HISTORICAL ATLAS OF CANADA, VOLUME II: THE LAND TRANSFORMED, 1800-1891
Edited by R. Louis Gentilcore
Reviewed by Brenda Reed
Reviewed by Brenda Reed
Volume 22 Number 3
The Historical Atlas of Canada is a landmark in Canadian publishing. Jean-Claude Robert, a contributor to volume II, notes that the three-volume atlas, "together with the Canadian Encyclopedia and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, form a trio of basic reference works that fill a huge gap in our knowledge of Canada." He is right to place the Historical Atlas of Canada in such company, as it is clearly an important contribution to Canadian scholarship, and the result of years of work by Canadian scholars. The Land Transformed, 1800-1891 is the last of the three volumes to be published, so it now completes the set that began with From the Beginning to 1800 (volume 1)¹ and ends with Addressing the Twentieth Century (volume 3)²
The organization of The Land Transformed is brilliant. There is no index, but the table of contents treats each of the fifty-eight plates as a chapter, providing a detailed list of the data on each plate. The six-page introduction, Canada in the Nineteenth Century," is followed by two major parts: "Extending the Frontier: Settlement to Mid-Century" and "Building a Nation: Canada to the End of the Century." Part I focuses on the growth of the population and the economy, with Part II continuing these two themes and adding sections on the development of national ties, the rise of urbanization and manufacturing, and the Canadian response to social issues. The thematic organization, combined with helpful topic-specific plates, such as " Agricultural Change in Ontario, 1851-1891," renders the data highly accessible.
Each of the eight main sections is introduced by an essay written by one of the major contributors. These essays successfully set the context for the plates, particularly because they include explanatory references to the plates. Teachers and students of Canadian history may find these thematic summaries useful. These two groups will most certainly find the data provided on the plates useful, as each plate may include not just maps but also graphs, charts, paintings, photographs and prose explanations.
The layout of the plates is equal to the organization of the atlas. Graphs, charts and maps are sensibly integrated, and colour is carefully used to portray detailed information. High school students may not want to spend time interpreting the more complex maps, but this scholarly project will provide high school students with a clear picture of the development of Canada in the last century. For scholars, detailed notes and bibliographies are provided for each plate.
The Historical Atlas of Canada is a resource that will be useful in Canadian high school, public and academic libraries, and I highly recommend the purchase of this particular volume.
Brenda Reed is the librarian at Bishop's College School in Lennoxville, Quebec
¹ Reviewed vol. XVI/3 May 1988, p. 94.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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