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Hart, Matthew.

Vancouver, Douglas & McIntyre, c1985. 176pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-88894-467-5. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Neil Payne

Volume 13 Number 6
1985 November

Gold is a magic word that fires the imagination and stirs up images of Spanish conquistadores seeking El Dorada or of fortune seekers by the thousands rushing to California, British Columbia, Australia, Alaska, and the Yukon to get rich overnight. It brings pictures of women in Europe and Asia who wear their family fortune. It means protection from inflation, war, famine, and natural disaster to millions. Roget's Thesaurus lists "gold" and "golden" as synonyms for words like "money," "incentive," "capital," "fortune," "treasure," "valuable," "rich," "rare," "precious," "sound," "solid," and "first rate." Now Canada has provided a new word that means gold in the financial capitals of the world. That word is "Hemlo."

Hemlo used to mean a small town on the Trans Canada Highway in northern Ontario between Marathon and White River. Now it means the biggest, richest gold find in the Americas. It means a minimum of $5-10 billion. It means a new boom in the Canadian mining industry. And it means Canada is again a major player in the gold markets of the world. Hemlo means gold.

Golden Giant is a fascinating, fast-paced book that blends four distinct but related stories: it recounts the history of the Hemlo field from staking the claims to the start of production in early 1985; it describes and explains the wheeler-dealer world of high finance in general and the Vancouver and Toronto Stock Exchanges in particular; it provides valuable profiles of several of the big names in Canadian finance; and it gives an excellent primer on gold from the prospector and the geologist in the field to the role of gold in international finance. Somehow, it manages to mesh all this together into both an extremely informative and an immensely readable book.

The author, Matthew Hart,is a Toronto journalist who is obviously excited by this incredible story and in awe of the larger-than-life characters he encountered in researching it. He uses his skills as a journalist to provide a lot of information in a form that is both interesting to the reader and understandable to the layperson. His lack of expertise in either mining or finance benefits the reader because he carefully explains throughout the many things he had to learn about gold, mining, and finance to tell the story of Hemlo. The book is well organized; each chapter develops a specific part of the story of Hemlo, of high finance, or of gold and the links between the three. There is a glossary of gold terms at the back that is useful for understanding the inevitable technical terms that must be used. An index could have profitably been added to provide easier access to specific information, but its absence is not a major flaw due to the good organization. The one thing this reviewer regretted about the book is that there are no pictures of the amazing people encountered in its pages.

This book is very highly recommended for public, high school, college, and university libraries. It will provide a good basis for understanding the magic of gold in our world. It will be a valuable source for teachers and students of geology, geography, business, and current events.

Neil Payne, Kingston C.I., Kingston, Ont.
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