CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Robert J. McCalla
Updated edition. Halifax (M.S.), Formac Publishing, 1991. 96pp, cloth, $29.95
ISBN 0-921921-05-5. CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Jon Wright.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

First published in 1988 and slightly revised in 1991, The Maritime Provinces Atlas provides a wealth of geographical information about the Maritimes. Forty double-page plates are packed with hundreds of maps, graphs, diagrams and photographs, all in colour, that combine to provide an interesting and comprehensive view of the region's physical, human and economic geogra­phy.

The first three groups of plates depict the Maritimes' geographic situation, geology and land forms (including the extent and influence of glaciation, hydrology, coastal oceanography, weather and climate, soils, resource-based industries and some regional environmental issues). The human geography is presented in a series of plates that provide illuminating per­spectives on the distribution, move­ment, diversity and quality of life of the populations of the three provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick). The remaining plates portray secondary and tertiary eco­nomic activities. Following the plates are an indexed four-map gazetteer, a two-page glossary, and a bibliography of sources consulted for each plate. The atlas is well organized and the cartogra­phy and illustrations are, for the most part, clear and easy to interpret. Many of the socio-economic graphs and charts include regional and national data against which data for the three prov­inces can be compared.

Although a handful of plates have been slightly updated in the revised edition (and one completely redrawn), a few errors, omissions and minor shortcomings that appeared in the first edition managed to creep into the revised edition. For example, the area on the soils map (plate 9) depicted as having alluvial soils is shown in a Nova Scotia soil survey report (Soils of Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, Report No. 17, 1973) to have soils that devel­oped on tidal sediments and, farther inland, on glacial till. The alluvial soils that occur on the flood plains or larger river valleys are not shown, however. In a few instances, the colours used on maps and graphs are so dark or similar that they are difficult to differentiate. A few map symbols are too small to detect and need to be enlarged or labelled. The small tidal power plant in the Annapolis Basin (plate 18) is a case in point.

The gazetteer index provides access to centres of population but excludes all other features such as mountains and other land forms, lakes, rivers, coastal waters and national and provincial parks. The table of contents lists plate titles, but does not provide a breakdown of the individual maps, graphs and other material that make up each plate. Finally, the bibliography in the revised edition does not record the additional sources that were used to provide the more recent information. To put things into perspective, however, these are minor irritations, and the strengths and usefulness of this atlas far outweigh them.

The Maritime Provinces Atlas is unique, and belongs in every library and geography classroom. Those with a personal interest in the region will want their own copy. Since differences between the first and revised editions are minor, those possessing the first edition should not feel compelled to purchase the revised edition unless there is demand for additional copies.


Jon Wright, John F. Ross Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Guelph, Ont.
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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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