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May 2012

Portugal Day: Celebrating Portuguese Communities Around the World

May 31, 2012 | Melanie | Comments (0)

Portugal Week Logo

Every nation has its literary hero. For Portugal, it's the one-eyed poet Luis de Camoes. Luis de Camoes was such an iconic figure, that the Portuguese decided to name the anniversary of his death as their national day of celebration. 

Every June 10, Portuguese communities around the world celebrate Portugal Day. Toronto boasts one of the most well-known Portugal Day celebrations in the Portuguese diaspora. Toronto's Portugal Day celebrations are so large, in fact, that the festivities actually take place over the course of three weeks at various different venues!

The highlights of the celebrations, though, usually take place on the weekend closest to June 10. This year's event will take place on June 8, 9, and 10 at Trinity Bellwoods Park. The Alliance of Portuguese Clubs and Associations of Ontario (ACAPO) has been running these events since 1987, and this year marks their 25th anniversary as organizers of this city-wide celebration.


Portugal Trinity Bellwoods Park  Portugal Day Parade       (Photo credit: Brian S. from

In celebration of this milestone, Toronto Public Library will be joining the Portuguese community in celebrating their national day of heritage! On Saturday, June 9, Toronto Public Library will be at Trinity Bellwoods Park, sharing information about our great resources and services! Toronto Public Library has materials in over sixty different languages, and Portuguese is one of them. At Toronto Public Library, you can find Portuguese books, CD's, movies and magazines for adults and children at ten different branch locations throughout the city. We'll also be offering Portuguese Storytime programs at our tent, so be sure to stop by and say "ola"!

Want to read more about Portugal Day? Check out our blog or visit the ACAPO website for a full listing of Portugal Day events. You can also check out these titles written by Portuguese Canadian authors:

My Darling Dead Ones                Between the Stillness and the Grove                Barnacle Love


Wow! Portugal Day at Trinity Bellwoods Park was a success! Over 100 people came to visit Toronto Public Library's tent! Check out this list of new Portuguese titles coming to a Portuguese collection near you! IMG_0795




Creating Community Through Quilt Making

May 20, 2012 | Debby | Comments (5)

Have you ever had the opportunity to help create a quilt?
It's a wonderful way to contribute a piece of yourself to a larger scale and to your community.

      Even Children can make a quilt out of paper!Quilt making in the process
      [Photo Credit: A Gr.4 Community quilt from Marianne and Community Group Quilt, PTA]

Quilting is a handicraft that involves sewing or knitting pieces of individual patchwork together to form a quilt. In the above photo, a class of children have also created a community quilt using paper and markers.

Quilts can be created for many occasions such as for a new baby, a family memory, or a community group. Quilts are all different and unique and community quilts are meaningful because they can bring a group of people together. If you are interested in creating a quilt of your own, the library has some great books for you to check out:

   Index-2 Index-1 Index-3 Index

Community groups such as Toronto Public Library's Craft and English Conversation Circle at the Gerrard/Ashdale Branch is one such example that has in the past few months created a quilt piece that was donated to a charitable organization. The quilt pieces were created by knitting and crocheting and then patched together by the individual members in the group.


English Conversation Circle at Gerrard/Ashdale Library

The circle began when there became a need to address a growing number of newcomer customers in the Gerrard India Bazaar neighbourhood. The customers wanted a learning space to develop their English as well as a social space to get to know their community. They quickly developed the idea to create a quilt, which helped to bring them closer.

The group welcomes beginner, intermediate, and advanced handi-crafters as well as English speakers of all levels.


                                    [Photo Credit: Craft and Conversation Circle at Gerrard/Ashdale Library]

English Conversation Circles at the Toronto Public Library provides opportunities to develop and practice English language skills in an informal environment. If you are looking to learn new expressions, meet new friends, and increase your confidence in using conversational English, then check out an English Conversation Circle near you!

You can also learn more about our English Conversation Circles in a previous English Conversation Circle Blog.

Patches from the Social Fabric Project Community Quilt

The Gerrard India Bazaar also recently saw the unveiling of yet another beautiful community quilt. This quilt however was a project that originated from one of the store owners in the neighbourhood. The project, called Social Fabric with help from artists of The Toronto Art Group, brought together store owners, local organizations, and families in the Gerrard Street East neighbourhood. Each group contributed and created their own patchwork, which was then sewn into a community quilt that represented the unique qualities of the area.

[Photo Credit: InsideToronto]

The unveiling of the quilt coincided with the Toronto Public Library's South Asia Homelands Festival at the Gerrard/Ashdale Library, an annual celebration for Asian Heritage Month. Everyone gathered around the cozy second floor library and watched as the quilt was unveiled by young children in the crowd.

Social Fabric Project at the Gerrard/Ashdale Library               [Photo Credit: Gerrard/Ashdale Library Staff]

The quilt will be on display at the Gerrard/Ashdale Library until the end of May 2012, after which it will be placed into one of the empty store fronts along Gerrard St. East.


After seeing all these beautiful pieces of patched quilts, I hope you are inspired to create your very own. Whether with a group, a family, or yourself, a quilt is a piece of art that anyone can take part in!


Are You Prepared for an Emergency? Plan Today So You Can Be Prepared for Tomorrow

May 8, 2012 | Melanie | Comments (2)

If you were faced with an emergency, would you know what to do?

72 hoursSome people would say that they are quite confident about knowing how to handle an emergency. But no matter how confident you think you are, when you're in the middle of an emergency, you may find that your mind just can't think straight and it may be hard for you to make sense of all the chaos around you.

Whether or not you're a pro at handling emergency situations, now's a great time to brush up on your emergency response skills! May 6-12 is Emergency Preparedness Week and the federal, provincial, and municpal governments have prepared some great resources to help you prepare yourself for any emergency situation.

Emergency preparedness means making sure that you and your family will be able to cope on your own in the event of an emergency for at least 72 hours. There are three simple steps you can take to help make you and your family emergency-ready:

Three Steps

In Canada, types of emergencies may include severe weather storms, power outages, or even health pandemics. You can be better prepared for these and any other types of emergencies if you make a plan. The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety has a great online resource to help you get started with your emergency plan. The Government of Canada also has a great video that can help you create your own Family Emergency Plan.


Getting a kit is very easy. You can either purchase a ready-made kit from the Canadian Red Cross, or you can make one yourself! When putting together your own Emergency Preparedness Kit, be sure to include the following items:

Emergency Preparedness Kit

  • Water
  • Food
  • Manual Can Opener
  • Flashlight and Batteries
  • Battery-powered/Wind-up Radio
  • First Aid Kit
  • Special Needs Items (such as prescription medications)
  • Extra Keys
  • Cash
  • Emergency Plan



If you need more information on how to be prepared in an emergency, Toronto Public Library has some great resources! Here are some great books to get you started:

Just In Case                 Preparedness Now                  Idiot's Guide to Disaster Preparedness

Does your family have an emergency plan in place? Do you have any tips or advice you can share with others?


Welcome! This blog is written by librarians and provides information and resources available from the library and around Toronto to new residents of Canada. For more information see the Library's Help for Newcomers website