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Edited by N.R. Ball. Sponsored by the Canadian Public Works Association. Toronto. University of Toronto Press. 1988. 336pp. cloth, $37.50. ISBN 0-8020-3449-7. CIP

Reviewed by Susan E. Fowler

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

The preface to this book explains that "public works" includes the design, construction and maintenance of structures provided by governments at all levels so that services essential to the functioning of organized society are available. This history of public works in Canada was produced by various public works professionals and historians working together for the Canadian Public Works Association.

The thirteen chapters of the book deal with everything from urban mass transit and electricity to sewerage and airports. Although each chapter is written by a different author, there is remarkable consistency throughout the book.

The approach is historical, with many examples from communities throughout Canada. The influence of British and American technology on Canadian public works is described, as are the regional differences one would expect in such a large country. There are numerous black-and-white photographs. Each chapter ends with a short summary or conclusion.

Public works are not often thought about by the public. In the past we have tended to be concerned only when they weren't working properly or when we were asked to pay more for them. However, recent concern about such things as availability and quality of water supply and treatment and disposal of solid waste has made this topic much more relevant.

Many of the descriptions in this book are quite technical. There are numerous dates, statistics, and descriptions of building techniques. It is probably most useful to post-secondary students and those working in the public works or planning fields.

Susan E. Fowler, Centennial S.S., Belleville, Ont.
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