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'Rock Star' Author Coming Home to North York

July 18, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (0) 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:












































































































































































































































































































































































Public Pensions and Our Canadian Economy

June 11, 2014 | Charlene | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

For many of us, pensions and retirement are often difficult ideas to grasp let alone plan.   Also troubling, is the fact that retirement security may not be feasible for the generations to come.  Stir in the mix government cutbacks, balanced budgets and public pensions and then you begin to see our retirement benefits slowly disappearing.  And when you throw in buzz words like "OAS" and "CPP" and the "doom and gloom" of our pension system forecasted by political and financial pundits, the water can become murky very quickly.

To understand more about public pensions, why don't you consider attending one of our programs at North York Central Library? The Business Department has an upcoming free program in the Boomers and Beyond series entitled Are Pensions a Thing of the Past?  York University Professor Emeritus, Robert J. Drummond will speak about public pensions such as OAS and CPP and the means to enhance productivity and Canada's economic well-being.  Professor Drummond has written extensively on Canadian public policy and some of his research has included pensions and retirement. 

If you can't make this program or you would like to read about planning for your retirement, here are a few books to help you get started. 

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Program:  Are Pensions a Thing of the Past?

When:      Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Time:       6:30 - 8:00 pm

Where:     North York Central Library - Auditorium

For more information, call the Business Dept. at 416-395-5613.

You can now register for this program online by clicking on the link below:


A Defining Moment for Gay and Lesbian Activism: Toronto in the 1970's

June 9, 2014 | Margaret W. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Rainbow FlagA fascinating period in gay and lesbian activism in Toronto will be highlighted at North York Central Library on June 10th, 2014.

Mathieu Brule and Tom Hooper, historians from York University, will present the talk "A Defining Moment for Gay and Lesbian Activism: Toronto in the 1970's".

Legal rights, workers' rights, parenting rights and privacy rights were  the primary areas of activism during this period. Liberationists campaigned on these issues while pushing cultural boundaries to shift popular opinions on sexuality. Our speakers will look at how these campaigns have shaped the community today.

The talk takes place in the North York Central Library Auditorium, 5140 Yonge Street, from 7pm-8pm.

It's free! Please register at 416-395-5660.

Photo: Wikipedia 


Nutrition and Brain Health

June 5, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Living longer is important, but equally important is quality of life.  So while some researchers are trying to discover the fountain of youth, others are looking at how to maintain or possibly improve things as we get older.  One such researcher is Dr. Carol Greenwood.  At the Baycrest Centre for Geriatrics, Dr. Greenwood's research investigates the relationship between diet and brain function--specifically:

  • healthy seniors and the impact of lifelong dietary patterns on risk of cognitive decline with aging
  • seniors suffering from Alzheimer Disease and how the disease influences eating behaviour and whether eating behaviours change at different stages of disease progression. 

Dr. Greenwood has used the information garnered from research on the connection between brain health and nutrition and co-written a cookbook, MINDfullThe recipes are paired with a wealth of practical information.  Dr. Greenwood debunks myths and tells us what to eat to promote optimal brain health and healthy aging – her advice can be easily adapted by the busy home cook.


Join us for an informative talk, as Dr. Greenwood shares her knowledge with the latest information on the relationship between nutrition and brain health at North York Central Library on Thursday June 12 at 7 pm. Copies of MINDfull will be available for purchase and signing.  Proceeds go to the Baycrest Foundation.

Seniors Discovery Fair at North York Central Library

June 2, 2014 | Kelli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

North York Central Library is pleased to host a Seniors Discovery Fair on Wednesday, June 11th, 2 - 4 p.m. Whether you are a senior yourself or are caring for aging family members, the Fair is a great chance to learn more about services and opportunities that are available for older adults and seniors.  

At this free event you can talk to representatives from organizations such as the Toronto Public Health, Alzheimer Society of Toronto, Volunteer Toronto, Meals on Wheels and More, and the Community Care Access Centre, just to name a few. 

Make sure you stop by the Toronto Public Library's tables to see find out more about library programs and services.   There will be staff from Home Library Services and volunteering opportunities available to answer questions.  We'll be demonstrating our eServices.  This includes eBooks, eMagazines and the new eMovies and eMusic  service available through Hoopla


Couple with laptopSeniors Discovery Fair
North York Central Library
5120 Yonge Street
2 -  4 p.m.




As an added bonus, Books Ends will also be having a big book sale that day in the Atrium. 


Photo from clip art


Lunchtime Programs: Laughter Yoga

May 29, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Laughter yoga

Do you work or live close to North York Central Library?  Bring your lunch and join us for some fun and information on laughter yoga.  My colleague, Emoke wrote about the benefits of is your chance to see it in practice.  Our laughter yoga coach, Carlos Gongora, will be offering two sessions --come to one or both!

Monday June 9, 12:10-12:50  Auditorium

Thursday, June 19, 12:10-12:50  Room 2/3

Please note that Carlos advises eating lunch after the yoga session, not before.


Boomers and Beyond: Programs for retirement planning

May 28, 2014 | Ashley | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Did you know that June is Senior's month? To celebrate the library has a wide assortment of great programs, workshops, computer classes and of course books for Seniors. Now, you may be thinking about retirement even if you aren't a Senior and that is great, the earlier you start planning the better. That is why we invite people of all ages to come to our Senior's month programs, hence our series title "Boomers and Beyond".

The Business Department at North York Central Library has 3 great programs planned for all you boomers, seniors, young people - everyone:

RRSPs: the Ultimate Wealth Builder

GordonpapeFor most Canadians, an RRSP is the only personal pension plan they will ever have. As employer-sponsored plans become increasingly rare outside the public sector, we must rely on our own savings and money management skills to ensure a comfortable lifestyle after retirement. 

Come hear best-selling financial author Gordon Pape provide the secrets to building a winning RRSP - everything from setting up the right kind of plan at the outset, to proven strategies that will enable you to grow your RRSP over time to a value of several hundred thousand dollars.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014. 6:30 - 8:00pm. Auditorium


Top 10 Financial Tips for Transitioning into Retirement



Common wisdom says retirees can live on a lot less money than when they were in their working years. But how true is that assumption? In this presentation, Robert Walker will outline the questions retirees (and soon-to-be-retirees) should ask themselves to make sure their retirements are as comfortable as possible without making the money run out.

 Thursday, June 19, 2014. 6:30 - 8:00pm. Auditorium



Are Pensions a Thing of the Past?




Is there any hope for retirement security for the generations that follow the baby boomers? Come hear University Professor Emeritus, Robert J. Drummond speak about the answer that lies in public pensions (like OAS and CPP) and in measures to improve the productivity and health of the Canadian economy.


 Tuesday, June 24, 2014. 6:30 - 8:00pm. Auditorium


If you can't make it to the events, maybe you can borrow some of these books on retirement planning:

Retirement1            RRSPs ultimate wealth builder                 Thumb-moolala-rrsp

Other libraries across Toronto are celebrating Senior's month too. There are Internet Safety for Seniors computer classes happening led by library staff to help boomers and seniors be safe online. Topics include being aware of online hoaxes, preventing identity theft and keeping personal information secure when shopping online. Registration may be required, so it is best to contact the branch:

Maria A. Shchuka - Monday, June 16, 2014. 7:00 - 8:30pm. Learning Centre

Agincourt - Wednesday, June 18, 2014. 2:00 - 3:30pm. Learning Centre

Richview - Wednesday, June 25, 2014. 2:00 - 4:00pm. Learning Centre

North York Central Library - Thursday, June 26, 2014. 2pm. Learning Centre

Albert Cambell District Library - Thursday, June 26, 2014. 1:30 - 3:30pm. Learning Centre

Toronto Reference Library - Friday, June 27, 2014. 10am. Learning Centre




To kick off Senior's month the,The  Toronto Senior's Forum invites people to celebrate on Tuesday, June 3 from 11:00am - 2:00pm at Toronto City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square.The Toronto Seniors’ Forum is composed of up to 30 people, who are at least 60 years of age and residents of the City of Toronto, with particular attention to seniors whose voices have been less often heard or unheard.

The City of Toronto delivers more than 40 services for seniors,for more information visit 






 Have a safe and happy Senior's Month everyone!

The 'Picasso of the north' and the Woodland School of Art

May 23, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Shaman and disciples
Please join us at North York Central Library on Wednesday June 4 at 7:00 pm for a presentation on First Nations artist Norval Morrisseau and The Woodland School of Art. Call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

As a child, Norval Morrisseau made drawings in the sand at the lakeshore and watched as the waves erased them. As a man, he made an indelible mark on the world of art by creating a new art form, the pictographic style, and inspiring a group of First Nations artists who became known collectively as The Woodland School of Art.

Norval Morrisseau, sometimes called 'the Picasso of the north', was born on a First Nations reserve in northern Ontario in 1932. His grandfather, a sixth-generation shaman, taught him the Anishinaabe stories and legends which inspired him throughout his life as an artist.

When Morrisseau was nineteen, he became very ill. He didn’t respond to conventional treatment, so a medicine woman was called. She performed a renaming ceremony, giving him a name signifying power: Copper Thunderbird. Morrisseau attributed his recovery to his new name. From then on, he signed his works Copper Thunderbird, in Ojibwa syllabics.

 Agawa Rock pictograph - photo: D. G. Robertson
His early influences were the pictographs or rock paintings he saw during his travels with his grandfather, and the sacred birchbark scrolls his grandfather made as a shaman. When he was finally exposed to European art as an adult he was left with a general impression of darkness. He resolved to paint with more colour. He believed that the colour in his paintings had healing power: "Many people have told me I cured them of various sicknesses. I told them, I didn’t cure you, it was the colour that cured you.”

Like his grandfather, Morrisseau became a shaman. He painted the visions he saw in dream states, when he travelled along "the inner highways" to what he called "the house of invention". He broke an Ojibway taboo by portraying the spiritual beliefs of his people and he was criticized for it, but he persisted. "My aim," he said, "is to reassemble the pieces of a once-proud culture, and to show the dignity and bravery of my people.” Inspired, other First Nations artists followed the trail that Copper Thunderbird blazed.

Norval Morrisseau - travels to the house of invention
Norval Morrisseau :
travels to the house
of invention
I've just finished reading Norval Morrisseau: travels to the house of invention, which has many examples of Morrisseau's paintings. It almost felt like these images were energetically saturating my retina with their intense colours when I looked at them for awhile. Try going to google images ( and entering the search "Norval Morrisseau paintings" and you'll see what I mean. The Morrisseau quotes in this post are taken from the book. This is my favourite quote:

"The Department of Indian Affairs once wanted to give me art lessons, but I refused. In my opinion, this would spoil me, for there is no one who can teach me this kind of painting."


If you'd like to see a short movie on Morrisseau, reserve a copy of Gifts from the Thunderbird: the life and art of Norval Morrisseau.





Generation Next: HackLab

May 16, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Two hot topics these days are makerspaces and 3D printers. 

“A hackerspace (also […] hacklab, makerspace, or hackspace) is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialize and/or collaborate.” (“Hackerspace,”


As a community meeting place, libraries are ideal venues for makerspaces.  At the Toronto Public Library, two branches, the Toronto Reference Library and Fort York, have Digital Innovation Hubs, which provide the tools necessary for digital creativity, including 3D printers.  3D printers have been used for ever-increasing applications--guns, food, medication, and even body parts.

Other locations have also sprung up as collectives for makerspaces.  One such place is HackLabTO.  North York Central Library's latest program in the Generation Next series will feature speakers from HackLab TO who will explain how their particular hackerspace works and also demonstrate a 3D printer in action.  If you are interested in attending, please call the Science & Technology Dept, 416-395-5649 to register.  Hope to see you there!

Pageantry Worthy Of A King!

May 12, 2014 | Ann | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

As Prince George of Cambridge dazzles us with his gooey smiles, seventy-seven years ago today, his great great grandfather--with whom Prince George shares the same name--was officially crowned King of England.  


 (For more videos, please visit King George VI Page on


George VI was the next successor when Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry Ms. Wallis Simpson.  With little time left to paint a new portrait for the younger brother's coronation, Edward VIII's visage was replaced by King George VI's face in the existing portrait. 

Edward VIII and George VI Coronation Portrait article on The Telegraph Jan 3 2012

The Telegraph's January 3, 2012 article discusses in detail how the original portrait with Edward VIII's face was discovered.

Despite the abdication alteration, the revised portrait captured King George VI's graceful composure.  One cannot help but to compare this portrait to Queen Elizabeth's coronation portrait shown below.  Notice the similar arrangement of the table, the crown on the cushion, the angle of the sceptre held in the right hand, the relaxed gaze at the viewer, and a soft whisper of a smile.   (An article in The Daily Mail on the May 21, 2013 article provides more information and pictures of the Queen's coronation.)

  Queen Elizabeth Coronation Portrait linked to The Daily Mail May 21, 2013 article


To celebrate this occasion, here are some intriguing titles worthy of your perusal:

Churchill and the king on Hotodogs and cocktails on George VI on The king's speech on
King Edward VIII on The prince, the princess and the perfect murder at The people's king on The Windsor story on
That woman on The shadow queen:  a novel of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor  on

The darkness of Wallis Simpson and other stories on The Duchess, aka Wallis Simpson on
The coronation:  a royal history on Queen ElizabethII:  portraits by Cecil Beaton on Queen Elizabeth II on The Queen's diamond jubilee year:  a royal souvenir on

Of course, this blog would not be complete without including Prince George, his mum and his dad.

Royal babies commemorating the birth of HRH Prince George on


Enjoy the regal weather and look forward to a Royal holiday weekend to celebrate and honour the birthday of Queen Victoria.  Rejoice in the upcoming events with fireworks taking place Sunday and (Victoria Day) Monday evening!

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