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Francis, Daniel.

Edmonton, Hurtig, c1986. 224pp, cloth, $16.95, ISBN 0-88830-280-0. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Robin Lewis

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

Francis's latest contribution to the study of Canada introduces us to about twenty explorers from the "Age of Heroic Discovery," the era before mechanized transportation. Sample topics are "The Hudson Bay Passage," "The Royal Navy in the North," and "The Search for Franklin." It is shown how each venture led to increasing knowledge of our Arctic and, eventually, to Canadian sovereignty. Although much of the information given here is available elsewhere in more detail, its accessibility in one volume makes it valuable.

The book is sturdily bound, with an attractive dust jacket. Moderately-sized print is clear and well-spaced. There is an annotated bibliography and an index. The sketches and photographs have been carefully chosen. The maps are perhaps the most appropriate ever put in a Canadian history. Only basic names are given. Those not needed again are dropped in subsequent chapters. When a reader finds an unfamiliar place name, he or she merely leafs back to the nearest map, without recourse to a gazetteer or index.

Francis writes unemotionally. Even his reference to Samuel Hearne and the Bloody Falls Massacre does not rate an exclamation point. This is not through a lack of sensitivity. He appreciates Otto Sverdrup's beautiful description of the annual sunset. But this passage too, is quoted purposefully.

Young readers will gobble up the many adventures; more mature scholars will review the facts quickly, savouring the commentary and juxtapositions. This is definitely a history of the white man's exploration, but, as might be expected by those familiar with Francis's work, he appreciates the contribution made by Indian and Inuit. It was a pleasure to slip this book in a coat pocket; a compound pleasure to take it out to read.

Robin Lewis, Riverdale H.S., Pierrefonds, Que.
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