This gazetteer is delightful, not only because of the information it includes, but because of the addition of charming illustrations by Bill Slavin. For each province and territory, you will find a brief history, a report on the geography of the region, biographies of some famous residents, a timeline (called “Moments”), a sketch of the ethnic groups living there, a description of the work they do, a look at local government, a page of trivia, photographs, and a page with something extra, unique to the area.
It may be a local recipe (examples include Figgy duff, nanaimo bars, blueberry grunt, and bannock – I read about bannock all the time, but never knew how to make it!), or amusing place names (Skoodawabskooksis in New Brunswick!), the regional official song or a characteristic poem, or as with Newfoundland, a fun selection of regional vocabulary – who knew “dumbledore” meant “bumblebee” or that blind man’s bluff is called “bonna winkie”?
Best of all, the facts included are not dry at all; the author did an outstanding job in reporting essentials in an engaging way, as well as including very fun additional information. I loved learning about Ogopogo – the creature in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia; where one might find the only place outside the Arctic you can spot the white beluga whale; a description of the various “daredevils of Niagara” who have performed stunts over Niagara Falls (such as going over in a barrel); background on the sport of curling; and the tidbit that Canola oil was actually invented by Canadians (and even the fact that canola is a “crop”).
And how could I not know the names for the stone markers I see all the time? It turns out names for Inuit stone markers include “Inuksuk” “Aulaqut” “Niugvaliruluit,” and “Pirujaqarvik” to name just some of them.
As if all that is in the book couldn’t keep you entertained for a very long time, an annotated list is given for more books about or set in each area. (Naturally, for Prince Edward Island the Anne of Green Gables books are listed prominently.)
Evaluation: This book will provide hours of entertainment and enlightenment, and is perfect for people like me who harbor shame over not knowing much about our neighbor to the north, even while professing the desire to move there.
Published by Tundra Books, a division of Random House of Canada, 2017