history. With acknowledged limitations, there is some validity in the claim that at last, "all of Canadian history is covered in a two-volume inexpensive bibliography." They are a good buy for teachers and others who possess an abiding interest in Canadian history.
J.D. Ingram, Gordon Bell U. S., Winnipeg, MB.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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