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Performing Arts Manuscript and Archival Collections at the Toronto Reference Library

September 2, 2014 | Bill V. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Toronto Reference Library has a rich and varied collection of theatre and performing arts archival manuscripts and ephemera with an emphasis on Canadian content. These can be found in the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre.  

Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre

We will be writing six blog posts listing all the collections by name and providing a pdf link to a detailed inventory of each fond describing the contents. The posts will be arranged alphabetically and this first post will cover A-C.

We welcome questions about the collection to

      • Margaret Anglin Collection (1903–1949) Photographs, programs and several items of correspondence relating to the career of Canadian actress Margaret Anglin (1876-1958).  There is additional clipping material in the vertical files and on microfiche, both biographical and reviews of her performances. 4 envelopes; 2 posters and large photo. Download Anglin, Margaret Collection
      • Julia Arthur Collection  (1899–1921) Photographs and programs relating to the career of Canadian actress Julia Arthur (1869-1950), who acted with Henry Irving’s company and toured in the United States. 27 items. Download Arthur, Julia Collection

      • Ivor E. (Jack) Ayre Collection (1906-1975) Correspondence, press clippings, programs, diplomas, citations and photographs relating to Jack Ayre (1895? – 1977), one of the original Dumbells.  The collection contains non-Dumbells material only. Download Ayre, Ivor E. (Jack) Collection

      • Janet Baldwin Collection (1912-1990)  Material relating to the life and career of Canadian dancer and teacher Janet Baldwin, wife of dancer, teacher and choreographer Boris Volkoff, and a member of the Baldwin family of Toronto. Download Baldwin, Janet Collection

      • Bass Collection (1870-1903) Copies of photographs from a photograph album owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bass of London, Ontario, dating from 1870 to 1903.  Primarily of theatrical personalities, some with autographs, approximately twenty percent taken by Canadian photographers.  Includes notes by the late Mary Brown of the University of Western  Ontario on the persons portrayed and on the photographers.  Photographs are arranged in order of their positions in the album. 11 envelopes. Download Bass Collection

      • Beth Tikvah Drama Guild 1 box and 1 oversize folder. Download Beth Tikvah Drama Guild Archive

      • Boston Theatres Collection (1868-1919) A selection of late 19th and early 20th century theatre programs from Boston theatres, together with a scrapbook of programs from 1870-1881. 1 scrapbook; 8 files of loose programs;  .08 linear metres.  Download Boston Theatres Collection

      • Anthony Buckley Collection  Out-outsize photographs by British photographer Anthony Buckley of British and Canadian theatre entertainers taken circa 1930’s (?). See also the Crest Theatre Collection, Box 29 for outsize production photographs of The Glass Cage taken in London, England, 1957. 1 box; 34 photographs. Download Buckley, Anthony Collection
      • R.B. Butland Collection (1858-1871) Scrapbook compiled by Toronto music store owner and amateur thespian R.B. Butland (1830-1886) together with notes on Butland’s background and career, and genealogical charts prepared by the donor, A.M. Kennedy of Warkworth, Ontario. The collection includes several photographs copied from originals in the possession of Mr. Kennedy. 1 box; 3 envelopes and scrapbook; .075 linear metres.  Download Butland, R.B. Collection
      • Bettina Byers Collection (1922-1963; 1975-1984) Scrapbook, programs, press clippings, photographs and original stage designs relating to the career of Bettina Byers (1909-    ), Toronto dance teacher and founder of the Academy of Ballet.  Also included are programs, clippings and photographs reflecting her musical interests and earlier performances as a pianist, and the singing career of her sister, Rhoda Byers . 2 boxes: 19 envelopes plus scrapbook; .13 metres Download Byers, Bettina Collection and also the Bettina Byers Collection, Part 2 1 box; 10 envelopes; .08 linear meters. Download Byers, Bettina Collection, Part 2
      • Cameron Matthews English Players Collection Scrapbook of press clippings compiled by Harriett Ball, press rep for the Cameron Matthews English Players, for their 1932 fall season at the Victoria Theatre, Toronto. 1 scrapbook. Download Cameron Matthews English Players
      • Canadian Armed Forces Tattoo (1967)  Press clippings on the Centennial Year Tattoo, taken from Canadian newspapers and arranged in a scrapbook, together with program and souvenir book. Library also has costume design by Robert Rosewarne, and production photographs filed under Montreal Worlds Fair. 1 v. in 1 package, .45 linear metres. Download Canadian Armed Forces Tattoo
      • Canadian Drama League Collection (1919-1958) Material relating to the Canadian Drama League, its forerunners the St. Barnabas and Chester Players, and the theatrical activity of Brownlow, Raymond and Patricia Card.  Include correspondence, programs, photographs, newspaper clippings and scrapbook pages, published and unpublished typescripts of plays etc. by Raymond Card. 1 box, 33 envelopes; .125 linear metres + 11 posters. Download Canadian Drama League Collection
      • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC Television Scripts Collection. Download Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC TV Scripts
      • Chilcott-Davis Collection 10 items in one envelope. Download Chilcott-Davis Collection

      • Nathan Cohen Papers (Microfilm) 8 reels, positive, 35 mm. (Special Collections, FILM C6785). Download Cohen, Nathan Papers (Microfilm)

      • Edward Gordon Craig Collection (Craig-Terry-Hildesheim Home) (1868-1935) Photographs (1903-1935), sketch (1868) and correspondence (1901-1904) to Paul Hildesheim (Home) from Edward Gordon Craig, Ellen Terry and Ludwig von Hofmann. 2 boxes; 58 items; .13 metres.  (plus 3 interfiled items). Download Craig, Edward Gordon Collection

      • CRBC Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission/CBC Collection (1933-1945) Photographs, notes and miscellaneous items relating to the early days of the CBC and its predecessor CRBC, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission.  The notes are those of the donor, Harriet Ball Edey, press representative for CRBC from 1933 to 1936, and the CBC from 1936-1949. 2 envelopes. Download CRBC and CBC collection

      • Crest Theatre Collection 33 boxes and 13 scrapbooks. Download Crest Theatre Collection

      • Grace Cunard Collection (1914-1967) A collection of items relating to the careers of Grace Cunard (born Harriet Mildred Jeffries) (1894-1967) and Francis Ford (1882-1953) popular silent film actors and directors. Ford was an older brother of director John Ford.  This collection consists of photographs, letters, and a scrapbook compiled by Miss Cara Hartwell of Toronto, an enthusiastic fan of their work, who corresponded with them at the height of their success and later in their careers. 1 box; 9 envelopes; .07 linear metres. Download Cunard, Grace Collection

      • Walter Curtin Collection Theatrical photographs by Walter Curtin (1911-2007), copied from negatives in the Walter Curtin Collection at the Public Archives of Canada. 4 envelopes; .07 linear metres. Download Curtin, Walter Collection  

      • Autograph Collection, Mrs. J. Cuyler British Music Hall (1910-1924) Autograph book belonging to the father of Mrs. Cuyler, an orchestra leader with various theatres, etc. including Winter Garden Theatre (London), Belfast Opera House and Shepherd's Hotel (Cairo).  Her mother collected the autographs. Download Cuyler Autograph Book


TRL Program Calendar September 2014

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

See and hear authors Sylvia Fraser, Linwood Barclay, Thomas King, Naomi Klein, Caitlin Moran and Bernard Cornwell.  Discover Being Happy and how to use Photoshop.  And don't miss the Friends of the Toronto Public Library Giant Clearance Book Sale on September 19th and 20th.

Click on each image to enlarge or Download The September 2014 @ TRL as a pdf file.

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


September Programs 1 September Programs 2 September Program 3 September Programs 4

Treasures from the Stacks--The Great War Begins, August 1914

August 21, 2014 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Great War in the Stacks of TRL
Among the treasures of the Toronto Reference Library, some of the most affecting are the many shelves of regimental histories of the world wars that rent the twentieth century.  One hundred years ago this month, troops from all over the world were mobilizing for a war in Europe that would last five years and shatter a generation.

Those fragile volumes--regimental histories, memoirs, diaries--are the raw material for many other books—general histories, analyses, commentaries, explanations--that tell us about the past, and perhaps, guide us into the future.  Lest we forget…..

2nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force Bulletin Story of the Sixty-Sixth CFA  War Record 16th Battery Canadian Field Artillery







The Western Scot


Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, one day after Germany had declared war on France and invaded Belgium.  This meant, automatically, that Canada was also now at war, but in fact the Canadian government had promised Britain overseas troops several days before war was officially declared.


The first Canadian volunteers began arriving at Valcartier Camp in Quebec on August 19.  In October, the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force sailed for England. That same month, German and the Allied armies were fighting the first battle of Ypres, the Belgium town that was vital to both sides. Canadian troops would first see action in Europe the next April, at the second battle of Ypres.

The Times War Atlas, published in 1914, shows the world as it existed that summer. On this map from the Atlas, the town of Ypres does not even appear—its name would become infamous only later the next year, when the Germans deployed the first gas attacks against French and Canadian forces.

France & Belgium

Click on the map to enlarge.  Ypres (not named) is located directly south of Ostend and directly east of the small town of Poperinghe in northwest Belgium.

The Canadian response to Britain’s involvement in the war was swift and full of patriotic fervour. Perhaps the most striking difference from anything we might consider today, is the constant refrain of duty.  Not a phrase or a sentiment considered of much consequence in the world of 2014.

The war call to all Canadians Why Britain is at war














Click to enlarge. The War Call of Sir James Whitney, from One Hundred Years of Conflict between the Nations of Europe: The causes and issues of the Great War (1914). Whitney was Premier of Ontario in 1914. Why Britain is at War from 2nd Battalion Bulletin: Canadian Expeditionary Force. (1914)

But within months the heavy price exacted from Canada began to come clear. Scan the lists in the War Record from the 16th Battery Canadian Field Artillery, to take only one, and find a sad litany: Killed, Gassed, Sick, Wounded, Died Illness, Sick, Wounded, Sick, Killed, Sick, Sick, Wounded……

Lest we forget.

Don't Toss it, Fix it! at the Repair Cafe

August 7, 2014 | Dawn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Those amazing folks at the Repair Cafe return to the Toronto Reference Library this weekend:

Saturday August 9, 10 am - 2 pm., Beeton Auditorium

Don't throw it away, fix it! Bring a broken household item to the Repair Cafe where you can get help fixing it.

Volunteers fix household items, ranging from small household appliances such as toasters, to clothes, to lamps, to computers to jewellery. We’ll even have a bike repair booth right outside the library’s front doors.

  Repair cafe

Check out this video for more information.

Learn a new skill, meet your neighbours, learn more about sharing your skills and volunteering, save the planet.


Beaver Drops Tree on Car--Truth and the Urban Legend

August 5, 2014 | Katherine | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

BeaverLast week there were reports of a car being hit by a falling tree on a highway in Prince Edward Island. The tree was downed by a beaver. Now, this story has names, a date, a place, and no serious injuries. And the beaver—well he’d done his work sometime earlier and was long gone. The tree just happened to give way as the car came along. An unusual story, and a true one.


Still, it has all the makings of an urban legend, and someday—I guarantee it—you’ll l hear that story again, and the beaver will be right there pushing the tree over as the car goes by, and all the people will be killed. Or all the people but a poor orphaned little child will be killed. Or the beaver will be captured, and put on display in a museum in Charlottetown, Toronto, or Poughkeepsie.


That’s one of the ways urban legends evolve. Something real but unusual, becomes something unreal but compelling—or funny, or spooky, or enraging, or just plain strange. What’s more, it’s something that maybe did happen once, but in a rather more prosaic and unflamboyant way. Whatever the source, there's some kernel that captures our imagination and our gullibility.

The Completely and Totally True Book of Urban LegendsHeard the story of the cat in the microwave? The phantom hitchhiker? The diner from the 1950s on the backroad to Kenora...or was it Highway 69? Or maybe it was in Spokane...

While these stories have been passed down for decades, the internet has given them a whole new life, not to mention reach. While some are ridiculous, many have a certain strange plausibility. Some grow out of real incidents, but are wildly and fantastically embellished. Others are created out of whole cloth. But all of them shed light on the tensions, stresses, uncertainties, longings, nostalgias, confusions, and fears that live in our modern minds. Like the myths and fairy tales they’re akin to, they tell us about ourselves, not about “what happened.”

That's the scholarly side to urban legends. Folklorists call them contemporary or modern legends and there are courses, encyclopedias and academic articles devoted to them. Then there’s the entertainment side--scary movies, television shows and Mythbusters.

A couple of years ago I received an online petition from a good friend. She’d passed it on from another friend (the classic urban legend pattern) who called it “One of the few things worth responding to on the internet”. It claimed famed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair had petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to ban all religious programming. Now was the time for all good Christians to fight this depravity.  


Madalyn Murray O'HairOnly problem is, O’Hair died—actually, she was murdered—in 1995. She never petitioned the FCC about programming, although there was a petition from someone else in 1974 about religious educational stations. (Their request was dismissed.) The FCC has denied this legend for years, but still receives so many letters yearly that they’ve received permission from the US Postal Service to discard all envelopes that refer to it. Before her death, O’Hair, who did know of the legend, was quoted as saying “I think it’s fabulous. This craziness seems to have life everlasting.” Now the internet has given it (and her) a whole new life everlasting.


Then there’s the kidney heist. A friend visited Chicago recently (or maybe it was Vancouver). He met a young woman at the bar in his hotel, and well, he’s unattached, so he invited her up to his room. Next morning he woke with a headache, blood on the sheets, and a neatly stitched incision in his side. He called the desk for help, and they called an ambulance. At the hospital he was told his kidney had been removed very expertly, and was probably now headed for the black market.

Or maybe it was my brother-in law’s friend’s cousin that happened to.

I told this story to my 22 year old son, and he said, “But, that has really happened, right?” Well, it was an episode of Law & Order,(season 1,episode 21) and has been told in Canada, the US, Sweden and Holland in varying versions. According to medical sociologist Robert Dingwall, the story provides “useful insights into lay thinking about professional work and its strategies for the informal social control of medicine.” (!!)


Urban Legends-Strange stories behind modern myths Urban Legends-The truth about those deliciously entertaining myths  Phantom Hitchhikers & other ubran legends  The Exploding Toilet-modern urban legends







Toronto Reference LibraryMy professional favourite though, is the “sinking library”. You see, because of an architect’s mistake, the weight of the books was not factored into the design, and so, the library building is slowly sinking into the earth.  That story has been told for, among others, Yale, Syracuse and Brown University libraries, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. So far, Toronto Reference Library, with its 4 million items, hasn’t turned up on the list (or sagged one bit).

So, whether you’re afraid of beavers, atheists, organ thieves or losing your library, you could do worse with your summer than explore the urban legends of our fractured and endlessly fascinating modern world.

Encyclopedia of Urban Legends.aspxAnd don’t miss the 1998 movie Urban Legend, where a beautiful folklore student finds the answer to recent murders in the library copy of The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. Such a book didn’t exist in 1998, but was actually in the works, and published in 2001. You can find the latest update (2012) at the (not sinking) Toronto Reference Library and the (also not sinking) North York Central Library.

Heritage Toronto : Legacies Gained, Legacies Lost?

July 31, 2014 | Cynthia | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Photo credit: Olena Sullivan, Heritage Toronto

Come celebrate Heritage Toronto 's 40th anniversary of the Heritage Toronto Awards. To mark this occasion, a symposium at the Toronto Reference Library will look at the challenges, successes and failures in the preservation and conservation of our heritage and historic sites. 

Sean Fraser, Director of Heritage Programs and Operations for Ontario Heritage Trust will moderate the discussion with panelists Cathy Nasmith, President, Toronto chapter of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, George Baird, former Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto & partner at Baird Sampson Neuert Architects; Harold Madi, Director of Urban Design for the City of Toronto, Alex Spiegel from Windmill Developments and Mike York, President, Carpenters' Union Local 27. 

The Toronto Reference Library and North York Central Library have built up a remarkable collection of Toronto heritage materials. Be it the Reference Library's Toronto Collection and Local History materials and maps (2nd floor), the new Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre (5th floor), or North York's Canadiana Department, the Toronto Public Library is a wonderful resource to research Toronto's built heritage.

Check out the Find Your Way section on Toronto's History & Genealogy. This will lead you to all kinds of online sources to research Toronto's built heritage.


Come to the Toronto Reference Library Atrium,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 from 7-8:30 pm.

To pre-register, go to the Heritage Toronto webpage.



Lost Toronto Old Toronto Houses  Making Toronto Modern Recollections of a Neighbourhood   






TRL Program Calendar August 2014

July 31, 2014 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Bring your broken appliances to the Repair Cafe--learn a new skill, meet your neighbours, save the planet. Learn how to keep your mind going at A Healthy Aging Brain. And don't miss the guided tours of the Reference Library all month.

Click on each image to enlarge or Download The August 2014 @ TRL as a pdf file.

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

August 1 August 2 August 3 August 4

Toronto Reference Library Renovation & Service Update-July 8, 2014

July 8, 2014 | Katherine | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre
Construction continues at the Toronto Reference Library, but progress is being made. The new Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre is open on the 5th floor, and most special collections material, including materials from the Arthur Conan Doyle Room, are once again available.

5th floor Arts Information Desk


The permanent Information Desk for the 5th floor Arts Department is completed, and is located just to the left of the elevators.

Music Practice Room

The 5th floor Music Practice Room is now open in a secluded spot near the staircase.  Currently it has two electric pianos with headphones, available on a first come, first served basis.  Audio listening stations are also open for use.

The 4th floor Language and Literature Department is still in construction mode, but a beautiful new study bar has been installed along the northeast windows. Read, study and enjoy the view.

4th Floor Study Bar
4th Floor Study Bar

The Hinton Learning Theatre is open on the 3rd floor in the Business, Science & Technology Department, and programs are beginning.  Construction continues on the new information desk; books and magazines are still in temporary locations.  The 3rd floor study pods have been installed, but are not yet available for public use.

Hinton Learning Theatre interior Hinton Learning Theatre exterior








Hinton Learning Theatre exterior & interior, 3rd Floor

3rd Floor Computer Terrace
3rd Floor Computer Terrace

Public internet computers are available on the 1st and 2nd floors, and the computer terrace on the 3rd floor (more than 25 stations) is now open.  There are two internet computers on the 4th floor; none currently on the 5th floor.

Come see all the changes, use the new facilities, and take a summer guided tour of the revitalized Toronto Reference Library.

Magnetic North: Arctic exhibit opens

June 28, 2014 | Kathryn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Magnetic North: The Enduring Pull of the Arctic, is a unique and collaborative exhibit featuring TD Bank Group’s collection of contemporary Canadian art and Toronto Public Library’s Special Collections of Arctic art and writings. A blend of modern carvings and drawings with historical maps, illustrated texts and photographs highlight the Arctic’s culture, people, landscape, wildlife and its stark vastness, isolation and beauty.                                                                              




Eating Seal Meat, by Annie Pootoogook, 2007
Eating Seal Meat (2007), Copyright by Annie Pootoogook, Coloured pencil on paper, Collection of TD Bank Group
Book cover of The Polar World (1881), by George Hartwig, 1813-1880

Book cover of The Polar World (1881), by George Hartwig, 1813-1880




 Woman in a Toque (1983), Copyright by William Eakin
Woman in a Toque (1983), Copyright by William Eakin, Pigment print, Collection of TD Bank Group



Septentionalium terrarum descriptio (map), 1613
Septentrionalium terrarum descriptio (1613)     Map by Gerard Mercator, 1512-1594



Icebergs from Log of Samuel Smith, 1857
Icebergs. From: Log of Samuel Smith, 1857


To see more contemporary Inuit paintings, photographs and sculpture visit The TD Gallery of Inuit Art.

Magnetic North is currently on display in the TD Gallery on the 1st floor of the Toronto Reference Library.  The exhibition runs until July 19, 2014.


TRL Program Calendar July 2014

June 28, 2014 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Learn about the new Toronto Public Library initiative Asquith Press where you can publish your own work. Lots of computer courses this month on eBooks, Photoshop, web basics, blogging and Cyber Seniors.  Or spend your Tuesdays at Summer Afternoon at the Movies.

Click on each image to enlarge or  Download The July 2014 @ TRL as a pdf file.

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

July 1 July 2 July 4 July 3

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