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James A. Tuck and Robert Grenier

St. John's (Nfld.), Atlantic Archaeology, 1989. 70pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-929048-00-8
Distributed by Atlantic Archaeology Ltd., Site 56, Box 32, St. John's, Nfld. A1C 5H3

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up
Reviewed by Sharon A. McLennan McCue.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

Imagine a bleak, windswept corner of Labrador. Overlooking a bay filled with pack-ice - even though it is early June - there are small crude structures roofed with red tiles that seem to recall a faraway land and a warmer clime.

Between the time Cartier landed and Champlain lost his astrolabe, visitors from other parts of Europe were also discovering Canada and using it as a base for operations. Thanks to a team of archaeologists headed by Dr. James Tuck of Memorial University of Newfoundland, we now know a great deal about a group of Basque whalers who came to Labrador during the summers of the sixteenth century to hunt and process their catch, returning to Europe with the by-products, which were used for everything from lighting to soap-making.

What amazed Tuck, the longer he studied the evidence, was the scope of the operation that must have been on the island. During its peak years, the whaling station had as many as 1,500 men killing and processing the whales. The book details all of the activities associated with the whaling stations, as suggested by the archaeological evi­dence. Beyond the fascination of reading about something that happened so long ago on Canadian soil, the book's attraction lies in its explanation of the results of a man-versus-nature theme, which is particularly pertinent today.

Tuck's stated purpose in writing this book (the first of what he hopes will be a series) is "to make the results of ar­chaeological and historical investiga­tions available, in an attractive format, to the general public, including young readers." In this he has succeeded ad­mirably. The book would be a wonder­ful resource for any school library or a terrific gift for someone interested in archaeology. Its well-written text is supported by illustrations and beautiful colour photos. It is as likely to be enjoyed by an adult as by an older child. One looks forward to other books in the series.

Sharon A. McLennan McCue, Ottawa, Ont.
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