A Nation's First Steps


48 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Index
ISBN 1-55388-015-3
DDC j971.05




Christine Linge MacDonald, a past director of the Toronto & District
Parent Co-operative Preschool Corporation and a freelance writer, is an
elementary-school teacher in Whitby.


Douglas Baldwin, author of the first six volumes of Weigl’s Canadian
History series, narrates the story of Canada with clarity and precision.
With Baldwin as our guide, we witness the arrival of the First Peoples
and early explorers in The Dawn of Canada. New France and the Fur Trade
introduces Brébeuf, Champlain, Mackenzie, and the Hudson’s Bay
Company. The British and the French clash on the Plains of Abraham while
America revolts in Revolution, War and the Loyalists. Both Upper and
Lower Canada rebel against the rule of Britain in Rebellion and Union in
the Canadas. The struggle to unite the country from coast to coast while
unrest ferments in Manitoba is covered in Confederation and the West.
The Canadian Pacific Railway and the North West Mounted Police carry a
young country into the next century in A Nation’s First Steps. Rennay
Craats’s Canada in the Global Age has a political focus that explores
social and economic changes over the latter part of the 20th century.
Dylan Kirk’s Canada at War looks at Canada’s role in World Wars I
and II.

Each volume examines a generalized “era” in Canadian history, and
breaks each era down into approximately 23 topics. Each topic is covered
on two facing pages, allowing the reader in a quick overview to grasp a
particular historical issue or event. Every subject is illustrated with
photographs, drawings, maps, or artifacts. Also, each topic includes a
highlighted “further understanding” box in which key issues or
biographies are briefly addressed. The two-page quiz at the end of each
volume will help students understand the types of questions they may
face on classroom evaluations, and students may utilize the
further-reading list for school essays.

These volumes are designed to impart the spirit of an era, along with
the usual facts, dates, and names. The authors of necessity had to
choose from a plethora of information to achieve a balance between the
politics and conflicts that make history and the ordinary people who
live it. Overall, they achieve their goal, and the pageant of history
thus displayed has a vibrancy that will engage young readers.
Unfortunately, some facts and names are sacrificed in this process
(e.g., I found no sign of John Graves Simcoe). Also, without an existing
pre-understanding of general Canadian history, it could be hard to
pinpoint a sought-for event or person in these volumes, since the dates
covered are hard to locate (the timeline in the quiz is of some help).
The brief conclusion in each volume was of assistance in locating topics
of interest—these overviews would have been more useful (and easier to
find) as introductions. All of the books are recommended.


Baldwin, Douglas., “A Nation's First Steps,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/24100.