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June 2016

Hockey Players Clobber Artists

June 30, 2016 | Maureen | Comments (8)

How many hockey players does it take to make you feel dumb about Canadian art? If you said three, good guess. A recent poll showed that Canadians had no trouble coming up with the names of hockey players -- 97 percent of those polled could name three or more. I came up with ten, and I don't even care about hockey. Hey, put away those pitchforks and torches -- I promise, I WILL be a fan during the last game of the playoffs, if the Leafs ever make it that far. Or the Habs. Or ANY Canadian team.

The fact that Canadians -- even the least athletic or sporty among us, know the names of hockey players, is no big shocker. Canadians exhale Zamboni fumes. Baby Canadians drink in the names of hockey stars with their mother's milk. The more unsettling revelation that came from this poll is that 54 percent of Canadians couldn't come up with the name of a single Canadian visual artist, living or dead. And those that could, picked the usual (albeit incredibly talented and venerated) suspects: Emily Carr, Tom Thomson and two members of the Group of Seven, A. Y. Jackson, and Lawren Harris.

Emily Carr collected A treasury of Tom Thomson
A. Y. Jackson - the life of a landscape painter Lawren Stewart Harris - a painter's progress

If there was a Conn Smythe Trophy for most valuable player in the visual arts, these four painters would surely have won it. Their impressions of the Canadian landscape are as much a part of the Canadian psyche as Paul Henderson's game winning goal with only 34 seconds left to play in the 1972 Canada-USSR Summit Series. When I think of Ontario's north, I swear, I see it like this:

  The west wind

The west wind, Tom Thomson - with permission from the Art Gallery of Ontario

In celebration of Canada Day, let's take a moment to consider some other Canadian visual artists. The hockey season is over. The winter Olympics are more than two years off. Light filled summer days are perfect for looking at these art books.

David Altmejd
David Altmejd, sculptor


The women of Beaver Hall - Canadian modernist painters
The Beaver Hall Group


Manufactured landscapes
Edward Burtynsky, photographer


Alex Colville, painter


Kurelek country - the art of William Kurelek
William Kurelek, painter


A fool in paradise - an artist's early life
Doris McCarthy, artist specializing in abstracted landscapes


David Milne - watercolours
David Milne, painter, printmaker


Norval Morrisseau - Return To The House Of Invention
Norval Morrisseau, artist


Odjig - the art of Daphne Odjig, 1960-2000
Daphne Odjig, artist


Christopher Pratt - the places I go

Christopher Pratt, painter, printmaker


Mary Pratt
Mary Pratt, painter


Jeff Wall, photographer


Steve Martin, the American comedian/actor/musician/author/art collector -- let's just say, all round genius -- was so taken with the work of Lawren Harris, he curated an exhibition of his work. The idea of north: the paintings of Lawren Harris will be at the Art Gallery of Ontario from July 1 to September 18. Pick up a Sun Life Financial Museum and Arts Pass at your local Toronto Public Library branch, and you can go to the Art Gallery of Ontario for free. You can borrow the beautiful book The idea of north: the paintings of Lawren Harris from the Toronto Public Library.

The idea of North - the paintings of Lawren Harris


National Post article, June 20, 2016: Over 50 per cent of Canadians can't name a Canadian painter; 97 per cent can name multiple hockey players


Free Science Events in Toronto for July 2016

June 28, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

The Business, 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 July calendar (PDF).

July's highlights include:

  • July 7: Healthy Digestion - Learn more about the best digestive foods and exercises to increase metabolism and digestion.
  • July 12: Stem Cells: The Hope and the Hype - Join leading experts for a realistic view of what stems cells hold for all of us - now and in the future.
  • July 24: Water World - Discover how water works and how to keep our water clean.

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

At the Library, July's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these books:

Digestive Wellness   The Healing Cell   Connecting the Drops   The Big Book of Maker Skills

The Music of Being   Crowdsourced Health   The Culinary Herbal   Open Data Structures

Al Fresco: Summer Meals in the Great Outdoors

June 24, 2016 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

From food trucks to patios, a sure sign that summer has arrived in the city is the return of outdoor dining. So during this first weekend of summer, may I put in a good word for my favourite outdoor meal - the picnic?

I have fond memories of childhood picnics. There were no wicker baskets, baguettes or blankets spread on manicured lawns. Instead, we sat at sticky picnic tables at roadside rest stops and washed down our soggy sandwiches with warm drinks because the ice in the cooler had long since melted. Our "picnics" were quick pit stops on a long annual road trip and they've become part of our family lore; experiences I look back on with affection despite their shortcomings.

Maybe that's why I've idealized picnics in the years since. I now have a wicker basket, and a few times every summer I pack a meal to be shared in a beautiful outdoor setting. I've taken it to beaches and on canoe trips; once I even packed it in my luggage and used it almost daily on a driving trip through France.

A nobleman with his entourage enjoying a picnic. Illustration from a French edition of Le Livre de chasse de Gaston Phébus ("The Hunting Book of Gaston Phebus"), 15th century.  Bibliothèque National, Paris.
From "Le Livre de chasse de Gaston Phébus". Public domain image.

Food historians trace the origins of picnics to medieval hunting feasts, and say that for centuries dining outdoors was an activity for the wealthy.

Today most of us think of picnics as simple meals eaten at a beach or in a park rather than banquets that just happen to be served outdoors.

Whatever the location or menu, following a few simple rules will ensure that you enjoy your picnic safely. 




Food Safety for Picnics

Summer temperatures can make outdoor food handling and storage a challenge. Follow these food safety rules to ensure a safe picnic:

  • use a cooler and ice packs to keep cold foods cold (below 4 degrees C or 40 degrees F)
  • keep the cooler out of direct sunlight and try not to open it any more than necessary
  • don't leave food out for more than one hour in hot weather
  • wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces to prevent cross-contamination


For more information about how to ensure your picnic is safe, have a look at the following:


It's Good for You

Whether you pack an elaborate meal in a basket or just take your brown-bag lunch outside for a change, I suggest you enjoy some picnics this summer. Studies show spending time outdoors improves health and many people also believe that food tastes better when eaten outdoors - the theory being that all of our senses are heightened when we're outside.


We have books to help you plan and prepare the perfect picnic:


Here Comes the Summer Solstice!

June 20, 2016 | Ann | Comments (2)

Mandala titles for your reading interest!
Photo courtesy of Bart Everson on Flickr under cc Generic 2.0 licence.

While temperatures soared above the 30 degree Celsius mark after Victoria Day on May 23rd, summer officially begins at 6:34 pm today. As the commuter traffic dwindles, the Summer Solstice pours through the City hurling us into hot and humid weather. Today starts the season of swimming pools, bug bites and scorching sunburns.

Here are some historically hot topics for you to glance through on your patio:

Indian summer: the secret history of the end of an empire Empire of the summer moon: Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history The long summer: how climate changed civilization Martian summer: robot arms, cowboy spacemen, and my 90 days with the Phoenix Mars Mission
Freedom summer: the savage summer that made Mississippi burn and made America a democracy Summer of '68: the season that changed baseball-- and America-- forever The summer of beer and whiskey: how brewers, barkeeps, rowdies, immigrants, and a wild pennant fight made baseball America's game Red heat: conspiracy, murder, and the Cold War in the Caribbean


Today also celebrates the longest day of the year. From this day forward, daylight hours gradually shorten over time. Six months from today, on Wednesday, December 21st at 5:44 pm, the Winter Solstice will mark the shortest day of the year. From that day forward, daylight hours with increase again until the next Summer Solstice arrives to complete the cycle. In contrast, the Spring and Fall Equinox mark the period when daylight balances evenly with the nighttime hours because the sun is directly over the Earth's equator. Paige Williams' (2013) article provides a detailed understanding on how seasons occur as a result of how our planet is tilted. 


As the Earth tilts favourably towards the Sun at different areas of the world, people gather to celebrate this day with food and festivities. Here are four articles on Summer Solstice celebrations from around the world:

  1. Top 10 Summer Solstice Celebrations Around the World by Huffpost Travel
  2. 5 summer solstice celebrations from around the world by
  3. 5 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice Around the World by
  4. 15 Summer Holiday Traditions from Around the World by Becky Ferreira

Or, you can create your very own Summer Solstice festivity from WikiHow.


Enjoy these previous TPL blogs as the summer moves forward:

  1. Summer Awakens the Wandering Traveler
  2. UFO or Weather Balloon
  3. Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe, 1762-1850
  4. Let's Go to the EX!


While planning your fun in the City, have a look at the following websites:

  1. Toronto Hogspot Activities/Events/Fun
  2. City of Toronto - Special Events
  3. Toronto festivals and events calendar


Summer would not be complete without some amazing activities for the children and family across the City. Thursday, June 30, 2016, the TD Summer Reading Club registration begins and the book reporting starts on Monday, July 4, 2016! The program runs all summer long and ends on Saturday, September 3, 2016. Children are encouraged to sign up, read books, join in on some amazing activities, and spend the best part of the summer learning and having fun.

Summer Reading Club 2016

Enjoy this day and every sun-drenched day that is available for the next three months. The weather can only get better from this point forward. No matter where you reside, the Summer Solstice arrives to bring joy and celebration all around.

Summer Travel in Toronto!

June 17, 2016 | Muriel | Comments (2)

I recently read about a five-year-old boy, Jackson Ryan Bennett, who plans to visit, with his father, all 100 branches of Toronto Public Library this summer, on public transit! His father said that Ryan picked the first branch, Fort York, out of Daniel Rotsztain's adult colouring book, All the Libraries Toronto. Perhaps Jackson will even join the TD Summer Reading Club 2016 at one of the 100 branches he visits with his father.

 All the Libraries Toronto     The TTC Story

I enjoy travelling around Toronto any time of the year, usually on foot, and my travels invariably include a scenic walk, coffee and stationery shops, and a cultural event! I went to the Toronto Reference Library (which has a lovely Balzac's café) last evening to see The Changing Face of Toronto, which has photographic portraits which illuminate broad changes to demographics, fashion, technology, work and leisure over the 20th century. I thought that this photo of an organ grinder on Bay Street in 1922, was particularly poignant and evocative of a very different, earlier time in Toronto:

Organ grinder on Bay Street 1922

A great Toronto guide I enjoy using is Toronto Urban Strolls 1, by Natalie Prézeau. When she moved from Montreal to Toronto, Nathalie fell in love with this city's parks, ravines and the character of its neighbourhoods. Her guide is replete with Toronto walks, urban sights, and places for coffee breaks and meals. Natalie Prézeau enjoys playing tourist here, and has also written a guide for local parents, Toronto Fun Places - For Families.

Toronto Urban Strolls 1     Toronto Fun Places - For Families      

Toronto's Ravines     Toronto's Ravines and Urban Forests 

On my Toronto walks, I like to look at the architecture I pass by, and learn more about it.  On a beautiful sunny day recently, I walked through the lovely Peace Garden at Nathan Phillips Square and admired the still-modern-looking architecture of Toronto City Hall, by Finnish architect Viljo Revell.

  Civic Symbol     Making Toronto Modern    

I find the Royal Ontario Museum very interesting to look at, both outside and inside. The range of architectural styles and exhibitions on display there is breathtaking. You and your family can go to the museum for free, with a Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass. The architecture of The Royal Conservatory of Music, just to the west of the museum, is fascinating, too, and there is an exquisite modern addition (with a café!) there, the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, designed by the Toronto architectural firm, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg
Bold Visions the Architecture of the Royal Ontario Museum     Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg   

I enjoy the peaceful and rejuvenating feeling of going into nature, and I have discovered numerous lovely spots in Toronto: at Harbourfront, the Toronto Music Garden, designed by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, has free concerts throughout the summer; car-free Toronto Island has the advantage of always being cooler than on the mainland; and a real jewel of pretty wilderness in the city, Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve at Todmorden Mills heritage site (also free with a Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass), is a great place to connect with nature.

  Trillium and Toronto Island     Great Country Walks Around Toronto     A Mill Should Be Build Thereon

If you would like to travel back in time in Toronto, Toronto Public Library has an interactive neighbourhood map, which indexes historical pictures, and more, by neighbourhood. If you would like to explore the city through poetry, you might want to look at Toronto Public Library's Toronto Poetry Map.

Bon voyage!

How Memory Changes with Age

June 10, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

My grandma often opens a kitchen cupboard and stares at it. “What did I need?” she would mumble. Sometimes she would tell us a story, not remembering she had already told us it. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. It is an “age-associated memory impairment,” which is a normal part of aging.

As we age, our brains slowly decline in volume and blood flow to the brain also decreases. However, studies have shown that the brain is capable of regrowth and learning. Here are some helpful tips from the American Psychological Association on how to minimize age-related changes and improve memory function:

  • Participate in social and community activities
  • Physical activities and exercise
  • Train your brain
  • Have positive beliefs about aging
  • Avoid distractions

If you or a loved one is experiencing age-related memory difficulties, the Alzheimer Society of Canada offers some tips on how to cope:

  • Keep a routine
  • Organize information
  • Put items in the same spot
  • Repeat information
  • Make associations
  • Involve your senses
  • Teach others or tell them stories
  • Get a full night’s sleep

To learn more about memory and aging, join us at the North York Central Library for a talk by Dr. Shayna Rosenbaum, Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Biology, and Centre for Vision Research, York University. She will discuss the latest research on age-related changes to memory and brain function.


What: How Memory Changes with Age

When: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 (7 – 8 PM)

Where: North York Central Library, in the Auditorium

For more information: Call the Business, Science & Technology Department at (416) 395-5613


For more information about memory and aging, here are some books:

Memory and Aging   Nurturing the Older Brain and Mind   The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain   Understanding Brain Aging and Dementia

Here are some books about improving your memory as you age:

100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss   Brain Power   Keep Your Brain Alive   Your Best Brain Ever

There are also DVDs on how to keep your brain fit:

The Brain Fitness Program   Brain Fitness2   Functional Fitness Brain Power   Optimizing Brain Fitness


Truth and Reconciliation: One Year Later

June 6, 2016 | Carrie | Comments (1)


Fort ResolutionR.C. Indian Residential School Study Time, Fort Resolution, N.W.T. This work is in the public domain.

It's been just over a year since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada held its closing ceremonies and released its summary report of the findings into the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada. This included 94 broad recommendations, or "calls to action" aimed at redressing the legacy of residential schools and facilitating the process of reconciliation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was launched in June 2008 as a result of the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement with the mandate to "inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools."

More than 130 residential schools operated across Canada and the federal government has estimated at least 150,000 First Nation, Métis and Inuit students attended them. The last school, located outside of Regina, closed in the mid-1990s. These schools were funded by the Canadian government and administered by Christian churches. The goal was to assimilate the indigenous population into the dominant Canadian culture and remove them from the influence of their families and culture. 

Join us at the North York Central Library on Monday, June 6 to hear Joanna Birenbaum, a Toronto constitutional and human rights lawyer, discuss the legacy of Residential Schools for Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous people in Canada, with a focus on the steps taken toward reconciliation since June 2015. In particular, Joanna will describe the innovative National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its important role in the ongoing process of reconciliation.


What: Truth and Reconciliation: One Year Later

When: Monday, Jun 06, 2016, 7 pm

Where: North York Central Library, in the Auditorium

For more information: Call the Society and Recreation Department at 416-395-5660


If you would like to learn more about the history of residential schools in Canada, please take a look at the following books or visit one of Toronto Public Library's Native Peoples Collections located at North York Central Library, Spadina Road branch and Toronto Reference Library. These collections include books, CDs and DVDs, as well as language-learning kits, by and about the Native Peoples of North America with special emphasis on First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada.


A knock on the door


A knock on the door: the essential history of residential schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2016




Up Ghost River



Up Ghost River: a chief's journey through the turbulent waters of Native history. 2014





Unsettling the Settler Within


Unsettling the settler within: Indian residential schools, truth telling, and reconciliation in Canada, 2010






  Residential Schools


Residential schools: with the words and images of survivors. 2014





The Final Report:

History Part 1 The history Part 2 Inuit and Northern Experience Metis experience



Missing children Legacy Reconciliation

Jazz Festival Preview: Chase Sanborn Trio Live!

June 3, 2016 | Maureen | Comments (5)

Chase SanbornNorth York Central Library is partnering with the TD Toronto Jazz Festival for a free preview show. The Chase Sanborn Trio will perform at the library on Tuesday, June 21 at 7:15 p.m. Before the performance, Chase and his fellow musicians will give a workshop on jazz fundamentals. It doesn't matter whether you're a jazz newb who can't tell the difference between bebop and boogie-woogie, or a jazz aficionado -- all are welcome at the workshop, which starts at 6:00 p.m. Call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

Acclaimed trumpet player Chase Sanborn has played with some of the biggest, brightest stars in jazz, including Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Diana Krall. He spent years playing on stages in Boston, San Francisco and New York, including legendary Broadway. (Fun fact: Chase has played lead trumpet for the long running Broadway musical Cats 1444 times!) Chase is now a vibrant force on the Toronto music scene, both as a performer and educator -- he’s a faculty member at the University of Toronto, in the Jazz program. In an interview with the musician, I came across a funny story about how he became a trumpet player. Although he's been playing trumpet since his elementary school days, the instrument wasn't his first choice. He wanted to play trombone, but his arms were too short to extend the slide. His second pick was saxophone, but by the time they got around to the kids whose names started with 'S' they had run out of saxophones! Thus a trumpet player was born.

The TD Toronto Jazz Festival runs from June 24 to July 3 this year. If you aren't already jazzed up about this great festival, here are some suggestions to get you in the mood:

 Borrow a Chase Sanborn CD from the library:

Double Double Perking Up Cut to the Chase

Watch a movie:

Satchmo Louis Armstrong The girls in the band Dancing on the edge Ella Fitzgerald the legendary first lady of song
Cannonball Adderley live in '63 Let's get lost Mo' better blues Ornette

Read a book:

The history of jazz Jazz The Penguin jazz guide The jazz book

Play an instrument:

The Hal Leonard real jazz standards fake book Berklee jazz piano Jazz classics Smooth jazz piano

 Get the kids involved:

Ella Fitzgerald - the tale of a vocal virtuoso Just a lucky so and so - the story of Louis Armstrong Jazz Oscar lives next door - a story inspired by Oscar Peterson's childhood
Before John was a jazz giant Mysterious Thelonious Charlie Parker played be bop Duke Ellington - the piano prince and his orchestra

Listen to some jazz:

Visit Naxos Music Library Jazz, one of the most comprehensive collections of jazz music available online. It offers over 100,000 jazz tracks from more than 9,000 albums. Over 12,000 jazz artists are represented. You can access the Naxos jazz library anywhere -- all you need is an internet connection and your library card. 

Naxos music library -- jazzBorrow a CD:

The library still collects CDs, so don't fret if you're a little old fashioned and like the simplicity of feeding a CD into a slot. I like the way the CD player in my car pulls the CD from my fingers, firmly, eagerly, it seems to me, like it can't wait to hit the road and start spinning tunes. If you're new to jazz, and want to dabble, consider the CDs below. You can't go wrong with these classics.

Kind of Blue,  Miles Davis.

A love supreme, John Coltrane.

My favorite things, John Coltrane.

Time out, Dave Brubeck.

Getz/Gilberto, Stan Getz and João Gilberto.

Ella and Louis, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. (Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson plays piano on this album)

Concert by the sea, Erroll Garner.

Genius of modern music, volume 1., Thelonious Monk.

Bennie Goodman at Carnegie Hall 1938, Bennie Goodman.

The essential Bessie Smith, Bessie Smith.

The complete Decca recordings, Count Basie.

The complete Savoy and Dial Sessions, Charlie Parker.

Mingus ah um, Charles Mingus.

Ella Fitzgerald sings the Cole Porter songbook, Ella Fitzgerald.

Our man in Paris, Dexter Gordon.


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.