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The Canadian Global Almanac
Macmiilan Canada
Toronto, Ontario
1993, 6th Edition, Annual
728 pages, paper, Cdn$14.95
Widely available at local bookstores.

Directory Resources reviewed by Stacey Cohen

The 1993 Canadian Global Almanac is a great reference for facts on Canada and the world, and an entertaining book to glance through for those not so common or easy to find facts about the planet we live on. It's the first global almanac with a Canadian perspective, substantial Canadian content, and a heavy reliance on Canadian sources (Statistics Canada is cited as a primary supplier of information). In the words of the general editor, John Robert Colombo, it is intended to "tell the story of Canada today," and to allow us to "know more about ourselves as Canadians and as humans."

Colombo used the almanac himself for four years before being asked to review it and help make it more useful and more Canadian. Given his background with other directories, he was an ideal choice for general editor. Colombo worked with publisher and editor-in-chief Susan Girvan whom he credits as being essential to the success of the publication. He also credits Ron Bessie, the publisher and owner of Canada Publishing Corporation, for having the faith to put his resources into the idea of an all-Canadian almanac, an idea originated by John Filion.

The almanac format was chosen for its comprehensiveness. The calendar style (chronological arrangement) allows for the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of space, is easy to read, and allows the user quick and easy access to needed facts.

Much of the information found in the 1993 edition is new. According to Colombo, the almanac has changed greatly in the last two years to contain more Canadian content. Another 55 per cent of the content is expected to change in the forthcoming 1994 edition, including the addition of a wider science and technology section. The editorial policy of including general information on Canada and the world, a synopsis of what has happened in Canada in the last 12 months, and an easy way of locating all this information keeps the content thorough but brief.

The almanac is very easy to follow due to a well-organized table of contents and the addition of an alphabetical index at the back of the book. Since there is a lot of information, the eight main sections of the book are subdivided to make specific topics easier to find. The almanac is set up to be interesting as well as informative. Along with various charts and lists of statistics are small paragraphs with general and interesting information about what is being listed. For example, included on the page listing the number of executions per year in Canada's history is a brief article about the history of capital punishment in Canada.

Using a wide variety of sources can lead to some surprising anomalies. For example, why is Mexico considered part of North America in the "Highest Mountains by Continent" chart, but part of Central America in the "Population Projections, by Region and for Selected Countries" chart? Still, the number of sources consulted to make the almanac thorough is impressive.

This book is intended to be a general reference tool for the public at large, but its set-up makes it a great way for media people to find facts fast. According to Knowlton Nash, 'The new almanac will be a terrific quick reference of Canadiana as well as of world facts. I leap into it often for fast fact-checking and it's invaluable."

 

Published in Sources, Summer 1993



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