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Strategic Plan: Read

Bad Singer

November 21, 2016 | Jane | Comments (0)

Tim Falconer, who is among the statistically tiny percentage of people who are completely tone deaf, loves music. This puts him into an even tinier percentage of that tiny group. One of the things that sets Falconer apart, again, is that he's chosen to address his musical shortcomings by trying to learn how to sing. He has a genuine interest in learning to sing, but also to make scientific sense of his amusia (as his condition is called). 


After all, what is it about the brain that enables it to find a musical pitch -- and reproduce it? Is there some biologically meaningful function to this ability? Can we engineer the ability, with work?

Falconer will be at North York Central Library to talk about his quest to turn himself from "bad singer" to an acceptable performer. He'll also talk about what he has learned along the way about the science of music, and how the brain perceives it. 

Book cover of The power of music : pioneering discoveries in the new science of song           

How Good Are You at Stress Management?

November 7, 2016 | Emoke | Comments (0)

Cool MindStress is an issue that most of us have been struggling with for a long time now and probably will do so for the rest of our lives. That may sound pretty grim, but fear not, the library can help!

The North York Central Library will be hosting a program on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 (7-8 pm) in the Auditorium called How Good Are You At Stress Management? This program is free, and you can register at 416-395-5660.

In this presentation, Uri Galimidi will explain the biology of stress and the fight or flight response. He will be discussing the findings of two recent studies about the impact of stress on the study participants. He will also share five powerful interventions to help you reduce your stress at home and work. This presentation will also include an interactive simulation of the two studies and their applicability to everyday life.

Uri Galimidi is the founder and president of The Will To Change Inc., a firm that specializes in executive coaching, leadership development, organizational behaviour and personal growth. He is also the creator of The Willpower Program, a "neuroscience-based program that will help you train your 'willpower muscle', enhance your self-control, conquer undesired habits, adopt new healthier habits, successfully pursue your goals and become the best possible version of yourself." In the past two years, Uri has delivered this program to over 2,000 audience members in Canada and the United States.

Come hear Uri speak at the North York Central Library on November 30th, and get some help on how to manage stress better in your life.

Please see other materials that Toronto Public Library has on the subject of stress:

The doctor's guide to sleep solutions for stress and anxiety-combat stress and sleep better every night  The upside of stress - why stress is good for you, and how to get good at it The mindful way through stress - the proven 8-week path to health, happiness, and well-being  The Stress cure - how to resolve stress, build resilience and boost your energy

Relieve stress - 20 quick techniques   The stress solution -using empathy and cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce anxiety and develop resilience   Thriving under stress - harnessing demands in the workplace    Challenging stress, burnout and rust-out - finding balance in busy lives

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.


Henry Hudson and His River

September 12, 2016 | Ann | Comments (0)

Recommended websites on Henry Hudson
By Neemster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As schools begin their first full week of studies, this post will briefly examine the history, travel, and trials of Henry Hudson. 

Some Internet sources claim that September 12, 1575 was Henry Hudson's birthday which would make him 441 years old, but his actual birthday was probably near that date. September 12th is better spent commemorating his travel through the river that will eventually be named after him.

Henry Hudson traveled on four voyages on three different ships to try to locate a trade route through the Northeast and Northwest Passage to the Orient, but he never made it to this final destination. Instead, Henry Hudson located trade routes through Canada and the United States. On his third voyage on September 12th in 1609, he sailed down a river which will later be called the Hudson River.

Hudson's voyages across the seas from England to North America have not been smooth. His crew have endured limited food rations, changing temperatures and dangerous weather conditions. These conditions inevitably helped lower the crew's morale and they have threatened to mutiny on a few occasions.

The crew's frustrations culminated on June 22, 1611. With only a 14-day supply of food rations remaining, the crew refused to travel any farther in the freezing ice-filled waters of (what is now) James Bay.  Henry Hudson, his son, and a few fellow sailors too weak and sick to defend themselves were cast off the ship by the angry mutineers. The abandoned crew were placed in a small wooden boat to fend for themselves. The National Film Board presents Richard Gilbert's (1964) film, The Last Voyage of Henry Hudson.

Artist John Collier recreated that fateful moment below of the abandoned crew as they floated among the frozen icebergs. 

More Paintings by John Collier
John Collier [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The artist's portrayal shows a resigned look on Hudson's face as well as a sick crewman while John Hudson, his son, clutches Henry's hand for hope to survive this situation. Sadly, the abandoned crew were never found again and presumed dead at sea. Only through Hudson's discovered journal entries and the actual return of the mutineers to England to confess their crime was Henry's tragedy recognized.

To read more of Henry Hudson's travels and the history of the Hudson river, please refer to the following titles: 

A historical inquiry concerning Henry Hudson, his friends, relatives and early life, his connection with the Muscovy company and discovery of Delaware Bay Half moon: Henry Hudson and the voyage that redrew the map of the New World Fatal journey: the final expedition of Henry Hudson-- a tale of mutiny and murder in the Arctic
Henry Hudson: New World voyager The worlds of the seventeenth-century Hudson Valley Henry Hudson: doomed navigator and explorer

For more information on the Hudson River from past to present, the following titles offer a textual and virtual field trip through the waterway:

Bill Moyers on the Hudson America's first river (DVD) The Hudson Valley: a cultural guide (1st edition) The European invasion of North America: colonial conflict along the Hudson-Champlain corridor, 1609-1760
The Hudson River School: nature and the American vision The Hudson: America's river River of dreams: the story of the Hudson River

In Canada, Hudson's Bay and the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) are also named after Henry Hudson. Here are some books on this longstanding company to enjoy:

History of the Hudson's Bay Company 1670-1870 Empire of the Bay The bastard of Fort Stikine: the Hudson's Bay Company and the murder of John McLoughlin Jr.

The voyages of this brave man have greatly influence trade, culture, and history in Canada and the United States. Sadly, his efforts left him in a boat adrift on the freezing waters of James Bay and not rejoining his friends and family back in England. Still, North America has honoured and remembered him by name and by his historical achievements.

Microhistories: Big Stories About Very Specific Topics

August 29, 2016 | Carrie | Comments (0)

Microhistory is the study of the past through the examination of a very narrowly defined subject. Although the term originally referred to in-depth historical studies of specific people or events, over the past 20 years a more loosely defined 'popular' microhistory has emerged and produced a number of bestsellers. Popular microhistories often tell the story of a seemingly ordinary object, event or concept that helps to illuminate a broader social or cultural history.

Popular microhistories are fantastic reads for those who love narrative nonfiction. Here are some recommendations to get you started:


Salt Cod Paper

Mark Kurlansky is one of the most popular authors in this genre. Salt: a world history takes the reader on a 5,000-year journey across continents to tell the fascinating story of this common, household item that greatly influenced the development of human history. Likewise, Cod: a biography of the fish that changed the world tells the story of a seemingly insignificant subject that had far-reaching consequences for the world. Paper: paging through history, Kurlansky's most recent publication in this genre, enthusiastically tells the story of this everyday object from antiquity to present.


6 glasses At home Professor and the madman


A history of the world in 6 glasses by Tom Standage examines the history and impact of six beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola from the stone age to present. Bill Bryson's At home is a fascinating examination of the history of domestic and private life. The professor and the madman tells a sordid and exciting tale about the creation of the first Oxford English Dictionary.


  Rain   Ghost map Extra virginity


Rain: a natural and cultural history is a beautifully written 'biography' of rain, weaving together cultural history, geology, natural science, visual arts and poetry. The ghost map by Steven Johnson is a compelling story of Victorian London's worst cholera outbreak and how it impacted the way we view disease, urban sprawl and sanitation. Extra virginity by Tom Mueller is a story of true crime and corruption, examining the history of olive oil from antiquity to present.

War Posters From 102 Years Ago Today

July 29, 2016 | Ann | Comments (2)

Images from The Archives New Zealand on Flickr
Photo Courtesy of The Archives of New Zealand under licence CC 2.0

August 1, 2016 is a great day to relax and spend away from the office to bask in the sun before the colder temperatures return. In contrast to this fine day of comfort, warmth, and leisure, on August 1, 1914, a different scenario was taking place -- hostile events culminated in starting the first day of World War I in Britain. Recruitment posters began appearing in distant locations around the world requesting young men to join in the fight. The poster of this August lion was publicized in New Zealand. More historical posters from that continent are available through the NZ History website.


On the American Front, James Montgomery Flagg created "the most famous wartime poster in the world." This recruitment poster was published in July 1916 and became a permanent fixture in American folklore. Also worth noting is the fact that the Uncle Sam character resembles James M. Flagg himself.


"I Want You" poster: The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
This image is a work of a US military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the US federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Similarly, on the British Front, another personality promoted military recruitment. This fictitious personality portrays a boisterous wealthy English farmer by the name of John Bull. The name of the artist for this poster is unknown but it was printed by Andrew Reid & Company Limited. The history of this character goes back to the 1700s and was created by a British mathematician and author, John Arbuthnot as noted in his original (1712) title, The History of John Bull.

Other World War One posters available at
This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.

With the Union Flag emblazoned across his full belly, the slogan asked, "Who's Absent? Is it You?" Behind him a line of soldiers reveals gaps where soldiers would be and burning buildings behind the gaps that need addressing. This poster shows a subtle approach to the dire need for men in comparison to Uncle Sam's big furrowing brows, no-nonsense frown, steely gaze, in-your-face pointing finger, and the directive, "I Want You for the US Army." 


Canada has also offered assistance to the Great War through recruitment and by purchasing Victory Bonds to help fund the soldiers in the fight overseas. 

They Serve France.  How can I serve Canada?  Buy Victory Bonds
Image courtesy of the Toronto Public Library

More patriotic posters are available through our Toronto Public Library Archive


Finally, what better way to support our soldiers than to entertain them and lift their spirits through a donation of books to your local library for the soldiers abroad: 

The American Library Association through the University of Illinois has also put together a digital archive of historic posters worth glancing through.


Also, here are some titles on propaganda, art and how the fancy slogans are created to draw the men and women to join in the Great War.

Propaganda and censorship during Canada's Great War Secret warriors: key scientists, code breakers and propagandists of the Great War For home and country: World War I propaganda on the home front
Picture this: World War I posters and visual culture Art or memorial?: the forgotten history of Canada's war art Art at the service of war: Canada, art, and the Great War

Also have a look at The Toronto Public Library’s Pinterest Board with a selection of World War 1 Posters as well as the following blog posts from the past:

Enjoy the long weekend filled with fun and exciting events. Contemplate how this time was spent over a century ago. The war preparations, the posters beckoning recruitment, and the ongoing carnage and bravery have remained permanently embedded in our world history.

July 18 is Mandela Day

July 18, 2016 | Carrie | Comments (0)

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 and would be celebrating his 98th birthday today if he was still alive (he passed away in 2013). To honour his legacy and to promote community service worldwide, July 18 was declared Nelson Mandela International Day (or 'Mandela Day') by the United Nations in 2009. In recognition of one of the world's most inspiring anti-apartheid leaders and symbols of freedom and equality, here are six books to help celebrate 'Mandela Day.'

Long walk to freedom              Young Mandela                                   Prisoner in the Garden (2)                                 

The Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela

 Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years by David James Smith

 A Prisoner in the Garden by Nelson Mandela


Playing the enemy

              Conversations with Myself                              

    Notes to the future 

 Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin

 Conversations with Myself By Nelson Mandela

Notes to the Future By Nelson Mandela              

The Nelson Mandela Foundation asks people to give up 67 minutes on Mandela Day -- one minute for every year of Mandela's public service -- to take action and inspire change. The objective is to "inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better and in so doing, to build a global movement for good."

Some of the suggested activities include:

  • Make a new friend. Get to know someone from a different cultural background.
  • Read to someone who can’t.
  • Help someone get a job. Put together and print a CV for them, or help them with their interview skills.
  • Offer to take an elderly neighbour who can't drive to do their shopping/chores.
  • Donate your skills!




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.

Mothers as Artisans of Compassion

May 6, 2016 | Ann | Comments (0)

Titles on compassion at tpl.caImage courtesy of BK under CC 2.0 Generic Licence

The term, mother, brings to mind someone who loves, protects, strengthens and endures. Mothers do their best to raise their children to face the world in all its pain and glory. 


More images of Dorthea Lange from the Library of Congress
Image courtesy of Boerboy from Wikimedia Commons

As Dorthea Lange's photograph of the (1936) migrant mother so aptly illustrates, a mother loves and worries about the well-being of her family. The face behind the Migrant Mother was that of Florence Thompson. Florence, at that time, had seven children, few resources, little food and concerns causing her brow to furrow. Her image has become part of the human folklore around a mother's undying strength and compassion through the Great Depression.

Clearly, motherhood is no easy task no matter what era. Care-giving skills are based on love, trial, effort, error and success. Many mothers rely on experiences passed on from family and friends who have gone through these roles themselves.

Jeanne Garbarino's (May 11, 2012) article called, Motherhood Defined: It is in the heart of the beholder, compiles brief excerpts from different people of what motherhood entails. Matt Shipman's comment summarizes how mothers project strength while setting aside their own feelings of trepidation, "Motherhood is letting your kids think you are ten feet tall and bulletproof, so they feel you can keep them safe — even though there’s stuff out there that scares the hell out of you."

The library offers resources on this topic with information for mothers at different stages in their lives. These resources can reinforce a new mother's course of action as well as provide a chuckle or two for those who have made it through the early stages of parenthood.

The M word: conversations about motherhood   Mindful motherhood: practical tools for staying sane during pregnancy and your child's first year Motherhood (DVD) Mommyblogs and the changing face of motherhood
Mothers, mothering and motherhood across cultural differences: a reader The mask of motherhood: how becoming a mother changes everything and why we pretend it doesn't Dorthea Lange: a life beyond limits No caption needed: iconic photographs, public culture, and liberal democracy 

Mothers and Life Challenges

More titles on tarot cards available at North York Central Library
Image courtesy of Nocturbulous under CC 2.0 Generic Licence

The Rider-Waite Tarot deck portrays motherhood in the form of the Empress. The image shows a regal lady dressed in a loose-fitting gown befitting a young woman in early pregnancy. The green lush background, flowing river, the crown of leaves and stars circling her hair, and the pomegranate printed dress symbolize fertility, Earth and life. The cushions providing her with comfort are adorned with Venus symbols. All the symbols offer an impression of a new season emerging with new life. Everything in this image appears sunny, ideal and soothing.

What this image does not capture are the unexpected life experiences that all mothers must face on a daily basis. Even with the best of intentions, challenges can occur and mothers are only human. In some situations, mothers may no longer be available for the family. Many people survive these difficulties and learn to cope, becoming stronger over time. Here are some moving stories with themes of interpretation and acceptance of life's obstacles. Self reflection can reshape these experiences towards a better future.

My secret mother: two different lives, one heartbreaking secret: a memoir Battle hymn of the tiger mother The loss that is forever: the lifelong impact of the early death of a mother or father Our mothers' spirits: on the death of mothers and the grief of men: an anthology
Not becoming my mother: and other things she taught me along the way Mother in the middle: a biologist's story of caring for parent and child Pieces of my mother: a memoir Divine secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood (book & DVD)

Extraordinary Moms 

Despite life's obstacles, a mother who tries to make it her goal to provide care for her child is an amazingly extraordinary person. Mastering the daily demands of motherhood with care and compassion and preparing for future emergencies are keys to success. Stories and lessons by extraordinary moms inspire the rest of us to appreciate what it takes to do that extra bit to make life a wonderful journey for everyone involved.

Successful single moms: thirteen stories of triumph I know how she does it: how successful women make the most of their time How she really does it: secrets of successful stay-at-work moms Peaceful parent, happy siblings: how to stop the fighting and raise friends for life
The mother of all parenting books: an all-Canadian guide to raising a happy, healthy child from preschool through the preteens The mindful parent: strategies from peaceful cultures to raise compassionate, competent kids Dolphin way a parent's guide to raising healthy, happy, and motivated kids Nurtureshock: new thinking about children

Mothers face so many challenges. It is a special role that many women take on to help raise wonderful families. We would like to wish you and your family a bright and warm Mother's Day this Sunday, as you celebrate and remember her marvelous achievements in your life.


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