A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles


927 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-7715-1976-1
DDC 427'.971'03




Edited by Walter S. Avis
Reviewed by James Peters

James Peters was a professor of Languages at the Ryerson Polytechnical


Perhaps it is bizarre to say that a dictionary can be exciting, yet this
work is just that for any Canadian who has an interest in his or her
country or culture. The text is rich with dates, quotations, and
references, and to get it all in this work, the editors have chosen
typefaces that may be a mite too small for readers’ comfort.

In the few other so-called Canadian dictionaries, if one looks hard
enough, one can find such terms as “Canuck” or “coureur de
bois.” However, this dictionary is composed entirely of Canadian words
and of Canadian uses of words within the context of Standard North
American English. But this dictionary does not neglect French-Canadian
culture or that of the Inuit and the Amerindians.

The text is full of information of a historical and illustrative nature
about every area of Canadian life. There are 107 references under the
word “Canada” and its derivation. There are three references
relating to Egerton Ryerson, but this reader was disappointed in not
seeing a word about the Ryerson Institute (founded in 1948). And
further, there is no reference here to Marshall McLuhan, who inspired
such terms as “McLuhanism” and “McLuhanite,” not to mention
“the medium is the message.”

No Canadian home should be without this indispensable dictionary, whose
scope is encyclopedic. This book, a reprint of the 1967 original
edition, is an absolute must for those who think Canada’s culture is
but a pale reflection of that of the United States; it is a lively
testimony to our unique history and lifestyle.


“A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/11782.