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Add a Pinch of Seasoning to Your Autumn Travels

September 15, 2014 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

More beautiful images by Ian Muttoo on Flickr
Rays of autumn light in Trinity Square, Toronto. Photo credit: Ian Muttoo (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.)

There is only one week of summer remaining. Labour Day may have unofficially marked the arrival of Autumn, but the Fall Equinox begins on September 22nd.  

Daylight hours continue to shorten, skies continue to darken, and outdoor temperatures continue to plummet. Sweaters, long pants, and warm fuzzy hats become more necessary for enduring the impending cold. Autumn also proclaims the return of bountiful harvests, cozy blankets, hot apple cider, fresh pumpkin pie, crackling embers aglow in wood burning fireplaces, and quiet time for introspection.  Wikihow offers more ways to celebrate the Autumn season.  

The most remarkable Autumn phenomenon occurs to the deciduous trees in North America. The green leaves change to reds, yellows, and golds in a natural colourful array. SUNY-ESF offers a good explanation for the changing colours.

The places to witness the changing leaf colours include: 

For more scenic places to travel in Ontario, have a look at the following guidebooks:

Backroad mapbook, cottage country Ontario outdoor recreation guide by Mussio Russell A paddler's guide to Algonquin Park by Kevin Callan The explorer's guide to Algonquin Park by Michael Runtz Great country walks around Toronto - within reach by public transit by Elliott Katz
A camper's guide to Ontario's best parks by Donna May Gibbs Carpenter Ontario provincial parks trail guide by Allen MacPherson A camper's guide to Ontario's best parks by Donna May Gibbs Carpenter A paddler's guide to Quetico and beyond by Kevin Callan

 

If you would like to add some haut goût to your Fall reading, try these historical titles from various disciplines. Some topics below may agree with your taste:

Seasons in the sun - the battle for Britain, 1974-1979 by Dominic Sandbrook Five seasons - a baseball companion by Roger Angell Season of the witch - enchantment, terror, and deliverance in the city of love by David Talbot A season of splendor - the court of Mrs. Astor in gilded age New York by Greg King
Early in the season - a British Columbia journal by Edward Hoagland Fifty seasons at Stratford by Robert Cushman Fever season - the story of a terrifying epidemic and the people who saved a city by Jeanette Keith Seasons of misery - catastrophe and colonial settlement in early America by Kathleen Donegan

 

Enjoy the changing fall colours and the many notable rituals, events, and celebrations pertaining to the Autumn season before the snow dusts the ground. 

Science Literacy

September 5, 2014 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

September 22-29 is Science Literacy Week. The Toronto Public Library will be joining the University of Toronto’s Gerstein Library to highlight and promote science and science literacy through displays and programs.

Last week, the CBC reported that Canadians' science literacy was ranked highest in the world. According to the National Science Education Standards, scientific literacy means a person has the ability to:

  • Ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences
  • Describe, explain and predict natural phenomena
  • Read with understanding articles about science in the popular press and to engage in social conversation about the validity of the conclusions
  • Identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions
  • Evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used to generate it
  • Pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence

The Science & Technology department, in particular the Science Fair collection, at the North York Central Library, contain books that can help understand and improve science literacy:

The art of science  Everyday practice of science  The language of science  Reading and understanding research

Science matters   What counts as credible evidence in applied research and evaluation practice  What the numbers say  Why science 

Want something to read right now? Access and download these popular science magazines through our Zinio database:

Astronomy   Discover   Earth  Popular science

Also, access our Science in Context database for journal articles, news, videos, images and audio on major science topics:

Science in Context

Science Literacy Week is a good opportunity to brush up on your science knowledge or learn something new through the library’s programs, books and displays.

 

Picture Labour Day...Over A Century Ago

August 29, 2014 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

  More Labour Day images from The Toronto Public Library Pinterest website

Labour Day in Toronto along Queen Street West near Claremont Avenue in 1905 (Photo courtesy of The Toronto Public Library)

Hours of Operation

Welcome to the first day of September which happens to fall on the first Monday of the month.  As this day marks the Labour Day statutory holiday, all public libraries, post offices, government buildings, and private businesses are closed for the day. The library will re-open for regular hours on Tuesday.  Sunday hours will resume for District branches and Research and Reference libraries including North York Central Library and the Toronto Reference Library.  Sunday, September 7, 2014 is the first Sunday the library will open in the Fall at 1:30 pm and close at 5:00 pm.

 

Picture Labour Day in 1905 (close-up view)

Going back one hundred and nine years ago, visualize standing on a raised wooden platform from the main street and looking up at the cool misty grey sky. A photographer gages the weather and scans the procession.  Beside him, balanced on a tall wrought iron tripod, rests an early-period camera.  He peers through the camera lens and squeezes a rubber bulb connected to the camera.   A crisp image materializes showing marchers moving westward along Queen Street West with crowds gathering on sidewalks across the north and south sides of the street.

A conductor leads the parade and he exhibits stern confidence.  Behind him, the musicians keep pace while performing on their trombones, tubas, trumpets, and drums.  The band appears loosely dispersed along the street to ensure enough space to safely perform, march, and read their sheet music.

Drawn forward by the rousing tunes from the band, hundreds of men marching are decked out in suits, peaked caps, and what appears to be long cloth pendants pinned and draping from the marchers' left breast pockets.  These uniformed men line and fill several street blocks.  

The women in the crowd wear long flowing dresses with big fancy bonnets worn over their hair.  The girls are adorned in knee-high dresses with their pretty hair beribboned and braided in flattering bows.  The men observing the parade appear immaculate in their dress suits and assorted hats--consisting of bowlers, panamas, and fedoras.  Some men are seen whispering quietly amongst themselves. On the upper right-hand side in the photograph, the crowd gathers under opened umbrellas and store awnings to avoid the drizzling rain.  Behind the wooden post on Claremont Avenue, a man sits in his horse-drawn carriage watching the parade go by.

 

Queen Street West and Claremont Avenue a Century Later (Google Maps Image)

The current image of Queen Street West and Claremont Avenue shows some structural changes since 1905.  For instance, the building that housed the Bunker Brothers Carriage and Wagon Works on the northwest side of Claremont Avenue in 1905 no longer exists.  In its place currently stands a Starbuck's coffee shop.  On the northeast side stood the Cairo Bros. store in 1905.  Today, the Sanko Trading Co., which sells Japanese food and various types of artifacts, maintains the original building in fine condition.  

 

Celebrate Labour Day (Google Images of Past Parades)

Fair pay, safe working conditions, fair rights for all workers, and the ability for employees to voice their concerns continue to be important issues for workers' unions to address, negotiate, and achieve with employers.  For more information on the history of Labour Day in Canada, please have a look at the website, Canada's History - The First Labour Day.

In March 2012, The Toronto Public Library defended against budget cuts and library closures as discussed in Maureen O'Reilly's March 14, 2014 Toronto Star article, When will the city learn to love its librarians?  The library continues to provide programs, print and online resources, and an environment for the public to learn, relax, and connect.  

Listed below are some worthy titles pertaining to labour, work, and industry:

The workers' festival - a history of Labour Day in Canada by Craig Heron A good day's work - in pursuit of a disappearing Canada by John DeMont All labor has dignity by Martin Luther King, Jr. Work, industry, and Canadian society by H. Krahn
Social work under pressure - how to overcome stress, fatigue and burnout in the workplace by Kate Van Heugten Working without committments - the health effects of precarious employment by Wayne Lewchuk Work - a very short introduction by Stephen Fineman The quality of work - a people-centered agenda by Graham S. Lowe


Every year on Labour Day Monday, the marchers gather between University Avenue and Dundas Street West in the morning.  By 1:30 pm the parade proceeds south to Queen Street West and then westbound towards Dufferin Street and finally southbound through the Dufferin Gates into the CNE.  Come see and support us on our march along the way!

The Pleasures of the Urban Harvest

August 22, 2014 | Carolyn | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Garlic from my garden  Potatoes from my garden

Garlic and potatoes from my garden.

 

This is my favourite time of year. From mid-August until the end of September I get so much pleasure from our vegetable garden as the plants we've tended all summer mature and we start to enjoy the food we harvest.

We grow the usual tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and peppers, and leafy crops such as lettuces, chard and kale, but what I find most exciting is harvesting the crops that grow under the earth: potatoes, beets, onions and garlic. Because we haven't been able to watch their progress, there's always an element of suspense. Until we dig up the plants, we don't know what to expect.

There have been some epic fails over the years - parsnips and brussels sprouts come to mind - but we've learned from our mistakes and figured out what works best in our garden.

The obvious reward is having delicious, fresh, organic vegetables, but I've found the less tangible benefits to be just as important.
I've learned to be patient as I've waited for crops to mature. I've learned humility as I've accepted setbacks and failures. And, most importantly, I've learned to be hopeful as I've tended to crops growing beneath the soil, trusting that there will be a healthy harvest at the end of the growing season.

You don't need a lot of space to grow food crops; many plants can be grown in containers on a small patio or balcony. Or you can look into renting a community garden plot. The City of Toronto runs eleven allotment gardens, with plots available to rent each season. Many other groups manage community gardens as well; you can get a list and information about how to start a community garden from the Toronto Community Garden Network.

And if gardening just isn't for you, you can still enjoy the harvest by visiting a farmers' market while so many local fruits and vegetables are in season.

If you're thinking about growing some food crops next year, it's not too early to start planning. You can save seeds now to plant in the spring, start to prepare the soil, reserve a garden plot or look into starting or joining a community garden.

Here are some resources for home vegetable gardeners:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's Go To The EX!

August 18, 2014 | Ann | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Visit the CNE website for current events!
This image, which was originally posted to Flickr.com, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 15:56, 13 April 2010. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Mid-August is upon us.  Two weeks of summer warmth remains--and more warm days ahead if Indian Summer occurs.  The Canadian National Exhibition opened its doors on Friday, August 15, 2014 and closes on Labour Day (Monday, September 1, 2014).  Admission cost varies with age and a group discount fee is available.  The exhibits, attractions, merchandise, and rides continue to draw huge crowds everyday to the CNE.

The Canadian National Exhibition takes place at (you guessed it) Exhibition Place located on 200 Princes' Boulevard which is just north of Lakeshore Boulevard between Strachan Avenue and Dufferin Avenue. 

This historical extravaganza was originally named, The Canadian Industrial Exhibition, opened in 1879, and promoted the buying and selling of goods and services.  Shown below is a lithograph representation on wove paper of the representatives of this committee.  

  Canadian Industrial Exhibition resources on tpl.caPhoto in public domain courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.

The original copy is available to view in the Baldwin Room at the Toronto Reference Library

Also, more glorious historical images are available from the Toronto Public Library Pinterest website:

More Pinterest CNE Images from The Toronto Public Library
(Archived Flyer Courtesy of The Toronto Public Library)

In 1912, the name changed to The Canadian National Exhibition.  Acronyms in recent decades became popularized in social media.  People today refer to this two-week festival as, "the CNE" or, "The EX."

There are many events occurring every year at the CNE.  One of the most popular attractions are the unusual food concoctions available.  The new foods on the menu (as listed on Toronto.com and on theex.com) include some renditions of the following:

For those who enjoy titles on food and culture, here are some tasty topics to tantalize your taste buds:

Eating Asian America - a food studies reader   Educated tastes - food, drink, and connoisseur culture Gastropolis - food and New York City The tastemakers - why we're crazy for cupcakes but fed up with fondue
Food and the city - urban agriculture and the new food revolution The real cost of cheap food The industrial diet - the degradation of food and the struggle for healthy eating Bet the farm - how food stopped being food

 

The Canadian National Exhibition is a celebrated tradition for over a century.  Many people have memorable experiences of this annual event. 

Blogger and podcaster, Mike Boon (also known as Toronto Mike), offers up his own experiences having worked at the CNE from 1989 to 1991.  His collection, I Worked at the CNE. I Have Stories to Share, are filled with nostalgia and humour. 

Celebrations occur across the world and have their own origins, traditions, and histories and below are some festive titles to enjoy:

Around the world in 500 festivals - the world's most spectacular celebrations A year of festivals - how to have the time of your life Festivals of the world - the illustrated guide to celebrations, customs, events and holidays World party - the Rough Guide to the world's best festivals
Celebration, entertainment and theatre in the Ottoman world Off the beaten page - the best trips for lit lovers, book clubs, and girls on getaways Celebrate - a year of British festivities for families and friends Dancing in the streets - a history of collective joy

If you are heading down to the CNE, take in the various attractions, food, and exhibits.  Otherwise, enjoy the summer season whereever it takes you.

The Right to Read Anything

August 15, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (10) Facebook Twitter More...

"...adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature for children."

So wrote Ruth Graham in an article for Slate, which was recently republished in the Toronto Star. The article tries to shame adults who read literature written for young people – not for children, as the quote above indicates, but for teenagers. Graham focuses on realistic teen fiction such as John Green’s The fault in our stars, or Stephen Chbosky's The perks of being a wallflower. These books fall into a category that librarians and publishers refer to as “young adult fiction” or “young adult literature”, often shortened to “YA”. The stone in Graham’s shoe is not YA fiction itself, but the popularity of YA fiction with adult readers. “Fellow grown-ups” she chastises, “at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this.”

Graham has her reasons for maintaining these imaginary intellectual border lines, reasons which I'm not going to address here, other than to say that I disagree with every one of them. Mostly, I disagree with the notion that there are books adults should read – (“literary” fiction) and books adults shouldn’t read (anything marketed to teens) – and if you can’t resist the urge to toddle around in the kiddie pool of fiction, you ought to hang your head in shame. If you must set up rules around your reading, I suggest you consider author Daniel Pennac’s ten point reading manifesto, “The rights of the reader.” Especially number five.

  1. The right not to read.
  2. The right to skip.
  3. The right not to finish a book.
  4. The right to read it again.
  5. The right to read anything.
  6. The right to mistake a book for real life.
  7. The right to read anywhere.
  8. The right to dip in.
  9. The right to read out loud.
  10. The right to be quiet.

I hereby out myself as a grown-up who reads young adult fiction. Anybody else care to confess? I have read, and enjoyed the aforementioned enormously popular, The fault in our stars and many other YA books.

And I am neither embarrassed or ashamed.

 

This one summer I just finished a poignant young adult graphic novel that captures the feeling of being a girl just stepping into the minefield that is female adolescence. This one summer, written and illustrated by cousins Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, takes place in Ontario cottage country. Rose and her friend Windy (named by a hippie mom) are summer friends, who renew their friendship every year when their families go to Awago Beach. Rose has one flip flop clad foot in childhood, and the other is just beginning to test the waters of the vast, mysterious lake of sexuality, gender roles and adult problems.

Underneath the simple summer fun – campfires, swimming, choosing candy and horror movies from the only store around, and finding just the right shaped rock -- there are darker undercurrents of teen pregnancy, adult disappointment and loss, the good girl/bad girl dichotomy, and narrow standards of female beauty. Rose’s chubby friend Windy, a year and a half younger than her, dances, bounces and splashes unselfconsciously, often in a state of hyperactive delight. But Rose is already beginning to internalize destructive notions of a female physical ideal. When Windy rolls up her shorts and poses, Rose says, “It makes your thighs look kind of big.” My heart broke for all the young Roses and Windys when I read that line.

This book feels Canadian -- Rose’s Dad wears a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt, and extols the virtues of Canadian rock group, Rush. And a trip to Historic Huron Heritage Village might remind readers who grew up in Ontario of school trips to the Huron village in Midland.

Archie the married lifeI recommend this young adult graphic novel to my fellow grown-ups. If someone catches you reading This one summer and says you are too old to be reading comics, you could point out that a graphic novel won the Pulitzer Prize (Maus: a survivor's tale, by Art Spiegelman, in 1992). Or you could tell them that today’s graphic novels aren't your mother’s Archie comics. (Actually, your mother might not recognize the Archie comics of the twenty-first century – an issue of the comic was recently banned in Singapore for depicting a gay wedding.) And if that doesn’t shut them up, tell them you’ll read whatever you please.

  Skim

 

 

Also by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki: Skim, which was nominated for a 2008  Governor General's Literary Award.

"Skim" (Kimberly Keiko Cameron) is a not-slim would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school.  When her classmate Katie is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. The popular clique starts a club to boost school spirit, but Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression."

You can get This one summer and Skim at the library, but if you'd like a peek right now, see this article in The New Yorker:

Eyeball kicks: a teen-age-girl summer

A sidenote to North Yorkers and fans of Rush, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013: Rose's Rush loving dad would be happy to know that Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, two members of the power trio who grew up in Willowdale, will have a section of Willowdale Park named after them. This summer, Willowdale Councillor John Filion spearheaded an effort to have part of Willowdale Park renamed Lee Lifeson Art Park. What!? Rose's Dad isn't a real person, you say? I refer you to number six, on "The rights of the reader" list above. (#6. "The right to mistake a book for real life.")

Resources for Science Teachers

August 8, 2014 | Jeannette | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Did you know that the Science & Technology department at the North York Central Library has a Science Fair collection? This collection contains books with projects and experiments. It also contains research methods and technical writing handbooks. But a little known fact is it also contains some valuable resources for science teachers.

Here are a few journals that science teachers may find useful:

The American Biology Teacher:

The American Biology Teacher

  • Published by the National Association of Biology Teachers
  • A peer-reviewed journal designed to support the teaching of K-16 biology and life science
  • Contains teaching strategies for the classroom and laboratory, field activities, book reviews, classroom technology products and professional development resources
  • This journal can also be accessed online

 

Mathematics Teacher:

Mathematics Teacher

  • Published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • A peer-reviewed journal devoted to improving mathematics instruction for grades 8-14 and supporting teacher education programs
  • Contains classroom activities, lesson ideas, teaching strategies, math problems, classroom technology tips and book reviews
  • This journal can also be accessed online

 

The Physics Teacher:

The Physics Teacher

  • Published by the American Association of Physics Teachers
  • A peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the strengthening of the teaching of introductory physics at all levels
  • Contains articles on the teaching of physics, innovative physics demonstrations, ideas for presenting difficult concepts more clearly, suggestions for implementing newer technology into teaching, historical insights, and book and film reviews

 

The Science Teacher:

The Science Teacher

  • Published by the National Science Teachers Association
  • A peer-reviewed journal for high school science teachers
  • Contains the latest science news, teaching strategies, resources, activity recommendations, and book and technology reviews
  • This journal can also be accessed online

 

 

In addition to journals, there are also books that may be helpful:

Activities from the Mathematics Teacher  Differentiated Instruction for the Middle School Science Teacher  Investigating Safely  The Lingo of Learning
Nanoscale Science  Physics Demonstrations  The Resourceful Physics Teacher  Take-Home Chemistry


This is just a glimpse of what we have at the Science & Technology department. Come and visit us for resources that may be useful to you. We can’t wait to see you!

 

Celebrate Simcoe Day. Scenic Sensations Await!

August 1, 2014 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

John Graves Simcoe on Ministry of Government and Consumer Services Photo Credit:  Ontario Ministry of Government Services Archives of Ontario. This file is free of known restrictions under copyright law.

Welcome to the last warm summer holiday weekend before Labour Day.

In Toronto, we celebrate Simcoe Day to honour Colonel John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806) who was the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.  He founded the Town of York (which would eventually be renamed the City of Toronto in 1834), authorized the first troops to be stationed at York, and proposed The Anti-Slavery Act of 1793 to strongly influence the abolishment of slavery in Canada.

Simcoe Day holiday also provides an opportunity to enjoy recreational activities in this City.  Have a look at the City of Toronto webpage on Simcoe Day Recreation, Simcoe Day Festivals and Events, and the Toronto Festival Guide for inspiration.

For those who want to experience Simcoe Day with re-enactments of fighting troops in full military gear from the late 18th century, a visit to Fort York is highly recommended.

Friends of Fort York News and Events websiteThis photograph is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Genericlicense.

To read up on the history of Fort York, here are some interesting titles available:

Setting a fine table:  historical desserts and drinks from the officers' kitchens at Fort York by  Elizabeth Baird and Bridget Wranich Searching for the forgotten war: 1812 Canada by  Patrick Richard Carstens Capital in flames:  the American attack on York, 1813 by Robert Malcomson The Battle of York by Carl Benn

 

If you are planning a hike, walk, or an easy stroll around the neighbourhood, take these titles along with you on your journey:

Great country walks around Toronto:  within reach by public transit by Elliott Katz Stroll: psychogeographic walking tours of Toronto by Shawn Micallef Historical walking tour of Lawrence Park by Barbara Myrvold and Lynda Moon Toronto fun places-- for families by Natalie  Prézeau

 

Enjoy the long weekend, the warm days remaining in this summer season, and an appreciation of the history behind this Civic Holiday in Toronto.

 

This is for the birds

July 25, 2014 | Carolyn | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

I recently returned from a vacation where I spent a lot of time watching birds - mostly seabirds. A National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America was my trusted companion as I learned to identify terns, cormorants, herons and osprey.

A good identification book is a necessity for anyone interested in watching, identifying and learning about birds, and there are many guides available at library branches.

Columbia Jay from Birds of America. Public domain image.One of the earliest, and most celebrated, guides for North American birds is Birds of America by John James Audubon.

Audubon was a naturalist who identified several new species of birds, but he is best known for the beauty and detail of the paintings he created for his book.

Toronto Public Library owns a rare copy of Birds of America, "a four volume double-elephant folio set of 435 hand-coloured, engraved prints." The TD Audubon Collection, one of TPL's most  important and valuable possessions, is housed at the Toronto Reference Library. Prints can be viewed by appointment at 416 393-7156.

The Library owns several other editions of Birds of America, including an ebook version that has embedded recordings of birdcalls.

One advantage to using websites is that you can listen to bird calls, which helps with identification. Here are a couple of sites I've found useful:

All About Birds is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study, appreciation and conservation of birds. The National Audubon Society publishes an Online Guide to North American Birds.

 

There are lots of apps for birders, though not many are free. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a free app called Merlin which helps identify over 400 of the most common North American birds.

Apparently the holy grail of bird identification is a Shazam-like app that would identify the bird calls recorded by users. Several prototypes are available, but the technology hasn't yet been perfected. I can understand how exciting this might be for dedicated birders, but as a casual observer of birds and a newcomer to their world I'm happy just to spend the occasional hour watching and listening to these creatures whose world intersects so closely with our own.

If you're interested in learning more about birds, check out the print or eBook version of these books:

The Bird Detective The Thing With Feathers Bird Sense
     

For identification, try one of these guides:

The Sibley Guide to Birds National Geographic field guide to the birds of North America Birds of Canada
     

And finally, if you're interested in bird calls and songs:

The Stokes field guide to bird songs. Eastern region

'Rock Star' Author Coming Home to North York

July 18, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Dyer's Bay 2014 080I like to match my vacation reading to my vacation destination. My pleasure in the book is enhanced, and my appreciation for the scene around me is deepened. Recently, I brought Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda with me on a trip to the rocky shores of Georgian Bay, the setting for much of the book. The story revolves around three characters: Bird, a Huron warrior who seeks vengeance for the death of his wife and daughters at the hands of the Iroquois; Snow Falls, a young Iroquois girl Bird abducts and adopts, and Christophe, a Jesuit missionary intent on turning the "savages" away from their satanic ways and towards Christ.

This is a dramatic tale of warring tribes, and clashing cultures, set at a crucial point in history, the beginning of French colonization in the 1600s. But it is also about the everyday life of the Huron, the cycles of planting and harvesting the "three sisters" (squash, corn and beans), their spiritual beliefs, such as the conviction that everything in the natural world -- animals, trees, lakes -- has a spiritual force, or orenda, and their customs, such as the Feast of the Dead, in which the bones of the dead are dug up, lovingly cleaned, and richly dressed and displayed in a festival of gift giving, mourning and feasting that lasts for days.

In interviews, Boyden has said that one of the reasons he wanted to write the book was to make it clear that before European colonization there were complex societies living in North America for thousands of years. Reading The Orenda made me want to know more about these societies, their beliefs and customs, and their early interactions with Europeans. The books Boyden read when doing research for the novel would be a great place to start. At the end of the novel, Boyden lists some of the books which he said "deeply enriched" his work. I was delighted to discover that every book Boyden credits in his acknowledgments is available in the Toronto Public Library. Here is the list:

 

Words of the Huron. John Steckley.

The Jesuit relations: natives and missionaries in seventeenth-century North America. Allan Greer.

The children of Aataentsic: a history of the Huron people to 1660. Bruce G. Trigger.

The death and afterlife of the North American Martyrs. Emma Anderson.

Huronia: a history and geography of the Huron Indians, 1600-1650. Conrad E. Heidenreich.

Huron-Wendat: the heritage of the circle. Georges E. Sioui.

An ethnography of the Huron Indians, 1615-1649. Elisabeth Tooker. (reference only, at North York Central Library, Canadiana Department, and Toronto Reference Library)

If you enjoyed The Orenda, or Boyden's other critically acclaimed books, Three day road, Through black spruce, or Born with a tooth, get a nice bright marker and circle Tuesday September 30 on your calendar. That's the day Joseph Boyden, the "literary rock star" (as dubbed by Now Magazine) who grew up in North York is coming home to speak at North York Central Library. The fun begins at 7:00 p.m. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

The Orenda is available in the following formats:

Three day road is available in the following formats:

Through black spruce is available in the following formats:

Born with a tooth (short stories) is available in the following formats:

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