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406 The Canadian Historical Review On ope level, The King of Baffin Land is impassioned and personal, reflecting the authors' belief in the importance of their subject. Yet despite the involvement and commitment of the biographers, the reader is left with many details and little substance. Little is learned about what motivated Parsons as a fur trader, as an HBC man, and as a human being. We are told what a humanitarian he is, but find out virtually nothing about his attitudes towards the Inuit. We are given endless examples of how others viewed him, but know little about the relationships that Parsons had with these people or what he thought about them. In spite of its claims to make his legacy come to life, and the authors' access to his personal papers, Parsons remains an outsider . Like the poorly reproduced black- and-white photographs that grace its pages, the nature of Parsons's contributions to the HBC and the development of the Canadian North remain shadowy and unsubstantiated . PETER GELLER Keewatin Community College Memory is a Fickle Jade: A Collection of Historical Essays about Newfoundland and Her People. RAYMOND w. GUY. St. John's: Creative Book Publishing 1996. Pp. viii, 202, illus. $12.95 This collection of essays by Raymond W. Guy (not the well-known humorist of the same name) can be judged by its cover. The photograph shows an elderly gentleman wearing slippers and seated in a leather chair, unwrapping books on the history of Newfoundland that have been given to him as Christmas presents. This contemplative scene fits the tone of the book, as a man looks back on the events that occurred during his lifetime. The book deals with many of the more important themes in Newfoundland 's early twentieth-century political history, from the early organizational meetings of the Fisherman's Protective Union (FPu) to the era of Commission Government and the Second World War. The author gives us a clear if brief treatment of the political corruption during the 1920s and the resulting Hollis Walker Inquiry. He also ยท provides a good account of the public protest and the riot at the Legislative building in 1932, although his suggestion that Richard Squires may have orchestrated the riot seems far-fetched. There is a treatment of the appalling living conditions of those who cut wood for the paper companies during the 1930s. This chapter, based on the Bradley Report, provides a context for the infamous rwA strike, which falls outside the period covered here. Each of these essays is well Book Reviews 407 written, even ifthe author was too eager to include long quotations and lists of names. Although these narratives are, for the most part, interesting stories, the author could have made more of them. As students of Newfoundland's history know, the failure of the FPU to live up to its promise, the corruption of the Squires administration, Hollis Walker's findings, and the destruction at the Colonial Building all contributed to the Commission Government. This thread could have been used to tie these essays together, but in this treatment the author doesn't explain the significance of these events or make clear his reason for selecting these narratives. Guy's opening essay reveals inuch about his ideology. It examines the perennial attempts of governments to encourage agriculture. He reaches the sensible conclusion that while subsistence agriculture is feasible, Newfoundland farms will never compete with richer agricultural lands elsewhere. He then departs from this resource-base explanation and blames provincial and municipal government regulations for 'imposing' an urban lifestyle and causing a decline in the number of sheep and cows in the outports. The feeling that government regulation has undermined the independence of rural folk is widespread, and the author goes as far as to suggest that municipal governments in rural areas are the 'trappings of an elephant on the back of a mouse,' a phrase resonant ofthe Amulree Commission's recommendation to suspend democratic government. This nostalgia for a rural Newfoundland without effective government denies the genuine benefits the state provides to people. It also ignores the fact that a half-million people with modern technology would not be able to sustain...


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