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494 LETI'ERS IN CANADA of the two greatest portrait photographers who have worked in Canada: William Notman and Yousuf Karsh. The Karsh Portfolio (University of Toronto Press, 204, $10.95) brings together forty-eight portraits of celebrated men and women of the twentieth century taken at various times over the past twenty years. They are so good, at their best, that they are sure to become the definitive images for posterity of many of the famous sitters. Casals, Maugham, Cocteau, Hemingway, Einstein, Augustus John, Russell, Frost-he has caught the essence of the public faces of all these. I stress the "public," because it seems to me that Karsh fails as a great artist only because it is unthinkable that any of his sitters. should be dissatisfied with his portraits. He lacks the willingness to show the human being behind the celebrity, as is demonstrated in the Einstein portrait, where there is no celebrity to mask the humanity, and the simple soul shines out. For William Notman, working as a photographer in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first dozen years of the twentieth, candour was scarcely possible, in view of the lengthy exposures necessary. His portraits are unashamedly posed, and he made great use of photomontage for his group and "action" pictures. Portrait of a Period: A Collection of Notman Photographs (Montreal: McGill University Press, $20.) is for me the most fascinating book to have come out of our centennial celebrations . From the opening portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald to the closing panorama of Victoria's Inner Harbour in 1871, the whole spirit of this country in the first generation of its history as a dominion is distilled and presented. If it had produced nothing else but this book, ably edited as it is by Russell Harper and Stanley Triggs, the centennial year would have been worth celebrating. (ANTHONY EMERY) NATURE The four books in this section offer four very different experiences to the general reader. Nature's Heritage: Canada's National Parks (PrenticeHall , $9.95), by David M. Baird, is introduced by greetings from the Honourable Arthur Laing and from John Fisher of the Centennial Commission. It is a book of photographs that display the visual delights of each of the twenty-one national parks in Canada, starting with Terra Nova in eastern Newfoundland and ending with Glacier and Mount HUMANITIES 495 Revelstoke in British Columbia. The photographs, many of them in colour, are splendid and are frequently imaginative. The text that loosely links them is, unfortunately, pure saccharine. Hours and the Birds: A Saskatchewan Record (University of Toronto Press, xvi, 224, $12.50), by R. D. Symons, is a lovesong to the land and its Bora and fauna (especially its avifauna)' The author emigrated to the Canadian prairies from England in 1914, and his love of the outdoors led him to work in succession as cowboy, rancher, homesteader, Game Guardian, and rancher again. No matter where he was or what he was doing he recorded his bird observations in both field notes and sketches; the present volume is generously illustrated with a selection of the latter. Such an unusual book must be experienced directly. I found the sections on the land and its life zones particularly good. The Saskatchewan Centennial Corporation can be proud of the part it played in making available to the public such a delightful account of the prOVince's natural history during the past fifty years. Alberta's unofficial centennial volume is a most ambitious co-operative effort. Albertn: A Natural HiStory (Edmonton: M. G. Hurtig, viii, 343, $7.50), edited by W. G. Hardy, published by the Patrins (several utility companies), sponsored by several natural history societies, and written by a score of experts, covers everything from astronomy to zoology. The result might easily have been a disaster; but it is, in fact, a triumph. The individual contributors expound their subjects lucidly, with conviction, and without patronizing their readers. Thoughtful discussions of snow as an ecological factor, of algae, of ice worms, of weather, of animals, and of a hundred other topics related to the Albertan scene-make for a fine profile of a province. The Editor...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 494-496
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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