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Book Reviews

Coming to Canada

by Susan Hughes

Canada is peopled by immigrants from every country in the world, and the comprehensive Coming to Canada series represents the majority of them. This Wow Canada! book upholds the series’ reputation for crisply designed, well-researched non-fiction. Susan Hughes, author of Canada Invents, chronicles over 12,000 years of immigration to this country, from the First Peoples who likely crossed the Bering Strait to today’s travellers who arrive by plane.

Written in precise, engaging prose, the text incorporates and seamlessly defines complex terminology and concepts. It’s both sophisticated and accessible, well suited to ages 9 to 14. Younger readers will be able to understand even the most difficult ideas, and older readers won’t feel talked down to. Both can consult the list of websites at the end for further reading.

The combination of factual detail and personal narratives makes for a compelling text supported by beautifully reproduced photos, posters, and maps. These documents – such as the list given to British war brides translating into “Canadian” such common terms as “lorry” and “larder” – illustrate the difficulties that arise in new cultures, even for immigrants who speak the language. Touching on the international crises of the last two centuries that led to mass immigrations, Hughes explores the complex reasons why people leave their home nations. She reminds readers that our country has not always been welcoming to newcomers; such incidents as the internment of “enemy nationals” and the Acadian expulsion testify to the hardships some immigrants faced.

The antithesis of a dry history book, Coming to Canada makes for interesting and informative pleasure as well as educational reading.