Toronto Public Library Homepage

This page has been archived and is no longer updated.

« September 2016 | Main | November 2016 »

October 2016

You Don't Scare Me Creepy Clown! Helping Children Face Their Fears

October 28, 2016 | Carolyn | Comments (2)

I'm sad to report that the creepy clown viral phenomenon has come to Canada. People dressed as menacing clowns are being spotted, in particular, around schools. I sympathize with parents who have to comfort children frightened by one of these imposters (of course they're not real clowns, and they are giving all clowns a bad name).

When my daughter was small, she was afraid of clowns. She wouldn't go to a birthday party unless I checked first to make sure no clowns would be making an appearance, she didn't like circuses and she was even a bit anxious about Hallowe'en. I worried for a while that this fear was preventing her from enjoying normal childhood activities, but eventually it stopped bothering her and life went back to normal.

It isn't unusual for children to have fears; in fact, child health experts say they are a normal and necessary part of a child's growth and development. Sometimes, however, fear or anxiety can interfere with a child's ability to function. When this happens, parents may want to get some guidance about how to best help their child.

Here are some resources with information for parents about childhood fears and phobias:


Here are some books with information for parents about this subject: 



And here are some books to read with your child:



eh List Author Series Presents Ami McKay's The Witches of New York

October 27, 2016 | Reagan | Comments (0)

The bestselling Canadian author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure, Ami McKay will be at North York Central Library on Tues Nov 1, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:00 pm.

She will be discussing her new, beguiling novel, The Witches of New York, a tale of three remarkable young women navigating the glitz and grotesqueries of Gilded-Age New York by any means possible, including witchcraft!

Q&A and book signing to follow; Book City will be selling books at the event.

The Witches of New York - 2016

Witches of new york

Interested in reading Ami McKay's other books? Find her other titles The Birth House (2006) and The Virgin Cure (2010) in our collection.

The Birth House - 2006

Birth house

The Virgin Cure - 2010

Virgin cure

Want to read Ami McKay's The Virgin Cure for your book club? You're in luck! Ami's website has a reading guide for the book. Find Book Club sets at the Barbara Frum Branch. Reserve your Book Club set today.

Niagara Falls' Daredevils

October 24, 2016 | Ann | Comments (4)

 Annie Taylor before her trip

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Annie Edson Taylor (1838-1921)

Over a century ago today on October 24, 1901, a 63-year-old teacher climbed into a wooden rowboat accompanied by two men and a half-submerged pickle barrel in tow. Taylor decided that in order to procure more funds to ensure a healthy retirement, she had to perform an amazing act to draw attention to herself. The pickle barrel was fully insulated by a rolled-up mattress, a heart-shaped pillow, and possibly her cat for moral support. 

Annie Taylor with her cat
By GG Bain News Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Both she and the cat survived with minor cuts to their heads. Taylor was able to use her notoriety from this stunt to make some extra cash but was unable to make enough to retire comfortably.

The horrendous drop or the possibility of dying did not deter others daredevils from repeating this stunt. A more recent (2012) article from The Toronto Star called How did these people survive a plunge over Niagara Falls? provides a fresh perspective from the point of view of the survivors who jumped into the Falls and fell all the way to the bottom without any protective wear. One jumper, Kirk Raymond Jones, lived to tell his tale and tour in a circus.


Daredevils Above the Falls

Charles Blondin was a tightrope daredevil and attempted this feat without a net or safety harness to prevent him from falling into the "boiling cataract." His only request was that the day would have good weather. The photograph shows Charles carrying a pole tethered with the Royal Union flag on the left to represent Canada and the American flag on the right and a chair hanging on the tightrope in front of him to perform more death-defying stunts.

Charles Blondin 1946 tightrope walk

Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library 


In 1975, Henri Rechatin rode on a motorcycle driven by a partner on a tightrope, while another acrobatic performer is also tethered to the motorcycle and swings behind the cable car. Henri here attempts to climb down into the cable car below. Three people participated in this daring feat and relied on each other -- the motorcyclist keeping the bike steady, Rechatin using the balancing pole to keep everything in balance, and the female acrobat below to hold her pose.

Winding up his daredevil trip above the Niagara Gorge whirlpool today; French acrobat Henri Rechatin steps down onto the aerial car cable from a motorcycle driven by a friend. Photograph taken by Don Dutton in 1975
Courtesy of Toronto Public Library


Here is another picture of Henri (spelled Henry in this photograph taken by Graham Bezant) Rechatin on May 23, 1976, beginning his tightrope stunt while rolling on a single metallic wheel. It looked to be a chilly day as he was wearing a long-sleeved sweater. This photograph shows Rechatin clearly focusing on his task of balancing his feet on the metal wheel to keep it stable while it rolls over the tightrope.

Henri (Henry) Rechatin riding a metal wheel on a tightrope on May 23, 1976 over the Falls

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

More interesting resources

There are many more stories on Niagara Falls that are not mentioned here. For more information on Niagara Falls and her daredevils, please refer to the following titles listed below:

Inventing Niagara: beauty, power, and lies Roll out the barrel: The story of Niagara's daredevils Niagara: a history of the Falls
Hidden history of Greater Niagara The second greatest disappointment: honeymooning and tourism at Niagara Falls Moon Niagara Falls

There are more titles written in the nineteenth century on this great travel location from that period's perspective to look through.  Also, for those who have the daredevil in them to zip above the Falls at a fast rate, the Zipline & Aerial Adventure is somthing to try.

Niagara Falls is that extra bit more wonderful with her daredevils there to entertain the tourists with their death-defying feats. Unfortunately for some, these stunts have cost them their lives. The Falls beguile these people to hurl themselves into the mouth of the raging waters or to tiptoe above it, while denying the Falls its tender human morsels. Either way, these brave people are now part of the Falls' history and their stories continue to attract tourists to this great place.

Bridging Niagara Falls From Past to Present

October 24, 2016 | Ann | Comments (4)

Niagara Falls (1792-1885)

Niagara Falls has been visited and depicted by people from many different artistic perspectives. The changes in this landscape over time are preserved digitally on The Toronto Public Library Digital Archives.

This captivating image, entitled Niagara Falls, was painted in 1792 by Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe. Simcoe stood within a safe distance to paint the greyish mist rising from the depths of the Falls. Using watercolours, she captured the evergreen trees clinging to the sloping ledge above the rushing waters, and the blurred trees on the distant American side.

Niagara Falls in 1792 as painted by SIMCOE, ELIZABETH POSTHUMA (GWILLIM) (1762-1850)

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

The next image is called Water-Fall of Niagara and was painted in the 1790s by Robert Hancock. The fascinating aspect in this etching is the level of detail of the water flow and the slanted evergreens scattered throughout the picture. The visitors are worth mentioning, including the dog perched over the ledge staring at the rapidly descending water. Notice that some men were wearing extravagant 18th century uniforms and tricorne hats. Others dressed in more humble robe-like attire. One fine gentleman -- possibly of royal ancestry -- is wearing a crown and a pair of shorts while conversing with another man in a tricorne hat as he pointed in the direction of the Falls.

The Water-fall of Niagara (c 1750) by Robert Hancock

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

This next painting called, Horseshoe Falls of Niagara, from the Canadian Side was created in 1819 by John Elliott Woolford. The painting shows casual boaters rowing as near as safely possible without being drawn into the plunging waters and the surrounding rocks. The falling water appears exaggerated and puffy while emitting huge plumes of water vapour.

Horseshoe Falls of Niagara, from the Canadian Side in 1819 by John Elliott Wolford

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

This beautiful spherical lithograph on wove paper titled, Niagara, View of the British Fall from the Table Rock, was created in 1833 by Samuel Oliver Tazewell. What is truly amazing in this picture are the people standing on the Table Rock looking over the Falls. One of them stood precariously close to the edge with no barricades to obscure the glorious view of the Falls. Today, the Table Rock Centre now stands on the same location where those three men stood almost two centuries ago. This view is now partly obscured by the safety of rock posts with heavy metal railing. The artist has appeared to have 'tamed' the scene by depicting the trees standing at the same height in a straight line and the falling water streaming through the rocks like hair running through the teeth of a comb.

Niagara, View of the British Fall from the Table Rock by Samuel Oliver Tazewell (1833)

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

In or around 1885, this image named, The Horseshoe Fall from Goat Island was taken by an unknown photographer. This image highlights the clear rawness of the Horseshoe Falls. The soft tone to the picture brings to mind the idea that this photograph may have been touched up to look like a piece of art. The soft grey lines of the flowing water and the background scenery gives this image a breathtaking view of a phantasmagorical landscape. Also beginning to appear in the background are signs of structural development. Especially interesting is the walkway that enables a group of men and women with parasols to stand directly over the precipice where the water falls away.

The Horseshoe Fall from Goat Island captured by an unknown photographer in 1885

Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library

Niagara Falls and her Bridges

The beauty of Niagara Falls sometimes hides the danger that lurks underneath. The Falls in the winter draws tourists to explore the solid icy surfaces the Falls' mist creates. Unfortunately, because of the constantly moving waters, the terrain continues to reshape despite human intervention in reducing these dangers.

The Niagara Falls Ice Bridge is a natural structure that forms from the icy mist each winter and gradually melts away in the spring as the temperature warms. 

The colours have been painted on this 1910 photograph to give it a more realistic look. The tiny black specks on the ice below the Falls are visitors casually walking along the Ice Bridge from the American side to the Canadian side. There are even a house-like structures strewn along the way at the bottom.

The Ice Bridge, Niagara Falls (1910) by Valentine & Sons' Publishing Co. Ltd

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

Here is another photograph from 1910 from the bottom of the Falls showing a closeup view of the visitors. As you can see, many adults and children were sliding down ice hills next to the Falls on that day. Unbeknownst to these people, in two years' time on February 4, 1912, The Ice Bridge Disaster would occur when the Ice Bridge would collapse and break, resulting in several people falling to their deaths.

Ice Bridge, Niagara Falls (1910) by S.H. Knox & Co

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

Even the human-engineered bridges would face the same fate. The sagging and then collapse of the "Honeymoon" (Duplesis) Bridge gives expression to the massive amount of energy behind the shifting ice and the roaring waters. Below, is a photograph taken in 1933 when the bridge was beginning to show signs of structural failing. Only a few years later when large chunks of ice floating on the currents collided with the bridge's foundations did the structure finally collapse.

Watchers on the Canadian side of the river saw the sag in the bridge floor when they looked along this up-river side.
Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library

Here is the top view taken on January 31, 1938 where the middle of the built bridge has fallen down to rest on the naturally frozen Ice Bridge:

Collapse of Duplessis Bridge recalls the twisted mass of girders which was once the Niagara Falls View bridge. Picture taken by unknown photographer in 1937

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

Here is another close-up view from where the bridge joined to the cliff edge, as taken on January 27, 1938. More information and pictures of this bridge collapse are available on the Niagara Frontier website. The immense devastation is clearly seen in the shorn and twisted metal.

About 4,500 tons of scrap steel on the ice of Niagara Gorge where Niagara's ice jam pushed Falls View bridge from its foundations. Image by unknown photographer in 1938.

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

Not all is lost though. Plans for construction of a new bridge began right away. On November 3, 1941, the new Rainbow Bridge was open for service and stands 500 metres north of the old bridge's location. The opening ceremony took place at the border where United States meets Canada and is commemorated by the raising of the two flags.

On November 3, 1941 the rainbow bridge at Niagara Falls was formally opened

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

For more books on bridges and digitized travel guides of Niagara Falls from the nineteenth century, here are some titles to marvel at:

Bridges: the science and art of the world's most inspiring structures Bridges: their engineering and planning Dan Cruickshank's bridges: heroic designs that changed the world.
The Falls of Niagara: with supplementary chapters on the other famous cataracts of the world The book of Niagara Falls... Descriptions of Niagara, selected from various travellers

When visiting Niagara Falls, most tourists enjoy gazing over the precipice to view the raging waters of Niagara Falls. The structures surrounding the Falls appear beautiful and yet are haunted by their own sense of mortality as the constantly rushing waters and floating ice pummel against their foundations. Time continues its march forward and the Falls continues to reshape its majestic glory.


Buy Your Candy, Pick Your Flicks

October 21, 2016 | Maureen | Comments (6)

This year Halloween falls on a Monday -- the worst possible day! I don't know about you, but I'm in no condition to get up before the sun has risen the morning after Halloween, with the work week ahead giving me the evil eye. If you've celebrated Halloween right, you've pushed your body and psyche to the limit with a horror movie, candy gorging bacchanal that leaves you so jazzed up on sugar, nightmare images and candy chemicals that you have to spend the next day detoxing body and mind. The day after Halloween should be a holiday! Why? 1) So we can stay up late watching horror movies on Halloween night. 2) So we can recover at home, flushing the sugar demons out with some kind of flower petal tea from a health food store, while nibbling leftover candy (following the hair of the dog that bit you principle...)

Listen: if you take your Halloween fun as seriously as I take mine, you'd better start working on your movie line-up. You won't be able to pick your flicks at leisure if you have to work all day Monday. And you'll be especially pressed for time if you have little ghouls and boys to take trick or treating. Even if you don't, consider that Halloween night is book-ended by two working days this year. That leaves you only a few hours (if you plan to get any sleep, that is.) I urge you to start a list of potential movie choices now, take a day or two to whittle it down, and you'll be all set for Halloween night. Procrastinate, and you might end up watching a full on shark-o-rama:

Sharkenstein Planet of the sharks 2-headed shark attack

I love comedy-horror mash-ups like Shaun of the dead and Zombieland, but on Halloween night, I want to be scared. I want movies that cut into my cranium like rusty saws, ripping into the trap door in my mind -- you know the one I mean, because you have one too -- the door you spend the rest of the year trying to keep bolted shut. That brings me to the third reason for making November first a holiday: 3) After letting the demons romp around on All Hallows' Eve, we need to round them up, wrestle them back into the shadows, and bolt the door. If we can. This is best done at home, in the soft glow of lamplight, preferably with a friendly fur ball on your lap.

The library is a veritable gold mine for movie lovers. In addition to DVDs, there are digital movies always available, accessed via Hoopla, and the Criterion Collection. Here's just a small sample of the many movies available from the library, for your Halloween viewing horror.

Currently available in Hoopla:

Spirits of the Fall Night of the Scarecrow
Tales of halloween Let the Right One In
Funny Games It follows

Currently available in the Criterion Collection:

Scanners The Testament of Dr Mabuse
Fiend without a face Eyes without a face


The Babadook The kill list
The-descent Youre next
The loved ones They live


There are some great horror movie suggestions in this blog post by my colleague, Viveca: 20 Best Horror Films on DVD.

Have a look at these books, for more suggestions:

Essential horror movies: matinee monsters to cult classics

Monsters in the movies: 100 years of cinematic nightmares

To learn more about Hoopla, see Getting started with Hoopla.






The Trials and Tribulations of Self-Publishing

October 17, 2016 | Paula | Comments (1)


Last weekend, authors came out to share their stories about self-publishing at the first Toronto Public Library Indie Author Day celebration. Nearly 300 libraries across North America invited local writers to take part in the event. The day was celebrated at North York Central Library with an author panel, a self-publishing workshop and a book fair featuring the works of local authors.

The notion of creative freedom came up time and time again at the event, as authors described their experiences with self-publishing. Most talked about wanting to control all aspects of the publishing process -– from book cover creation to marketing.

Chris Grady, a member of the author panel, talked about his writing and how drawing web comics became a way of dealing with depression. Half a million Facebook followers later, Chris is the successful author of the web comic Lunarbaboon.


Tracy L. Ward, another author at the event, discussed treating her writing career like a business. Ward drew up a business plan that involved writing four books. It took three books before the series took off, but she is now an Amazon bestselling author of the Peter Ainsley Mystery series, books about a Victorian morgue doctor and his assistant who set out to solve crimes. In describing her books, Ward called them a mix of “CSI meets Sherlock Holmes, with a little Jack the Ripper thrown in”. Ward discussed choosing the self-publishing route because of her need to be true to the graphic nature of the morgue work, something she thought might be censored if she went with a traditional publisher.

Dead among us

Another common topic was the stigma of self-publishing. Authors discussed the difficulty of overcoming the resistance to unvetted works as the majority of readers are afraid to give something that hasn’t gone through a traditional publisher a try. For readers, the difficulty with self-publishing is how to distinguish quality writing from unedited messes. Quality writing can be found in self-published novels. Here are a few famous examples:

Once we were brothers Still Alice Martian Best laid plans

Once we were brothers – Not able to find a publisher, Ronald H. Balson created his own publishing company to self-publish his World War II legal drama about two brothers who ended up on the different sides of the war.

Still Alice - Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist, chose to self-publish after being rejected by several publishers. Her novel about a 50-year-old professor who develops Alzheimer’s disease went on to be made into a major Hollywood movie starring Julianne Moore. 

The MartianAndrew Weir used his science background to create the story of an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars. When Weir couldn’t find a publisher, he published his novel one chapter at a time on his website for free. When his fans begged him to release an eBook version, he began selling copies on Amazon for 99 cents.

The Best Laid Plans – Unable to find a publisher, Terri Fallis originally released his political satire in podcast format, a chapter at a time. Later he published the story in book form and it went on to win the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

The other authors on the panel included Sheila Dalton, Benjamin Gabbay, Sephera Giron and N.J. Lindquest. 

Stolen Wingheart House of pain Hot apple cider



Do You Have Radon in Your Home?

October 14, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

Radon is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas. This radioactive gas is found naturally in the environment, produced by the breakdown of uranium found in soil, rock or water. Radon can be found indoors and outdoors. In the outdoors, it is diluted by the air to low levels so it is not a concern. Unfortunately, when radon is trapped inside a home or building, unsafe levels can accumulate causing severe health problems.

Exposure to radon increases the risk of developing lung cancer. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking!

Not to worry. There are ways to test the levels of radon in your home. There are do-it-yourself test kits or you can hire a certified radon measurement professional.

To learn more about radon, join us at the North York Central Library for an informative presentation by two industry experts. Mainul Husain, radiation specialist from Health Canada and Bob Wood, past president of Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, will explain why you should be concerned about radon in your home and workplace and what you can do about it.


What: Do You Have Radon in Your Home?

When: Monday, October 24 at 6:30 PM

Where: North York Central Library, in the Auditorium

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

Registration not required.


For more information about radon, here are some online resources:

The library also has some books about the topic:

Controlling Indoor Radon   Indoor Radon Problem   Radon and the Environment   Strange Glow

How Music Heals

October 13, 2016 | Jane | Comments (0)

"I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me -- like food or water."  - Ray Charles

Beyond the pleasure it gives, music is a tool for both formal and informal therapy. But can it be used to treat disease? Dr. Lee Bartel, an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Toronto, will be at North York Central Library to talk about his collaborative research in music and neuroscience, and his efforts to find ways to measure clinical improvements to health. 

Music Medicine: A New Frontier

Thursday, Oct. 20

7:00 to 8:00 pm

60 minutes

North York Central Library Auditorium

Bartel and his colleagues are working on music and cardio rehabilitation, rhythmic sensory stimulation and fibromyalgia, and studies that link music and the care for people with Ehlers Danlos syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Here are some related titles. . .

HealingPowerofSound   MusicandCancer   MusicasMedicine    Musicophilia


  RhythmMusicandtheBrain   SingingNeanderthals    SoundMedicine   MusicandtheMind


. . . and sounds. 

RaySings   MusicasMedicinecd   Omsoundhealingmusic   

Esperanza      Harrow&theHarvest Arias&DuetstheAnniversary








Changes Coming in January to Some Key Canadian Magazines

October 11, 2016 | Carrie | Comments (0)


Maclean's Sportsnet
Canadian business FLARE


Rogers Media announced that it will be significantly reducing its print magazine publications -- with some titles shifting to online only content. Starting in January, Flare, Sportsnet, MoneySense and Canadian Business will cease print publication completely and become exclusively online publications.  Other titles will see their print frequency scaled back significantly.

Maclean's, Canada's weekly current affairs magazine that was founded over a century ago, will become a monthly print publication. Chatelaine and Today's Parent will both be published six times a year, down from the current 12.

Declining print revenue from reduced ad sales and subscribers was cited as the main reason behind this overhaul. In a released statement, Steve Maich, senior vice-president of digital content and publishing at Rogers Media stated "It's been clear for some time now that Canadians are moving from print to digital, and our job is to keep pace with the changes our audiences are demanding."

A number of magazines have recently announced they will halt print publication. More magazine, a lifestyle magazine aimed at women over 40, ceased print publication with its April issue and was recently redesigned as Mental Floss, a trivia and fun learning magazine, announced that its November - December issue will be its last in print as it shifts to an exclusively digital platform. 


North York Central Library Talk: The Art of Dale Chihuly

October 7, 2016 | Muriel | Comments (0)

North York Central Library Talk:

The Art of Dale Chihuly

7 to 8 p.m., Thursday, November 10, 2016

North York Central Library Auditorium

Please register for this free program

by calling 416-395-5639

Discover the art and career of Dale Chihuly, a pioneer of the studio glass movement and considered  to be one of the world's foremost artists working in glass today. Passionate, colourful, gravity-defying works of art by this internationally renowned artist will take your breath away!

Speaker: Dr. Sascha Priewe, Manager Director - Culture Centres, Royal Ontario Museum

          You and your family can go to the Royal Ontario Museum for free, with a Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass.

The Art of Dale Chihuly    Chihuly 365 days    Chihuly in the Hotshop    

Chihuly Through the Looking Glass    Dale Chihuly A Celebration    Chihuly Garden Installations

 Chihuly Projects    The Essential Dale Chihuly    

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.