Roderick L(angmere) Haig-Brown

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Adele M. Fasick

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Although [Captain of the Discovery: The Story of Captain George Vancouver] is a competent, straightforward biography which does not require significant revision, it is unfortunate that a few inexcusably patronising remarks about native peoples were not eliminated [in the revised edition]. To write as Haig-Brown does …, "Nearly all the natives they dealt with were natural—and highly skilful—thieves until checked," is to accept 18th century European standards without making allowance for cultural differences. And to say that a group of Indians "behaved well" because they were peaceful and traded willingly … is to imply that Indian behaviour can be judged by its convenience for Europeans.

Haig-Brown emphasises the careful, painstaking work of exploration which Vancouver did and the hardships he and his crew endured. Like most biographies for children, the book omits references to the less edifying aspects of Vancouver's life, notably the controversial Camelford Affair in which Vancouver was accused of having a midshipman flogged….

Despite its flaws, this biography is an important one….

Adele M. Fasick, "'Captain of the Discovery: The Story of Captain George Vancouver'," in In Review: Canadian Books for Children, Vol. 8, No. 4, Autumn, 1974, p. 48.

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