CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 19. . . .January 18, 2013
The graphic novel format of The Klondike Gold Rush and The Conscription Crisis provides an accessible way for students to “hear “the voices and opinions of the historical characters in a way that is not possible in a typical textbook design.
Whether the character in the historical drama is a mother who is worried about the welfare of her son during World War I, a farmer trying to find a way to harvest crops, a soldier fearing for his life, a prospector or a tradesman trying to make a living in the goldfields a frontier town, the concerns they express have an equal weight as those of mighty generals and leading politicians.
Although the format of these books lends itself toward high interest-low vocabulary students, the material is presented in a manner that can lend itself to stimulating higher level discussions and debate.
The Klondike Gold Rush began with the discovery of gold in the Yukon Territory in 1896. As news of the gold strike spread, 100,000 prospectors headed to the gold fields to seek their fortunes. In The Klondike Gold Rush, students learn about the exciting times and hardships these men suffered and the harsh disappointment most experienced. As the readily accessible surface gold was exhausted, more elaborate and costly means of mining the gold were introduced and the individual prospector became a character of the past.
Life quickly changed in the north as police and governmental structures were put in place. In only a few years, Dawson City grew into an established and prosperous town of 40,000. When Alaskan gold was discovered in 1899, the Klondike gold rush was over. However, even though the glory days were over, Dawson City continued as a hub for life in the north until the territorial capital was moved to Whitehorse in 1950.
In The Conscription Crisis, students will see that the Conscription Crisis of 1917 was a complex political and social issue rooted deeply in Canadian history. Each side in the rancorous issue believed they had justifiable and reasonable concerns. As well, the narrative shows that the question of Canada’s military involvement in Great Britain’s twentieth century wars created a fundamental divide in the relationship between French and English Canadians and, secondarily, led to resentments between western and eastern Canadians.
The two books both contain a well-thought-out overview which places the material presented within a historical context; background information on the main players in the dramas; brainteasers and answers; further information on how to locate more information in databases and websites; a glossary of terms and an index.
Ian Stewart teaches at Cecil Rhodes School in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.