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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.

Augmented Reality

August 5, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

Daughter with Pidgey Pokémon
My daughter petting a pidgey Pokémon at the doctor's office

The Oxford English Dictionary defines augmented reality as the use of technology which allows the perception of the physical world to be enhanced or modified by computer-generated stimuli. By adding graphics, sounds and other sensory elements to the reality we see, it blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated. Unlike virtual reality where you’re immersed in a virtual world, augmented reality adds to and enhances our real world environment. So picture being able to see information about traffic, weather, restaurants and other things superimposed to your environment as you're walking down the street. Or like Iron Man.

Thanks to the craze of the Pokémon Go game, it has taken augmented reality into the mainstream. With 100 million downloads, it has introduced and popularized this technology to the general public. Players catch Pokémons that are digitally superimposed into our real world environments. The novelty of seeing Pokémons in real life and the obsession of collecting them, has contributed to the game’s success. You can even catch Pokémons, stock up on supplies or battle your Pokémon at the library. Check out the list of library branches with Pokémons, Poké Stops and gym locations.

If catching Pokémons isn’t your thing, technology blog Gizmodo provides a list of alternative augmented reality mobile apps. How cool is it to be able to see if a piece of furniture goes with the décor in your room before buying it with the Ikea app? The possibilities of augmented reality seem endless. In addition to gaming, it can be used in education, health care, engineering and much more.

To learn more able augmented reality and virtual reality, check out some of these e-books:

Augmented Reality - An Emerging Technologies Guide to AR   Augmented Reality - Principles and Practice   Cardboard VR Projects for Android   Developing AR Games for iOS and Android

Learning Virtual Reality   Oculus Rift in Action   Understanding Augmented Reality   Unity Virtual Reality Projects

Prefer to read from a physical book? Here are some books on the topics:

Augmented Reality   Learning Virtual Reality   Pro iOS 5 Augmented Reality   Prototyping Augmented Reality

To stay updated on the latest technology, here are some e-magazines that can be accessed on your computer, mobile device or tablet:

Maximum PC   Net   PC Magazine   Wired

Don't forget to check out one of our Digital Innovation Hubs for access to the latest technology like 3D printers. At the North York Central Library, we'll be getting our own Digital Innovation Hub and creation space after the renovation. In the meantime, signup for one of our digital design classes to learn about 3D design, computer graphics, audio editing and more.

Repair Your Car Yourself

April 11, 2016 | Ranald | Comments (5)

Use the library e-resource Chilton Library, which is accessible anywhere Œ(1) your car calls out to be pushed onto its side and repaired, (2) you have your tools with you and (3) you have something, besides what you're wearing, to wipe your hands on.


Car repair 2016 04

Photograph: Julia Kertesz, "Bucarest, car repair on the street."


  • Use the "Vehicle Selector" menus on the left of the home page to select your car by, first, year, then make, then model.
  • Click on "Select."
  • Then click on "Repair" under the heading "Data is available for the following."

Now you're at the home page of the repair manual for the vehicle you've selected. The table of contents is on the left. On the right, an empty screen.

  • Click on a category in the table of contents to get to the table of contents of that category.
  • Keep clicking until you get to the heading of a specific repair procedure. When you click on this heading, the procedure will appear on the screen to the right of the table of contents.


Chilton library 2016 04 2010 GMC Sierra


Note the category chain at the top of the table of contents. In the picture above, "Top / Engine Electrical / Repair Instructions / Removal, Installation, and Replacement" etc. You can click on "Top" to return to the main table of contents. You can click on any of the other categories to return to the table of contents of that category.

Chilton Library (PDF), the guide, is a quick guide to accessing and using this resource.

Note: this post was updated on December 15, 2016.

Time, Why Do You Punish Me?

March 11, 2016 | Ann | Comments (6)

Titles on Time at NYCL
Courtesy of endlesswatts on pixabay. CC0 Public Domain Free for commercial use.

At 2 am on Sunday, March 13th, clocks inch ahead by one hour. Except for the province of Saskatchewan, many of us will experience a mild form of jetlag as we lose an hour of sleep to start our day. People living in Europe will not experience this time change until March 27th, a week after the first day of Spring. The clocks will return to Eastern Standard Time on November 6th at 2 am. 

This blog title was inspired by the song, Time by Hootie & the Blowfish from the 1995 album, Cracked Rear View. For many of us, myself included, the arrival of Daylight Saving Time (DST) evokes a sense of mental anguish similar to the hypnotic lyrics crooned by Darius Rucker.

For those who are already sleep deprived, losing an hour of sleep could lead to dangerous traffic accidents and other negative health effects. WebMD offers useful suggestions on Coping with the Effects of Daylight Saving Time. Also, have a look at two more blog posts on DST.

The good news is that the days will grow longer, the weather will improve, and the mornings will begin to fill with warmth and sunlight. The first day of Spring will arrive on March 20th. Getting up early will feel less harrowing as time goes by.

Listed below are various themes for contemplating this new time shift. In fact, looking at time from these perspectives may give weight to and develop an appreciation for different events winding through time.

Creative Times

Time can be wibbly-wobbly, distorted, fractured, paradoxical, pressing or mysterious.  These fascinating titles may hold you timebound.

Fractured times: culture and society in the twentieth century Pressed for time: the acceleration of life in digital capitalism Time traveller's handbook: a guide to the past A time of paradox. America from the Cold War to the third millennium, 1945-present
Lost to time: unforgettable stories that history forgot The mystery of time:  humanity's quest for order and measure Surveillance in the time of insecurity Eyewitness to history from ancient times to the modern era

Mad Times

Times can be difficult in today's fast-paced world with issues of violence, terrorism, bullying, and various forms of abuse. The end of the world may draw near through Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Any time is a good time to read up on these furious times.

A history of the world since 9/11: disaster, deception, and destruction in the war on terror Family violence from a global perspective: a strengths-based approach Bullies in the workplace: seeing and stopping adults who abuse their co-workers and employees Cult and ritual abuse: narratives, evidence, and healing approaches
The many worlds of Hugh Everett III: multiple universes, mutual assured destruction, and the meltdown of a nuclear family Germs gone wild: how the unchecked development of domestic biodefense threatens America @WAR: the rise of the military-Internet complex Police unbound: corruption, abuse, and heroism by the boys in blue

Sad Times

Through history, madness may lead to sadness for victims experiencing abuse, neglect, torture, or annihilation. Learning from the mistakes made and working towards strategies for change are important in amending the actions of these times for a better future.

Invisible scars: how to stop, change, or end psychological abuse The little book of restorative justice for sexual abuse: hope through trauma Poverty in Canada: implications for health and quality of life Abuse and neglect of older Canadians: strategies for change
Ordeal by hunger: the story of the Donner Party I was a child of Holocaust survivors The Story of the Titanic, as told by its survivors A thousand lives: the untold story of hope, deception, and survival at Jonestown

Glad Times

Finally, there are good times to be had. Welcoming a new year, dancing away your troubles, and celebrating every waking moment through fiestas and music are the best ways to enjoy the moments while we are alive.

Chinese festivals, updated edition The dance of time: the origins of the calendar: a miscellany of history and myth, religion and astronomy, festivals and feast days Choreographing identities: folk dance, ethnicity and festival in the United States and Canada Celebrate: a year of British festivities for families and friends
The folklore of world holidays, 2nd ed. Burning Man: art on fire Sacred places of a lifetime: 500 of the world's most peaceful and powerful destinations Cuban fiestas

Music Time

Nothing is better than to tune in and move with the music. Here are more contemporary songs (in no particular order) that come to mind:

If you are contemplating the limited preciousness of time, this video, You Are Here (Pale Blue Dot) which was inspired by the works of Carl Sagan will provide a global perspective on our time here.

Time need not be a punishing ordeal to endure if you can measure it accurately and see it for what it is--an opportunity to change, build, and develop in your own way.  Time stands still for no one so get ahead of it and do your best with what time you have left.  

Exercise Your Talents in New & Exciting Ways

January 4, 2016 | Ann | Comments (2)

Exercise titles available at North York Central Library
The above image is licensed by under a Creative Commons license which permits the free use of the image.

The holiday season for 2015 has drawn to a close. Consider the next signpost to appear over the horizon on the proverbial road through life that reads, "Exercise." This is a daunting suggestion right after a delirious period of holiday binging and relaxing. 

The interesting aspect of this word is its dual nature--it can either describe a "thing" or an "action." An exercise, for instance, conveys a static description of tasks to be completed whereas the phrase to exercise reflects a dynamic expression of movement.

When the static state awakens into dynamic motion, this is what Robert Pirsig, an American writer and philosopher, defines as the concept of Quality (or the Metaphysics of Quality (MOQ) in his later works). Much like a resting muscle fiber anticipates a jolt of electricity to leap into action, this qualitative point represents a brief opportunity to leap into new terrains of thought and creativity. The concepts of past and future are stored as static memories and planned goals, respectively. The present moment is a small window in time to act, create, and live in full alertness.

Pirsig contrasts this dynamic state with its opposite--a busy mind occupied with regrets over past actions or anxiety over future situations yet to unfold. In other words, the mind is not focused on the present moment:

“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.”

“In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Also take a moment to listen to a special (1974) interview by Connie Goldman with Robert Pirsig on CBC.  

The best way to appreciate this philosophical concept on Quality is to crack open his book, The Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and escape with him and his young son on a journey through the world of metaphysics. 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Here are more life-affirming titles on philosophy for exercising the awakening mind:

Use philosophy to be happier: 30 steps to perfect the art of living Heads up philosophy The weight of things: philosophy and the good life The consolation of philosophy
  Philosophy: all that matters The best things in life: a guide to what really matters The cartoon introduction to philosophy, 1st ed. Stoicism and the art of happiness

For some readers who prefer a quick "pick me up" on self-motivation instead of longer detailed discussions on philosophical concepts, the psychology section offer suggestions on how to view the world in a fun and positive light:

Positive psychology for overcoming depression: self-help strategies for happiness, inner strength and well-being    One simple idea: how positive thinking reshaped modern life The positive dog: a fable about changing your attitude to be your best Kiss that frog: 12 great ways to turn negatives into positives in your life and work
A life worth living: contributions to positive psychology   Lift: becoming a positive force in any situation Pursuing the good life: 100 reflections on positive psychology Hardwiring happiness: the new brain science of contentment, calm, and confidence

Once the mind is awakened to think beyond the mental sludge of everyday schedules, projects, and routines, consider expending this energy in new inspirational ways. The authors listed below have documented their own adventures in the world:

Long way down Climbing the seven summits: a comprehensive guide to the continents' highest peaks Golf freek: one man's quest to play as may rounds of golf as possible for free The adventures of Henry Thoreau: a young man's unlikely path to Walden Pond
Backpacking with the saints: wilderness hiking as spiritual practice Zen and the way of the sword: arming the samurai psyche Solo, yet never alone: swimming the Great Lakes What I talk about when I talk about running - a memoir

If you are ready to delve into a new terrain, learn the latest skills to be competitive in today's job force, or improve your current skills but do not know where to start, the Toronto Public Library website offers a superb selection of databases with a wealth of information. Some useful topics include: 

Ancestry Library Edition
Business Writing
Business Writing
Career Cruising
Career Cruising
Chilton's Auto Repair
Chilton's Auto Repair
Learning Express Library
Learning Express
Mango Languages
Mango Languages
Study Skills Success
Study Skills Success

Ancestry (In-Library use only) is a popular genealogy resource that includes U.S., Canadian, European, Australian, and New Zealand records. Specific topics include census, birth, marriage, death, immigration, military records and more. Ancestry offers a great opportunity to access records essential to building your family tree.

Business Writing offers an opportunity to sharpen your writing skills in various forms of business correspondence such as writing letters, reports, and emails. This resource would benefit those who plan to work in a business environment and need to communicate effectively to clients and staff.

Career Cruising enables you to preview a career and see whether this profession suits your personality. The career guidance resource offers career profiles and links to relevant Canadian college and university programs and also includes a Canadian Job Search section.

Chilton's Auto Repair is a useful database for looking up repair manuals, maintenance schedules, service bulletins and Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) test prep quizzes. If Robert Pirsig could repair his own motorcycle with Zen-like grace, imagine an increase in self-confidence while changing the oil or replacing the brake pads on your vehicle. 

Learning Express Library offers practice tests and answers for all ages. LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, SAT, GED, Canadian citizenship practice test, TOEIC, TOEFL iBT, math, grammar, writing and more are available here. This is a chance to practice writing the entry tests and determine how prepared you are before applying. For those who just enjoy testing their many skills, this would be a good resource to use. is a new database that offers over 3,500 video tutorial courses led by experts on web design, software development, photography, business skills, home and small office, project management, 3D + Animation, graphic design audio, music, video editing and more. This resource requires the creation of a personal account which will allow you to track your progress through your tutorials and offers certificates of program completion that you could proudly post on your LinkedIn account.

Mango Languages offers an opportunity to practice and converse in new languages or to improve your spoken English. The online "cue cards" provide audio and visual interaction with the interface to develop these skills effectively. If you want to feel more confident conversing with people in a different country, this resource will help you on your way.

Study Skills Success offers high school and college student skills on how to do research, write term papers and essays. This database also offers practice tests with answers.  If your aim is to improve your studying skills, then this resource will nicely dovetail with your goal.

Enjoy the New Year by living every single second in the present. Inspire yourself to exercise your talents in new and exciting ways each and every moment in life.

Free Science Events in Toronto for November 2015

October 27, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the November calendar (PDF).

November's highlights include:

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

At the library, November's highlights include:

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

Fossil fuels and pollution   The upward spiral   Developmental robotics   GMO food

Printing things   Good medicine   A clone of your own   Strength training bible

Free Science Events in Toronto for October 2015

September 29, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (2)

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the October calendar (PDF).

October's highlights include:

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

At the library, October's highlights include:

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

The green industrial revolution   The foot book   Sex in your garden   The healthy pregnancy book

The real cost of fracking   The complete book of juicing   Robotics   Waking the frog

Who Cares If It Rains?

August 21, 2015 | Jane | Comments (0)

Sometimes, it is just what you pay attention to. Ever wondered, for example, how people saw the constellations – shapes of bears, hunters, scorpions, while we see undifferentiated masses of stars? That is if we’re lucky enough, here in the well-lighted city, to see the stars at all?

photo credit: Cap't. Fatty Goodlander


So it is with weather lore. For farmers, who depend on the weather to put bread on the table, and for fisher-people, whose safety depends on accurate readings of the sky and water, consistent weather indicators are of huge value. So they pay attention. For myself – noticing to the extent that I get myself appropriately clothed is as far as this goes.

You’ve likely heard about some of these weather truisms though:

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor’s warning. (This one is mostly true.)

If March comes in like a lamb it goes out like a lion. If it comes in like a lion, then it goes out like a lamb. (This one isn't true beyond chance.)

My neighbor down the street said that the Mountain Ash tree two blocks away was loaded with berries, indicating, in her Scottish family lore, that the coming winter will be harsh and long. There are several sayings recorded in Weather Lore: a Collection of Proverbs that attest to similar weather wisdom: 

Mountain many rains, many rowans*.

Ash many rowans, many yawns*.

Hedge fruit many haws,                 Mountain Ash Tree

Many snaws.                                            

Many sloes

Many cold toes

Many hips and haws

Many frosts and snaws.

(*Rowans are Mountain Ash berries, Yawns are grains of wheat, oats or barley.)



Every culture and landscape has its own lore, usually passed along as an easy-to-remember rhyme. Even if the accuracy of such lore is suspect, it still has value in giving a sense of control when we have very little.

And so the enduring affection for the Farmer’s Almanac, which is still published, more than 220 years after its first printing. The almanac has enough of a following to suggest it still has significance as a foreteller of weather. The Almanac's website claims 80% accuracy, which if true beats the claims of TV weather stations, which are accurate about 60% of the time. Such comparisons are very hard to make though, because what is measured in each case is seldom the same.

The Almanac maintains its allure by keeping its forecasting formula in a locked black box. Weather blackbox

In contrast, the Met Office (the main meteorological agency in the U.K) boasts that it has transparency with respect to its methods and accuracy. But in truth neither the Old Farmer's Almanac nor the Met Office, nor Environment Canada nor the US National Weather Service can truly say they can accurately predict the weather more than a few days out. 

This is because the weather, and how it comes to be, is so complex. Penn State scientist Fuqing Zhang points out that the amount of data meteorologists have from all over the world - temperature, humidity, wind speed, satellite images and so on - are all collected at different times, using different scales of measurement. Computers can help with calculating parts of the results, but finding appropriate ways to put the data together to get helpful predictions is an imperfect art. 


Image result for butterfly against white background        Consider the "butterfly effect", the popular term for "sensitivity to initial conditions."  Edward Lorenz described this phenomenon in the 1960s and 70s. The delicate wing beat of a butterfly in Brazil, it was said, could dramatically affect weather weeks and miles away. In other words, tiny variables in a system, whether meteorological or some other complex system, could dramatically change outcomes.                    

Even further confounding the accuracy of the forecasts we get on local weather stations are reports from the people at (authors of the popular book of the same title) that people don't really care about weather report accuracy. When one Freakonomics blogger asked a TV station manager about how the station ensured reliability, the manager said “All viewers care about is the next day. Accuracy is not a big deal to viewers.” Maybe this is true . . . unless you're a farmer or you fish for a living. 


iPad/iPhone Tips

April 17, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

Recently, I was helping a patron download movies from hoopla on to her iPad. While I was helping her, I showed her how to delete an app she no longer wanted by pressing and holding on the app and then pressing the x at the top left corner of it. She wasn’t aware of this. I proceeded to show her a couple more tips, like the ones below (the following tips work in iOS 8; they may or may not work in the older iOS):

Forcing an app to close

What do you do when an app isn't working or responding? You can force the app to close and then re-open it. Hopefully, this will resolve the issue. To force an app to close, press the home button twice. You'll see previews of your recently used apps. Find the app you want to close and swipe the app up.

Force close apps          Force close apps 2


Did you know you can type in different languages? I recently helped my mom add a Chinese keyboard to her iPad. Here’s how to add a keyboard: Settings > General > Keyboards > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard…

Keyboard          Korean keyboard

Once a keyboard is added, access it by pressing the globe button to the left of the space bar. If you have multiple keyboards, you can keep pressing the globe button until it toggles to the desired keyboard.

Internet address domain shortcut

Did you know when you are typing a web address in the address bar there is a shortcut to writing .com, .ca, .org, etc.? To access the shortcut, press and hold the period. Several domain extensions will appear. Select the one you need.

Internet domain shortcut

What song is that?

Sometimes a song will come on the radio in the car and I’m dying to find out what song it is. What do I do? There are apps available to help figure this out. Or you can just ask Siri. Siri works as a personal assistant and knowledge navigator. The feature uses natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations and perform actions.

To find out the song, first hold down the home button which will activate Siri. Ask Siri “What song is this?”. Then Siri will listen to the song. If Siri is able to decipher the song, it will let you know.

Siri song          Siri song result

Sometimes, Siri is disabled on the phone. To enable Siri: Settings > General > Siri. If Siri is enabled, a green button will appear next to it. To disable it, simply slide the button over to switch it off.

Siri on

There are also lots of things you can do on your device with your Toronto Public Library card.

You can download e-books, e-audiobooks, e-magazines, movies, television shows and full music albums. For help accessing these services, visit the websites below:

  • hoopla: movies, television shows and full music albums

The North York Central Library also offers free E-Book Drop In sessions every Saturday from 2-3 pm in the Atrium (call 416-395-5672 for more information). Bring your device and questions and we’ll be happy to help you access these awesome services one step at a time.

To learn more about iPads and iPhones, here are some books from the library:

iPad for the older and wiser   My iPad mini  Teach yourself visually iPad  The ultimate iPad

iPhone for dummies  iPhone secrets   iPhone with iOS 8 for seniors  The unauthorized guide to iPhone, iPad and iPod repair

You can access these books online:

iPad all in one for dummies  iPad the missing manual  iPhone all in one for dummies  iPhone for seniors for dummies

Do you know any useful tips for the iPad or iPhone? If you do, please share them below in the comments. Did you find this post useful? If you did, please let me know and I can share some more tips in the future. Thanks!


Yonge Street Line, the First in Canada

March 30, 2015 | Ann | Comments (6)

More Yonge Street Subway images from
Photo courtesy of Toronto Public Library. March 30, 1954 opening ceremonies outside Davisville station.

Yonge Street is one of the longest streets in the world.  Holed up underneath, the first subway line in Canada hummed with anticipation.  On Tuesday, March 30, 1954, the passengers (shown above) embarked on their first historic ride from Davisville Station to Union Station.  

Prior to this momentous day, Yonge Street was designed with an earlier period in mind when horse-drawn carriages rolled along at a slower pace.

 Great Western Railway Station; Freight Offices Yonge Street, east side, north of Esplanade East in 1873 from the TPL Digital Archive

Photo courtesy of the Digital Archive from The Toronto Public Library

With the turn of the twentieth century, this street became the main passageway through the city.  

As more businesses established their storefronts along this street, traffic congestion increased.  Larger and wider vehicles, including the public transit cars, jockeyed for travel space.  Speeds during rush hour could grind down to a standstill.  

Even pedestrian traffic filled the sidewalks with little room to maneuver. This situation showed a dire need for an alternative way to move people around the city quickly and easily.  Canada's First Subway.  Why a Subway?

Courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives. November 18, 1941 Series 71, Item 15073. Looking north on Yonge Street from Granby Street, showing rush hour congestion.

Proposals were held at the turn of the twentieth century to create a subway line to run underneath Yonge Street.  The social and economic changes from the First World Warthe Great Depression, and the Second World War affected the first half of the century to thwart this undertaking.  

After the Second World War ended, the city looked forward to a brighter future.  On January 1, 1946, a majority of voters approved the building of a new subway line.  On September 8, 1949, subway construction went underway underground.  And the rest is history.

Here is the original 1954 map of this monumental subway line:

Yonge Street Subway Line in 1954
TTC Subway Map courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives: TTC Ephemera

For comparison, this is the current 2015 subway map.  

There are many interesting and noteworthy resources available online on the Toronto Transit Commission, Yonge Street, and the history of Toronto.  Have a glance through these written articles and vintage images:

  1. Toronto Subway Project is a summary of Jay Young's (2012) dissertation on, “Searching for a Better Way: Subway Life and Metropolitan Growth in Toronto, 1942-1978." The full dissertation is electronically available from this website.  
  2. Before the TTC from is an incredible 'blast from the past' on how public transit operated prior to the arrival of the Toronto Transit Commission. 
  3. The TTC story:  the first 75 Years is an article written by Mike Filey offering a preview to his book (listed below) by the same name.  Filey has written more titles on the City of Toronto that are available from the library.  
  4. TTC free Wi-Fi now available Bloor to Union Station was published on Friday, November 28, 2014 in The Toronto Star and written by , Transportation Reporter.  Passengers may freely pass the time accessing the Internet on their digital devices while waiting for their trains to arrive.
  5. Subway Milestones - Expansion is an article from The Archives of Ontario.  The TTC subway system has expanded over time from 1959 to 2002.  See how the other subway lines including the University, the Bloor/Danforth, the Scarborough RT, and the Sheppard lines came into being.
  6. Images of the Toronto Transit Commission from TPL Pinterest provides a beautiful archive of images, flyers, maps, and other ephemera pertaining to the TTC.
  7. Pictures of Yonge Street from The Digital Archive are available in the public domain and provided from our library website.  
  8. Tunnels: A short guide to Toronto’s nether regions from The Toronto Star was written by  , Staff Reporter, and published on Friday, February 27, 2015.  There are several hidden tunnels lying within this city.  Some are fabricated stories, some may be haunted, and some were used in past movie sets.
  9. Vintage Toronto is located on Facebook and provides images of, "the road, the people, and the architecture," across the city.  The page was started on January 12, 2012 but the images go as far back as the mid-1800s.  Every day new entries are added and visitors share their own personal insights to these vintage images.  


The North York Central library has a good selection on these topics.  Come visit the library and browse through our local history collection.  

Transit in Toronto: The Story of the Development of Public Transportation in Toronto, from Horse Cars to a Modern, High Speed Subway System The Yonge Street story: an account of letters, diaries, and newspapers, 1793-1860 by F. R. Berchem The TTC story: the first seventy-five years by Mike Filey Mind the doors please: the story of Toronto and its streetcars by Larry Partridge
Opportunity road: Yonge Street, 1860 to 1939 by F. R. Berchem Toronto streetcars serve the city by Kenneth C. Springirth 200 years Yonge: (2nd ed) a history by Ralph Magel Toronto: biography of a city by Allan Gerald Levine

Tour the sights in the Canadiana Department for more information on Yonge Street in North York local history.  Visit the department and meet Henry, The Golden Lion, who is a resident of this great street and used to stand above the entrance to The Golden Lion Hotel


Toronto Digital Archive:  Reverend Thomas W. Pickett on veranda of Golden Lion Hotel
Henry, in all his majestic glory. Photo courtesy of The Toronto Public Library


If you have a personal story about Yonge Street you would like to share, the Toronto Public Library released an interactive online exhibit in 2013 called, youryongestreet.  You can upload audio files, pictures, videos and stories as well as browse other people's submissions.  Some contributions may be included as part of our TPL Digital Archive.  

youryongestreet is an interactive online exhibit of people, places and events along the world’s longest street. It brings together stories, documents, maps, photographs, oral histories, and videos to create a living history.


As many commuters will agree, the subway system remains a crucial and speedy way to travel through the City.  The Yonge Street Line may have opened up faster travel through the heart of the City in 1954, future projects are currently underway (and some will hope for a possible subway extension to Square One in Mississauga) to make the TTC an even more accessible way to get around.

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.