Finding Canadian Facts Fast


192 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-458-99150-3




Reviewed by Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor is a journalism professor at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Institute and founding editor of the CBRA.


This guide to research is divided into two sections. The first concerns twelve case studies of various techniques employed by those with research opportunities (e.g., journalist, librarian, historian, novelist, scientist, lawyer, collection agent, private detective, and policeman). The case studies reveal the extreme differences of approach used to satisfy their intents and their needs. Unfortunately, the studies are written in a turgid style.

The second section is a guide to “sources” — but not really. There are five sections here: how to use libraries (covered in fewer than 20 pages!), how to use the federal, provincial, and local governments, and how to use court records. The library section falls far short of being useful. Overbury’s advice can be summarized in three words: “ask a librarian.” This is not what we need. The government material is useful in that Overbury tells us what is there, what is accessible, and what is not. But he spends too much space detailing local and provincial variations, along with names and addresses that are bound to have changed by the time the reader needs to use them.

Overbury’s book is a beginning. The need for and use to which available data will be put determines the questions to be asked, the research techniques, and the sources to be exploited. Thus, there is no one solution to any information problem — since there is no problem until the specific need exists. The obvious solution seems to be to concentrate on a series of search strategies and techniques. And this the author fails to deliver.

He tells us why people need information and he tells us where the information is, but he doesn’t tell us how to determine and use the best source.


Overbury, Stephen, “Finding Canadian Facts Fast,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024,