Great Lakes & Rugged Ground: Imagining Ontario
by Sarah N. Harvey and Leslie Buffam
illustrated by Kasia Charko
Orca Book Publishers, 2010
$19.95 (hc), 32 pp, Historical Notes, ages 5 – 15
Timeless, informative and evocative, Great Lakes & Rugged Ground: Imagining Ontario is a breath-taking and boldly illustrated account of Ontario’s history written within the concise constraints of the haiku poetic form. In merely seventeen syllables per double-page spread, the authors and illustrator join forces to express both the significant and the subtle elements of Ontario’s identity across a significant stretch of Canadian history.
Maneuvering through the milestones of the province’s past, time progresses in this picture book from the Haudenonsaunee people speaking dialects of the Iroquoian language (1500s), to modern day Ontario (2010). The initial European contact (1668), the War of 1812, the timber trade (1840s), the construction of the railway system (1880s), the Group of Seven (1920s), and the women of the WWII (1940s) are some, but not all, of the people and events honoured in this Canadian publication.
Classroom Connections: It is difficult to imagine a person who would not be enamoured by this book’s quiet strength: the few but-potent words juxtapose the endless detail of the illustrations and result in an ability to meaningfully engage a very wide range of readers both in age and intent. It is a text as well-suited to older students’ study of art, poetry, or history, as it is to delighting kindergarteners stuck inside as a result of inclement Canadian weather. Almost as if to celebrate this widespread range of readers, the authors include both historical notes outlining the scenes of the book, as well as a list of “Seek and Find!” objects to locate in the illustrations. All based on historical Ontario imagery, from the Nonsuch and Tom Thompson, to Tim Horton and the CN tower. Valiant, visceral and versatile. Highly recommended.
Review by Kimberley Siwak.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2013 issue.