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Edited by Donald Wilson and Rowland Lorimer

Calgary, Detselig Enterprises, 1991. 128pp, paper, $21.95
ISBN 1-55059-018-9. (Connect Canada series). CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up
Reviewed by Harvey Dust

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

Finally, a first-rate anthology of Canadian transportation subjects! Covering a diversity of topics and time, from the fur trade to airline deregula­tion, this lively volume is certain to stimulate classes and lead to lots of discussion and (one hopes) additional research.

Although the topics are arranged chronologically in the book, there is no reason why they couldn't be used separately in any order. Strangely, I found them also to be in order of best to not as good, but this probably wasn't intentional. Native peoples and envi­ronmental issues are included in most discussions. Errors of fact were rare; however, in the compressed history of building the CPR, it says,"... May 1882... the other major change... meant that the CPR would have an all Canadian route." Sir John A.'s National Dream never anticipated anything else. An interesting non sequitur is also included: "Passenger service is no longer a main interest for the railway." Another annoying error is reversal of labeling on the map "World War II routes in Canada and Alaska," whereby the Canol oil pipeline and the Alaska Highway are reversed.

Positively refreshing to see are facts that are often glossed over in more conventional studies: "... rail was more efficient over 800 kilometres. Changes in truck... have increased this distance to 1,100." While this doesn't address problems of highway safety or damage caused by these behemoths, it at least broaches the topic. The chapter "Keep­ing Cities Moving" is excellent on Canadian light rail. However, most Canadian urban light rail systems were demolished before the 1950s, contrary to the editor's assertion. Nevertheless, this is an excellent discussion of light rail including its advantages over busways.

This book is environmentally friendly for the most part. Environmen­tal issues and considerations are discussed intelligently, be it northern pipelines or CP Rail improving Rogers Pass. Strangely, the chapter on the St. Lawrence Seaway, although it does admit the Seaway is a white elephant, ignores the negative environmental impact of bringing in undesirable creatures (e.g., lamprey, zebra mussels) to wreak havoc on the Great Lakes ecosystems.

The final chapter is also the worst. The history of airlines in Canada is so oversimplified as to be meaningless. For example, Wardair's brilliant final fling as a scheduled carrier is ignored as is any mention of Air Ontario as an Air Canada connector. In fact, this chapter reads like an apology for the govern­ment's current air transportation policy of deregulation and privatization. Sadly, this chapter provides neither the balanced arguments we have come to expect nor a discussion of the potential destroyer of Canadian airlines, the Open Skies policy.

Still, this is a good book, interesting, lively, stimulating, well illustrated and attractively presented, resplendent with maps, charts and photos. If this doesn't get your grade 9 to 12 students inter­ested in the problems of Canadian transportation, nothing will.

Harvey Dust, Victory Memorial School, Ingersoll, Ont.
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