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Last Chance: Once Upon a Time Exhibit Closes January 22

January 16, 2017 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Once upon a time_PopUp

Snip, snap, snout, this tale's (almost) told out

Our delightful fairy tale exhibit, Once Upon a Time, is ending soon! You have until Sunday, January 22 to see it at the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery.

From Little Red Riding Hood, to Beauty and the Beast, to the Anansi tales of West African and Caribbean folklore, the exhibit celebrates enchanting folk and fairy tales found in the library's Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books.    

Little Red Riding-Hood Picture Book

Little Red Riding-Hood Picture Book London: George Routledge, ca. 1865

The exhibit includes everything from rare luxury print editions to modest chapbooks, toys, pop-ups and original picture book art. These items help show the breadth and range of the Osborne Collection but also the many ways that these tales have been adapted, spoofed, re-mixed and re-invented over the last 300 years. 

 The Story of the Three Bears

The Story of the Three Bears: Metrically Related: With Illustrations locating it at Cecil Lodge in September 1831, Eleanor Mure, 1798 or 1799-1885, England, ca. 1831

Did you know that the Osborne collection includes the earliest written example of the story of The Three Bears? You might not recognized the story's heroine...

Eleanor Mure created this handmade book as a gift for her four-year-old nephew. In Mure's version, it is a curious old woman who enters the bears' home uninvited. In later retellings, the old woman character becomes a little girl, named Silver Hair, Silver-Locks, Golden Hair or Goldilocks. You can see the manuscript on display in the exhibit and you can read the entire story on our Digital Archive.  


Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Illustrated by C. Carey Cloud, b. 1899 and Harold B. Lentz, New York: Blue Ribbon Press, 1934. Gift of Jane Dobell. 

After your visit to the TD Gallery, be sure to also stop by the collection's permanent home on the 4th floor of the Lillian H. Smith Branch. There you can see a complementary exhibit, The Snow Queen's Palace, dedicated to the original fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. 

Toronto's Poor: A Rebellious History

January 10, 2017 | Cynthia | Comments (0)

Woman in poverty
"In the Shadow of Poverty", 1983 Toronto Star Archive Photo

As headlines scream “CEO salaries soar to new heights” (Toronto Star); “Top Canadian CEOs will earn more today than average working person does in 2017” (Global News); and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives kicks off 2017 with economist Hugh Mackenzie's "Throwing Money at the Problem: 10 Years of Executive Compensation”Bryan Palmer and Gaetan Heroux have launched Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History.

We do not know much about political action by people we label ‘poor'. Generally, social scientists study the evolution of social movements through the activities of academics, reformers, political parties and union and labour organizations.

Taking a very different approach to Toronto’s social history, working-class historian (Palmer) and poor people's activist (Heroux) cover the years from 1838 to 2015, linking past and present.

With the gap widening socially, politically and economically on all continents, Toronto’s Poor sheds light on the hardships and humiliations that burden the poor. It is about men, women and children relegated to lives of desperation by an uncaring system, and how they have refused to be defeated.

In that refusal, and in winning better conditions for themselves, Toronto's poor create the possibility of a new society: one ordered not by acquisition and individual advance, but by appreciation of collective rights and responsibilities.


Toronto's Poor
Join Bryan Palmer and Gaetan Heroux for:

Toronto's Poor: A Rebellious History

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm, Beeton Hall

Toronto Reference Library

789 Yonge Street

Books will be available for sale and signing by the authors.

For further research, the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Collection, 2nd floor, has traditional histories of Toronto, reports on social and political issues, poverty, housing, homelessness, public health, urban planning and revitalization schemes. We also have a large selection of journals, community newspapers and electronic research databases.

Take a look at some of our earlier blogs, too:

Subdivided: Building Inclusion in the Global City

Precarious Work: Why It Is Bad For Our Health

Regent Park: After the Mix

Do We Fall Down On Homelessness?

New Ways of Looking at Our City Display at the North York Central Gallery 


Protesters, 1971 Toronto Star Archive Photo



Favourite Fairy Tale Shoe Stories

January 5, 2017 | Nicole | Comments (2)

Excerpted and abridged from an article by Leslie McGrath.


There are currently two beautiful exhibits of fairy tales at Toronto Public Library. The first, at the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery (held over to January 22), “Once Upon A Time,”  features early and modern retellings of fairy tales that have delighted generations of young readers. The second, at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, Lillian H. Smith branch, has a special focus: “The Snow Queen’s palace: Amazing Stories by Hans Christian Andersen.” Curated by Martha Scott, this exhibit will run to March 4. The visitor to both exhibits will find a splendid array of tales and images in each: fairies, princesses, enchanted animals…and shoes.

Ask anyone to name a fairy tale and the chances are that the answer will be “Cinderella.” As well as being the best-known, it is one of the most ancient fairy tales, with perhaps the earliest version being that of the 2,000-year-old Egyptian tale of the courtesan Rhodope. In it, an eagle steals her tiny gilded sandal and drops it before the Pharaoh, who cannot rest until he has followed the shoe to its owner. Numbers of young women try to wear the sandal, but only Rhodope’s foot is small enough, and she becomes Pharaoh’s wife.

Another early version exists from the nineth century, and is described as part of the oral tradition of storytelling in the south of China. A local Chieftain named Wu-The-Cave has a beautiful daughter, Yexian, who loses one slipper at a festival. This slipper comes to the hands of a mighty king, who is astonished at its tiny size and equally impressed by its durability: “it did not crumple when it hit pebble or stone.” The King finds Yexian, and has her try on the slipper, then bears her away to his kingdom as a bride.

Edmund Dulac The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales from the Old French

Illustration by Edmund Dulac for The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales from the Old French, retold by A.T. Quiller-Couch, London: Hodder and Stoughton, [1910].

Following earlier print versions in Italy and France, Cinderella at last appeared in English, with the famous glass slipper, in a translation of Perrault’s tales published in 1729. Since that time Cinderella has appeared in various guises, from Little Goody Two-Shoes to The Paperbag Princess, taking on the qualities admired most by contemporary audiences.

Walter Crane for Goody Two-Shoes’ Picture Book

Illustration by Walter Crane for Goody Two-Shoes’ Picture Book, London and New York: Routledge and Sons, [1874].  The heroine, Margery Meanwell, wins a fortune through hard work and literacy in the story commonly known as Goody Two-Shoes, originally published by John Newbery in 1765. Authorship of the story is uncertain.

Perrault’s Tales of 1697 also include the story of “Hop O’My Thumb,” the diminutive boy who steals seven-league boots from a wicked ogre. Borrowed from Italian legends of the fifteenth century, these magic boots, which instantly shrink to fit their owner, crop up again in legends of Jack the Giant-Killer.

Honor Appleton for Little Thumbling, Perrault’s Tales

Illustration by Honor Appleton for “Little Thumbling,” Perrault’s Tales, London: Herbert & Daniel, [1911]. “The seven-league boots fitted his feet and legs just as if they had been made for him.”

One of the most offbeat developments in children’s literature is the gradual transformation of these boots into those of the socially downscale “Spring-Heeled Jack,” exotic villain of Penny Dreadful (cheap periodical) literature for boys. Using his springs, wicked Jack could leap in a window and out again and bounce safely away to his hideout. This popular figure was one cause of an outraged movement for higher-toned literature for working class boys. He is also said to be the ancestor of Batman and Superman.

Gustave Doré for Puss in Boots

Illustration by Gustave Doré for Puss in Boots, by Charles Perrault, London, Paris and New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., [1880]. Puss pretends his master is drowning, and that thieves have stolen his clothes, just as the King’s coach is passing by.

Another favourite from Perrault’s tales, based loosely on earlier Italian stories, is “Puss in Boots,” the tale of the masterful, quick-witted cat who needs only proper footwear to gain fame and fortune for his master, a poverty-stricken miller’s son who becomes the fabled “Marquis of Carabas.”

Jenny Harbour for The Red Shoes, Hans Andersen’s StoriesIllustration by Jenny Harbour for “The Red Shoes,” Hans Andersen’s Stories, London, Paris and New York: Raphael Tuck & Sons, [1932].

The most notorious example of painful red shoes in children’s books, next to the punishment meted out to the witch in the Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White,” who was forced to dance in red-hot shoes until she died, is “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Andersen, translated into English in 1847. In the original story, a shoemaker’s wife gives a poor little girl some clumsy red cloth shoes, and having no others, the child wears them to her mother’s funeral. Later, when told to have shoes made for confirmation, the child takes advantage of her guardian’s dim eyesight and orders red shoes. Not only does she wear them to confirmation, but also, though forbidden to do so, to communion. The devil in disguise puts a curse on the shoes. Karen wears the red shoes to a ball, instead of attending her guardian’s death bed, and is then forced to dance endlessly, not able to take the red shoes off, until she begs the executioner to rid her of them. He cuts off her feet, freeing Karen to repent. Karen dies of a broken heart, but is carried up to heaven, “and in Heaven there was No-one who asked about the red shoes.” 

Jenny Harbour for The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf

Illustration by Jenny Harbour for “The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf,” Hans Andersen’s Stories, London, Paris and New York: Raphael Tuck & Sons, [1932].

A sad fate also awaits Andersen’s “Girl Who Trod on a Loaf,” who, in order to keep her shoes dry and clean threw bread down for a stepping-stone across a bog. As a punishment for her pride and ingratitude, Inger is sucked down into a hellish life in the swamp, only to be released many years later by the prayers and tears of others, who repent their own ingratitude for God’s gifts.

Worn-out shoes offer telltale clues about clandestine activities. The Brothers Grimm wrote an early version of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, entitled simply “The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes,” in the 1823 English edition of their tales, in which the shoes of a king’s beautiful daughters appear mysteriously worn out each morning, though the girls have been safely locked in their room all night. Though offered a great reward, no one can solve the riddle of the worn-out shoes, until a poor soldier resists the sleeping potion the princesses give him. He stays awake and is able to spy on their secret midnight ball, thus solving the riddle and winning one of the Princesses for a bride.

Elizabeth Conklin McKinstry The Watchman's Adventures from The Galoshes of Fortune

Illustration by Elizabeth Conklin McKinstry, "The Watchman's Adventures" from "The Galoshes of Fortune," Andersen's Fairy Tales, New York: Coward-McCann, 1933.

There are as well the instructive enchanted boots of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Galoshes of Fortune,” translated into English in 1846. In this story, fairies naively provide a magic pair of boots to create happiness: merely to put them on allows the wearer to become anyone or be anywhere he wishes. As one opportunistic or absent-minded person after another helps himself to the boots, he finds himself living a dream –- or rather, a nightmare. Like Midas, each discovers the wisdom of being merely himself, in his own time. When the last shuddering victim of the galoshes escapes from them, they are claimed by the fairy “Sorrow,” who feels they most fittingly belong to her.

Milo Winter for “Fortune’s Overshoes” (The Galoshes of Fortune)Illustration by Milo Winter for “Fortune’s Overshoes” (The Galoshes of Fortune), Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales, tr. V. Paulsen, Chicago: Rand McNally, 1916.

The classic fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm, “The Elves,” now usually called  “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” appeared in English in 1823. In this tale a worthy shoemaker, through no fault of his own, becomes poor. Though he has nothing in the world except leather for one pair of shoes, he lays himself down after prayers and sleeps soundly, because his conscience is clear. The next morning, and on subsequent mornings, he finds the leather beautifully sewn into shoes, and is able to sell them at increasing profits. Anxious to learn about his benefactor, he and his wife hide one night, and spy two little elves who rush in, naked, do the work and rush out. To thank the elves, the shoemaker makes a pair of shoes and his wife sews a warm little outfit for each of them. On finding the clothes, the elves dance with joy and renounce work, stating “Now we look so fine and dandy, no more need to work and be so handy!” They never appear again. “But the shoemaker continued to be prosperous until the end of his life and succeeded in all his endeavours.”

George Cruikshank for “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” German Popular Stories

Illustration by George Cruikshank for “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” German Popular Stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Edgar Taylor. London: James Robinson & Co.,1827.

If you have enjoyed looking at these stories, please remember to visit the two exhibitions of fairy tale books: “Once Upon a Time,” TD Gallery, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, until January 22, and “The Snow Queen’s Palace: Amazing Stories from Hans Christian Andersen,” The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, 239 College Street, until March 4.

You may also enjoy reading the full article from which this content was drawn, “Canadian Children’s Shoe Stories and Their Antecedents: Fortune’s Footwear” by Leslie McGrath, Senior Department Head, Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, in Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. Vol. 8, no.1, 311-331, 2016. 

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe by F.E. Weatherly, illustrated by E. Berkeley

Front cover, The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe by F.E. Weatherly, illustrated by E. Berkeley, New York: Geo. C. Whitney, [ca.1890].  

Be sure to also visit the Bata Shoe Museum; you can access a free pass (limited quantities) through our Museum + Arts Pass program.


Happy 232nd Birthday, Jacob Grimm!

January 4, 2017 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Today, January 4, marks what would have been Jacob Grimm's 232nd birthday. What better day to celebrate the magic, and often gory, fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. A number of the Grimm's best-loved tales -- Little Red Cap, Snow White, Rapunzel, Hansel & Gretel -- are featured in our free exhibit, Once Upon a Time. The exhibit of material from the library's Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books is on display in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery until January 22

Kinder- und Hausmärchen

Kinder-und Hausmärchen, Jacob Grimm, 1785-1863 and Wilhelm Grimm, 1786-1859. Illustrated by Heinrich Asmus and  Ludwig Grimm, 1790-1863. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1839. Kleine Ausgabe

Jacob and his brother Wilhelm published the first volume of their Kinder-und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) in 1812. This was followed by a second volume in 1815. The Brothers gathered stories through a network of friends, acquaintances and neighbours. Their final edition of 1857 contained over two hundred fairy tales, folktales and legends.

Kinder-und Haus-Märchen 1819

Kinder-und Haus-Märchen, Jacob Grimm, 1785-1863 and Wilhelm Grimm, 1786-1859. Plates engraved by L. Haas after Ludwig Emil Grimm. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1819

The Once Upon a Time exhibit features a second edition of Children’s and Household Tales. The frontispiece to the first volume, above, illustrates the story Little Brother and Little Sister. 

Here is a sneak peak at three more classic Grimm tales featured in the exhibit.



Mirror, mirror, on the wall, Who’s the fairest one of all?

A girl escapes from her evil stepmother to live with seven dwarfs in their woodland cottage.The stepmother, disguised as a peddler, tempts her with laces, comb, and a poisoned apple.


FT-049_OSB-PICTURES-0005_Snow white_wanda Gag

Original illustration for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Freely translated and illustrated by Wanda Gág (New York: Coward-McCann, 1938). Wanda Gág, 1893-1946. Pen-and-ink. Gift of Jane Dobell

This thrilling tale was the subject of the first animated feature film produced by Walt Disney: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). An original pencil sketch from the Disney film is on display in the exhibit. In the film, the prince awakens Snow White with a kiss. In the original Brothers Grimm tale, the bearers of her coffin stumble, accidently jolting the piece of poisoned apple from her throat. 



Nibble, nibble, where’s the mouse? Who’s that nibbling at my house?

Hansel and Gretel are lost in the woods. They come upon a house made of candies, cookies and cake. Seems delicious, but….

Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm

Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm. Illustrated by Kay Nielsen, 1886-1957, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1925

The Grimms made changes to this tale through successive editions of their Children’s and Household Tales. They substituted a stepmother for the children’s real mother, introduced a famine as background, and presented the father as essentially kind-hearted, but weak.

 Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.

The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm

The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Translated by Mrs. Edgar Lucas. London: Constable & Company, 1909. Gift of Peter and June Elendt

A baby girl is taken from her parents by a witch who names her Rapunzel. When she turns twelve, the witch locks her in a tower. When the witch wants to visit, she climbs Rapunzel’s long hair. One day a prince hears Rapunzel singing and falls in love.



Once upon a time

You can explore a number of editions of the Grimm Brother tales from the Osborne Collection on our Digital Archive. Better yet, visit Once Upon a Time before it closes January 22 to see rare lux editions, artwork, pop-ups, and puzzles and more takes on the Grimm brothers tales.


TRL Program Calendar January 2017

December 31, 2016 | Katherine | Comments (0)

Ring in the New with Introduction to Scribus, MuseScore and Inkscape.  Hear Gail Vaz-Oxlade and Victoria Ryce explain singles' finances as the CEO of Everything. And last chance to see Once Upon a Time: Fairy Tales from the Osborne Collection of Early Books at the TD Gallery on the first floor.

Click on each image to enlarge or Download The January 2017 @ TRL as a pdf file.

For a full list of programs to browse or search visit our Programs, Classes and Exhibits page.

January 1 January 2 January 3 January 4 January 5 January 6

We Are All Treaty People

December 8, 2016 | Melanie | Comments (5)

Two Row Wampum Treaty
A 13-year-old boy reads an English version of the Guswenta, also known as the Two-Row Wampum Treaty. Sourced from the Virtual Reference Library.

The release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action has spurred a lot introspection, both at the individual and collective levels, about what it means to be "Canadian." The importance of Treaties is highlighted in several Calls to Action, but the ninety-fourth Call to Action explicitly calls upon Canadian citizens to "...faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples..."

Residential schools, missing and murdered indigenous women, housing, water, pipelines, youth suicide -- these aren't just indigenous issues. If you are Canadian, you are a treaty person. These are your issues too.

For too long, Canadians have seen themselves as separate from indigenous communities. Issues plaguing First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, especially those in remote communities, were placed on the back burner -- by governments and institutions, by media and by everyday Canadians.


Treaty of Niagara Wampum 1764
The Treaty of Niagara Covenant Chain Wampum Belt of 1764, an agreement between the Crown and twenty-four Indigenous Nations, including the Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas, was one of the foundational treaties signed by what is now Canada. This Treaty established the relationship between settlers of the Crown and Indigenous Nations, and still holds relevance today as a fitting symbol for the journey to Reconciliation. Sourced from Anishinabek News.

But things (hopefully) are changing. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action lay out very real and concrete ways that governments and institutions at all levels can redress some of the gaps and inequities between indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

One of the first things Canadians can do at the individual level is learn about what it means to be a Treaty person. The library is a great place to start.

Here are some recommended reads for every Treaty person:

We Are All Treaty People      Nation to Nation     In This Together

Children of the Broken Treaty     From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation     Idle No More and the Remaking of Canada     Indigenous Nationhood    Unsettling the Settler Within    

There are several other resources available through the Toronto Public Library that can help you on your own personal journey to reconciliation:

The Native Peoples Collection

The Native Peoples Collection is a collection of adult, teen and children's books, CDs, DVDs, magazines and newspapers by and about indigenous peoples from Turtle Island (North America). The collection is a result of a partnership between Toronto Public Library and the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto in 1977, when the first public library dedicated to serving the indigenous community in Toronto opened at 10 Spadina Road. Today, the collection at the Spadina Road Branch houses over 5,000 materials on a wide range of indigenous topics written and published by indigenous and non-indigenous peoples from a variety of nations. The Society and Recreation Department at the North York Central Library also houses a Native Peoples Collection, with a selection of adult fiction and non-fiction materials in print, CD and DVD format.

Native Languages of the Americas Collection

The Native Languages of the Americas Collection is located in the Languages and Literature Department of the Toronto Reference Library. There are over 40 indigenous languages represented in this collection, including Algonquian, Cree, Mohawk, Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and Oneida.

The Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre

Toronto PurchaseThe Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre, located on the fifth floor of the Toronto Reference Library, contains a wealth of historical materials relating to indigenous peoples during the early contact period with the French and the British. Some of the highlights from these collections include Eusebius' Chronicon, from 1512, which contains the first printed reference to indigenous peoples in what is now Canada; Samuel de Champlain's Voyages et découvertes, from 1620, an important historical document chronicling the time Champlain spent with the Huron and his encounters with  indigenous communities along the St. Lawrence Valley; and Frederic Baraga's 1853 A dictionary of the Otchipwe language, an Ojibwe language dictionary. While you're at the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre, don't forget to check out the Baldwin Collection of Canadian Manuscripts, which includes the Mississauga-French Dictionary by Quetton de St. George, a French Royalist who emigrated to Upper Canada in 1798 and traded with the Mississauga people in the Toronto region; and the S. P. (Samuel Peters) Jarvis Papers, consisting of documents, treaties and correspondences relating to indigenous affairs from 1763-1853, as well as accounts and trustees of the Six Nations, from 1830 to 1839.

Virtual Reference Library

The Virtual Reference Library features digital content from a variety of online library sources, including Toronto Public Library's Digital Archive, YouTube channel and librarian blog posts. Here, you'll find a plethora of resources related to local indigenous history, including an image from a 1911 map depicting the 1787-1805 plan of the Toronto Purchase from the Mississaugas of New Credit (pictured above, to the right), as well as photographs from indigenous communities around Ontario and throughout Turtle Island (North America), including Six Nations, Muskrat Dam First Nation, Akwesasne and First Nations on Manitoulin Island.

Start with these resources and you'll be well on your way on your own journey of reconciliation.



Psychiatry and the Business of Madness

December 5, 2016 | Cynthia | Comments (1)

Psychiatry and related practices


Our collection at the Toronto Reference Library holds a spectrum of research and opinions on the very complex area of mental illness and treatment. We do not take a point of view on medical practices or therapies. However, often authors and program guests do.

Controversy exists regarding methods of treatment for all kinds of mental health conditions. Controversy has often surrounded psychiatry and its practice, in particular.


Some terminology

Biographical dictionary of psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists


Psychiatry: a branch of medicine that deals with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists are medical practitioners.

Psychologists and psychotherapists have intensive training but generally are not physicians.

Anti-psychiatry: a term coined by David Graham Cooper (Psychiatry and Anti-psychiatry 1970).


Our collection

You will find a wide range of books and journals on the history and practice of psychiatry written by psychiatrists and medical practitioners, therapists and analysts to sociologists, philosophers and artists.

Examples:  Thomas Szasz, R.D. Laing, Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault and many, many more.



Cracked by James Davies



Moral and ethical issues

The moral and ethical issues of psychiatry are discussed by some critics of the ideas and practice of psychiatry. Psychiatry is seen as a coercive instrument of oppression due to an unequal power relationship between doctor and patient, and a highly subjective diagnostic process. Bonnie Burstow is one such author.

Some of the contemporary issues reflected in our library collection include freedom versus coercion, racial and social justice, the harmful effects of anti-psychotic medications, personal liberty, social stigma and the right to be different. Also covered are treatments including electro-convulsive therapy, brain lobotomy, insulin shock therapy and the use of psychiatric drugs for children. Use the subject headings in the catalogue to lead you to more material.


Join Dr. Bonnie Burstow for a discussion on

Psychiatry and the Business of Madness


BonniBonnie_Burstow_imagee Burstow, Toronto professor, philosopher and feminist therapist, has written extensively on psychiatry and anti-psychiatry since the 1990s.

Her works include Shrink resistant: the struggle against psychiatry in Canada; Psychiatry disrupted: theorizing resistance and crafting the (r)evolution; and Psychiatry and the business of madness; an ethical and epistemological accounting.

Burstow makes the case that psychiatry's tenets are unfounded, that psychiatry intrinsically harms, and calls on society to admit that the turn toward psychiatry was a colossal misstep. Join the dialogue over how instead we might approach the problems to which human beings are heir.


Psychiatry and the business of madness

Tuesday December 6, 2016

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Beeton Hall, Main floor

Toronto Reference Library


Shrink resistant  Psychiatry disrupted
Other works by Bonnie Burstow

Lands of Enchantment: A History of Fairy Tales

December 5, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (2)

Magical tales of spells, journeys and enchantments form a dominant genre within children’s literature and exert a profound influence on our culture.

Where do they come from?

Join us for an illustrated talk, Lands of Enchantment: A History of Fairy Tales, presented by Martha Scott, from the library’s Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, on Wednesday December 7th at 6:30 pm, in the Hinton Learning Theatre at the Toronto Reference Library.

Martha will discuss best-loved stories and landmark collections from the European tradition of literary fairy tales, with images taken from books held by the Osborne Collection.



The Osborne Collection’s earliest fairy tale, Historia di Lionbruno (The History of Lionbruno), was printed in Venice around 1476. It begins as an impoverished fisher agrees to sell his youngest son to the Devil. The boy, named Lionbruno, is left on an island for the devil to claim. He is then rescued by a fairy named Madonna Aquilina, who flies with him to her magical realm. And so his adventures begin…

Historia di Lionbruno

Here is the first page of Historia di Lionbruno, printed by Vindelinus de Spira, ca. 1476.

Two early Italian collections containing fairy tales were very influential in the development of the genre. Giovan Francesco Straparola’s Le piacevoli notti (The Pleasant Nights) was published in Venice in 1550-1553. It contains 75 stories, about 15 of which are fairy tales. This woodcut from a 1604 edition of Straparola’s collection illustrates the tale “Contantino Fortunato,” an early version of “Puss in Boots.”


Giambattista Basile’s Pentamerone, published in Naples in 1634 to 1636, was the first European book to consist entirely of fairy tales. Among its 49 stories are prototypes of many familiar tales, such as “La Gatta Cenerentola” (“The Cat Cinderella”), in which a young woman named Zezolla receives help from a magic date tree. The tree gives her clothes and horses to attend the royal feasts. Zezolla loses her slipper at the feast, and the love-struck king orders all women in the land to try the slipper on.


Stories from the Pentamerone

In this illustration by Warwick Goble from Stories from the Pentamerone, 1911, Zezolla’s father visits the Grotto of the Fairies on behalf of his daughter.

Charles Perrault was a French civil servant whose 1697 collection, Histoires ou Contes du temps passé (Stories, or, Tales of Passed Times), gives us some of our best known tales, among them: “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Puss in Boots,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and the grisly “Bluebeard.”

The Osborne Collection contains many volumes of Perrault’s tales dating from 1697 to present day.

This image is from an 1820 volume Contes des fées (Fairy Tales) by Charles Perrault. In this frontispiece illustration, Cinderella performs a graceful dance for her fellow storybook characters. To view the entire book in PDF format, check out the library’s Digital Archive.

  Contes des fees

During the late 1600s, fairy stories became very fashionable in France — in addition to Perrault, a number of female writers wrote and published their own tales. Chief among them was Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy. Her collections of fairy tales, Contes des fées (Tales of the Fairies), and Contes nouveaux ou Les Fées à la mode (New Tales, or, Fairies in Fashion) were published in 1697 and 1698. This image by Edmund Dulac illustrates d’Aulnoy’s “Green Dragon,” from A Fairy Garland: Being Fairy Tales from the Old French (1928). As in Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty,” the story begins with a curse placed on a baby princess by a wicked fairy.


A Fairy Garland

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were German scholars who began collecting folk tales in their early twenties. In 1812 they published the first volume of their collection Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales). They worked on this collection throughout their lives, publishing six revisions within their lifetimes. Their final (seventh) edition contained over 200 tales. Among their most famous stories are: “Snow White,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “The Frog King,” “Rapunzel,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” ”The Elves and the Shoemaker” and many more.  

Kinder und Hausmärchen

The frontispiece to Volume I of the Grimm’s second edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) illustrates the tale “Little Brother, Little Sister,” in which two children escape from their wicked stepmother by running into the woods. The boy drinks from an enchanted stream and is turned into a fawn.

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark in 1805. He grew up in poverty, but went on to become one of the world’s best-known children’s writers. Andersen created 156 original fairy tales; his stories were not taken from traditional folktales, but were his own literary creations.

Andersen’s most famous tales include: “The Little Mermaid,” “Thumbelina,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Snow Queen” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

The Snow Queen and Other Stories from Hans Andersen

The Snow Queen and Other Stories from Hans Andersen, 1911

Be sure to visit Osborne’s exhibit The Snow Queen’s Palace: Amazing Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, on display on the 4th floor, Lillian H. Smith branch from December 10, 2016 to March 4, 2017.


Once upon a time_TDGallery2016DSCF3074

And don’t miss Once Upon a Time: Fairy Tales from the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books on display in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery from November 5, 2016 to January 22, 2017.

Did you know that most of the Osborne Collection’s fairy tale books published before 1910 are available in digital form through the Toronto Public Library website? Go to the Digital Archive, type “fairy tales” into the search box, and choose from approximately 600 digitized books.

For further reading on the history of classic fairy tales, check out:

The Classic Fairy Tales, Opie    Once Upon a Time, Marina Warner    From the Beast to the Blond, Marina Warner

                The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, Maria Tatar     Classic Fairy Tales, Tatar

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Stories of Self-Discovery and Transformation

December 3, 2016 | Winona | Comments (2)

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated around the world every year on December 3rd. This year, International Day of Persons with Disabilities coincides with the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention is designed to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms by all people with disabilities, and to promote their inherent dignity. 

IDPD logo - multicoloured circle with the words International Day Persons with Disabilities 3 December

According to the World Health Organization, at least 10% of the world's population, about 650 million people, live with some form of disability. Here in Canada the most recent statistics indicate that 3.8 million adults ages 15 to 64 self-identify as disabled. That's almost 1 in 10 of us. 

Photograph of boy, Scott Connor, smiling and holding a toy truck with his prosthetic arm  Photograph of Scott Conner as a young man, seated, smiling at the camera, with his mother Sandi standing on one side of him and brother Adam on the other

Left: Scott Conner in 1985, age 7. Right: Scott Connor in 1995, age 17, with his mother and brother. Scott lost his right arm at the Metro Zoo. You can read his story in newspaper articles from the time in the online Toronto Star Historical Newspaper Archive or in microfilm at the Library's Toronto Star Newspaper Centre.
Photographs courtesy Toronto Star Archives. 


In celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, here is a selection of memoirs by people whose life experiences inspire me and make me think about what I can do to help remove barriers to inclusion, promote accessibility and equity, and work towards transformative change, in some way, on this day and every day.

Book cover for Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison shows a close-up photograph of a boy with his eyes closed tight and his lips pressed tightly together

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison

Alternative formats: Audiobook | eAudiobook | eBook | Large Print | Talking Book CD (restricted to print disabled patrons)

Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits — an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them) — had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was 40 that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself — and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account — sometimes alien yet always deeply human. (Publisher's Description.)

Read an excerpt on the publisher's website.


Book cover of Mean Little Deaf Queer shows a photo of a young child standing on a patch of grass in a dirt field, with houses in the distance, wearing a cowboy hat and boots and holding a guitar

Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir by Terry Galloway

In 1959, the year Terry Galloway turned nine, the voices of everyone she loved began to disappear. No one yet knew that an experimental antibiotic given to her mother had wreaked havoc on her fetal nervous system, eventually causing her to go deaf. As a self-proclaimed "child freak," she acted out her fury with her boxy hearing aids and Coke-bottle glasses by faking her own drowning at a camp for crippled children. Ever since that first real-life performance, Galloway has used theatre, whether onstage or off, to defy and transcend her reality. With disarming candour, she writes about her mental breakdowns, her queer identity and living in a silent, quirky world populated by unforgettable characters. What could have been a bitter litany of complaints is instead an unexpectedly hilarious and affecting take on life. (Publisher's description.)

Read an excerpt on the publisher's website.


Book cover for Mermaid by Eileen Cronin shows a photograph of a young woman on a beach looking over her sunglasses at the viewer

Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience by Eileen Cronin

Alternative format: eBook

At the age of three, Eileen Cronin first realized that only she did not have legs. Her boisterous Catholic family accepted her situation as “God’s will,” treating her no differently than her ten siblings, as she “squiddled” through their 1960s Cincinnati home. But starting school, even wearing prosthetics, Cronin had to brave bullying and embarrassing questions. Thanks to her older brother’s coaching, she handled a classmate’s playground taunts with a smack from her lunchbox. As a teen, thrilled when boys asked her out, she was confused about what sexuality meant for her. She felt most comfortable and happiest relaxing and skinny dipping with her girlfriends, imagining herself “an elusive mermaid.” The cause of her disability remained taboo, however, even as she looked toward the future and the possibility of her own family.

In later years, as her mother battled mental illness and denied having taken the drug thalidomide — known to cause birth defects — Cronin felt apart from her family. After the death of a close brother, she turned to alcohol. Eventually, however, she found the strength to set out on her own, volunteering at hospitals and earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Reflecting with humour and grace on her youth, search for love and quest for answers, Cronin spins a shimmering story of self-discovery and transformation. (Publisher's description.)

Read an excerpt on The Daily Beast website.


Book cover for Nujeen by Nujeen Mustafa shows a young woman looking at the viewer and smiling

Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-torn Syria in a Wheelchair by Nujeen Mustafa (with Christina Lamb)

Alternative formats: eAudiobook | eBook

Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee.

Despite her physical limitations, Nujeen embarked on the arduous trek to safety and a new life. The grueling 16-month odyssey by foot, boat and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally, to Germany. Yet, in spite of the tremendous physical hardship she endured, Nujeen's extraordinary optimism never wavered. Refusing to give in to despair or see herself as a passive victim, she kept her head high. As she told a BBC reporter, "You should fight to get what you want in this world."

Nujeen's positivity and resolve infuses this unforgettable story of one young woman determined to make a better life for herself. Told by acclaimed British foreign correspondent Christina Lamb, Nujeen is a unique and powerful memoir that gives voice to the Syrian refugee crisis, helping us to understand that the world must change — and offering the inspiration to make that change reality. (Publisher's description.)

Read an excerpt on the Overdrive eBook platform.


Book cover for The Point of Vanishing by Howard Axelrod shows a black and white photo of one eye with the rest of the face obscured by white tree branches and three large orange and yellow dots

The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude by Howard Axelrod

Alternative format: eBook

After losing vision in one eye during his senior year at Harvard, Howard Axelrod found himself in a world where nothing was solid, where the smooth veneer of reality had been shattered, and where the distance between how people saw him and how he saw himself had widened into a gulf. Five years later, heartbroken from a love affair in Italy and desperate for a sense of orientation, Axelrod retreated to a small house in the Vermont woods. Miles from the nearest neighbour, he lived with barely any human contact or communication for two years. Whether tending to the woodstove or snow-shoeing through the forest, he devoted his energies to learning to see again — to paying attention and to rediscovering what really matters. A gorgeous memoir of solitude in an age of superficial connection, this book probes the profoundly human questions of perception, time, identity and meaning. (Publisher's Description.)

Read an excerpt on the CBC website.


Book cover for The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida is an illustration of abstract flowers and butterflies in shades of blue, white, and yellow, radiating out in a mandala-like pattern

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida

Alternative format: eBook

Naoki Higashida was only a middle-schooler when he began to write The Reason I Jump. Autistic and with very low verbal fluency, Naoki used an alphabet grid to painstakingly spell out his answers to the questions he imagines others most often wonder about him: why do you talk so loud? Is it true you hate being touched? Would you like to be normal? The result is an inspiring, attitude-transforming book that will be embraced by anyone interested in understanding their fellow human beings, and by parents, caregivers, teachers and friends of autistic children. Higashida examines issues as diverse and complex as self-harm, perceptions of time and beauty, and the challenges of communication, and in doing so, discredits the popular belief that autistic people are anti-social loners who lack empathy. (Publisher's description.)

Read an excerpt from the introduction on the book's website.

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TRL Program Calendar December 2016

November 30, 2016 | Katherine | Comments (0)

Drop in for free films, bring the kids for Once Upon a Time fun, or join a book club.

Click on each image to enlarge, or download  the December 2016 @ TRL as a pdf file.

For a full list of programs to browse or search, visit our Programs, Classes and Exhibits page.

December 1 December 2 December 3 December 4 December 5 December 6

Welcome! Discover the rich and diverse world of the Toronto Reference Library through the eyes of its expert staff. Join us to see the many ways we are connecting with the city - through special events and exhibits, new books, digital information and innovative library services.

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