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The Fall Eh List with James Bartleman

August 24, 2016 | Michal | Comments (0)


Join us on Thursday, September 8, at 7 pm, in Beeton Hall at the Toronto Reference Library, to hear James Bartleman. He is the first of the authors participating in the fall eh List Author Series, Toronto Public Library’s celebration of writers from across Canada. 




                  Aslongastheriversflow Redemptionofoscarwolf Exceptionalcircumstancesanovel

James Bartleman is the bestselling author of the novels As Long as the Rivers Flow and The Redemption of Oscar Wolf. He is also the author of Exceptional Circumstances: a novel, and several earlier memoirs: Out of Muskoka; Raisin Wine: A Boyhood in a Different Muskoka; On Six Continents: a Life in Canada's Foreign Service, 1966-2002 and Rollercoaster: My Hectic Years as Jean Chrétien's Diplomatic Advisor, 1994-1998.


      Outofmuskoka2 Raisinwine Onsixcontinents Rollercoaster


Bartleman's latest book is Seasons of Hope: Memoirs of Ontario’s First Aboriginal Lieutenant Governor. He is donating the royalties from this book to Frontier College, a national literacy organization. He has also established libraries in Indigenous-run schools across the province, a book club for 5,000 Indigenous children, creative-writing awards, and most important to him, summer reading camps for marginalized indigenous children in Northern Ontario.


He has received many awards, such the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (now Indspire) in 1999, a Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and a Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He was received into the Order of Ontario in 2002, and the Order of Canada in 2011.

A member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Bartleman was born in the Muskoka town of Port Carling. He lives in Perth, is married and has three children and five grandchildren.  

With thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for their support of the eh List Author Series, as well as our media partner, Toronto Star, and Another Story Bookshop for bringing copies of James Bartleman’s books for purchase and signing.


Upcoming authors at Toronto Reference Library this fall

Join us also in Beeton Hall on September 22 to hear M.G. Vassanji in conversation with Deborah Dundas, and at the Appel Salon on September 27 to hear Emma Donoghue in conversation with Marci Ien. Finally, join us again in Beeton Hall on November 10 to hear Noah Richler.

You can find out more about the fall eh List Author Series on our What's On blog here, or follow the conversation online using the hashtag: #ehList.

Legal Tips from CLEO - Time Off and Public Holiday Pay: What are the Rules?

August 23, 2016 | Cynthia | Comments (0)

This guest post is one in a series providing practical, easy-to-understand legal information from CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario).


Time off and public holiday pay: what are the rules?

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) protects the rights of workers. For many people, this includes the right to time off work with holiday pay on public holidays.

Do you know what your rights are, and what to do if your employer doesn't follow the rules?

Does the ESA apply?

The ESA has rules about public holidays. You may not be covered by the ESA if you work in certain fields, including some emergency services. In some jobs, you may only be covered by part of the ESA.

If you’re not sure if you’re covered by the ESA, you can use the Ministry of Labour's online tool to find out if the public holiday rules apply to you.

Getting time off work on a public holiday

If you work in Ontario and are covered by the ESA’s holiday pay rules, you have the right to not work on public holidays and get holiday pay. In Ontario, there are nine public holidays.

Holiday pay is calculated by:

• adding up your regular wages, plus vacation pay that is payable to you, for the four work weeks before the work week with the holiday in it
• dividing that total by 20.

If you are covered by the ESA holiday pay rules, your employer must give you holiday pay:

• whether you are a full-time or part-time employee
• no matter how long you have worked in your job
• whether or not the public holiday falls on a day you regularly work

Working on a public holiday

Depending on your job, you may have to work on public holidays. For example, you might have to work on public holidays if you work at:

• a hotel, motel or tourist resort
• a hospital or nursing home
• a business that stays open for 24 hours each day over a period of seven days.

Even if you are not required to work, you can agree to work on a public holiday.

Getting paid for working on a public holiday

There are two ways to get paid for working on a public holiday:

    1. You can get holiday pay (see definition above) plus premium pay. If you get premium pay, you will get 1 1/2 times your regular rate of pay. This is often called "time and a half".

    2. You can get regular pay and another day off with holiday pay. The employer has to give you the other day off within three months of the holiday. Or, you can agree in writing to take the day off within 12 months of the holiday.

If you have to work on the holiday because of the kind of job you have, the employer decides which of the two options to choose.

But, if you agree in writing to work on a holiday, you can choose which option you want.

The "last and first" rule

In order to get holiday pay, you must follow the "last and first" rule.

This rule says that unless you couldn't work for a reason beyond your control, you have to work:

    • your last scheduled work day before the holiday, and
    • your first scheduled work day after the holiday.

For example, being sick or injured might be a reason beyond your control.

An employer can ask you for proof of why you missed work, such as a doctor's note.

If you work on the holiday but do not meet the "last and first" rule, you will only get premium pay.

You can figure out your public holiday pay using the Ministry of Labour's Public Holiday Pay Calculator.

Keeping track of hours worked

It's a good idea for you to keep your own records of the hours you work.

By comparing your records with your pay stubs, you can see if you're getting paid what you're owed.

Getting wages you are owed

If you don't get the pay you’re owed, you may be able to get the money by making a claim with the Ministry of Labour.

Most people don't make claims against an employer that they're still working for. This is because the laws to protect workers don't stop employers from firing their workers. If you are fired, it's up to you to take action against the employer to get the money you are owed.

Getting legal help

The ESA says that employers can't punish workers for asking about their rights or acting on their rights. If this happens to you, there may be steps you can take.

If you have questions or need help to deal with a problem, you can read more in CLEO's Where can I get help and advice about my rights as a worker?

Who is CLEO?

CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario) is a non-profit organization that provides accurate and easy-to-understand legal information for people in Ontario. CLEO is funded by Legal Aid Ontario, the Department of Justice Canada and the Law Foundation of Ontario.

This blog post gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation.

CLEO image


Additional Resources at Toronto Public Library

Legal resources are found on the second floor, Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Reference Library. Please ask for materials at the Information Desk, 2nd floor.


The Art of Cartography: Mapping New Worlds and Phantom Islands

August 22, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Our new exhibit, The Art of Cartography, offers a look at some of the beautiful (and weird) ways that European mapmakers represented the New World. The exhibit includes maps of the Americas spanning over 300 years, from about 1545 to 1851. 

You’ll discover that maps from this period are often elaborately decorated with pastoral landscapes, mythological figures, Indigenous peoples, flora and fauna. Here are a few highlights. 


Geographia vniversalis Munster 1545

Shown above right is Geographia vniversalis, vetvs et nova, complectens enarrationis libros VIII, by Sebastian Münster (1489-1552), 1545, courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

First printed in 1540, Münster's Geographia vniversalis was a significant revision of Geographia, Ptolemy’s ground-breaking guide to map-making from the 2nd century. Münster’s map of the Western Hemisphere is the first printed map to show North and South America as separate continents and the first to name the Pacific Ocean. 


Speed_America 1626America with those known parts in that unknowne worlde both people and manner of buildings discribed and inlarged, by John Speed (1552-1629), 1626. 

The borders of English cartographer John Speed’s map of America are decorated with bird’s eye views of South American cities and costumed figures of Indigenous peoples. Much of North America is unknown territory, and the oceans appear ominous with depictions of sea monsters. This is one of the earliest maps to depict California as an island. In 1747 King Ferdinand VI of Spain issued a royal decree stating that California was not an island, however this cartographic error continued to appear on some maps even as late as the mid-1800s.   

Moll_america-1715A new and exact map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain on ye Continent of North America, by Herman Moll (ca. 1654-1732) London: Tho. Bowles, John Bowles and J. King, 1715. 

Commonly known as the “beaver map,” Moll’s 1715 map of North America documents the ongoing land border disputes between France and Great Britain following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The map’s most striking feature is the vignette of beavers busily building a dam in front of Niagara Falls. The beavers appear to be highly intelligent, industrious creatures – symbols for the opportunity for trade and commerce in the colonies. 

A New and Accurate Map of all known World

A New & Accurate Map of all the Known World Drawn from the Latest & Most Accurate Surveys, by Emmanuel Bowen (1693-1767), 1740

Maps are fascinating records of what was known and unknown about the world at time. In Bowen's double-hemisphere world map of 1740, a large swath of the North-West of North America is described as "Parts Undiscovered." 

Early cartographers rarely had first-hand knowledge of the territories they mapped. They worked from travelogues and relied on the accuracy of the mapmakers who came before them. They also relied on creative imagery to embellish the empty spaces

Frislanda Scoperta da Nicolo Zeno

Frislanda, Scoperta da Nicolo Zeno Patritio Veneto Creduta Favolosa, o nel Mare Somersa by Vincenzo Coronelli (1650-1718), 1695

Either honest mistakes or conscious fabrications, historical maps sometimes feature places that never actually existed. On maps of the North Atlantic, the phantom island of Frisland was rendered in a surprising amount of detail. These “mistakes” were copied again and again by subsequent mapmakers.

  West Canada

West Canada, drawn and engraved by John Rapkin (1815-1876), illustrations drawn by Henry Warren, engraved by Robert Wallis, 1851.

As explorers and cartographers filled in the world with more detail and accuracy, decorative elements were pushed out to the margins. John Tallis was one the most popular map publishers of the 19th century and one of the last great decorative map makers. Tallis’ atlas, which was published to coincide with the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, was celebrated for its accurate and visually striking maps embellished with illustrated borders and vignettes. 

The library’s Special Collections include over 3,000 maps and atlases dated before 1920, including both printed and manuscript maps. These historical documents offer a view of Canada and North America as seen through the eyes of European explorers and cartographers. Decorative elements and choices about what is included or excluded don’t simply reflect the creative whims of the mapmaker: maps are always shaped by politics and power. The colonial powers that claimed control over these territories had a vested interest in how they were represented.

Carte de la Novelle France Champlain

Carte de la Nouvelle FranceSamuel de Champlain (1574-1635), 1640

Champlain’s 1640 map of New France is a good example of how maps were devised as tools for selling the idea of colonial settlement, trade, future investment and expeditions. The Terra incognita of the New World was most often portrayed as an empty territory waiting to be divided up and filled by the nations of Europe. Champlain’s maps of New France helped transform what was seen as a barren wilderness into an abundant land, ripe for colonization.

Interestingly, Champlain is also described as the first European mapmaker who relied on accounts of Aboriginal peoples to map areas he had not explored. Map historians now recognize that there were rich pre-Colonial indigenous map-making traditions

Drawing Map on Birch-Bark  1861

Drawing Map on Birch-Bark (Rivière Moisie, Labrador Peninsula Expedition, Québec, 1861), by William G. R. Hind (1833-1889), 1861

While our exhibit focuses on the “art” of cartography – it is important to remember the power of maps and map-making. Maps are authoritative: they name places, define borders, and assert claims over the rightful ownership of land. Maps and atlases played a key role in shaping ideas of the “New World,” setting it up as land ripe for European colonization and settlement.

As John Owen Edward Clark writes, Like written accounts of the past all maps are 'prisoners of their time' but they allow us to see how the world or a particular part of it was viewed and understood by the mapmaker and his audience at that time.”  

The Art of Cartography is a free exhibit on display in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery until October 16, 2016. 

Five Ways to Discover the Art of Cartography: Free Exhibit Opens August 13!

August 10, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Our new exhibit, The Art of Cartography, opens this Saturday, August 13 in the TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library. The exhibit features magnificent maps and atlases from the library's Special Collections dating from the 16th to the 19th century. As always, admission is free and the gallery is open to the public during regular library hours

Map of Palma 1593

Map of Palma from Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Georg Braun (1541-1622), Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590), 1593

Cartography –- the practice of making maps –- is both an art and a science. Throughout history, maps have been created for practical purposes, telling us where we are in the world and helping us find where we are going. We have used maps to chart the land, sea and skies and to understand our place in the world. Maps can be functional and informative, but they can also be decorative, imaginative and beautiful. 

  Septentrionalium terrarum descriptio 1613

Septentrionalium terrarum descriptio Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), 1613

This exhibit focuses on the artistry of maps, the techniques and decorative flourishes employed by (largely) European mapmakers, during what has been called the "Golden Age of Cartography." The changes in how maps look can tell us many things: when, how and why they were made, how they were printed and shared, what was known and unknown at the time. Each map reveals something about the values and ideas about the world at the time. Maps can have a profound impact on how we understand the world around us. As Smithsonian curator Lucy Fellowes once put it, "Every map is someone's way of getting you to look at the world his or her way."


AC-037_Theatrvm Orbis terrarvm

Map of America from Theatrvm orbis terrarvm, Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), 1592

The Art of Cartography showcases maps and atlases by some of the most prominent and influential mapmakers and publishers of the Age of Discovery. See the first printed map of the North Pole, complete with a giant magnetic rock, whirlpools and an island inhabited by "pygmies." You'll find maps featuring persistent cartographic errors, like those which depict California as an island, or ones that feature details of "phantom islands" which never really existed. The exhibit features a range of materials, including remarkable early maps of North America, still largely terra incognita ("unknown lands"), star charts, 19th century map games, city plans, and miniature maps and atlases.   

Beschreibung des Gantzen Welt-Kreysses

Figure 34 of Beschreibung des Gantzen Welt-Kreysses, Allain Manneson Mallet (1630-1706), 685

Don't miss the touch screen interactives that let you learn more about some of the most bizarre maps on display, or try your hand at completing a "dissected map" from the 19th century -- the original jigsaw puzzles. 


Eslick's patent puzzles, Steven Joseph Eslick (1851-1904), ca. 1880. Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books


Intrigued? Here are five great ways to satisfy your cartographic curiosity.

1. Hear from artists and cartographers making maps today 

You might assume that cartography is a dead art. Today, you can instantly access satellite images and maps from the other side of the planet with a few touches on your phone -- so what is left for mapmakers to do? Join us for a free talk on October 3 with Chris Brackley (cartographer for The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic Magazine, and owner of As the Crow Flies cARTography) who will talk about how the work of cartographers has changed and why it is still important today. 

Maps continue to be both a source of inspiration and a provocative medium for visual artists, illustrators and storytellers. On September 22, don't miss a fascinating panel discussion about mapping the city with Daniel Rotsztain, Flavio Trevisan and Marlena Zuber in conversation with Shawn Micallef

2. Discover why small is beautiful

The Art of Cartography features some charming miniature maps and pocket atlases -- more portable versions of the lavish atlases that were popularized in the 16th and 17th century. To learn more about these mini-maps, join collector Alec Parley on October 6  for Cartography in Miniature, an illustrated talk about the history and beauty of miniature maps.

Frontispiece from Atlas minimus, John Gibson, (1750-1792), 1785

3. Become an Geocaching explorer! 

Inspired by the explorers and mapmakers who set out to chart unknown lands? Why not try exploring Toronto Public Library branches in search of hidden geocaches? Find out more about the Geocaching Scavenger Hunt here.   

 4. Read up the maps and mapmakers who have our shaped view of the world

For those interested in digging deeper into the art and history of cartography, Toronto Public Library offers an incredible range of books and resources. Here is just a small sample of recommended reads. 

On the map a mind-expanding exploration of the way the world looks   Star maps history artistry and cartography   Map exploring the world   The road to there mapmakers and their stories   Sea monsters on medieval and Renaissance maps  The curious map book

5. Visit the exhibit and join a guided tour! 

Of course, the best way to appreciate The Art of Cartography is to visit the exhibit in person and get up close to these remarkable works of art. There are free guided tours every Tuesday at 2 pm. The Art of Cartography runs until October 16.  



Caribbean Fiction in Toronto Public Library

July 21, 2016 | Michal | Comments (0)

Caribana Parade

If, like many in this city, you'll be celebrating Caribana Toronto 2016 (Caribana Weekend: July 28 - July 31 and Toronto Caribbean Carnival Parade: July 30), you may want to deepen your experience by immersing yourself in literature about the Caribbean. Whether fiction or nonfiction, you might be advised to start by browsing one of the Library's four Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collections. These collections are named in honour of Dr. Rita Cox, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, who joined Toronto Public Library in 1960 as a children's librarian, and was a long-time Branch Head of Parkdale branch (1974 - 1995). She has received many awards and honours, and was even invested into the Order of Canada in 1997. She is also greatly admired as a community activist and leader in the Black and Caribbean community, and is renowned as a storyteller in North America, Europe, Brazil and the Caribbean.

Caribben Fiction Display

At Home in the Diaspora

There are many well-known authors originally from the Caribbean who now make their home in other countries such as Canada, the United States and Great Britain. Here are just three of them:


  membering Austin Clarke

Before his death on June 26, Canadian (and Torontonian) Caribbean writer Austin Clarke was one of the many distinguished authors who served as Writer In Residence at Toronto Public Library (at the Toronto Reference Library). In 2002, I had the privilege of meeting him and observing him work. Coincidentally, not long before that, I had also had the good fortune to spend a couple of restful weeks in his home country of Barbados. Mr. Clarke was the author of many short story and poetry collections, as well as novels. His novels are: The Survivors of the Crossing (1964), Amongst Thistles and Thorns (1965), The Meeting Point (1972), Storm of Fortune (1973), The Bigger Light (1975), The Prime Minister (1977), Proud Empires (1986;1988), The Origin of Waves (1997), The Question (1999), The Polished Hoe (2002), and More (2008). Like Rita Cox, among Mr. Clarkes' many honours and awards is an Order of Canada (1998).  


The Survivors of the Crossing   Amongst the Thistles and Thorns   The Meeting Point   Storm of Fortune

                          The Bigger Light  The Prime Minister 

Proud Empires The Origin of Waves The Polished Hoe More


Jamaica Kincaid Jamaica Kincaid

American Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid, originally from Antigua, is "considered one of the most important of women Caribbean writers" [Your Dictionary. Jamaica Kincaid Facts], writing both nonfiction and fiction. Her novels are: Annie John (1985), Lucy (1990), The Autobiography of My Mother (1996), Mr.Potter (2002), and See Now Then (2013). Among her numerous awards is the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, awarded in recognition for "books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures." [About. The Awards. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards]    


             Annie John  Lucy  Autobiography of My Mother 

                       Mr. Potter See Now Then


Caryl Philips Border Crossings Caryl Phillips

British Caribbean writer Caryl Phillips, originally from Saint Kitts, began his literary career writing for theatre, but has since written many nonfiction books, as well as several novels. His novels are: The Final Passage (1985), A State of Independence (1986), Higher Ground (1989), Cambridge (1991), Crossing the River (1993), The Nature of Blood (1997), A Distant Shore (2003), Dancing in the Dark (2005), Foreigners (2007), In the Falling Snow (2009), and The Lost Child (2015). He is the recipient of several awards and honours, including the 2013 Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Award for Excellence.    


  The Final Passage  A State of Independence  Higher Ground  Cambridge

Crossing the River The Nature of Blood A Distant Shore  Dancing in the Dark

Foreigners  In the Falling Snow  The Lost Child

NoveList Plus

NoveList Plus

To find more novels or literary nonfiction by Caribbean writers, or set in or about the Caribbean, try this electronic resource.







Literary Criticism

To further your understanding of Caribbean literature, the Languages and Literature department of Toronto Reference Library has many scholarly books on various aspects of the subject. Here is a sample:


  At Home in Diaspora Caribbean Perspectives on Modernity Caribbean Women Writers and Globalization New World Adams

  Pathologies of Paradise Migrant Modernism Slaves to Sweetness The West Indian Novel and its Background


Other Electronic Resources 

  Literature Criticism Online Literature Criticism Online




  Literature Resource Center Literature Resource Center 




I hope you enjoy the sights and sounds of the 48th annual Caribbean festival, whether you're dancing along with the infectious rhythm of Calypso, Soca or Steelpan music, or just sitting back and taking delight in the elaborate costumes, props and energetic dancers. If you aren't already inspired to read more about the Caribbean, you probably will be after your experience. Toronto Public Library's many resources, some of which I've mentioned here, will help fulfill that desire.

Happy reading!

Summer Afternoons at the Movies -- See Films for Free at Toronto Reference Library

July 14, 2016 | Winona | Comments (0)

Take a break from the heat and watch some great films -- for free! -- at the library this summer. Our Summer Afternoons at the Movies series returns to the Toronto Reference Library with a film screening every Thursday at 2 pm from July 21 to September 1st.

All films are shown on the big screen, with closed captioning, in our air-conditioned and newly renovated Beeton Auditorium. No tickets required.

Here is a list of upcoming films:

July 21


Five teenaged sisters' free-spirited play on a Turkish beach leads to life-altering changes. As the older sisters are trained to become brides, the younger sisters vow to escape this fate. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven's debut is described as “a powerful portrait of female empowerment.” PG 13. 97 minutes. Turkish with English subtitles.



July 28


Saul, a Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau, finds a young dying boy. Looking on the child as his son, Saul seeks to find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and offer the boy a proper burial. Winner of the 2016 Academy Award for Best Foreign Picture and the 2015 Cannes Grand Prix. 14A. 107 min. Hungarian with English subtitles.



August 4


The true story of playwright Alan Bennett’s relationship with Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith), whom he has allowed to live in a van in his driveway for 15 years. PG. 104 min.



August 11


Thirteen years ago Val had to leave her daughter, Jessica, behind when she went to São Paulo to become a nanny. Jessica now wants to come to São Paulo to stay with her mother in order to write her university entrance examinations. Jessica’s stay in the home of her mother’s employer has unexpected consequences. 14A. 114 min. Brazilian Portuguese with English subtitles.



August 18


Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are preparing to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. A surprise announcement about an event in Geoff’s past causes them both to review the years they have spent together. The film has been described by one critic as “a cinematic gem that reminds us of the power of film to encompass a lifetime of emotion.” 14A. 95 min.



August 25


A young Irishwoman, Eilis Lacey, leaves her home to emigrate to Brooklyn in the 1950s. Adapting to her new life in America is bittersweet with her ties to Ireland pulling her back emotionally. Screenplay by Nick Hornby adapted from Colm Toíbín’s novel, Brooklyn. PG. 111 min. 



September 1


Four men involved in the financial world bet against the US housing market as they can see the instability of the sub-prime mortgage loan business. The film is based on Michael Lewis’s non-fiction book The Big Short. Starring Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling. 14A. 130 min.



You may also enjoy these free screenings at the library:

  • Evening Films at the Toronto Reference Library: Join us for some inspiring, uplifting and entertaining films and documentaries. Films are themed around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Finance, Careers, Innovation, Imagination and the Human Spirit. Various dates, 6 pm, Toronto Reference Library, Hinton Learning Theatre.
  • More film screenings: Various dates, times and locations.

If you are interested in finding films to borrow from the library, check out these links:

Five Reasons to See The Changing Face of Toronto Exhibit Before it Closes!

July 13, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)

You have just one week left to visit our free exhibit, The Changing Face of Toronto. The exhibit is on display at the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery until Sunday, July 24.

The exhibit features portraits of everyday people from Toronto's past. The portraits on display were curated from the library's Special Collections, including the Toronto Star Photograph Archive, a collection of over a million images donated to the Toronto Public Library in 2014. 

Changing face of Toronto_TD Gallery_TRL2016-CSX_0656

Need more convincing? Here are five great reasons to stop by and see the exhibit before it closes:

1. The bizarre story of the "Great Stork Derby"

Most of the images on display originally appeared in print in the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper. There are many reasons why so-called ordinary people might end up in a national newspaper and some stories are stranger than others. 

While in the grips of the Great Depression, Toronto families went baby crazy, competing in a bizarre contest that became known as the "Great Stork Derby". The contest was sparked by the death of eccentric Toronto lawyer Charles Vance Millar, who left a portion of his estate to the Toronto woman who produced the most children in the decade following his death. 

The Changing Face of Toronto features several portraits of winners and losers of the baby race. 

Carter family 1936Carter family, Photographer unknown, October 26, 1936

The Carters had nine children during the 10-year period, but were not among the four winning families.

Mrs. Lucy Timleck, one of the Millar Will winners 1938

Mrs. Lucy Timleck, Photographer unknown, March 19, 1938

Lucky Timleck was one of four winners who received $125,000 each, an incredible sum in 1930s Toronto.

Mrs. X [Pauline Mae Clarke] 1936
Mrs. X [Pauline Mae Clarke], Photographer unknown, August 26, 1936

Known as Mrs. X in print, Pauline Mae Clarke eventually received a consolation prize of $12,500. While she had 10 kids over the decade -- the winning number -- more than one was born outside of marriage, something that was decided to be against the rules of the competition. 

2. The hair...

The portraits on display span the 20th century, capturing the changing fashions and hairstyles of each era. Those looking for a new summer 'do, take note:  

Bob Olsen Kip Jackson 1969

Kip Jackson, Bob Olsen/Toronto Star, July 9, 1969

Ken Faught Natalia Pracepa

Natalia Pracepa, Ken Faught/Toronto Star, June 12, 1985

The above image originally ran with the headline: "Bank employee fights to keep her ‘punk’ hairdo" 

Andrew Stawicki Peacock hairUnnamed Subject, Andrew Stawicki/Toronto Star, May 29, 1989

And if mustaches are your thing...

William Stark, 1851-1915

William Stark, Inspector of Detectives, Photographer unknown, ca. 1900

3. The pre-Photoshop touch-ups...

The images in the exhibit capture the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that press photographs were altered for print in the newspaper. In the early part of the 20th century, the backgrounds of portraits were often painted or cut-out entirely. 

  Joe Wright Jr.

Joe Wright Jr., Photographer unknown, ca. 1920

Before there was Photoshop, photographers and photo editors had to manually alter the images, increasing contrast and highlighting finer details. 

Mrs. Jack Guest, bride1931Mrs. Jack Guest, Photographer unknown, June 22, 1931

From the 1960s onward, backgrounds are rarely erased, but airbrushing is used to make the subject stand out in the newspaper. 

Douglas GlynnToronto Star New Miss TorontoVirginia Martin (Miss Toronto), Douglas Glynn/Toronto Star, July 24, 1965

4. A few lively ladies at leisure...

Need a reminder to relax and have a good time this summer? The exhibit includes some great portraits of some spry ladies committed to having fun in their later years. 

Graham Bezant Bowling at 90

Bowling at 90, Graham Bezant/Toronto Star, October 21, 1978

Ninety-year-old Gertrude Cooper bowls at the Avenue Road Bowlerama.

Ron Bull Adele Holford, 100th birthday

Adele Holford, Ron Bull/Toronto Star, July 9, 1986

Adele Holford gives a wink as she raises a glass of sherry to her 100th birthday, celebrated with a crowd of friends and family.

4. Free guided tour and free admission! 

Changing face of Toronto_TD Gallery_TRL2016-CSX_0658

To hear more stories behind the photos, don't miss our very last guided tour of the exhibit, Tuesday, July 19 at 2 pm. 

Admission to the TD Gallery is always free. Stop by for a visit anytime during library hours

This Thursday: Toronto Star Photographers Discuss the Power of the Portrait

June 21, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Join us in the atrium at the Toronto Reference Library this Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m. for a lively conversation with Toronto Star photojournalists about the enduring power of the portrait.  

Toronto Star Photographers

Award-winning Toronto Star photographers Steve Russell, Melissa Renwick and Tony Bock will be joined by moderator Richard Lautens. The panel will share their favourite portraits – and the stories behind them – and offer tips and advice to aspiring photojournalists. 

What makes for a compelling portrait? How can you capture something new or unexpected in a familiar face? Why do some portraits connect so deeply with viewers? Can a single face tell a whole story? 

Photo by Richard Lautens. Used with permission.


Photo by Tony Bock. Used with permission.


Photo by Melissa Renwick. Used with permission.

This free event is presented in conjunction with The Changing Face of Toronto, an exhibit showcasing a century of portraits from the Toronto Star Photograph Archive and the Canadian Documentary Art Collection. The exhibit is on display in the library's TD Gallery until July 23.

Be sure to stop in to see the exhibit before the talk! 

Free Tours of The Changing Face of Toronto this Saturday for #TUPF2016!

June 15, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)


Join us this Saturday, June 18 for free guided tours of our photography exhibit The Changing Face of Toronto, on display in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery. Tours will begin at 11am, 12pm and 1pm. Registration is not required. Please meet inside the gallery.

These special Saturday tours are presented in conjunction with the Toronto Urban Photography Festival (TUPF) which runs until June 25. If you are a budding photographer or just interested in compelling shots of urban life, be sure to check out the festival guide for exhibits, workshops, walks and talks.  



The Changing Face of Toronto offers a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people who lived and worked in 20th century Toronto. The exhibit features photographic portraits from the library's Special Collections, which now include over a million photographs from the complete Toronto Star Photograph Archive. The exhibit runs until July 23. 

Want to learn more? Guided tours are a great way to discover more of the stories behind the faces in the exhibit. 



Interested in seeing more faces from Toronto's past? Be sure to explore our Digital Archive

Save Big on Sherlock Holmes!

June 13, 2016 | Peggy Perdue | Comments (3)

Original advertising broadsheet for The Hound of the Baskervilles in Strand magazine

This week, a single sheet of Arthur Conan Doyle's manuscript for the Sherlock Holmes thriller The Hound of the Baskervilles will go up for sale at Christie's auction house with an estimated starting price of US$80,000. The actual sales price will likely exceed that by a significant amount.

[Updated June 23: The manuscript page was sold for US$158,500!]    

Conan Doyle's gripping tale of a spectral hound and death on the moor is probably his best known work, and it remains well worth reading today. This is where your library card is going to offer you the deal of the century -- instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars for a single page of this book, you can come to the library and read the entire thing for free.

You can borrow the original work from the library's circulating collections, or try one of the many audio, film and graphic adaptations.

  Regular print edition including the Hound of the Baskervilles and other Holmes stories   1939 Movie version starring Basil Rathbone   1988 TV Movie version starring Jeremy Brett

There are even eBook, eAudiobook and eVideo copies available to download on your phone and other devices right now.

   OverDrive ebook  OverDrive mp3 audiobook  Hoopla eVideo of 1959 movie starring Peter Cushing

Even with all these choices, you may still want to see a manuscript. There is, after all, a certain special thrill about seeing a favorite author's handwriting in person. For this experience you can visit the Toronto Public Library's Arthur Conan Doyle Collection to see a variety of manuscript items including this letter that Conan Doyle wrote to his editor discussing the work he was doing on The Hound of the Baskervilles.

   Arthur Conan Doyle. Letters to H. Greenhough Smith no. 18   Letter page 2

The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, located on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library also has many first and special editions of Conan Doyle's work. Come in for a visit -- we won't bite!

  First English edition   Miniature art binding edition by Jan and Jarmila Sobota   Graphic edition by Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard

To read more about the sale of the Hound manuscript page, visit Randall Stock's Best of Sherlock Holmes website.




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