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Paul Masterson
Richmond Hill (Ont.). Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1992.64pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 0-88902-339-5. (The Canadians). CIP

Grades 6 and up/Ages 11 and up

Reviewed by Gerri Young.

Volume 21 Number 4
1993 September

Herbert Richardson was an inspired man consumed with the desire to protect forests and waterways and establish parks and ecology information services. Fifty years before the rest of us woke up, Richardson dedicated his life to helping protect our natural heritage. He was not a radical. He worked within the system, for government, forestry, and the Scouts, and wrote many influential articles for Canadian books and magazines. He was awarded a doctorate by McGill University in 1925.

When he retired in 1962, the Toronto Telegram headline noted: "Mr. Conserva­tion leaves 20,000 square miles of parkland .... monuments to his public service are spread throughout the province in the form of parks, play­grounds, swimming areas, flood control and reforestation projects, pioneer villages and land use demonstrations. He is the man most responsible for the province's 31 conservation authorities." After completing his important, reflective book Conservation for the People, Arthur Herbert Richardson died at Christmas 1971.

It was surprising to read about the almost desert-like areas of Ontario created by the lumber operators and Richardson's faith in the Forestry Department. Between 1924 and 1991, the Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies of Ontario planted 60 million trees on 45,000 acres of treeless land. (Does this continue? Throughout Canada?)

Although Richardson's life would be inspirational for some children and the book is a mine of information about many conservation issues, it would be difficult for children to read, maybe because there is too much detail, too many institutions are mentioned, there are too many acronyms to absorb, and the little there is about him personally makes him seem rather formida­ble. However, the purpose of his life and the purpose of this book are his accomplish­ments, and the author does justice to these. Paul Masterson is a professional forester and is involved in conservation education.

Herbert Richardson was a new name for me. I hope he is well known to Ontario students and other residents. While reading about Richardson's life, I couldn't help but be reminded of John Muir, the famous U.S. "naturalist, writer and guardian of the North American wilderness," of whom a lot is known. "People Who Have Helped the World" series includes a good book on Muir's life entitled John Muir (Milwaukee, Gareth Stevens Children's Books, 1990).

Reservations aside, Herbert Richardson's story should be widely known and included in all Canadian environmental studies.

Gerri Young works in the library at R.L. Angus Elementary School in Fort Nelson, British Columbia.
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