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410 The Canadian Historical Review Most of the essays in River Road meet the test of local relevance and broader context, but the most engaging and interesting are those that focus on new approaches to prairie history and regionalism. GERHARD f. ENS University ofAlberta Western Visions: Perspectives on the West in Canada. ROGER GIBBINS and SONIA ARRISON. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press 1995ยท Pp. 154, $16.95 Roger Gibbins has been preoccupied with western regionalism for a long time. He has analysed it, worried about it, talked about it, and written about it, often and at considerable length. In this new book, with Sonia Arrison, a graduate student colleague, he has elevated his focus to a new level - the evolution and contemporary nature of nationalist sentiment in western Canada. It is not clear whether this approach represents a maturing of regionalism or an alternative to it. Aside from this question, to which there may not be a completely satisfactory answer, this book should be read by every undergraduate student in western Canadian history, if only to challenge its assumptions . One might also say that every undergraduate in the country should read it, to get something other than a central Canadian view of our history. Canada is a different country when looked at from the western hinterland, rather than the standard survey texts, though several recent ones contradict the old patterns. Much of the early part of Western Visions considers the implications of many of the staple concerns of western historiography - federalprovincial relations, populism, multiculturalism - all within a context that the West has been consistently put upon by central Canada, including the observation that the National Energy Policy cost Alberta $so billion. But it also gives much space to more immediate flashpoints , such as bilingualism, the attraction of the Reform Party, and Quebec separatism. The last section of the book is highly speculative yet very contemporary. The authors take the position that 'western separatism' is frustrated Canadian nationalism, rather than a desire for or commitment to political independence. Its source is the inability of the West to influence national events (for the better, of course), exemplified by the failure to achieve Senate reform (meaning the equality ofthe provinces) in the face of Ontario intransigence and a more principled resistance by Quebec. They conclude that there is little prospect for meaningful reform except within the resolution of Quebec's constitutional objec- Book Reviews 4n tives. Thus, the future of the national community depends on future relations between the West and Quebec. (Did not Henri Bourassa say something much like that a hundred years ago?) Western provinces have tried to position themselves relative to Quebec and Quebec's influence in Ottawa. As Quebec goes so go we all. What then of the future? Or what then of regionalism? Ironically, it is regional pressure that now poses the greatest threat. Radical decentralization, driven by Quebec (but also by Ontario and Alberta), will gut the ability of the central government to provide national leadership and maintain national standards. According to the authors, if Quebec leaves, the West will not remain a unit. It will simply dissolve. Read it and weep. J.E. REA University of Manitoba The Politics of Power: Ontario Hydro and Its Government, 1906-1995. NEIL B. FREEMAN. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1996. Pp. xii, 252, $55.00 cloth, $18.95 paper Ontario Hydro is a major institutional innovation in Canadian history. It has been, at different times, the largest corporation in Canada, the largest public utility in the world, and the only large, regional public electricity utility in North America. This book by Neil Freeman is an excellent contribution to the governance history of Ontario Hydro, a history where much is known and written. Freeman, however, who first wrote this project as a doctoral dissertation in political science, makes valuable new contributions through detailed historical research and interviews with many key players. He places his findings within the theoretical frameworks ofmodern political science, focusing mainly on the postwar boom years of 1945-73, but with considerable detail and insight into the earlier years and less on recent times. The book is important as a case study in the growth of the managerially...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 410-411
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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