Concepts and Themes in the Regional Geography of Canada


342 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-88922-204-5





Reviewed by Nora T. Corley

Nora T. Corley is a librarian in Ottawa.


This geography, written by one of Canada’s most senior and respected geographers, is meant to be read in conjunction with other books. It is a book about regional geography, and not a regional geography textbook. The author discusses the “concepts and themes of geography as a discipline,” giving Canadian examples. His aim is to promote understanding and appreciation of Canada from the geographical point of view. The book is not a collection of data, but it encourages the interpretation of data. It is based on the author’s course given at the University of British Columbia and a set of a study notes prepared for the British Columbia Open Learning Institute.

The age-old geographical dilemma of “what is a region?” is discussed; Robinson supplies his own definition and divides Canada into eight regions: The Atlantic and Gulf Region, The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands, Southern Quebec, Southern Ontario, The Canadian Shield, The Interior Plains, The Cordillera of British Columbia, and The North. Regions, he admits, are generally academic devices or conceptual fragments: Canada is one country, but a union of regions. Each region is discussed, though not in detail. Many questions are asked; the reader/student is expected to ponder and supply the answers. Each regional chapter has its own contents page showing the various headings used. There are no pictures (the reader is referred to sources of excellent illustrations) and only a few simple maps — a far cry from what Robinson’s students have been used to in his classes. Since the book is a collection of ideas and concepts, and is not intended to be a reference work, there is no index. However, this omission, together with the lack of running chapter headings, makes it difficult to track down a particular piece of information. The layout is not helpful. Each chapter has a selection of representative references of various types: atlases, monographs, series, government publications, periodicals, and periodical articles (the headings are not consistent). Some references are listed in chronological order and some in alphabetical order by title; others are in alphabetical order by author although the entry is by title. This is not very satisfactory bibliographical practice. This book will be of interest to geographers and geography students. Academic libraries and geography collections will want a copy.


Robinson, J. Lewis, “Concepts and Themes in the Regional Geography of Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,