I picked this up when there was a Kindle sale on Thomas Costain books a bit ago. I hadn’t been aware of him writing a series on Canada, and it turns out the reason is he didn’t. This is the first book in a six-book series, but each volume was written by a different author. More surprising, this wasn’t an arrangement that the publisher put together, like with the Oxford History of Europe, but one the authors themselves put together, being Canadians who felt a need for such a history series.

In general, this is up to Costain’s usual quality (I certainly recommend his history of the Plantagenets) of writing and creating a digestible narrative history. However, this is originally a 1954 book, and shows a few problems. First, this pretty much all from the colonial settler’s point of view. Given the time and knowledge available to him this isn’t too bad, and he takes time at one point to fairly graphically show that the colonists were capable of atrocities every bit as bad as anything the Native Americans did. However, there’s a fair amount of stereotyping here, and, much worse, on two occasions he has recourse to phrenology.

Outside of those concerns, there’s other things I consider weaknesses, mostly because I’d like some details outside his narrative. Costain starts with some of the initial exploration of the North American coast by Cabot et al, and by the time settlement of the area begins there’s already fishing off the Grand Banks going on, but he doesn’t mention how that got going (or by whom).

This just on the early French regime in Canada, and covers up to about 1690, which is certainly not something I have any real knowledge of. So, it was still reasonably informative, though I never got as cohesive an impression as would have like (extremely sketchy geographical knowledge of the area on my end does not help). Overall, I only give it a limited recommendation, and a more current book on the subject would probably be preferred.