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Coming to Canada: Building a Life in a New Land    by Susan Hughes order for
Coming to Canada
by Susan Hughes
Order:  USA  Can
Maple Tree, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This richly illustrated softcover presents many aspects of what it's been like in the past, and is like now, for immigrants 'Building a Life in a New Land'. Susan Hughes opens by discussing how Esther Bryan came to organize a quilt (of 263 blocks) representing the cultural history of countries that have sent immigrants to Canada. Throughout the book are Spotlights on specific topics, like the 'Quarantine Island' of Grosse-Ile. And there's a timeline and resource list at the back.

Hughes tells us that the first immigrants came between 12,000 and 30,000 years ago (images include early petroglyphs and masks). The next section talks about 'Building a Nation' - the settlement of Acadia (Nova Scotia) by French and Scottish settlers, the Great Expulsion, the settlement of Quebec, and the influx of United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. Many individual reactions are quoted, making the history more immediate. Hughes tells us that black Loyalists 'were always at the end of the line', despite the promises made to them. She covers the Underground Railroad, and Irish immigration after the Potato Famine.

Next comes 'Going West', facilitated by the railroad, built mainly by Chinese immigrants in dreadful conditions (Chinese Canadians did not win the right to vote till 1947!) Icelanders settled in Manitoba, Ukrainians in Alberta, and Italians across the country. 'A New Century' looks at immigration post 1900, at the internment of Japanese Canadians during WW II, and waves of refugees that continued through the century. Finally, in 'The Changing Face of Canada', Hughes shows Hungarians fleeing Soviet invasion, U.S. draft dodgers during the Vietnam war, and refugees from places like Afghanistan and Somalia.

Coming to Canada does a commendable job of presenting the patchwork quilt of immigration that built and sustains the country, and showing us people with a 'spirit of adventure', who came from all over the world seeking 'safety, resources, a better and more prosperous life'.

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