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Stenson, Fred.

Toronto, NC Press, c1985. 136pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-920053-18-3. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Robin Lewis

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

This is one of a series of Parks Canada guides. Supposedly it could serve as a guide in the park, or as a souvenir to take home. True, pages 114-118 have information on the current park. But, buried at the back of the book, they are difficult to find. It is useful to know that there is no overnight camping at the park, but this information should be in a small brochure that can be scanned while white-knuckling it through the Rockies with a snarling semi trying to crawl in the rear window of your rented van.

In reality this text is a light history. It tells of the four forts called Rocky Mountain House. It discusses Blackfoot/ Cree conflicts, and briefly outlines the relations between the fur-trading companies. It tells why, and how, a national park was set up here in 1980. Boxed mini-essays concisely discuss smallpox, beaver hats, and famous personalities. Archival photos of the latter are used. So are prints, such as Paul Kane's of a honeymoon excursion in a decorated dog sledge. This print is highly appropriate, for the people involved are an integral part of Stenson's story. The carefully chosen period drawings are one of the Strong points of the book. The brief bibliography, index, and chronology are useful. The colour plates of the modern park are attractive.

One might question the occasional slip of the pen. Wolfe defeated Montcalm in 1759 (13th September) not 1760, as might be inferred. Sometimes a line from one chapter is repeated in another, like a distracting echo. Stenson's plans of the forts would interest an armchair historian or a visitor to the park. But the book as a whole is too heavy a study to be read while sightseeing, at least if you are with the energetic family of this reviewer.

Robin Lewis, Riverdale H.S., Pierrefonds, Que.
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