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A Walking Tour of Haunted Toronto

October 24, 2013 | Alyson | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Back in July this blog posted information about summer NEAT tours (Newcomers Explore and Appreciate Toronto).

Neat Tours are back, this time with a free tour especially for newcomers of haunted Toronto and just in time for Halloween. Walkers will learn about the history and hauntings of famous Toronto buildings:

It all takes place on Saturday October 26th at 1:30 p.m. The tour group is meeting in front of Union Station, on the southeast corner of Front Street and York Street.  The tour ends at Nathan Phillips Square (City Hall) at 3 p.m. Stick around and you can see the annual Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade.  Of course, you'll want to bring a camera. And why not wear your own costume and be part of the spectacle?

Sign up for NEAT walking tours through or call CultureLink at 416-588-6288 extension 231.

NEAT has some tips to follow if you are joining one of their walking tours:

  • All walks are free and everyone is welcome!
  • Be on time or earlier so that the walk willl begin on time
  • Be prepared for the weather - walks take place rain or shine
  • Bring a water bottle and snack
  • Bring a camera
  • Have fun!

Read up on other haunted places in Toronto:

                      Haunted toronto                  Ghosts of the CNE 
                         Haunted Toronto                        Ghosts of the CNE

Toronto Public Library has many books on making your own Halloween costumes, too.  Here are a couple:

                     Halloween Handbook            Halloween a grown-up's guide

                       Halloween Handbook             Halloween: a grown-up's guide...

                                        Get into the spirit of it. It'll be a scream!


                                         Jack o lantern


Multicultural Films at The Toronto Public Library

October 2, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Did you miss the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year? TIFF was the highlight of the city from September 4-14, 2013 and you can read what our blogger, Alyson, had to say in her Toronto International Film Festival post. Last year our blogger, Melanie, wrote a great post about TIFF and Exploring the World in Movies.


There are many great films featured each year and with a Toronto Public Library card, you can borrow some of these great films and watch them in the comfort of your own home! Take a look at some of our highlights:

  A Monster in Paris Flower Drum Song Inescapable Lore Princess Kaiulani

For more staff suggestions, Download the Film Watcher's Guide to Multicultural Films at the Library!

Last year's list can be found here: Download the MULTICULTURAL FILMS LIST

If you see a title you like, search for it through our library catalogue at and place a hold on it with your library card! If you have any questions, please call our answerline at: 416-393-7131


Do you have a library card?

Toronto Public Library CardHave you just arrived in Canada? Visit a library near you to obtain your free library card so you can start borrowing free ESL books, CDs and so much more, right away. Just remember to bring an ID and proof of address in Toronto (such as a bill or rental lease). If you don't have a document yet with your new Toronto address - library staff can mail to you a library postcard that you can bring back, confirming your address.

The Toronto International Film Festival

September 11, 2013 | Alyson | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


"We have a mission statement: to transform the way people see the world through film."

- Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, TIFF

Films from 70 countries are being screened at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

You can see the world and stay in town.


The TIFF website has a full list of all the films playing, but here is just a small sample of what is being screened:

The Past by Asghar Farhadi (Iran/France)

Cold Eyes by Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo (South Korea) 

Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland) 

The Lunchbox by Ritesh Batra (India) 

Rags and Tatters by Ahmad Abdalla (Egypt)

Border by Alessio Cremonini (Syria)

Half a Yellow Sun by Biyi Bandele (Nigeria)

The Major by Yuri Bykov (Russia) 

The Dinner by Menno Meyjes (The Netherlands)

Trap Street by Vivian Qu (China) 

Of Good Report by Jahmil X. T. Qubeka (South Africa) 

For Those Who Can Tell No Tales by Jasmila Zbanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)



As big as the festival is, it is still possible to get tickets to many films.  If you have the time and don't mind standing in line,  you can even purchase last-minute  "rush" tickets.  Rush tickets are sold just before the film starts based on the number of empty seats.  The rush line is a natural meeting place for people who might share your taste in films, and it's a great place to get tips and suggestions.  Once, a long time ago while standing in a rush line, someone told me about a film called The Jar. I decided to go see it.   That charming little film about a school teacher in a small village sparked my interest in Iranian films. 

If you can't make it to TIFF this year, Toronto Public Library has thousands of DVDs for borrowing.  Many of our titles were screened at past festivals.

Here's a scene from The Jar, the film that made me fall in love with Iranian films.  Take a chance and see a film from a country you might know very little about.  It could start a love affair.

Newcomer Artist Award Opportunity

August 16, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Have you recently moved to Canada?

Are you a professional artist?

Are you a resident of the City of Toronto?

If you’re a recent new immigrant and a professional artist, you can apply for $10,000 in funding being offered by the Neighbourhood Arts Network and TELUS.

TELUS Newcomer Artist Award

Administered by the Neighbourhood Arts Network and Toronto Arts Foundation, this prize is specifically geared for an individual artist who is a newcomer to Canada, a resident of the City of Toronto and making a positive impact in their community through their artistic practice.

Deadline is Sept. 10, 2013

You are eligible if you are:

  • An individual artist
  • A newcomer to Canada (having moved to Canada within 1 to 7 years)
  • Over the age of 18
  • A current resident of the City of Toronto (Must have lived in Toronto for a minimum of 1 year)
  • A Neighbourhood Arts Network member (You can sign up for our free membership prior to applying at


For more information on the Art selection process or contact. Please visit the Neighbourhood Arts Network website.




NEAT Walking Tours of Toronto

July 10, 2013 | Alyson | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Guess what? It might not rain this weekend! And even if it does, why not explore the city by taking a free walking tour of some of Toronto's oldest and prettiest neighbourhoods.

NEAT (Newcomers Explore and Appreciate Toronto) walking tours are a fun and free way to explore Toronto, learn about local cultures and neighbourhoods,  meet new people and develop new networks while enjoying the sights.

Corktown sign

Sign up for NEAT walking tours through or call CultureLink at 416-588-6288 extension 231. Walking tours take place rain or shine.

On Saturday July 13th at 1:00 p.m. you can join NEAT on a walk to discover the St. Lawrence Market area. Walkers are meeting at the south end of St. James Park (near King and Jarvis Streets).  Look for people wearing green. On Sunday July 14th  you can tour historic Cabbagetown and Corktown. Walkers are meeting at the entrance to Riverdale Farm at 201 Winchester Street at 10:30 a.m.

NEAT has some tips to follow if you are joining one of their walking tours:

  • Be on time or earlier so that the walk willl begin on time
  • Be prepared for the weather
  • Bring a water bottle and snack
  • Bring a camera
  • Have fun!

Heritage Toronto also offers walking tours of Toronto neighbourhoods. Heritage Toronto is a charitable agency and encourages tour participants to pay what they can to cover their costs.

You might also be interested in some of these books on walking and sight-seeing in the city:

Guidebook to contemporary architecture    Cabbagetown by Coopersmith     Toronto urban strolls      Cabbagetown in pictures


2013 Portugal Day Parade in Toronto

July 5, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Last month, the Toronto Public Library participated in the annual Portugal Day Parade. The event took place on Sunday June 9, 2013 with an inclusion of the Library Bookmobile! A new addition to the parade this year! 

  Toronto Public Library Book MobileToronto Public Library Book Mobile
[Photo Credit: Library staff members]

Portugal Day takes place in the first week of June each year with singing, dancing, and fun events within the Portuguese community. This year, the Alliance of Portuguese Clubs & Associations of Ontario celebrated Portugal Day with a week of events starting with a parade on Sunday June 9th and then a weekend celebration at Downsview Park on Friday June 14th - Sunday June 16th. 

Portuguese Parade 2013Portuguese Parade 2013
Portuguese Parade 2013Portuguese Parade
[Photo Credit: Library staff members]

Have a look at a short clip of the parade!


For more photos of the 2013 Portugal Parade, have a look at Ossington Village News or the Alliance of Portuguese Clubs & Associations of Ontario.

For Portugal Day information from previous years:
Portugal Day 2011
Portugal Day 2012

Do you have a library card?

Toronto Public Library CardHave you just arrived in Canada? Visit a library near you to obtain your free library card so you can start borrowing free ESL books, CDs and so much more, right away. Just remember to bring an ID and proof of address in Toronto (such as a bill or rental lease). If you don't have a document yet with your new Toronto address - library staff can mail to you a library postcard that you can bring back, confirming your address.

Sweet Summer Strawberries in Ontario

June 28, 2013 | Iana | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

June is Strawberry Month, goes the saying!

As I walk by the local corner grocery store, I see baskets of fresh local strawberries. My mouth waters and I know it is summer! The cooler weather this Spring may have delayed the strawberry season a little bit, but fresh fragrant sweet local Ontario strawberries are already abundant in stores and at the numerous farmers' markets in Toronto - their peak season is June and July so hurry up and enjoy them!


Strawberry plant in a pot balconyThis is the young strawberry plant that I planted in a pot on my balcony. I bought it from the Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market (open Thursdays, 3-7pm, close Dufferin subway). At home we enjoy observing how the plants grow and make our balcony a living green space. It is easy and inexpensive to grow vegetables and herbs in pots on your balcony. I find it relaxing, children are eager to help plant and water and later pick up herbs - our personal green connection in the busy concrete city.

Click here for a selection of books to help you get started with "container gardening" that you can borrow from the library such as "The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible" and many others.


If you are interested - you can easily find a farmers' market that is open somewhere in our city on any given day of the week.

  • And just in time during the upcoming Canada Day long weekend - you can drive up north of Toronto and join the festivities at the Stoufville Strawberry Festival.


Have you tried picking your own strawberries? It is a wonderful family activity and a cheaper way to get these wonderful aromatic fruits, that we have a limited time to eat locally only at the beginning of summer. Children will learn about farming, harvesting and will experience the joy and hard work of picking fresh berries. this is a site that helps you find a pick-your-own farm in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario. Other websites that you can search for local farms in the GTA are: The Ontario Berry Growers Association and Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association.


Tips for picking strawberries (from

  • Select plump, firm, fully red berries, unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
  • Freeze the strawberries that you can not use right away - simply wash the strawberries, drain them well from water, cut the green leaves off, and put them into a ziplock bag. One of the simplest ways to preserve fresh fruit to use later.


Not sure what to do with all these strawberries that you have just picked?

 Learn how to make fresh strawberry foods, pies, jams, cakes! Here are some books on that (remember to get your free library card if you live, study or live in Toronto):

Luscious Berry Desserts     Cooking Pies and Crisps      Handheld Pies

Luscious Berry Desserts      Cooking Pies and Crisps      Handheld Pies


Canning and preserving books:

  Canadian Living Complete Preserving Book         Put Them Up         250 Home Preserving Favourites

  • Put 'em up! : a comprehensive home preserving guide for the creative cook, from drying and freezing to canning and pickling, 2010.


Some easy strawberry recipes:

I find strawberries delicious in any recipe - sprinkle them with sugar, add them to yogurt, make a strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream, strawberry tarts, strawberry smoothie, strawberry "anything"!


I recently made this easy and quick Strawberry Summer Cake (link to full recipe) from one of my favourite home cooking blogs "Smitten Kitchen". The ingredients are easy to get, and it was delicious!

Strawberry Summer Cake - list of ingredients:

Strawberry Summer Cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen Blog

6 tablespoons unsalted butter;
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour;
 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder;
 1/2 teaspoon table salt;
 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar;
 1 large egg;
 1/2 cup milk;
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract;
 1 pound strawberries.

[Photo by: Smitten Kitchen.]


 Childen's Books:

The first strawberries a Cherokee story      The little mouse, the red ripe strawberry, and the big hungry bear     Strawberry Shortcake book

Grow Yoir own strawberries   Saving Strawberry Farm   The cat of strawberry hill

  Do you have a favourite strawberry treat? Happy Summer!

ESL Summer Classes, Learn English with Mango and More

June 4, 2013 | Iana | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

ESL section at the libraryThe ESL summer brochure of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) just came out and here is the good news for English language learners in Toronto this summer! You can attend summer  ESL (English as a second language) classes between July 2-26, 2013.

The choice of classes during the summer is more limited that the rest of the year, but there are still 23 locations spread across the city that you can attend ESL classes, while enjoying summer. Download the pdf version of the Adult ESL Summer Program 2013 brochure. (At the end of summer - check your local library for the next ESL brochure with the busy Fall class schedule by TDSB.)

To register:

  • Simply go to the ESL location of your choice on the first day of class.
  • Remember to bring a proof of residency in Canada.

Please note that those classes are FREE for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, convention refugees, refugee claimants, Live-in Caregiver program participants, Canadian experience class participants, provincial nominees. All adults, 18 years and older, are welcome. "Visitors" to Canada can attend classes for $7 per hour.

For any questions about these ESL classes - contact the TDSB ESL program: or 416-338-4300. The Toronto Catholic School Board (TCDSB)  - another public school board in the city may be offering free  ESL classes in the summer - for more information: 416-397-6600 or


Mango Languages icon - online learning centre



If you prefer to study from the comfort of your home or on your mobile devide, especially during one of those hottest and most humid summer days in Toronto - why not try the online ESL courses offered by MANGO? With your free Toronto Public Library card - you can login to Mango at any time. Then choose between a "basic" and "complete" ESL course.

Mango offers customized ESL courses for fifteen languages! These are: ESL Spanish, ESL Brazilian Portuguese, ESL French, ESL Russian, ESL Mandarin, ESL Cantonese, ESL Italian, ESL Arabic, ESL Japanese, ESL Vietnamese, ESL Polish, ESL Korean, ESL Greek, ESL German, and ESL Turkish.

How to find the "Mango" database at the library? Visit the Toronto Public library's website and simply type "MANGO" in the search box, then click on the Mango icon and enter your library card number.


  Watch this "Getting a library card" video,  TPL's youtube channel.



Have you just arrived in Canada? Visit a library near you to obtain your free library card so you can start borrowing free ESL books, CDs and so much more, right away. Just remember to bring an ID and proof of address in Toronto (such as a bill or rental lease). If you don't have a document yet with your new Toronto address - library staff can mail to you a library postcard that you can bring back, confirming your address.


Families at the libraryToronto's libraries are open all summer long and are air-conditioned (so helpful in the hot humid days  of July)! They have welcoming spaces and staff, and are usually located nearby (98 busy branches to choose from, and a bookmobile!).  

Each library branch has some ESL materials on the shelf,  and many more can ne requested from the website catalogue. The largest ESL centre is at the Toronto Reference Library. For more on that, read our previous post: Learning English at Toronto Reference Library: The largest ESL collection in Toronto.


How to find more summer ESL classes in the community:

  •  Call 211 or search the 211Toronto website for ongoing ESL classes (and other community resources) offered by newcomer agencies.
  • Talk to a summer LSP settlement worker at 20 branches of Toronto Public Library. They provide information for newcomers, including ESL.
  • Just arrived in Canada? Visit a YMCA Language Assessment and Referral Centre to get your English language tested and be referred to the appropriate class level (book your appointment with the YMCA assessment hotline at 416-925-546).


Featured Library Databases for Newcomers to Canada

May 3, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Toronto Public Library subscribes to many different databases that are FREE to everyone with a valid library card.

Toronto Public Library Find Your Way

These databases have a range of information that can help you with career options, language learning, practice tests, research resources, Canadian topics, and much more.

Electronic databases that we feel are useful for newcomers will be promoted on the Newcomers to Canada landing page.

The featured database of the moment is World Book:

Featured Database
World Book database includes primary documents, eBooks, videos, learning tools, tutorials, translations, and the ability to hear articles read aloud. It also includes Canadian content for students, adult learners, and newcomer families.



There are many more databases available for your convenience. The full list can be accessed on the Toronto Public Library website, but here are a select few that you may find useful.


More Databases of Interest:

Canada in Context: Articles, videos, audio files, etc. on a range of topics, people, places and events.

Career Cruising: Interactive career guidance resource with in-depth profiles.

Chinese e-Magazines: Full-text magazines. Simplified & traditional characters.

IELTS: Practice tests with answers. Prepare for the International English
Language Testing System exam.

Learning Express Library: Practice tests & answers for all ages. Entrance exams, math, grammar, job search and more.

Mango Language Learning: Learn a new language or improve your English.

My Canada: Lessons and practice tests on Canadian history, geography, government & culture.

TenseBuster: Lessons and practice tests help improve English grammar. Elementary to advanced levels and ESL.

And many more available through our A-Z databases list.


Which database have you found useful?


Participate in the Many Cultural Festivals - As Toronto Public Library Celebrates Asian Heritage Month!

May 1, 2013 | Grace | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

This year Toronto Public Library celebrates Newcomers and Asian Heritage Month with the whole package, featuring storytellers, authors, chefs, dancers, reporters, artists, drummers, painters, singers, designers and musicians, each bringing us a taste of many exotic cultures right here in our city.

Everything is free so come out and join in the fun at many branches which are proudly hosting mini-festivals. In order not to miss any of the events, you may pick up your Asian Heritage Month Program Guide and Reading List from your nearest branch.

Agincourt Library's "China Homelands Festival" is action-packed for Saturday, May 4, from 10 am-4:30 pm with the following highlights: 

Children's Storytime; A Lion Dance presentation; Chinese Calligraphy; Oriental Food and Tea sampling; "The Chinese in Canada-One Reporter's Odyssey" featuring Jan Wong; Evolution of Chinese food in Toronto, "From Chop Suey to Peaking Duck ..." by Arlene and Leo Chan. 

You may not want to miss the following: Download Agincourt Library 2013_Asian Heritage Month :

Chinese Tea (Pu-Ehr) Workshop (on May 6th @ 6:30pm); the South Asian Cuisine Tasting Table (on May 14th @ 2pm) featuring Toronto's amazing chefs, Karen Johnson & Ronica Sajnan; plus the Asian Seniors Celebration featuring Fok Dancing and Hakka Cooking Demonstration (on May 31st @ 1pm), all of which will be held at Agincourt library. Registration is required as space is limited.

You are encouraged to visit all of our branches mentioned below, and enjoy our free programs:

"Belly Dancing & Japanese Doll Making" at Woodside Square

"Asian Henna & Paper Fan hands-on Crafts" at Bridlewood

Chinese Brush Painting" at Albert Campbell

"Timar-Salek -Persian Indonesian fusion music concert" & "Henna Hand Painting" at College/Shaw

 "Feng Shui and the Environment" at Burrows Hall; 

"Oniroku Puppet Show and Origami" at Danforth/Coxwell

"Japanese Taiko Drumming Concert" at North York Central

"Pan-Asian Celebration -Ghazal, wadoks, mendhi..." at York Woods

"Hula Girls" at Queen/Saulter

"East Indian Family Night Puppet Show" at Long Branch;

"Tai Chi" at Riverdale; 

"Toronto Ismaili Muslim Youth Choir" at Goldhawk Park

"South Asia Homelands" at Cedarbrae; "West Asia Homelands" at Brentwood; "East Asia Homelands" at Malvern; "Pan Asian Food Fusion Festival" at Downsview; "Community Asian Arts Fusion Festival" at Palmerston; "Chinese Cultural Festivals" presented in partnership with Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture, at Riverdale (Brush painting with Dr Lien Chao), Sanderson (photography workshop presented in English and Cantonese by Tam Kam Chiu) and Toronto Reference Library, featuring Michael Cormier in conversation with journalist Jan Wong, discussing his new book, "The Legacy of Tiananmen Square."

This year's Program Guide  has included a Recommended Reading List of some popular Asian authors for all age groups. Here's a selection that would engage you and zap you into another world ...





      (You) Set Me on Fire




For more information on this topic click here.

Toronto Public Library hopes that the Asian Heritage Month experience will be an enjoyable and meaningful one for you this year. We would certainly appreciate your feedback as to which programs you have enjoyed the most!


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

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