CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 19 . . . . January 23, 2015
This ambitious undertaking, obviously a labour of love, displays one man’s fierce pride in all things Canadian. The six-volume hardcover series boasts more than 7,100 entries in 28 different categories ranging from Aboriginal Peoples, animals, business and geography, to film, agriculture, politics and religion. It covers over 12,700 Canadian “firsts” and superlatives- longest, biggest, oldest- in Canada, starting from 4.28 billion BC to 2013. A 243-page paperback book, highlighting some of the stories contained within the series as well as providing some additional entries which could not fit into the hardcover books, complements the series.
Each book begins in an identical manner, with 24 pages devoted to Canada’s coat of arms, flag, map, headers and footers, information on how the book evolved, instructions on how to use the book, category contents, definitions, floral and bird emblems, statistics, flags and coats of arms of the provinces and territories, the national anthem in both official languages, and the 28 icons assigned to each of the subject categories. Though this information is necessary, it is far too lengthy, especially the section about how the series evolved and how to use the books. It is reminiscent of laborious instructions for a board game when all the participants want to do is to start playing.
The first volume covers the time period from pre-history to 1859, the second from 1860-1909, Volume III goes from 1910-1939, Volume IV from 1940-1969, the fifth volume from 1970-1989, and finally, Volume VI covers the years from 1990-2013. One or more icons are placed beside each entry along with the year of occurrence, but readers do not find out the actual date until it appears in the body of the text. “Firsts” are printed in boldface type. The series is actually a collection of “expanded” trivia, and, in some cases, the author goes on for too long and a little off topic. Unfortunately, with the exception of the colourful icons, there are no illustrations, and the hardcover books are heavy and slightly unwieldy. Though the paperback book does contain some additional entries, its purpose as an enticement to read the series books is really unnecessary and redundant. A table of contents and an index, specific to each volume, are provided along with a silk bookmark to mark one’s spot. Perhaps a comprehensive index, encompassing the entire series, would have been beneficial to include for purposes of research.
This series will likely find a home in the reference section of the public or school library, but its usefulness for projects and essays is somewhat limited. For younger students in the target audience, it will be too time-consuming to find the information they need, and much of the information will not be relevant to their studies, but adult readers might find some of the little-known facts especially intriguing, especially as they relate to people and events from the 1900s to the present. Instead, the books are meant for browsing, with individual entries serving as a jumping off point for further research if the subject is of interest to the reader.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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.