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Malcolm, Andrew H.

Markham (Ont.), Fitzhenry & Whiteside, c1985. 385pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-88902-984-9. CIP

Reviewed by Catherine R. Cox

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Andrew H. Malcolm visited nearly every part of Canada when he was Toronto bureau chief for the New York Times. His interest in Canada was enhanced by the fact that his parents were Canadians and that he had visited relatives here in his youth. As a reporter in the Far East, New York, and San Francisco, he has won four major awards.

This book was written to explain Canada to Americans. It is a collection of vignettes portraying the lives of ordinary Canadians from the Arctic to the Maritimes. It contains analyses for the lay reader of our economy, our geography, our attitude towards the United States, our system of measurement, our way of life.

It is usually refreshing and sometimes thought provoking to read an analysis of our country written by an outsider. Malcolm may have been constrained by his own close relationship to Canada and things Canadian, but he seems to have little to say that is not already familiar to most Canadians. He appears enamoured and enchanted by the far North and the people that live there, prospectors, adventurers, pioneers. I am not sure how timely his picture of the North is, but I am positive that the last Maritimer to call New England "the Boston States" died in 1935. Besides by-gone details of northern Canadian life, Yukon Mounties, dog-sled driving guides and wives meeting a bear at the door, he also has some factual details that are out of date and now erroneous. For example, the RCMP no longer runs the Canadian Secret Service, and are not equivalent to the FBI.

While trying to give Americans an insight into Canadian culture, Malcolm inadvertently reveals some details of American life to the reader. For example, while giving the usual account of the differences between American and Canadian football he notes that: "There are children safely by themselves at these events as young as ten." It took me a few minutes to deduce why to an American that would be noteworthy.

This is a book for reading. It is written in a reporter's style moving easily from vignette to vignette. It is not scholarly, is full of personal comment and reminiscence, and altogether an affectionate look at Canada. For the audience at which it was aimed, it is charming, informative, and readable. It is indexed and illustrated with black-and-white photographs. There is little curricular applicability. Recommended for public libraries.

Catherine R. Cox, Moncton H.S., Moncton, N.B.
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