Marine Wildlife: The Gros Morne National Park Region by Joe Wroblewski (Breakwater, $32.95) is far more than an annotated list of what’s to be found in and around Gros Morne; similarly Historic Saint John Streets by David Goss and Harold E. Wright (Nimbus, $19.95) is more than a list of streets, what’s on them and how to get from one to another.
In both cases, the potential uses of the book greatly exceed its official purposes. The books are to be used in several ways, even possibly by those who have never been to either place.
For instance, many of the living things described and illustrated in Wroblewski’s book are found elsewhere in the seas off Atlantic Canada. Because of this, the book can be used almost anywhere in the region. More importantly, Chapters 4 and 5, entitled respectively A Changing Marine Ecosystem and Stewardship of Bonne Bay (which almost splits Gros Morne in half), are devoted to the preservation of the living thing in question.
In addition, after each description there is a paragraph headed Resource Use. These range from “fun for children to find under rocks,” “commercial fishery” and “recreational fishery” to “baiting lobster pots” and “not utilized by people.” At the end of the book, there is a small section called “Notepad” which describes four actions to take as “stewards of Bonne — be taken with regard to any other body of water.
As for Historic Saint John Streets, it is the most recent of Nimbus’ Images of our Past series. The authors are very well-known local historians in Saint John. This is not — nor is the Gros Morne book — something to read from beginning to end. Rather, they are like a dictionary which one picks up to find a particular word and, an hour later, is still reading.
“The city has 1,248 streets and we have only been able to mention about 200 of them,” say the authors.
Most of the ones they have selected have historic interest, which is shows one of book’s purposes: readers can learn much about the city’s development — and something of New Brunswick’s history, too.
For anyone interested in town planning, this book often shows how not to do it. “...the planners who laid out the city...drew the streets in a grid pattern, irrespective of swamp and rock.” Even today some key streets go up at a very acute angle.
Photographs add to the information on each page. Unfortunately, there is no map, which one would need for the most successful reading. In spite of this lack, the book is a treasure.
Elizabeth Cran, writes a book review column for The Guardian. To comment or to send her books to review, write her at 111 Sydney St., Apt. 17, Saint John, N.B., E2L 2L8, or call her at 506-693-5498.