The Captain Cook Encyclopaedia

By Collins, David N. | British Journal of Canadian Studies, September 2005 | Go to article overview

The Captain Cook Encyclopaedia


Collins, David N., British Journal of Canadian Studies


John Robson, The Captain Cook Encyclopaedia (London: Chatham Publishing; Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2004), 296pp. Cloth. £30. ISBN 1-86176-225-9.

Subtitled on the dust cover as 'the ultimate reference work on the life, voyages and discoveries of Britain's greatest navigator and explorer', this really lavishly illustrated volume has been lovingly prepared by the editor of 'the much-acclaimed' Captain Cook's World: Maps of the Life and Voyages of James Cook (Auckland, 2000). Fascinated by Cook since his early days as a native of Stockton-on-Tees, in the heart of 'Captain Cook country', Robson is now the Map Librarian at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand and naturally a member of the Captain Cook Society. Though the Encyclopaedia does not concentrate on Canada, it has a wide range of articles tangentially or directly related to British North America, some reflecting James Cook's surveying work off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America, others on surveying, Native Americans, artists and the Cook voyages, splendid sections on zoology, botany and so on. Some of these are written by experts, including Victor Suthren (author of To Go Upon Discovery (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2000), reviewed in BJCS, vol.14, no.2, 1999, pp.336-7), who contributed the 'Canada' section (pp. 51-5).

Clearly, the compilation of a work of this magnitude was a mammoth task. Technically brilliant though it is, there are a few Canada-related items I found to quibble over. It seems strange that, whereas Samuel Holland the surveyor of Cape Breton Island was referred to on p. …

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