A History of Canada in Ten Maps eBook ☆ of Canada in


A History of Canada in Ten Maps The sweeping epic story of the mysterious land that came to be called Canada like it's never been told before Every map tells a story And every map has a purpose it invites us to go somewhere we've never been It's an account of what we know but also a trace of what we long for Ten Maps conjures the world as it appeared to those who were called upon to map it What would the new world look like to wandering Vikings who thought they had drifted into a land of mythical creatures or Samuel de Champlain who had no idea of the vastness of the landmass just beyond the treelineAdam Shoalts one of Canada's foremost explorers tells the stories behind these centuries old maps and how they came to shape what became CanadaIt's a story that will surprise readers and reveal the Canada we never knew was hidden It brings to life the characters and the bloody disputes that forged our history by showing us what the world looked like before it entered the history books Combining storytelling cartography geography archaeology and of course history this book shows us Canada in a way we've never seen it before This was a really neat read In each chapter Shoalts looks at a different pre confederation map of Canada and the conditions under which it was created The maps range from Leif Erikson's first map of Vinland to the maps of the Arctic produced by the Franklin expedition so there's a wide range of material drawn from With each map Shoalts takes time to present the cultural and political reasons behind each map's development in a manner that is welcoming and open to those without much Canadian history knowledgeDue to the nature of the book it's not without its limitations The book relies heavily on settler sources although it does acknowledge the role of Indigenous people in the development of the country and the map making conceit means that a lot of the political and cultural history that shaped the country is overlooked If you understand those limitations going in though it's a real treat because Shoalts' ability to relate the compelling and complex nature of Canadian history is incredible This is definitely not a historical or an adventure novel But the author succeeded in showing this immense country's history through the eyes of those who mapped it the adventurers who wanted to see beyond the trees near its natural borders The book goes back as far as modern knowledge allows it that is to say up to its very first inhabitants and until the confederation passing by the coming of Vikings It tells of its legends trades and deals rivalries partnerships and agreements mysteries and much The author has done a tremendous research work His book is not just a rough map of the country's borders; it's a visit to the heart of the country's first nations the people who created it and lived thereObviously we are not shown everything that happened at that distant time But how could that be It was necessary to stay with the founders and other outstanding figures and milestones But the author has managed to give this magnificent country its place on the world map and to do so in a reader friendly wayI recommend this book to all history lovers of course whether they are Canadian or not but also to those who are interested in geography and anthropology If you think you know everything about Canadian history and culture I can assure you that you will discover a few things here But even readers of historical novels or adventure story could find what they are looking for in its pagesThanks to GoodReads giveaways for this book I won in exchange for an honest review For starters this isn't really a book about maps So put aside notions of a boring tome of cartography Sure there are maps here but they feel like an organizing principle than the topic of discussionWhat is that discussion The dramatic heroic foolhardy bloody frozen and inspired exploration of Canada How did our vast country come to be drawn on the maps and understood Before Google Earth documented everything from the heavens obstinate but brilliant men women Europeans Canadians and most of all Indigenous People trekked past the last ramshackle fort and into the forest And sometimes beyond to the frozen wastesWhy we haven't learned THIS version of Canadian history in school is black mark on curricula across the country More students would pursue history as a proud discipline while standing with humility before the feats of those who literally put it on the map So this is a proof copy from the publisher via NetGalley tanks and I have to just put it out there that I didn’t actually see any maps in this version I don’t know if that’s by design or simply that they hadn’t been set into the book at the type this version was exported It seems a little silly to me that a book called A History of Canada in Ten Maps does not in fact include any pictures of maps Adam Shoalts’ writing is definitely engaging and edifying so I wouldn’t say that the lack of maps is a dealbreaker It’s just odd considering the premise of the bookWhen I first started writing this review I said I had “somewhat mixed feelings” about this book The I write the review though and process the implications of Shoalts’ writing the I’m convinced this book is trashTaken at face value A History of Canada in Ten Maps aside from the not having maps thing is what it says on the cover ten stories Starting with the Viking visitations a millennium ago and ending with Dr Richardson’s mapping of the Arctic Shoalts examines what he considers pivotal moments in our comprehension of the geography of this land Basically his thesis is the history of Canada may be understood through the history of those who explored it His writing is for the most part uite entertaining and holds one’s interest though I have a few ualms which we’ll get to presentlySo why the long face and low rating Put simply Shoalts’ entire approach to Canadian history is an uncomplicated uncritical narrative that appropriates and patronizes Indigenous cultures and histories instead of acknowledging their primacy on this land By way of full disclaimer I want to make it clear I’m a settler; there is no way I can adeuately represent an “Indigenous perspective” of this book But I’ve read enough trash takes on Indigenous peoples to recognize the broad strokes and it behoves me to use my privilege as a settler to speak out about itAgain if we just launch into this book uncritically and take it at face value it looks like Shoalts is acknowledging both the presence and crucial involvement of First Nations Métis and Inuit peoples during the European exploration read invasion of the continent He points out that the most successful explorers and surveyors were the ones who worked with the Indigenous peoples of the area Yet he seldom examines the reasons for those explorers and surveyors being there I wish he presented the fur trade and entities like the Hudson’s Bay Company in a far critical lightMoreover Shoalts relies a great deal on primary source accounts of the explorers such as their diaries or secondary sources written from a very Eurocentric perspective So we end up in a situation like endnote 7 of Chapter 6¸ wherein Shoalts apologizes for Hearne’s account of the way Dene chief Matonabbee treats women on the other hand if we try to set aside twenty first century perspectives and examine things from the context of the 1770s Matonabbe’s views can be seen in another light Matonabbee was in essence saying to HearneAnd that’s where I checked out of that note because putting words in a historical person’s mouth even in an attempt to paraphrase is not a good look for a non fiction history book It’s doubly un good when the person in uestion is Indigenous and the author is not Whether or not Shoalts or Hearne or any of the scholars and sources Shoalts relies on is ultimately “correct” in their portrayal is beside the point the point is that this shit is complicated but Shoalts is presenting it in a very simplified uncomplicated lightIntentions are also beside the point I suspect Shoalts has good intentions here Take a look at this passage from his afterwordPerhaps the revival of indigenous cultures provides a vision for a society that gets us past seeing the natural world in terms of dollars and cents gross domestic product a means to an end Indigenous knowledge holds out the hope that we’ll recognize Canada’s remaining wild lands and wildlife for the irreplaceable gifts that they areOn the surface this seems very positive very much in the spirit of reconciliation But if you stop and think about it Shoalts is positioning “indigenous cultures” as these treasure troves of “a vision for a better society” as if they’re something we can just adopt cough appropriate cough without doing the work He is endorsing “Indigenous knowledge” but not actually connecting that to the action needed to restore that knowledge to primacy—ie restoring the landAnd this is evident from the entire rest of A History of Canada in Ten Maps Time and again Shoalts acknowledges the existence of Indigenous people on this land but relegates them to the roles of antagonist sidekickally or bystander; the protagonists are always European Although he never sugarcoats the treacherous nature of traversing wilderness he romanticizes the process of exploration and colonization these explorers are intrepid male heroes who brave incredible odds might be accompanied by the “good” or “noble” Indigenous person and challenged by the “bad” or “unwelcoming” Indigenous person There might be an element of wish fulfillment happening here; at the end of his afterword Shoalts talks about a solo journey across the Arctic I have to wonder if he rather identifies with these explorers sees them as kindred spirits and yearns for the “simpler times” of men being real men of going on these adventuresBecause that’s really the tone of this book it’s a “boy’s own adventure” chronicling the exploration of this country Again Shoalts makes attempts to acknowledge that not everyone sees Canada as a positive thing referring at one point in the afterword to “an unwelcome empire” Yet these attempts are meaningless considering the grand theme of this book the emphasis on Canada’s greatness as a product of centuries of committed exploration Within the same paragraph as the previous uote he claims that the “unspoiled wilderness” is “the bedrock of our country—the harsh but beautiful reality that gives meaning to our national identity” Much eye rolling ensuedThis kind of hyperbole recurs throughout the book Shoalts has these weird moments where he waxes way too poetical about our country and famous people like when he says “In a couple of thousand years when history has mingled with legend Alexander Mackenzie might become to Canada what Odysseus is to Greece” Or when he talks about the treatment of Pierre Esprit Radisson at the hands of the Irouois and says “Fortunately it was only an ordinary bit of torture a few ripped out fingernails burnt flesh sitcking a red hot knife through his foot and so on” That is an oddly macabre attempt at humour and it feels so awkward and out of placeIt’s notable that not once does Shoalts engage with any of the problematic aspects of European sanctioned map making There’s an entire chapter about the redrawing of the Canadian–American border after the War of 1812 focusing a great deal on the strategic and heroic efforts of figures like Brock and Drummond But where’s the chapter on the various Treaties particularly the numbered Treaties These were a series of patchwork map land grabs by the federal and provincial governments well worth entire books of their own Similarly Shoalts could have included a chapter on the creation on Nunavut in 1999 perhaps the most successful land claim ever since colonization That was an event that literally redrew the map of Canada within my lifetime How about a map that shows all the residential schools across the country But you know war maps are fun rightThis is a prime example of how it’s possible both to be progressive and yet still racist in one’s actions or writing A History of Canada in Ten Maps commits the same error that our current federal government has done using the right words and phrases like reconciliation or nation to nation relationship without really acting on those words and phrases Shoalts often says the right things or at least tries to but ultimately A History of Canada in Ten Maps is an extremely Eurocentric settler based perspective of our country’s history It’s not that it’s poorly written or uninteresting—but we don’t really need books like this We absolutely do not need to mythologize the contributions of privileged white guys “taming” Canada into the country we have today We need Indigenous histories of this country by Indigenous people; and we need settlers who are writing history to examine critically what they’re saying instead of just try to say what they think might be politically correctNot angry just disappointed

  • Hardcover
  • 352 pages
  • A History of Canada in Ten Maps
  • Adam Shoalts
  • English
  • 09 October 2014
  • 9780670069460

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