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Merritt, Susan E.
St. Catharines (Ont.), Vanwell Publishing, 1993. 171pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 1-55125 000 4. CIP

Subject Headings:
Women-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Women-Canada-History-Juvenile literature.
Women immigrants-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up

Reviewed by Patricia Cooper

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

Annoyed that traditional history books have largely ignored women, Susan Merritt, who is a former lawyer with a B.A. in English, has, since 1987, been researching women in Canadian history. She also speaks on this subject to audiences in schools, universities, libraries and historical societies. With the publishing of this book Merritt hopes to make Canadians more aware of women's important role in our history.

Her Story: Women from Canada's Past celebrates the stories of sixteen Native women, Black women and European women; each has contributed to the shaping of our country. Their stories tell of sorrow and triumph over adversity; they come from all walks of life, and from each province of the country from the beginning of our written history up to the present.

Each biographical profile is presented in its historical context. Each begins with an apt quotation from the woman herself or an important person / witness to the events. There follows a very short fictionalization of a moment in the woman's life which makes the reader yearn for more. Each biography is eight to ten pages long, divided by subheadings and illustrated by many black-and-white photos, drawings and maps, all well described and labelled. Each ends with one or more suggested titles for further reading.

Her Story is well written in a clear, flowing style; children as young as eleven will understand it and adults also will find the profiles interesting and entertaining reading. Included in the book are an appendix showing the progress of women toward political equality, a time line using modern place names, and an index. There is, unfortunately, one erratum; the publisher has included the correction on a slip of paper tucked inside the front cover and, hopefully, it won't be lost. Libraries should probably make the correction in the text before putting it out for circulation.

The author has expressed the hope that one day the women in Her Story may be as well known to Canadians as Champlain and Sir John A. Macdonald. They deserve to be. Canadians should know these stories; they will be proud. Perhaps they will also begin to question those traditional history books that leave out the stories of women in Canada's past.

Highly recommended for school and public libraries.

Patricia Cooper is a children's librarian with the Brampton Public Library in Brampton, Ontario

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