October 26, 2016

The Story of Canada (new updated edition)

by Janet Lunn and Christopher Moore
Illustrated by Alan Daniel
Scholastic Canada
344 pp.
Ages 9+
September 2016

The Story of Canada was an important book when first published in 1992 by Lester Publishing and Key Porter Books.  It’s still an important book but even more so now with an additional twenty-five or so years of Canadian history to make the story of Canada more complete.  Students and teachers of history and Canadians, new and indigenous, will appreciate the completeness of this newest edition as a true compendium of Canada’s history.

The Story of Canada takes a journey through eleven chapters and an epilogue, with obligatory index, photo credits, and acknowledgements, as well as chronology. The table of contents, now neatly organized onto a single page, lists the following chapters:

  1. A Hundred Centuries
  2. Strangers on the Coast
  3. Habitants and Voyageurs
  4. The Colonists
  5. The Great Northwest
  6. Mountains and Oceans
  7. Confederation Days
  8. Sunny Ways
  9. Stormy Times 
  10. The Flying Years 
  11. New Millennium
  12. Epilogue: Northern Voyagers

Photo of spread from The Story of Canada 
by Janet Lunn and Christopher Moore,
illus. by Alan Daniel

Thought the initial note To the Reader from The Authors at the beginning of the book is not included, The Story of Canada is essentially the same, as would be expected, except for amendments to the formerly-last chapter, The Flying Years, and the addition of an eleventh chapter, New Millennium.  Discussions of First Peoples, the Vikings, New France, exploration, Confederation, the gold rush, immigration, two world wars, the Great Depression, and the 1950s-1970s are essentially unchanged.  But now there are greater discussions about the free trade agreement and what it meant for Canada’s economy and the controversy that was the Meech Lake Accord, as well as conflicts in the global village.  The New Millennium chapter delves more into technological achievements and more milestones for Canada such as Chris Hadfield’s command of the International Space Station, the growing diversity of our populations, and the appropriately-increasing role of women in government and culture.  Sadly this chapter also examines life in the aftermath of September 11, 2000 and the growing reach of terrorism, as  well as the Great Recession, the refugee crisis, environmental disasters and the need for Truth and Reconciliation for our indigenous people.  Though this chapter is hardly one of a contented country, it is not unlike our history in general:  busy with conflict, evolution and achievement, not all of which we should be proud.  But, as is said, it is what it is.  Finally, the epilogue, titled Northern Voyagers, goes beyond the adventures and legendary songs of the Northwest Passage, now emphasizing the discovery of Franklin’s Erebus, ending with the prophetic words of Journey of Nishiyuu leader David Kawapit:
This land, the earth, the rivers, the winds, the mountains, the clouds and all of the creation, we are the true keepers and will continue to do so until time on earth is over. (pg. 313)
As more time passes, The Story of Canada will become the keeper of more and more of our history (the chronology appending the book now extends beyond 1992 to 2016, including Blue Jays’ victories, the establishment of Nunavut, the SARS epidemic and the Vancouver Olympics).  As with the telling of any history, there will be those that disagree with the emphases or perspectives of the authors but I believe that Janet Lunn and Christopher Moore have prepared a fair and comprehensive and up-to-date history of Canada in The Story of Canada, giving voice to all peoples, all centuries, all blemishes and glories, in an effort to recount and enlighten.  Enhanced by numerous photographs and Alan Daniel’s illustrations, includng many double-spread, for which he did exhaustive research at various archives and art collections, The Story of Canada has learned from its own history to become more inclusive and truly more Canadian, reaching beyond what we have been and into the future of what we are to become.

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