Wednesday, November 14, 2012

History's Mysteries: Cryptic Canada by Natalie Hyde

The man with the red cloth wrapped around his head needs a shave. His scraggly beard can't hide how thin his face is, though, and his smile reveals a mouth full of decayed teeth.

Clearly he isn't in the best shape. But he doesn't look bad for someone who has been dead for 140 years!

Mummies are fascinating, and Canada's famous ice mummies of Beechley Island tell the tale of the doomed Franklin Expedition's effort to locate the fabled Northwest Passage. Their bodies and clothing, preserved nearly perfectly by the permafrost, have provided scientists with insights into the cause of thr failure, if not the final story of this English exploratory expedition. Forensic examination of their skin and nails have shown that the sailors were victims of lead poisoning caused by the solder used in the tin cans of food meant to sustain them through their voyage. The story of that vanished band, the final survivors and ships still unfound, is the story of one of Canada's many history mystery sites.

And then, there is the still unrecovered buried treasure of Cap'n Kidd the pirate, located on Oak Island in the popular vacation destination of Nova Scotia, where hopeful excavators found that someone (perhaps the nefarious privateer himself) had created a series of fiendishly flooding tunnels which guarantee that diggers will be forced to retreat when they grow near the treasure.

And speaking of tunnels, how about that extensive network of underground passageways in Moose Jaw, said to have been created by Chinese immigrant laborers, literally going underground to escape deportation, and according to more modern legend, used by mobster mogul Al Capone to hide Canadian booze for railroad shipment to U.S. speakeasies, giving the town the nickname of "Little Chicago."

These history mysteries and four others -- from Viking Vinland settlements to the Great Lakes' version of the "Bermuda" triangle -- are explored in middle reader format in Natalie Hyde's newest, Cryptic Canada: Unsolved Mysteries from Coast to Coast, (Owl Kids Press, 2012). Readers don't have to be natural-born Canucks to relish these puzzling mysteries associated with intriguing settings. Author Hyde skillfully blends historical background and scientific and archaeological findings in short chapters which feature ample photographs (ice mummy William Braine), absorbing text boxes (Lead Poisoning, Carbon Dating, Al WHO?), and a smattering of jolly cartoons to provide fans of historical enigmas plenty to relish.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home