Thursday, November 13, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: 101 Things Canadians Should Know About Canada

101 Things Canadians Should Know About Canada (Key Porter Books) is a weird little book. It reads like an anthology of Canadian stuff as described by a handful of Canada’s top contemporary writers. Contributions by Camilla Gibb, Christopher Moore, Todd Babiak, Michelle Berry and others reflect a view of Canada that is distinctly east of the Rockies in a package that looks and feels more like a children’s book than perhaps it really should. The topics are not childish, however. The contributors tackle health care, the Canadian flag, peacekeeping, hydroelectricity, the St. Lawrence Seaway and oil.

101 Things Canadians Should Know About Canada is the ultimate result of an Ipso-Reid Survey Canada’s Dominion Institute did that asked Canadians -- about 3000 of them -- what things they considered quintessentially Canadian.

“In the final analysis,” writes editor Rudyard Griffiths, 101 Things Canadians Should Know About Canada shows that we are not, as we are often told, a disparate nation made up of ornery regions, cloistered ethnic groups, and aggrieved linguistic communities. Instead, we are a people who enjoy and benefit from a set of widely shared understandings about the fundamentals of a common Canadian identity.” As well as the Stanley Cup, Queen Elizabeth. And moose. Quite a mix, eh?

Considering the contributing talent and the topics covered, the book is not as sharp as it could be. Still. It’s a slender little volume that will fit handily into a size-large stocking, making it the perfect gift for the Canuck (or Canuck-lover) on your list.

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