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Batter Up!

March 1, 2016 | Beau | Comments (1)

The excitement that gripped Toronto during the Blue Jays' run through the Major League Baseball playoffs seems like a long time ago now. Maybe not as far back as Toronto's history with the game, which goes all the way back to the 1850s, but still...if you're a baseball fan, you're probably tired of the seventh-inning stretch otherwise known as "winter."                    

                                                                                                                                           University of Toronto baseball team                                                                                                                               Roselawn Girls Baseball Team

Photos: (top) The University of Toronto Varsity Baseball Club, 1887. (bottom) The Roselawn Girls Baseball Team, circa 1925. Source: Baldwin Collection of Canadiana, Toronto Reference Library 

The good news is that today is the first day of spring training, which means a brand new season is rounding third and headed for home! The weather outside doesn't really bring to mind lazy summer afternoons spent lounging in the bleachers, but why not sit down with a few of the latest baseball books available at Toronto Public Library while you're waiting for the Jays to kick off their 2016 season?

The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series And The Birth Of Modern Baseball

The Betrayal

Almost a century later, it's still one of the biggest scandals in sports history; eight Chicago White Sox players, including all-time great Shoeless Joe Jackson, conspired to throw the 1919 World Series in return for $20,000 from gamblers allegedly associated with organized crime. In 1988, this story was also told in a film named Eight Men Out.

A game of their own: voices of contemporary women in baseball

A Game Of Their Own

Jennifer Ring's chronicle of the often forgotten history of women in baseball centres on members of Team USA who competed in the fourth Women's Baseball World Cup in 2010. Their diverse backgrounds, retold in a series of oral histories, are a testament to the enduring appeal of baseball across different racial, economic and cultural lines.

Mashi: the unfulfilled baseball dreams of Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese Major Leaguer


Everyone (justifiably) knows Jackie Robinson's name, but do you know who the first Japanese player in the major leagues was? In 1964, the San Francisco Giants called Masanori Murakami up from the minor leagues in the middle of a pennant race. When his curve ball proved capable of dominating American hitters, they attempted to sign him for a contract in 1965, but a Japanese team still owned his contract and Murakami was caught between his homeland and his dreams of playing in America. The resulting dispute escalated into an international incident which would prevent any other Japanese players from playing in the US for 30 years.

The grind: inside baseball's endless season

The Grind

Major League Baseball's 162-game season is by far the longest of the most popular North American pro sports (and that's not even counting spring training or the playoffs), and Barry Svrluga's inside look at the Washington Nationals' 2014 season will give you a new perspective on the toll it takes on the players, their families and the large but invisible supporting cast required to keep a professional baseball team running smoothly.

The game: inside the secret world of major league baseball's power brokers

The Game

Of course, what you see on the playing field is just half the story. The Game tells the story of the behind-the-scenes economic machinations which helped turn America's National Pastime into a multi-billion dollar industry complete with political deal-making and constant battles for power between the players and the owners.

Speaking of the Black Panthers ...... Beyoncé Ain't No Angela Davis

February 25, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (4)

For Black History Month, why not read a Black Panther autobiography?

Segue alert ..... I will admit I watched Super Bowl 50 mainly for Lady Gaga's singing and the half time show. In the United States about 112 million people watched the game and 72% of U.S. homes with televisions in use were tuned into the Super Bowl 50 telecast

During the half time show when Beyoncé et al came out in black berets I had a momentary Monica Lewinsky flashback. Later in social media, when Black Panther allusions started, I thought she's not really anything like the Black Panthers. She hasn't been to jail, she hasn't had to go underground, she's a very wealthy and powerful entertainment figure who is not personally oppressed and not involved in revolutionary socialism. And while I'm sorry to be glib, Beyoncé's hair is certainly not natural and both hairstyle and fashion were important visual, political and symbolic elements to the Black Panther Party and Black Power movements. Simply wearing a beret, having backup dancers with afros, and wearing crossed bands of bullets (more like Michael Jackson than a revolutionary) does not make a Black Panther. I will say though, some folks did feel Beyoncé's performance and song spoke to the Black Lives Matter protests and the condition of black Americans today.

If you want to know about the real Black Panthers please read on.

Black Panthers Vanguard of the Revolution  DVD see here for copies you can place on hold.

I think it's respectful to let the Black Panthers speak for themselves as much as possible. We're fortunate they've written extensively in their own voices. And, in an interesting intersection of Black Civil Rights and the Women's Movement of the 1960s/70s, there were many women who played leading roles and had powerful voices. 

Reflections unheard : Black women in civil rights DVD. See here for copies you can place on hold. If you're interested in more online information about the Black Panthers, the more militant side of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, you may enjoy the following sites:

          Huey P. Newton prelude to revolution DVD         The two nations of Black America  DVD

In terms of women's voices I would direct you to Angela Y. Davis:

The Angela Y. Davis reader    Angela Davis-- an autobiography

Davis had an exceptional life on the run, on trial and in jail and settled into academia but Assata Shakur has an equally lively life experience ultimately ending up living in exile in Cuba. You may also be interested in the autobiographies of Elaine Brown and Safiya Bukhari who were also involved in the Black Panther Party.

              Assata An Autobiography     Autobiography as activism  three Black women of the Sixties Angela Davis, Assata Shakur (a.k.a. JoAnne Chesimard), and Elaine Brown


In terms of the male leadership's autobiographical writings, sample this:

  A Lonely Rage - The Autobiography of Bobby Seale   My People Are Rising Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain

  Will you die with me  my life and the Black Panther Party      Writing on the Wall Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Huey P. Newton was one of the founders, key leadership figures and prolific author: 

  To die for the people  the writings of Huey P. Newton        Huey spirit of the Panther        The Huey P. Newton reader The first comprehensive collection of writings by the Black Panther Party founder and revolutionary icon of the black liberation era, The Huey P. Newton Reader combines now-classic texts ranging in topic from the formation of the Black Panthers, African Americans and armed self-defense, Eldridge Cleaver’s controversial expulsion from the Party, FBI infiltration of civil rights groups, the Vietnam War, and the burgeoning feminist movement with never-before-published writings from the Black Panther Party archives and Newton’s private collection, including articles on President Nixon, prison martyr George Jackson, Pan-Africanism, affirmative action, and the author’s only written account of his political exile in Cuba in the mid-1970s. Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Geronimo Pratt all came to international prominence through Newton’s groundbreaking political activism. Additionally, Newton served as the Party’s chief intellectual engine, conversing with world leaders such as Yasser Arafat, Chinese Premier Chou Enlai, and Mozambique President Samora Moises Machel among others.      

Eldridge Cleaver and Stokely Carmichael are other well known figures associated with the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement:

Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver     Target zero  a life in writing by Eldridge Cleaver

Ready for revolution  the life and struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)     The Black power mixtape 1967-1975 DVD

And aesthetics weren't just aesthetics in the Black Panther Party:

Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975
Noted music producer and scholar Pat Thomas spent five years in Oakland, California, researching Listen, Whitey! While befriending members of the Black Panther Party, Thomas discovered rare recordings of speeches, interviews and music by noted activists Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Elaine Brown, The Lumpen and many others that form the framework of this definitive retrospective. Listen, Whitey! also chronicles the forgotten history of Motown Records. Contents: Musicians as revolutionaries, revolutionaries as pop culture icons -- Iconic images; The Black power salute, berets and a wicker chair -- The movement, Motown and popular music.


Black Panther  the revolutionary art of Emory Douglas. The first book to show the provocative posters and groundbreaking graphics of the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, formed in the aftermath of the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, sounded a defiant cry for an end to the institutionalized subjugation of African Americans. The Black Panther newspaper was founded to articulate the party’s message, and artist Emory Douglas became the paper’s art director and later the party’s minister of culture. Douglas’s artistic talents and experience proved a powerful combination: his striking collages of photographs and his own drawings combined to create some of the era’s most iconic images. This landmark book brings together a remarkable lineup of party insiders who detail the crafting of the party’s visual identity.

For more general coverage of the Black Panthers these may be interesting:

  Framing the Black Panthers  the spectacular rise of a Black power icon   Howard L. Bingham's Black Panthers, 1968.  For over three decades, The Black Panthers Speak has represented the most important single source of original material on the Black Panther Party.

 Black Panthers for beginners   The Black panther  intercommunal news service   Black against empire  the history and politics of the Black Panther Party


The Black Panther Party even had their own recommended reading book list:

Black Panther Party Book List.






Snapshots in History: February 20: Remembering A. J. Casson and the Group of Seven

February 20, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)





(Credit: Library and Archives Canada - Canadian Victory Loan drive poster. A. J. Casson won first prize with this poster in the 1941 Victory Bond contest conducted to find suitable illustrations for the 1st Victory Loan campaign in Canada during the Second World War. Source URL: – Artist: Alfred Joseph Casson; Copyright expired. Crown Copyright. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-30-585.)

On February 20 and beyond, take a moment to remember a Torontonian commercial artist and painter named Alfred Joseph “A. J.” Casson (Born: May 17, 1898 in Toronto, Ontario; Died: February 20, 1992 in Toronto, Ontario) who joined the Group of Seven in 1926 as a replacement for Francis (“Frank” or “Franz”) Johnston. Casson spent time as a youth in Guelph and Hamilton where he commenced a lifelong commitment to commercial art; in 1919, he worked at Rouse & Mann Ltd. as an assistant designer to Franklin Carmichael. Beginning as a printmaker and painter in water colours, Casson began to exhibit oil paintings in 1922, primarily landscapes from Muskoka and Haliburton. (For example, view the National Gallery of Canada website to view Summer Landscape (1925), painted at Paugh Lake in southern Algonquin Park.) Exploring rural Ontario with his automobile enabled A.J. Casson to paint small towns which became a favourite theme, employing a tendency toward simplification and focusing upon the essential elements as recommended by Lawren Harris. Casson joined the printing firm Sampson Matthews (that specialized in screen printing) in 1926 and served as chief designer for many years before retiring in 1957 to paint full-time.

After the Group of Seven disbanded in 1932, Casson co-founded the Canadian Group of Painters in 1933 that included several members of the Group of Seven amongst its collective of 28 painters. Casson gave back to the arts community by supporting other artists and charitable bodies and by serving as president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1948-1952), president of the Ontario Society of Artists (1941-1944), and as a board member of Art Gallery of Toronto (now Art Gallery of Ontario) (1955-1959). After he died in 1992 at the age of 94, Casson was buried upon the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario along with other Group of Seven members.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

A.J. Casson: an artist's life / Christopher E. Jackson, 1998. 

This book was published by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection to accompany the exhibition entitled “A.J. Casson: an artist's life”, organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection from November 1998 to November 1999.

Sunday morning with Cass: conversations with A.J. Casson / Ted Herriott and Alfred Joseph Casson, 1993.

Read the interviews conducted by Ted Herriott with Canadian painter A.J. Casson.

The Bard of rural Ontario A.J. Casson [1 videocassette] / Harvey Kirck; Sketches of our town (Television Program). 

Join journalist Harvey Kirck interviewing A.J. Casson who discusses his experiences visiting and painting rural Ontario for more than 50 years.

My favourite watercolours, 1919 to 1957 / A.J. Casson; foreword by Paul Duval, 1982.

Find out which of his own watercolours from the 1919-1957 time period that A.J. Casson liked best.

Click here for additional copies.

A. J. Casson, his life & works: a tribute / Paul Duval, 1980. 

Consider this biography of A.J. Casson and a review of his art work by Paul Duval.

Snapshots in History: February 19: Remembering Celia Franca & the National Ballet of Canada

February 19, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)






On February 19 and beyond, take a moment to remember British-born Celia Franca (1921-2007) (aka Celia Franks), who almost single-handedly launched the National Ballet of Canada in 1951 by sheer determination and served as its artistic director for 24 years. Previously, Celia Franca studied dance at the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Dance in the United Kingdom. She was recognized as one of the outstanding dramatic ballerinas at age 20 in the Sadler’s Wells (later Royal) Ballet company based in the London borough of Islington. In 1947, Celia Franca joined the Metropolitan Ballet as a ballet mistress and soloist. Additionally, she began choreographing ballets for television for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). In 1950, Canadian ballet enthusiasts asked Celia Franca to start a Canadian classical ballet company which she accomplished within 10 months while working as a file clerk at an Eaton’s department store. Hence, the National Ballet of Canada opened on November 12, 1951. Franca’s imaginative vision was often constrained by the desire and need to please audiences with conservative ballet tastes.

Celia Franca and Nancy Elizabeth “Betty” Oliphant co-founded the National Ballet School of Canada in 1959, combining the elements of a mainstream education with a focus on ballet dancing. Franca retired from the National Ballet of Canada and moved to Ottawa, serving on the board of the Canada Council for the Arts. Celia Franca's awards included membership in the Order of Canada (member, 1967; companion, 1985), the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (1994), the Molson Prize (1974) and the Canadian Council of the Arts Diplôme d'honneur 1986.

Consider the following titles from Toronto Public Library collections:


The pursuit of perfection a life of Celia Franca

Book - Also available in eBook format.

Read the review from Maclean’s magazine.


The sleeping beauty



Power to rise the story of the National Ballet of Canada




Speaking of Burlesque

February 19, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (6)

Burlesque star and fashion diva Dita Von Teese is in town promoting her new book and album.


Your beauty mark the ultimate guide to eccentric glamour

This book reminds me of the resurgent interest and reinvention of burlesque during the last ten years. The bump-n-grind and the swoosh of the twirling tassels is new again (according to Ann Corio's This Was Burlesque performer Carrie Finnell could make one tassel go clockwise and the other go counter-clockwise!).

Burlesque was a staple of the vaudeville scene in American stage from the 1900s on. Post 1930s, vaudeville declined (possibly due to the expansion of movies in the 1920s/30s) and burlesque changed to more striptease in the 1940s-60s era only to decline again as nudity became legal and commonplace on stage. More recently, burlesque has been reinvented and reclaimed by female performers (including Ms. Von Teese) in a variety of settings.


Behind the Burly Q Dvd


Satan's Angel Queen of the Fire Tassels Dvd


You may be familiar with Gypsy Rose Lee, possibly the most renowned burlesque dancer/stripper still in today's memory. The movie Gypsy with Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood is based on Lee's memoir (as are the Broadway shows highlighting Sondheim's music). 

American rose  a nation laid bare  the life and times of Gypsy Rose Lee           Gypsy the art of the tease

My G-String Mother At Home and Backstage with Gypsy Rose Lee           Gypsy Memoirs of America's Most Celebrated Stripper Written by Gypsy Rose Lee

There's even some Canadian burlesque content.

Burlesque West  showgirls, sex and sin in postwar Vancouver


Burlesque  legendary stars of the stage


Determining the dividing line between burlesque and striptease is difficult -- rather like the problem of defining pornography (or good taste) where one is tempted to say "I'll know it when I see it".

Striptease  the untold history of the girlie show  Striptease  from gaslight to spotlight

Pretty things  the last generation of American burlesque queens











Snapshots in History: February 6: Remembering Bob Marley

February 6, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)


(Credit: Bob Marley live in concert in Dalymount Park on July 6th, 1980; Photographer: Eddie Mallin)


On February 6 and beyond, take a moment to remember the life and music of singer-songwriter Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley (or Nesta Robert Marley – apparently, Marley later inverted his first and middle names) (Born: February 6, 1945 at Nine Mile, Jamaica; Died: May 11, 1981 at Miami, Florida). Marley developed a global following for his reggae music and his commitment to Rastafarianism.

Bob Marley and the Wailers were a reggae band that made music and toured between 1963 and 1974 after which Marley teamed up with a new back-up band during 1974-1976 and narrowly escaped assassination preceding a “Smile Jamaica” concert intended to ease competing political tensions in Jamaica. Marley relocated to the United Kingdom during 1977-1978 where he recorded the album Exodus that stayed on the British album charts for 56 straight weeks. (The album included the songs "Exodus", "Waiting in Vain", "Jamming", and "One Love (People Get Ready)". Marley returned to Jamaica in 1978 to perform at the One Love Peace Concert during which he was able to get then-Prime Minister Michael Manley (who had served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War Two) and then-Leader of the Opposition Edward Seaga to shake hands on stage.

Marley released the album Survival in 1979 to show his support of African people, followed by Uprising in 1980 that included his acoustic folk classic Redemption Song. That songdemonstrated Marley coming to terms with his mortality as the cancer that was ravaging his body at the time would soon take his life in 1981. 

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Marley Africa road trip

Marley Africa Road Trip

Three of Bob Marley’s sons retrace their father’s African journey in 2010, 30 years after Bob Marley performed an important concert to celebrate the independence of Zimbabwe.

Bob Marley conquering lion of reggae

Bob Marley: Conquering Lion of Reggae

The author provides the reader with a well-researched biography of Bob Marley built upon interviews conducted with Marley himself before his death and several of his associates. Marley was a champion of human rights, self-determination, rebellion, and the role of the individual who expressed himself through the power of reggae music.

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

This pictorial work provides snapshots of different points in Bob Marley’s life, juxtaposing success with an attempt on his life.

The future is the beginning the words and wisdom of Bob Marley

The Future is the Beginning

Cedella Marley (Bob Marley's Daughter) and Rastafarian expert Gerald Hausman compiled quotations gleaned from interviews with Bob Marley that outlined his personal, philosophical and spiritual beliefs.

Bob Marley a rebel life

Bob Marley: A Rebel Life

Photographer Dennis Morris formed a close friendship with Bob Marley. The photographic portraits demonstrated the trust that Marley showed Morris while he was being photographed.


Need more? Here are some more items from Toronto Public Library collections to consider:

Marley/ Bob Marley, Carlton "Pee-Wee" Fraser, Cedella Booker, Chris Blackwell, and Ziggy Marley

Watch this documentary about the influential impact of Bob Marley upon the music and sociopolitical scene, made with the support of the Marley family.

Kaya [35th anniversary deluxe ed.]/ Bob Marley and the Wailers

Marley [the original soundtrack]/ Bob Marley and the Wailers

Live forever September 23, 1980, Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA/ Bob Marley and the Wailers

Listen to the music of Bob Marley’s last recorded concert.

Please visit Toronto Public Library’s Arts & Culture blog to view Bill V.’s blog post entitled:

Bob Marley's Redemption Song - the Canadian connection.








RIP Starman

February 5, 2016 | Charlene Lee | Comments (2)

2016 began with some devastating news for music fans worldwide – the death of David Bowie. The legendary artist passed away on January 10 at the age of 69, after a long battle with cancer. With a musical career that spanned nearly five decades, Bowie was an innovative visionary. With no aversion to reinvention, he has died many deaths.

David Bowie defined pop music, and pushed the boundaries of what it could be; he was a postmodern champion. Not only was he a great singer and songwriter, but also actor, producer, and performer. With such a prolific career, it seems unthinkable to pay tribute to Bowie in one measly blog post. One way to honour his musical career is to look at some of today’s artists that have flourished under his influence.

David Bowie
Photo: Creative Commons

Janelle Monae

In 2014, Monae covered Bowie’s iconic hit “Heroes”, and in an interview with Rolling Stone discussed his influence and their mutual fandom for one another. “He’s a fan and I’m a fan of him. The respect is mutual… Bowie is part of my musical DNA in so many ways… He’s reinvented himself over and over again. Even now, he’s morphed into something that no one else is doing. That’s what I love most about him; he’s transcendent.” 

Brandon Flowers

The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers has discussed Bowie’s music as life-changing, and what inspired him to pursue a career in music. In 2011 he told Independent: “I still remember when I heard ‘Changes’ for the first time… I found out it was Bowie and it was from this album called Hunky Dory. It’s the most important record to me, ever.”


Arcade Fire

Bowie was a mentor to the Montreal collective. Not only did he collaborate with them more than a few times, but he also contributed to the vocals on the band’s 2013 album Reflektor. On their Facebook page they wrote: “He (Bowie) not only created the world that made it possible for our band to exist, he welcomed us into it with grace and warmth… A true artist even in his passing, the world is more bright and mysterious because of him, and we will continue to shout prayers into the atmosphere he created.”

Check out Viveca's post for a more comprehensive look at Bowie's achievements through books, movies, and films. If you want to commemorate Bowie by playing some of his music at home, check out Bill's post on a couple of the great scores available through TPL. 

Finally, check out Toronto’s very own Choir!Choir!Choir! as they perform their arrangement of Space Oddity at the AGO.


I Remember Snow

February 4, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (2)

I feel old -- I remember winters with snow. 

I remember shovelling, sledding, street hockey, epic recess snowball fights, wet boots, snowsuits, snow angels, sucking on roof icicles, snow forts & igloos and tongues-stickin-to-metal dares. 

I remember my brother John flooding our backyard and making an ice rink. I remember my husband R making me hot chocolate. I remember warming my hands at the fire. I remember hockey games at the local arena Saturday mornings in Richmond Hill. I remember the winter storm of 1999 and the endless shovelling. I remember falling through the ice in the our backyard creek, getting a soaker and some motherly compassion the first time and then some punishment when I did it three more times the same day. I remember winter bumper jumping the chrome backs of cars.


Several other blogs have done great posts on vintage winter photos of Toronto:


Just to jog your own memory of winter and snow please enjoy the following vintage photos from Toronto Public Library's Digital Archive

  1867 Major Higginson's Sleigh at  New Fort Barracks. Toronto.

 1867 albumen photo of Major Higginson's sleigh at New Fort Barracks (Exhibition Place) Toronto.


1870s Yonge Street looking south of King St near Wellington

1870s Looking south down Yonge Street from King Street near Wellington (Noverre Brothers Photographer).


1885 Brockville snow shoe club February 20th, 1885 Murray & Son photographer

Brockville snowshoe club, February 20th, 1885 (Murray & Son photographer).


1890 Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls circa 1890 (notice the tiny people at bottom left for scale).


1890 Robert Millen house on Bay Street, west side, south of  Albert Street

1890 Robert Millen house on west side of Bay Street, south of Albert Street (notice the kids in the window and imagine how cold single pane and wooden homes would have been).


1899 post fire Gowans-Kent China Shop on Front Street

Post 1899 fire, Gowans, Kent & Co., wholesale crockery & glassware shop, Front St. East, north side, between Yonge & Scott Street, Toronto, Ont.


1900 Hockey on  Don flats (Riverdale Park)

 1900 Hockey Don Flats (Riverdale Park).


1900 Riverdale Park Tobogganing

Circa 1900 tobogganing in Riverdale Park (facing east up to Broadview, Don Jail on right).

  1900 Patterson Brothers winter scene Dawes Road and Danforth with delivery sleighs

Circa 1900 Paterson Brothers General Store Dawes Road and Danforth, Little York, winter delivery sleighs (notice the coal sleigh lower left).


1900s circa Queen Street East between Church and Sherbourne showing sleigh and snow plow  electric tram

Circa 1900 Queen Street East between Church and Sherbourne, showing horse sleigh vs electric snow plow on tram lines.


1900s Gordon Playter (son of John L. Playter) on dog sled, near present Jackman Ave.

Gordon Playter (son of John L. Playter) on dog sled, near present Jackman Ave.


1905 Homewood looking north to Wellesley by Henry James  Carter who lived at 70 Homewood Ave. until 1906.

1905 Homewood looking north to Wellesley (Henry James Carter photographer).


1908 High Park, Grenadier Pond by Joseph Adamson Blakey

1908 High Park, Grenadier Pond - what's old is new - remember the recent controversy about skating on the pond in 2014?


  1911 Davisville Hockey Club

1911 Davisville Hockey Club -- back row:  unidentified, R. Watt, R. Dean, Tom? Mead, 2. unidentified, S. Muston; front row: J. Holden, A. Woodhouse, C. Brennand. Clarence Brennand was a long-time teacher at North Toronto Collegiate.


1922 December,  Carting Thursday's snow from downtown Toronto streets - Yonge Street looking north, between King and Queen.

1922 December carting snow from downtown Toronto streets - Yonge Street looking north, between King and Queen. Imagine the back-breaking nature of this manual work.


1925 High Park -  a crowd of merry-makers surrounding the Quebec sleigh of  Ralph Connable

1925 High Park:  a crowd of merry-makers surrounding the sleigh of Ralph Connable.


1929 Humber River, looking west from the bridge between Catherine St. & Old Mill Rd., Toronto, Ont.

Ice in the Humber River, March 1929.


1920s Skating Rink, Eglinton Park, Eglinton Ave. West  between. Edith Drive & Oriole Parkway (looking east to rear of houses on Edith Drive, Roselawn Ave. at left)

1920s  Mervin / Frieda Jones / Bill Jones on Skating Rink, Eglinton Park, Eglinton Ave. West between Edith Drive & Oriole Parkway (looking east to rear of houses on Edith Drive, Roselawn Ave. at left).

So You Want to be a Songwriter?

January 27, 2016 | Irene | Comments (0)

Are you an aspiring songwriter? Do you love this city?

Would you like to have your work professionally recorded and produced?

Then this CBC contest is for you! All you need to do is compose an original song about Toronto.     


If being a musician or songwriter has always been a dream, but you find you are a little short on songwriting know-how, the library can help. Even if you don't know anything about the music biz or how to throw together a demo, we've got the resources for you!                                                    

Pat pattison rhyming

All you need to know about the music business How to make it in the new music business

The art of noise  Songwriting strategies  Songwriter

Once you've nailed those lyrics, figured out a catchy hook and embellished a few riffs (or not), you can come record and/or mix your stuff here at selected branches of Toronto Public Library. We have recording equipment, music software, and now even green screen rooms you can use to shoot your first music video! This equipment is available for use at different branches in the city.


In the immortal words of They Might Be Giants,

"There's only two songs in me and I just wrote the third.
Don't know where I got the inspiration or how I wrote the
words. Spent my whole life just digging up my music's shallow
grave. For the two songs in me and the third one I just made."

Song title "Number Three" from their 1986 album They Might Be Giants

David Duchovny Why Don't You Love Me? Or .... The X-Files returns!

January 26, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (3)

Were you quivering with anticipation on Sunday night, January 24th 2016, at 10 pm waiting for the return of The X-Files after a 14 year hiatus?  

Were you stunned to find Sunday night football prempting (or at least delaying) your show - did you ask yourself what are the NFL NFC championships? What is the post game roundup? What is Kelly Ripa's cohost (Regis' replacement) doing on a late night show?  Could two more contradictory worlds, football vs X-Files, collide? Is this a smoking man conspiracy? 

If so, then like me, you are likely a sci fi geek

The X files  Volume 1 The agents, the bureau and the syndicate


I remember the original X-Files (1993-2002) as if it were yesterday. The excitement, the fear, the flashlights, the conspiracies, the alien DNA, the baseball bat beside the couch as I watched it alone at home in a creaky old house.  It's forever wrapped up in the early days of my relationship with my partner R (he owned a TV and I did not - only one of his many attractive qualities). The Two-litre bottle of coke and extra large pizza (half pineapple, ham and hot peppers / half chicken, feta and sun dried tomatoes).

If you have no idea what I'm talking about or if you would like to revisit the origins of the show then let Toronto Public Library help you out with Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD:


The X-Files season 1 and 2  on DVD available at Toronto Public Library.

The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy has an especially deep collection of reference material on the X-Files. They're worth a visit at the Lillian H. Smith Branch.

Susan, one of my co-workers, said the X-Files was a mash-up of the paranoia and the paranormal.

Mulder/Scully welcome back - we've missed you. Make sure to check out this six-episode mini-series. I liked what I saw - the playfulness and sense of nostalgia. Mulder looked older (don't we all?) and Scully was still wearing high heels. Thanks Fox for the details and clips of the new show


If you're interested in what other fans think, you might enjoy the following:

The library's blog devoted to the discovery of diverse artistic, music and cultural works in the library and Toronto.