The Life of a Miner


32 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-7787-0077-1
DDC j622'.3422'0978




Reviewed by Brenda Reed

Brenda Reed is a public services librarian in the Education Library at
Queen’s University.


Although these books offering an overview of life in the Old West are
predominantly American-focused, they do include enough Canadian content
for Canadian schools to consider purchasing them.

Each volume is divided into 15 or 16 brief chapters. The Life of a
Miner looks at a miner’s tools, the home of a miner, the mining
industry, the hazards of the job, and the boomtowns created by the Yukon
and British Columbia gold rushes. Women of the West discusses women’s
rights and equality, working on a ranch, their domestic life, their
clothing styles, and immigrant settlers. Coverage of each topic is just
enough to spark the interest of the reader.

The selection of historical photos has been thoughtfully done.
Daguerreotype-style images offer readers realistic, often moving,
glimpses into the difficult lives of pioneers. The illustrations in the
book about miners work well with the explanations of the mining
processes, and the photos of the miners successfully portray the mining
experience. The illustrations in the book about pioneering women capture
the harsh realities of their lives and their courage. The beautiful
period photograph on the title page, which was provided by the Glenbow
Museum Archives, shows two young women with books on their laps, sitting
in front of a tiny cabin in a prairie setting. Such documentary photos
are valuable windows into the social history of the 19th century.

Other volumes in the series include Life on the Trail, Life on the
Ranch, The Gold Rush, Who Settled the West, The Railroad, Boomtowns of
the West, Bandannas, Chaps, and Ten-Gallon Hats, Homes of the West, and
The Wagon Train. These latest additions—largely because of the high
quality of the photographs, and their ability to capture for readers a
sense of what 19th-century pioneers in the Old West lived through—are
highly recommended.


Kalman, Bobbie, and Kate Calder., “The Life of a Miner,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,