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Mirror with a Memory: Photographing the Story of a Nation

Overview

Canada and the art of photography came into existence together in the middle of the nineteenth century. Both had shaky beginnings — one was an upstart country struggling to emerge from the shadow of its great neighbor, the other a rough art form capable of capturing only blurred, grainy images — but each eventually came into its own. Today, Canada is a bold and prosperous nation, while photography, in the words of Edward Steichen, is “a major force in explaining man to man.”

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Overview

Canada and the art of photography came into existence together in the middle of the nineteenth century. Both had shaky beginnings — one was an upstart country struggling to emerge from the shadow of its great neighbor, the other a rough art form capable of capturing only blurred, grainy images — but each eventually came into its own. Today, Canada is a bold and prosperous nation, while photography, in the words of Edward Steichen, is “a major force in explaining man to man.”

Mirror with a Memory is a photographic journey through the history of this country. It includes those famous shots that have defined a nation; from the Fathers of Confederation grouped stiffly on the steps of Charlottetown’s Confederation Hall to the massive Maple Leaf flag drifting over the heads of federalists on the eve of the last referendum. But the book also features the faces of ordinary Canadians going about their everyday lives — a family of newly arrived, turn-of-the-century immigrants on the platform at Toronto’s Union Station; a line of 1920s seal hunters picking their way across the Newfoundland ice floes; pith-helmeted soldiers at a Boer War field hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Through extended captions and, of course, the photographs themselves, Mirror with a Memory brings to life the story of Canada from confederation to the present day. In the end, it gives us an unforgettable portrait of the people and events that forged a nation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Building America:

“This is more than a marvelous illustrated history of architecture in America; it provides an easy-to-take social context for the buildings it showcases.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

“…a fascinating record of how United States architecture has evolved in the past 300 years….”
Winnipeg Free Press

Praise for From Head to Toe:
“[An] always engaging and often enthralling account of the place of clothes and assorted adornments through the ages…. Weaver is that exemplary explicator for whom one thing always leads to another.…”
Globe and Mail

VOYA
The title refers to an early description of the photographic science and art that captures a moment in a pictorial way that can be candid yet manipulated to present a specific editorial view. Canada, the nation referenced in the subtitle, entered its modern state of confederation just as photography became a reality, and so its history has been subject from the beginning to such documentation. Weaver arranges archival images from public and private collections maintained in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Calgary, and Montreal, and by such enterprises as the Canadian Pacific Railway, into thematic chapters that offer glimpses of Canada at war, the opening of the Canadian West, transportation, disasters, and the very recent past. Photo reproduction throughout is clear, with both full-page images and smaller ones given excellent contrasting white space and narrative descriptions that point out manipulations (e.g., the addition of "gunfire" smoke to a wartime picture that was actually posed outside battle) and context (e. g., the calm street scene showing piles of pine coffins after the Halifax Explosion). American readers will need to bring a more specific understanding of Canada's political and social history to the work than most middle and high schoolers likely have, but Canadian teens will recognize the events and general flow. One disappointment is that not all of the full-page photographs are described or even identified, leaving one to wonder, for instance, about the place of the two bemused street urchins, facing the introduction, in both their own time and in history. Reviewer: Francisca Goldsmith
School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up
Defining moments in Canadian history are thematically presented in this photography collection. "Building a Nation" opens with the renowned 1864 portrait of the Fathers of Confederation and also includes archival photos of laborers laying down sections of track on the Canadian Pacific Railway. "Charting the Future" contains a picture of Terry Fox running in his 1980 Marathon of Hope, and a shot of the 1999 celebrations for the establishment of the new territory of Nunavut. In the conversational commentary that accompanies each image, Weaver provides historical context. Thought-provoking media literacy issues are also raised. For instance, Ivor Castle's famous photograph of soldiers at Vimy Ridge, at the time praised for its realistic portrayal of war, was actually taken during a training session and was retouched. A great visual retrospective of a nation's people, places, and events.
—Linda LudkeCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887767470
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 11/13/2007
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 3 months - 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 9.39 (w) x 10.26 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Janice Weaver is the author of several previous works of nonfiction for young people. Her first two books, Building America and From Head to Toe, were both named Notable Books by the International Reading Association. From Head to Toe was also nominated for both the Rocky Mountain Book Award and the Ontario Library Association’s Red Maple Award. She lives in Toronto.
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