"Canada boasts the longest coastline in the world. If it were straightened out it could wound around the equator three and a half times and there would still be a bit left over." - a fitting topic of immense proportions portrayed by the splendid photography of André Gallant and the always readable prose of Canada's late lamented historian journalist, Pierre Berton accompanied by a series of fascinating archival photographs and drawings from the 18th, 19th and early 20th century.
Unlike most dining room table books that, having been opened at random pages and skimmed, are examined only for the quality of their presentation and the beauty of their photographs, Berton's essays, designed to accompany the photographs and embellish and enrich them as only Pierre Berton can, make this book enjoyable as a stand-alone read from cover to cover. The topics which he has chosen to cover are as widely varied as Canada's maritime geography - the Queen Charlotte Islands, the history and social customs of the Haida, the Potlach people; the demise, over-hunting and myopic mismanagement of the west coast salmon, the arctic bowhead whale and the east coast cod fishery; the absurdly mistaken romantic notions of the life of a lighthouse keeper; a brief history of the search for the elusive Northwest Passage; some stories of the golden age of sail; and a history of Sable Island, the wrecking yard of the Atlantic located in the mouth of the St Lawrence River.
What a wonderful way for any Canadian to take a brief tour of the outer edges of this fascinating country of ours and to dip their toes into that ocean of wisdom that Pierre Berton has provided for interested readers of Canada's history, geography, politics and social life and customs.