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November 2013

How Toxic Are Your Cosmetics?

November 29, 2013 | Jeannette | Comments (3)

Toxic2I recently came across an article from the David Suzuki Foundation about the toxins in some of our cosmetic products. Some of these toxic ingredients are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins and hormone disruptors. Keep in mind that cosmetics not only affect women. Although we often associate cosmetics with items such as lipstick and mascara, it also includes personal care products that are used by most people daily. Items such as soap and shampoo may contain these toxic chemicals.

The article outlines twelve chemicals, dubbed the ‘Dirty Dozen’, which consumers should absolutely avoid. Some of these chemicals include:

For the full list of chemicals to avoid, visit the David Suzuki Foundation website.

After reading this, I wondered if the cosmetics I used included any of these toxic ingredients. I looked through all my products and found that most contained 3 to 4 ingredients from the 'dirty dozen'!! Some of these products were even labelled as 'natural'. I was very surprised.

I decided to take a deeper look. I found a cosmetic database from the Environmental Working Group that rate cosmetic products based on its ingredients and hazards. Here are the products I use on a regular basis (brand name of products not included):

Daily facial moisturizer 7
Eye shadow 7
Night time facial moisturizer   6
Hand cream 6
Body wash 5
Face wash 5
Shampoo 5
Deodorant 4
Toothpaste 4
Hand sanitizer 4
Concealer 3
Petroleum jelly 1
Pencil eyeliner n/a
Eyebrow kit n/a
Blush n/a

Ratings: 0-2 Low Hazard     3-6 Moderate Hazard     7-10 High Hazard

According to the Environmental Working Group, only 1 out of the 12 products (not including the products with no information) is safe for me to use. Nine products fall into the moderate hazard category while 2 in the high hazard category.

So, what can we do to better protect ourselves? The David Suzuki Foundation suggests:

  • Choosing products that do not contain any of the ‘dirty dozen’
  • Buying products with a shorter ingredient list
  • Choosing products with ingredients you can pronounce
  • Making your own cosmetics

If you want more information about the toxins in cosmetics, here are some books from the library:

Can you get hooked on lip balm  No more dirty looks   Not just a pretty face  There's lead in your lipstick
Toxic beauty  Look great, live green  The pure cure  Drop dead gorgeous

If you want to make your own cosmetics, there are books for that too:

Making natural beauty products  A green guide to natural beauty  Natural beauty  The green beauty guide

There are also a number of resources online:

This was an eye opening experience for me. What will I do with my cosmetics? I probably will continue using the ones with low to moderate hazard, find safer options for my daily face and hand moisturizers and not use products unless it is necessary (e.g. I can probably do without eye shadow). But it seems like it is quite difficult to find products without any of these toxic ingredients. So, how toxic are your cosmetics?


Toronto's Astronomical Heritage

November 28, 2013 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

John-percy-13-11-25On Wednesday December 4, University of Toronto Professor Emeritus Dr. John Percy will give a public lecture at the North York Central Library. His topic: Toronto's Astronomical Heritage.

This is the last talk in TPL's fall 2013 Thought Exchange series Science in History, presented in partnership with University of Toronto Science Engagement.

Dr. Percy is a distinguished scientist who feels strongly about the importance of public engagement in science. In a recent profile in UofT News he discussed why he believes it is important that universities engage in science outreach initiatives. He also gave a preview of his December 4 talk, which is based on his popular Heritage Toronto walking tour of astronomical sites on and around the University of Toronto campus.

Join us at the North York Central Library at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, December 4 for an engaging evening with Dr. John Percy.

 The North York Central Library has lots of resources about astronomy:


also available as an eBook

available as an eBook

On this day in history . . .

November 25, 2013 | Ann | Comments (0)

November 25th on Wikipedia


For most people, this moment in time is not particularly special unless someone is celebrating a birthday or an anniversary.  For our American neighbours, November 25th is three days before Thanksgiving Day and four days before Black Friday.  Americans anticipate a week filled with good food, better company, and the best deals available.  Many Canadians also look forward to shopping online or across the border.

Over two-hundred years ago, North America was a different place and time.  European countries (including Britain, France, and Spain) and the Native Peoples have waged wars over land ownership.  Two historically significant events occurred on November 25th are worth mentioning.   


The French and Indian War, 1755-1763

On Saturday, November 25, 1758, three years into the French and Indian War, General Forbes led the British troops to successfully capture Fort Duquesne from the French.  Fort Pitt was named in honour of the English Prime Minister and first Earl of Chatham, William Pitt.  The surrounding land where the fort resides would later become the City of Pittsburgh.  Pictured below is a map of North America showing land ceded to Britain right after the French and Indian War.

Map of French and Indian War from

For more information on the French and Indian War, here are some available titles:

The French & Indian War Conquered Into Liberty on Google Books NYT Review on The War That Made America
The French and Indian War : deciding the fate of North America 1st ed. by Borneman, Walter R., 1952- Conquered into liberty : two centuries of battles along the great warpath that made the American way of war 1st ed. by Cohen, Eliot A. The war that made America : a short history of the French and Indian War by Anderson, Fred, 1949-

The American Revolutionary War

A quarter of a century later, on Tuesday, November 25, 1783, The American Revolutionary War ended as the British withdrew from New York City.  The British occupied the area for seven years.  Americans gained victory and called this day, Evacuation Day.  The Project Gutenberg eBook released on 2010 a digital copy of the (1883) title, "Evacuation Day", 1783, written by James Riker to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this epic day. 

Evacuation Day, 1783 from The Project Gutenberg eBook website

Here are three more titles on the American Revolutionary War:

A Short History Of The Revolutionary War on Google Books Revolutionary Summer on Google Books Preview The Black Loyalists reviews on
A short history of the American Revolutionary War by Conway, Stephen, 1957- Revolutionary summer : the birth of American independence 1st ed. by Ellis, Joseph J. The Black Loyalists : southern settlers of the first free black communities in Nova Scotia by Whitehead, Ruth Holmes

Enjoy the week if you are shopping or celebrating the American Thanksgiving festivities.


Free Science Events in Toronto for December 2013

November 23, 2013 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

SnowflakeThe Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the December calendar.

December's highlights include:

  • December 5: Icy Visitors, a lecture and planetarium show from the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

December's highlights include:


Comet ISON

November 23, 2013 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

File:A Unique Hubble View of Comet ISON.jpg

By NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team ( [Public domain]

Composite image of Comet ISON taken from the Hubble Space Telescope in April 2013


The astronomy world has been following the progress of Comet ISON for the past few months. First spotted over a year ago at the outer reaches of the solar system, it will pass within 1.16m km of the sun's surface on November 28 - so close that NASA calls it a sungrazing comet.

Scientists don't know whether it will survive the radiation and pressure associated with passing so close to the sun. But if it does, they predict that this comet will be very bright and, with its long tail, will be visible to the naked eye in December and January. Amateur stargazers are already observing its progress with telescopes and binoculars and are taking stunning photos.

The NASA website has a Comet ISON page with the latest news and images, as well as a timeline for the comet's journey with an excellent video about sungrazing comets.

Observing guides for ISON recommend when and where to look for the comet.


Here are some examples of the books and DVDs about comets available at the Toronto Public Library:


20th Century Classical Music Talk at NYCL with Rick Phillips

November 21, 2013 | Muriel | Comments (0)

20th Century Music Dec 12          The Essential Classical Recordings

20th Century Classical Music Talk
Thursday, December 12 at 7:00 p.m.
North York Central Library Auditorium
Please call 416-395-5639 to register.

The music of the 20th century and today may seem challenging at first.

Join classical music expert Rick Phillips as he explains the fascinating

world of 20th century classical music including Philip Glass, John Cage

and many others.

Glass Koyaanisqatsi The Roaring Silence John Cage




November is the cruellest month

November 15, 2013 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

With apologies to T.S. Eliot, my vote for the cruellest month would have to go to November. The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder. The trees have lost their leaves, but we haven't yet had a good fall of snow to brighten the landscape. There isn't a holiday to look forward to in November. And, as they say in Game of Thrones, winter is coming.

We've seen the end of the great fall migration:



Now that the trees are bare, it's easier to spot the birds that don't migrate:

Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard: hundreds of easy ways to bring the music and beauty of songbirds to your yard

Animals have other strategies to deal with winter's coming:

Winter World: the ingenuity of animal survival Seasons of Life: the biological rhythms that enable living things to thrive and survive  

And so do we:

      Fire Places: a practical design guide to fireplaces and stoves indoors and out


                                     How to Build an Igloo and Other Snow Shelters

Happy Financial Literacy Month! Are you a good financial role model?

November 13, 2013 | Ashley | Comments (2)

Finace Role Model

Did you know that November is officially Financial Literacy Month in Canada? You may not know because it is a fairly new initiative, this is Canada's 3rd annual Financial Literacy Month. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) and the Financial Literacy Action Group (FLAG) (which is 7 non profit organizations), launched this event for the first time in November 2011.  Unfortunately, there is a need for this, Canada has one of the highest debt to income ratios (MoneySense), we are struggling financially. In November FLAG and FCAC have organized events all across Canada to educate Canadians about their finances. They have created a calendar of events (most of them are free), you should invest your time wisely and check some out!


According to the The Investor Education Fund (IEF) only 3 out of 10 Ontarians are aware of typical priorities and strategies for long-term saving and even fewer know how financial priorities change with age (IEF). The IEF's website provides unbiased programs and tools to help consumers make better financial and investing decisions. They delivered a program early this year at North York Central Library, where they shared the 8 universal truths about your money, the number one truth on the list:

1. Know your money personality. 
Everyone has a personality: unique attributes, values, goals, worries, tendencies, likes and dislikes that define their character. These traits also apply to your relationship with money – you have a “money personality.” Knowing your money personality can help you meet your financial goals. For example, if you know that you are a spender, you could make saving a habit by setting up an automatic deposit to your savings account every payday.

They have a lot of other great tools on their website including; a mortgage calculators, a wedding budget spreadsheet, student debt calculators, and a  lot more great resources and tips for people in all financial stages of life.



One of the purposes of this month is to help Canadians invest in their future and the future of their children. The Business Department has planned a program to celebrate Financial Literacy Month this November:

Are You a Good Financial Role Model for your Children?

Please join us at the North York Central Library  for an informative financial literacy session. Learn how to understand the goals and challenges of teaching children about money. This Program is brought to you by Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada. 

This program is being held in the auditorium at North York Central Library on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 from 6:30 - 8:00. You can either call 416-395-5613 to register, or just drop in - we'll let you in! 

Of course, you can always visit the North York Central Library's Business Department on the 4th floor and check out all of our personal finance, investment and economics books, DVDs, databases and newsletters. The staff at the reference desk are always happy to help you!

Here are some books to help you get started on teaching your kids about money:

                               MoneysmartkidsMoney savvy kids

                                Financially intelligent parent        Happy money

Thanks for reading, have a Happy Financial Literacy Month!


Alice Munro: master of the contemporary short story

November 8, 2013 | Maureen | Comments (1)

1381426067_munro_postcardI was delighted to learn that Canadian Alice Munro, “master of the contemporary short story,” won the 2013 Nobel Prize for literature. Short fiction has long been obscured by the imposing shadow of the novel. I’ve met people who say they won't read short stories – they will only read novels. When I hear this sentiment expressed, I think of the maddening stubbornness of the character in the Dr. Seuss classic, Green Eggs and Ham – “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-am.”

Yes, I'm proud as a Canadian, and pleased as a woman (surprisingly, the Nobel Prize has only been awarded to a woman 13 times since 1901). And I’m very happy that the Nobel Prize is winning Alice Munro new readers – every Alice Munro book we put on display at North York Central Library was snapped up soon after the announcement of her win!

But mostly, I hope this win will persuade people to read short stories. In an interview with Adam Smith (of Alice Munro expressed the same hope:

[Adam Smith] And the award will bring a great new readership to your work ...

[Alice Munro] Well I would hope so, and I hope this would happen not just for me but for the short story in general. Because it's often sort of brushed off, you know, as something that people do before they write their first novel. And I would like it to come to the fore...

On November 5, Lynn Coady won the Giller Prize for her short story colllection, Hellgoing. In an interview with CBC radio's Jian Ghomeshi the morning after her win Coady said short stories were like "the red headed step child of publishing." She went on to say that "Alice Munro's choice to work exclusively in this form really makes people sit up and notice and realize how legitimate a form it is." With Coady's win, it seems that short stories are coming to the fore, due in part, I think, to Alice Munro.

The fact that [Alice Munro] has made the choice to work exclusively in this form really makes people sit up and notice and realize how legitimate a form it is…” - See more at:

A few words to those who have never read Alice Munro's work: don’t expect a plot driven machine of a work, in which pieces fit neatly into one another with mechanical precision and a clean cut, unambiguous conclusion is reached.

Torontonians, I implore you not to read her work in transit, your attention fractured by the distracting soundscape of TTC noises --the rattling and clattering, the distorted echoes of undecipherable announcements -- Alice Munro's work deserves more.

I suggest a quiet room, a place you won’t be interrupted.

Give her your full attention. Don’t read quickly. Every word counts.

Heartfelt congratulations, Alice Munro.

Related posts: Good things really do come in small packages: in praise of short fiction

Dear Life Too Much Happiness The view from Castle Rock The love of a good woman
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Runaway - Stories Lives of Girls and Women Hateship, friendship, courtship, loveship, marriage: stories Dance of the happy shades and other stories
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Open Secrets Friend of my youth - stories The progress of love - stories Who do you think you are - stories
Open Secrets Friend of my youth: stories The progress of love: stories Who do you think you are: stories
No love lost The moons of Jupiter - stories Something I've been meaning to tell you - thirteen stories. Selected stories
No love lost The moons of Jupiter: stories Something I've been meaning to tell you: thirteen stories Selected stories

We shall not sleep. Though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

November 4, 2013 | Ann | Comments (4)

In Flanders Fields poem from the War Museum website

John McCrae, a native of Guelph, Ontario and surgeon of the 1st Brigade, wrote other poems in his life.  He is best remembered for the passage he wrote while gazing over grave-filled ravines curtained in red poppies and over the constant roar of cannon and artillery fire in the distance.

Remembrance Day is celebrated each year on November 11th to commemorate the signing of armistice between the Allies and the Germans on November 11th in 1918.  Since the Great War, other wars have followed including the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, and the War in Afghanistan to name a few.  Remembrance Day pays homage to all soldiers since the Great War. 

The City of Toronto is hosting several Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11th before 11 am:

Remembrance Day ceremonies available from the City of Toronto website


On Thursday, November 7, 2013, North York Central Library is featuring a program with Major Lee Phillips of the Royal Canadian Forces.  The program is called, Looking Back:  Honouring Remembrance Day in Canada and this is where he will share his personal experiences serving in the armed forces as well as highlighting the importance and significance of commemorating Remembrance Day in Canada.  The program will begin at 7 pm in the auditorium.  (Seating is limited so please call (416) 395-5660 to register.)

Major Leo Phillips at NYCL Nov 7th 2013


The year 2013 is the Year of the Korean War VeteranVeterans Affairs Canada has an 2013 newsletter called Salute! where Veteran Affairs Minister, Steven Blaney says,

It is our duty today to pay tribute to more than 26,000 Canadian men and women in uniform who came to the aid of South Koreans during the Korean War, and in particular the 516 Canadians who gave their lives in service to defend the values of peace and freedom on the Korean peninsula.  (Excerpt from 2013 Salute! newsletter.)


Veterans Affairs Canada also offers Postcards for Peace that you could send and share peaceful message e-cards with others.  

VAC - Year of the Korean War Veteran


Also worth noting: 

  • The Canadian War Museum has a Remembrance Day web page with information that includes topics on Armistice Day, John McCrae, and the poppy as a national symbol.  
  • Early Canadiana Online provides a wonderful archival collection of image and print resources to view on the Internet.  World War I archives are easily accessible.
  • Royal Canadian Legion is Canada's largest Veterans and Community Services Organization in support of Canadian Veterans and lives of many.  Ontario Provincial Command Legion covers the Toronto area.  Consider supporting The Poppy Campaign by purchasing a poppy from the Legion.


Here is a list of some interesting World War I titles and DVDs at North York Central Library to peruse. 

July 1914 on The Assassination Of The Archdule at

The Lost History on
The Great War DVD on tpl(DVD) The Great War on tpl(DVD)

War Horses of WWI DVD on tpl(DVD)


Below is a listing of World War II Titles and DVDs at the North York Central Library.  

The Girls of Atomic City on The Deserters on

Big Week on
Inside World War II DVD on

World War II When Lions Roared on
Top Secret Rosies DVD on


Here is a selection of historical titles on other military missions worth investigating.  

Brothers At War on tpl
 (Korean War)
My Vietnam Your Iraq on
(Vietnam War (DVD))
The Last Refuge on
(War in Afghanistan)
One Minute To Midnight at tpl(Cuban Missile Crisis) Viper Pilot on War) Scarce Heard Amid The Guns on Mission)


As Remembrance Day draws near, please take a moment to reflect on those who served in past wars and what they were fighting for.

Welcome to North York Central Library. We're one of the City's most welcoming spaces, open to all for study, research, relaxation and fun.

Our extensive digital and print collections, programs and services are yours to use, borrow and explore. Expert staff are always on hand to help. Meet us in person or join us online.