July 1st marks the anniversary of Canada celebrating 150 years of being a united country. The Big Book of Canada explores the whole area, province by province, showcasing Canada’s beautiful terrain, inspiring history and how each region is distinguished by its very own unique culture.
From previously visiting Toronto, I’ve already been exposed to the serene beauty and diversity that the vast land holds. The Big Book of Canada succeeds in portraying a realistic and engaging representation of the country; from Newfoundland to Quebec to Ontario, we are taken on a journey to discover each region, people, history, landscape, wildlife and government.
Being a horse lover, I must say I was extremely fascinated by stumbling upon the local wild horse residents located in Sable Island and discovering Bronco Busting (a rodeo event where the rider seeks to stay on a bucking horse) in Calagary. With additional illustrations by Bill Slavin, the essence of this great country is brought to life before our very eyes. A kind of nostalgia is invoked by Slavin’s use of pastel watercolours and soft strokes – reminiscent of a memory becoming gently reborn.
Interestingly, each region has a list comprising of its most notable moments in history. For example, on Prince Edward Island, it was revealed that in the 60s the Confederation Centre for the Arts opened its doors in celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. One of the greatest hits of its theatre festival was the long-running musical Anne of Green Gables!
It seems that Canada’s regions possess a profound creative streak… In Nova Scotia, their favourite song is a kind of old sailor chant, most commonly known as ‘Farewell to Nova Scotia’; a lament to the poor sailors who were obliged to set sail once more… I found the song remarkably delicate and beautiful, in addition to effortlessly capturing the life and atmosphere of the people living in that time.
Fascinatingly, I also learnt that some areas had their own slang. In Newfoundland and Labrador, ‘it is said that when two fishers meet, all they will say is ‘Arn?’ and ‘Narn!’’ Apparently, they are talking about fish! Arn means ‘any’ and Narn mean ‘none. More intriguing is the fact that ‘Dumbledore’ was used to describe a bumblebee! Any fans of Harry Potter, such as myself, will find this little nugget of information most amusing! Is it possible that J. K. Rowling found inspiration for the name of the famous headmaster of Hogwarts from the language of Newfoundland’s fishermen?
I could go on – there is much to uncover in the extensive provinces of Canada – but by the time I finish, you might have a few extra grey hairs than when you first arrived… This in-depth, informative and captivating book is perfect for a wide and varied audience. The Big Book of Canada covers every topic of interest, including marine conservation, the famous and infamous, such as, Margaret Atwood, and a ‘Never Try This Yourself’ section (I’ll let you discover that one yourself). If the children need some entertaining over the upcoming Easter holidays, maybe try this one out on them, and wait for that sweet silence to finally descend…
(£29.99, h/b, 256pp, 9781101918944)
Post by Sarah