CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Toronto, University of Toronto Press, c1985. 1128pp, cloth, $60.00, ISBN 0-8020-3422-5. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by John Harkness

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography bilingual research project has been in progress since 1959. Although this is volume VIII chronologically, it is not the eighth volume to be published. Already we have nine previous volumes, with volumes VI, VII, and XII still to come to complete the project to 1900. If funds are available, the project will continue into the twentieth century.

Volume VIII, in this "most ambitious and splendid project in the history of Canadian scholarship," is indeed a splendidly impressive and imposing work. Included in its 1129 pages are the lives of 521 Canadian persons: colonizers, chief justices, governors, explorers, educators, editors, religious leaders, farmers, and writers. What have they in common? They all died between the years 1851-1860 and they all contributed in their own way to the growth and expansion of British North America in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Some of the major figures who are featured here are Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, 1818-28, and of Nova Scotia, 1828-34; Robert "Responsible Government" Baldwin of Upper Canada; Northwest explorer David Thompson; Hudson Bay Company expanders Sir George Simpson and John McLoughlin; colonizers Archibald McNab and Thomas Talbot.

Woven in among the detailed accounts of the exploits of these more prominent figures are stories of the lives of many heretofore little known, and often quite eccentric "Canadians." A delight to dip into; formidable to read right through.

As in any such worthy project as this, there are numerous cross references to give firm structure to the whole series. This volume contains a wide general bibliography, a general index of identifications, a geographical index, and a nominal index for each of the names included, plus a list of the 351 contributors. All in all, a mine of information and a book that should quickly find a prominent and welcome place in the various libraries of our country.

John Harkness, Emery C.I., North York, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are 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 Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works