Select one of the keywords
The Big Book of Canada: Exploring the Provinces and Territories    by Christopher Moore & Bill Slavin order for
Big Book of Canada
by Christopher Moore
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2017 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Big Book of Canada does a wonderful job of displaying the country 'as a collection of neighbourhoods with personalities'. We are told that it is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather a 'gazeteer' of Canada's provinces and territories. Updated in time for Canada's 150th birthday, it is full of photos and delightful illustrations. For each province or territory, from Newfoundland to Nunavut, there is an illustrated map; an introduction to local geography and history; biographies of the famous and infamous; a timeline of key 'Moments'; peoples and their origins; and entertaining extras like recipes, factoids, and even poems and songs of the region.

I learned a great deal. Most people are aware that Marconi sent the first radio signal across the Atlantic from Signal Hill in St. John's, Newfoundland; that Lucy Maud Montgomery set her beloved Anne of Green Gables novels in Prince Edward Island; and that paleontologists discovered 'one of the world's great deposits of dinosaur bones' in the badlands of Alberta. But did you know that the Torngat mountains of Labrador are 'the highest part of Canada anywhere east of the Rockies'; that Anna Leonowens of The King and I ended up living in Halifax, Nova Scotia; that Icelanders settled around Gimli, Manitoba; and that there are a variety of styles of inuksuit (plural of inuksuuk) each with its own purpose and meaning?

Then there are absurdities like the New Brunswick winged Bricklin car that never took off; quirks like the illegality of pet rats in Alberta; and entertaining tales such as that of the Ogopogo, a Loch Ness equivalent in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia. Recipes for treats like figgyduff, blueberry grunt, tourtière, saskatoon berry and rhubarb jam, and caribou chili are tempting to try. The summaries of each area are well done, with just enough inclusion of the quirky to keep up interest. I've always loved Robert Service's Yukon verses, but especially enjoyed James De Mille's silly poem, Sweet Maiden of Passamaquoddy, which makes fun of New Brunswick place names ... 'There's none like the Skoodawabskooksis / Excepting the Skoodawabskook.'

This is indeed a big book, with a delightful approach to the celebration of a great country in the variety and diversity of all its neighbourhoods. The Big Book of Canada is an excellent and entertaining resource for Canadians and their neighbours to use in the exploration of all the country's provinces and territories - and it is particularly relevant in 2017 as Canadians celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews