Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Finding Families, Finding Ourselves: English Canada Encounters Adoption from the Nineteenth Century to the 1990s

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Finding Families, Finding Ourselves: English Canada Encounters Adoption from the Nineteenth Century to the 1990s

Article excerpt

Veronica Strong-Boag, Finding Families, Finding Ourselves: English Canada Encounters Adoption from the Nineteenth Century to the 1990s (Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada, 2006), 318pp. Paper. £24.99. ISBN 978-0-1954-2492-8.

Veronica Strong-Boag begins her exploration of adoption in English Canada by stating that the issue 'stands close to the heart of who [Canadians] are as individuals and as a national community'. Her claim is a bold one and I remain unsure whether Strong-Boag's decision to open the introduction with a list of 32 well-known Canadians who happen to have been adopted is not somewhat redundant. Her list includes Canada's most famous orphan, the fictional Ann Shirley, and points to how the issue of adoption is identifiable in many aspects of Canadian culture. It does not, however, demonstrate that adoption is a peculiarly Canadian concern. This is minor carping on my part and I admit that I found most sections of the book thoroughly engaging.

Strong-Boag writes with passion about the personal and political histories of adoption in English Canada. In chapter one, 'Beyond the Nuclear Family: Childrearing in English Canada', she is trenchant about the idealism of traditional perspectives on Canadian family situations, noting that '[central] to the domestic visions treasured by Canadian communities have been assumptions that children are treated fairly and appropriately'. …

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