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Ottawa, Statistics Canada, c1984. various pagings, paper, $5.50, ISBN 0-660-51270-X. Distributed by Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ont., K1A OT6.

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Howard Hurt

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Government agencies churn out so many titles of dubious value that it has become almost fashionable to dismiss their publications as bureaucratic or political busy-work. Year after year, however, Statistics Canada continues to extract comprehensible summaries from their full reports that offer ordinary Canadians the facts and figures needed to understand their country.

Unfortunately, these statistics often look like statistics and for most nonexperts, certainly for high school students, there can be no more certain turn-off. This publication is different. From beginning to end, no effort has been spared to create a booklet that will beg to be read. The cover, for example, features a blue, filtered photograph of a prefabricated housing unit being moved through the snow to what is possibly a settlement in the expanding oil fields of Alberta. In sixteen pages (and an equal number in French), it encapsulates the most important trends in Canadian demography and suggests causes, but texts are kept short and subjects are attractively separated by bold lettering and generous spaces. Seven tables from among the many possible are well integrated into the discussion. Four bar graphs use two shades of blue to achieve eye-appeal and clarity. Finally, two equal-area maps of Canadian census divisions display the spatially uneven nature of population distribution and the varying rates of change during the period from 1976 to 1981.

For secondary school users, the attractions of this publication are its appearance and brevity. Of course, if it were to be judged as a reference tool, the brevity would also be its chief weakness since it could not possibly satisfy searches for specific information. Because it confines itself to very general questions of population growth and distribution, recourse to the Canada Year Book and other sources will often be necessary. It is not meant for research but to be read from cover to cover to gain a better general knowledge of Canadian affairs.

Such different forces as political leadership and economic conditions create change in nations. Population change is one of the most potent, yet neglected, of these. A highly urbanized country with a large percentage of older citizens simply does not act the same as one with a younger or more rural populace. Social studies teachers should be aware of this and be looking for ways to interpret demographic facts to their classes. Since standard textbooks are soon outdated, newspaper clippings, journal articles and palatable government reports are essential supplementary sources of information.

This document is a must for all Canadian senior high schools and public libraries.

Howard Hurt, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
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