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Haiku - York Woods Writers Group

February 13, 2015 | Linda | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

York Woods

A Haiku is a deceptively simple form of Japanese poetry. It consists of 17 on or sounds in three phrases. In the west, it is usually written as three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables each. A Haiku is usually a meditation on some aspect of the natural world that juxtaposes two opposing ideas. This week we tried it the haiku form in the York Woods Writers' Group. Below is are a few samples. 



Sparkle light in water

A loud sound

cover me


Bright sunshine reflects in window

Fresh scent reflect the flowers

Exciting feeling cover me



The time I watch TV

without commercials make me feel

I need shampoo or a refrigerator


Always we have news

Sometimes good, sometimes bad

Nobody wants old news



Haiku on a Haiku

Haiku innoccent

Simple, 3 littel lines - pie

Bam!! Struggle, a trap


Cinequaine on Haiku


Strange little thing

Hides understanding, search

Confusing, squeezing my poor mind



Artists In The Library: Interview with Joy Lapps

January 22, 2015 | D!ana | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Earlier in September, Toronto Public Library partnered with the Toronto Arts Council to launch the Artists in the Library program which celebrates the love of art in neighbourhoods outside of the downtown core.

Joy Lapps

Latoya Joy Lapps, a musician, composer and arts educator was one of the Artists in the Library. Joy taught people of all ages how to play in a steel band at the Downsview Branch leading up to an energetic performance in December!

I got the opportunity to chat with her to hear about her artist residency experience:



What interested you about the Artists in the Library residency?

One of my mentors forwarded me an email from the Toronto Arts Council in which they announced a few new granting programs. I decided to apply to the Artists in the Library program because it allowed me to engage the community by offering free lessons and workshops as well as provide performance opportunities for other professional artists.

What was it like teaching people how to play steel pan in the library?

Joy Lapps having fun playing steelpan
Photo credit: Avital Zemer

I loved teaching people how to play steel pan in the library. It was a really enriching experience for me. Community arts is such an interesting field, no matter the artistic discipline. Especially with the way the program was organized, as the teacher, I never really knew who I would be getting in my class. When I would teach at summer camp, I would typically get an entire file about each participant. I’ve dealt with children and youth with different disabilities, personality disorders, allergies…you name it. And then as a teacher I get to adjust and find ways for each participant to feel included. But at the library I had no idea who I was dealing with. The registration required a name and a phone number at best.

In situations like this, you have a bunch of people who you don’t know anything about. You don’t know where they come from, what their life experience is, what they may be struggling with, if they were able to eat that morning, what their family life is like... and all of these things affect us as humans. They affect how we interact and communicate with people especially strangers. I love working with people and I like to be challenged. I love to make people feel included and feel like they are a part of something.

What were your favourite moments during the Artists in the Library residency?

I had a lot of amazing moments at the library during my residency. One of my favourite moments was seeing how the music in the library drew people in. Almost every time I taught a lesson, patrons in the library were drawn to the story room where I was teaching. I always loved to see how the children and toddlers enjoyed the music.

Young boy playing steelpan at Downsview Library
Photo credit: Larnell

The story room was right beside the children's book area in the library. Toddlers would run away from their parents towards my programming room because they loved the music. Or I would see parents holding their children as they peered through the window of the room. I always had an "open door" policy for lessons and rehearsals. As long as patrons weren't disruptive, they were allowed to come in and watch what we were doing.

In the morning before our final performance I was rehearsing with the string quartet and the percussionist. There were two older men looking through the window so I told my husband to let them know they could come in and listen. They stayed for a while and listened with such joy and appreciation. Eventually they decided to make a party out of it and went to Pizza Pizza and ordered a large party pizza for everyone. The pizza was large enough to share with the musicians, the youth that were helping to set up and a few other random visitors who came to observe the rehearsal.

Youth playing steelpan at the Downsview Library
Photo credit: Larnell

I was most proud of the youth and their level of engagement. They committed to attending classes twice each week. I was able to award them volunteer hours for assisting me in facilitating the family classes. They also helped with almost every aspect of each performance including setup, tear down, preparing refreshments and cleaning up at each performance. They also assisted musicians and décor specialist with moving their equipment in and out of the library. One of the challenging parts of my residency was setting up and tearing down all of the instruments used for the classes. This had to be done twice each week. Depending on the time of day I had to do it alone, which took about an hour each time. But when they were at the library on Friday afternoons, they would help me set up for my Saturday morning classes. It was also great to see their friendships flourish as they spent more time together. In my family class, it was so beautiful to see how the moms especially connected with their children and with the other parents in the class. I also had a few couples in my adult class as well as a mother/daughter duo. Overall, I was able to watch in amazement as relationships were strengthened through music.

What is your advice for people who want to learn how to play steel pan?

People who are interested in learning steel pan can contact some of the local steelbands. AfroPanPan Fantasy and Souls of Street Orchestra are some of the local bands that offer lessons throughout the year. Many of the TDSB schools also offer steel pan as a part of the curriculum and through afterschool programs. I always encourage parents to check the local schools and community organizations to see what arts programs they can access for their children and for themselves.

If people missed seeing you at Downsview, when is your next performance, program or event?

I'll be performing a free concert on February 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm. It takes place at St. Philips Anglican Church - 31 Saint Phillips Rd, Toronto, ON M9P 2N7.

I'll be performing with my jazz quartet. People can also visit my website at to find out more about this concert and other future events.

Joy Lapps and friends performing live!
Photo credit: Avital Zemer

Thank you Joy for the interview and for the wonderful program at Downsview Library earlier this year!  


Joy Lapps has performed at festivals including Toronto's AfrofestMuhtadi’s International Drumming Festival, and Antigua’s Moods of Pan Festival. Her primary instrument is the soprano steel pan. Joy has released four recordings and the self-titled EP Joy (2013). She has been nominated for a Harry Jerome Arts and Media Award and the Caribbean Music and Entertainment Award. Joy is founder of Steel Pan Experience, offering workshops and presentations to schools and communities across Toronto.

The Artists in the Library program animated four other Toronto Public Library branches with four additional talented artists and programs:

D’bi Young AnitafrikaD’bi Young Anitafrika
D’bi Young Anitafrika is an internationally celebrated African-Jamaican-Canadian dubpoet, monodramatist, and educator. She is the published author of two collections of poetry, eight plays, two dubpoetry albums, and The Sankofa Trilogy. D’bi led theatre workshops for youth, culminated in a play at the Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre.



Dwayne Morgan 

Dwayne Morgan
Dwayne Morgan is a spoken word artist and the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word National Poetry Slam Champion. He is founder of Up from the Roots entertainment, promoting the artistic contributions of African Canadian and urban influenced arts. Dwayne taught spoken word workshops and helped participants explore their written work using photography and video at the Cedarbrae Branch.  


Founded in 2006, FIXT POINT is a professional theatre and media company engaging communities with site specific performance and audio art. Their goal is to preserve local heritage and promote neighbourhood cultures through art and storytelling. The FIXT POINT group helped people at the Mimico Branch collect local stories to produce an oral history audio installation through recording workshops.


Rukhsana Khan
Rukhsana Khan
Rukhsana Khan is an award-winning author and storyteller. She has published twelve books ranging from picture books to short stories to teen novels. Rukhsana held storytelling workshops at the Fairview Branch, helping participants tell their life story.


Check out our Programs webpage for more special programs with artists, innovators and other talented Torontonians!

Writers on Writing

January 16, 2015 | Linda | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Writers are observant and introspective, and obviously bursting with things to tell the world about itself. They can also tell us about what writing is, what it is like to write, and how to do it well. Many illustrious writers have taken the time to share their expertise in books. They know how to put words together so that they affect the reader in just the right way. Below are a few of the more interesting examples of writers writing about writing.  

Steering the craft - le guinUrsula K. Le Guin wrote up Steering the craft: exercises and discussions on story writing for the lone navigator or the mutinous crew after a writing workshop she gave. She divides writing into its major components. The book gives lessons, examples from literary classics, and hands-on exercises to develop anyone's storytelling skills. It is a writing course in a book. Ideal to serve the do-it-yourselfers.


On writing - kingWriting is inextricably woven into the fabric of Stephen King’s life. To help others achieve the writerly life, he penned On writing: a memoir of the craft. Embedded in his autobiography is his drive for ever more efficient and impactful writing. He explains how through trial and error over decades of writing best sellers, he attained his mastery over narrative fiction.


These books are more concerned with crafting the art of writing than crafting the writer as artist-philosopher. The next group of writers on writing look at the way writing affects the writers’ personal development. Writing to them is more than the sum of style, plot and character, it is the writers’ progress toward enlightenment.

Zen in the art of writing - bradburyZen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Writing by Ray Bradbury is a collection of self-effacing essays that uses the Zen as a conceptual hook into how to remain balanced as writing takes over your mind and life. Writing is always challenging. Understanding and integrating its lessons brings the writer closer to wholeness. Amid his tips, tricks and lists, he invokes universal love as the motivator and the product of the writer.


Bird by bird - LamotteAnne Lamotte firmly believes in writing for its own sake. In Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life, her candid anecdotes demonstrate her ability to portray the raw truth. She feels that perfectionism strangles the writing process, whereas attentiveness opens it up. Whether traumatic or triumphant, life is messy. Making sense from it is possible by writing with the deepest honesty. 


The writing life - dillardThe Writing Life by Annie Dillard is a slim volume that presents writing as a tool. Like a stone carver’s chisel that uncovers forms hidden in the stone, the act of writing discovers the sublime in a formless whorl of words and ideas. The writing guides the writer towards completion. She provides plenty of examples of how she transformed her imagination into literary passages.


On moral fiction - gardner
According to John Gardner “relentless moral analysis” is what sets apart the best in modern fiction. On Moral Fiction is his polemic on “what fiction should be”. It is a lesson on how to understand and write about your characters’ difficulties and consequent choices. Although it is argued with inconsistencies and contradictions, Gardner ably maintains that the purpose of the novel is to explore a profound, universal level of human truth. Gardner also wrote two less contentious books on writing, The Art of Fiction and On Becoming a Novelist.


If you like to write or just want to try it, come to the Writers' Group at York Woods branch every Thursday 7-8 PM. We offer support, advice and writing exercises, as well as a few books and articles on writing from some of today's most interesting writers. 


We're back

July 23, 2014 | Erin | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

After a bit of a break, the York Woods District Blog is back!

Keep your eyes (or RSS feed) here for updates on branch programs, reading lists, and more.

Welcome Back

In the meantime, here's something to get you through:


March Break Mania at Downsview

March 4, 2014 | Sarah | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

March Break is right around the corner!

Struggling to figure out how to spend the week with your kids?

Come visit Downsview Library for FREE programs all week long. Limited tickets are available 30 minutes before the program.

Here's the line-up of exciting programs:

Tuesday, March 11th (2 - 2:45p.m.)

Mad ScienceOurhistory04

A spectacular science-themed show where the performer will conjure dry ice storms, float a MAd Science hovercraft, make magic mud, alter sound waves, and much more!


 Wednesday, March 12th (2 - 3p.m.)

PuppetStories and Puppets in French


Thomas invites you to help George and Josephine, his puppet friends, teach Malmain (Sneaky Hand) how to be a friend.

*This program is in French*





Thursday, March 13th (2 - 3p.m.)                


 BalletBallet 101 with Ballet Jorgen


This exciting program gives kids the chance to learn basic positions, see brief dances performed by professionals and try out some steps. Kids can also explore costumes and pointe shoes.



Friday, March 14th (2 - 3:30p.m.)


CroodsMovie: The Croods


Kick back on Friday and join us for 

The Croods and some yummy popcorn!










Interested in more March programs?

Baby Time (Tuesdays, Apr.1 - May 6 @ 11-11:30a.m.)                                             

Ages 0 - 18months *Registration Required*


Living and Learning with Baby (Wednesdays, Mar.26 - May 7 @ 1 - 3p.m.)    

Ages 6 weeks - 6months 

*Registration Required with Toronto Public Health Nurse, Jeanie at 415-338-8675*


Toddler Time (Thursdays, Apr.3 - May 8 @ 11:00 -11:30a.m.)

Ages 19 - 36months *Registration Required*


Family Time (Saturdays, Feb.1 - May 31 @ 11:00 - 11:30a.m.)

Ages 2 - 7, Drop-in *Puppet shows on March 22 & April 19*


Chess Club (Tuesdays, Feb.18 - May 13 @ 5:00 - 6:00p.m.)

Ages 7-12 *Registration Required*


P.A. Day BINGO (Friday, Mar.7 @ 2:00 - 3:00p.m.)

All Ages   *Tickets given out 30mins before the program*


Hope to see you there!

For more information or to register please call 416-395-5720 or by emailing 

Saturday Storytimes are Back at Downsview!

January 29, 2014 | KJ | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

  Kids Cold Winter

Brrr…nothing like another cold day and some cooped up kids.

If you want to liven up Saturday mornings, why not visit Downsview Branch for stories, songs, rhymes and a monthly puppet show!

Every Saturday from 11-11:30 one of our talented Children’s Librarians will entertain the kids while you exhale. Sounds pretty win/win.

Take note – Family Storytimes begin this Saturday, February 1st at 11 a.m.  A special Valentine’s Family Time will happen the following Saturday on February 8th.  Our monthly puppet show, starting with the classic, Strega Nona, will be on Saturday, February 22. All again at 11 a.m.

We can’t wait to see you there!

P.S. Want an outing with your baby or toddler? Register for our Babytime on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. or our Toddler Time on Thursdays at 11 a.m. by calling 416-395-5720 or emailing

Beat the winter blahs with good books and lively discussions

December 18, 2013 | Paula | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Downsview Book Club Image                   Fight off the winter blahs with good books and lively discussions.  Join with the members of the Downsview Book Club and discover new authors or revisit classics with new eyes.

                    If this list appeals to you please register at the Information Desk on the main floor or call Downsview 416-395-5720.  All readers welcome. 


Winter Session 2014  Wednesdays 9:30 – 11:30   

February 5      The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks/ Rebecca Skloot

February 19    The lacuna / Barbara Kingsolver

March 5            People of the book / Geraldine Brooks

March 19         Trespass / Rose Tremain

April 2           The reluctant fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid
                        ONE BOOK - TBA February 7, 2014

April 16          In the garden of beasts: Love, terror … / Erik Larson

May 1               Two solitudes / Hugh MacLennan

May 15            The wind in the willows  /  Kenneth Grahame




December at Downsview Branch!

December 11, 2013 | KJ | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

SnowflakeDownsview Library is having fun this holiday with seasonal crafts, movies and story times!

If your child enjoys making holiday crafts join us to make a cute reindeer decoration, sparkly gift tag or a creative wreath - maybe they’ll make all three!! Saturday December 14th 11:00 a.m. to Noon. Children ages 3-7 are welcome to come by, no registration is required.

We're starting the holiday break early by showing a compilation of 7 holiday films from the National Film Board on the PA Day Friday December 20th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Children ages 4 and up will be able to attend. Limited free tickets available at 1:30 p.m. Refreshments provided

And the fun continues on Friday January 3rd with our FIRST movie of 2014! From the makers of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, comes a winning story about a humble garden snail who attains miraculous powers. With his newfound super speed Turbo wants to achieve his biggest dream – becoming the fastest snail in the world and winning the Indy 500. Join us for popcorn, drinks and fun! This movie is for children ages 3 and up. Limited free tickets available at 1:30 p.m.

Come join us for some festive holiday fun! We look forward to seeing you there!  Happy Holidays!


Bata Shoe Museum Visits Downsview Library!

October 17, 2013 | KJ | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Kids ShoesHave you ever wanted to touch a shoe made from a tire? What about examine official museum objects up close?

Come to Downsview branch on Saturday, October 26 from 2-3 p.m. in the Upper Program Room and you’ll get your chance! Bata Shoe Museum staff will be on site to entertain with fascinating shoe stories and to help kids create their very own shoe-shaped magnet craft to take home.

This program is a part of Toronto Public Library’s MAP Saturdays. Click here to learn more.

To register for this fun program call 416-395-5720 or email

See you (and your shoes!) here at Downsview on October 26!

Downsview Heritage: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

September 20, 2013 | D!ana | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

On Thursday October 10th, 2013, the North York Community Preservation Panel and the North York Historical Society will be at the Downsview Branch for a special presentation that will highlight different aspects of Downsview's story. A panel of guest speakers will be talking about Downsview's rich historical past, as well as current and future developments.

Wilson Ave. looking east from Keele St., 1955
Wilson Ave. looking east from Keele St., 1955

T.T.C. bus #1904 on Keele St. at Wilson Ave., 1955
T.T.C. bus #1904 on Keele St. at Wilson Ave., 1955

Keele St. looking north from Wandle Ave., 1955
Keele St. looking N from Wandle Ave.

*Images from Toronto Public Library's Digital Archives.


I got a chance to talk to Geoff Kettel, Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel, about the special upcoming heritage program:


D!ana: Why is it important for people to learn more about Downsview's heritage?

Geoff: Downsview’s history is interesting, many layered, and unique. The Downsview of today is the result of several periods of settlement and shifting demographics starting with the Aboriginals, then the settler farmers, the railway and industrial development, military air base and aircraft production, and post-war Modern development including the York University campus.  Downsview is now in a growth phase again with the condos and other developments at Sheppard and Dufferin on the edge of Parc Downsview Park.



Downsview United Church, 1954
Downsview United Church, 1954
D: What do you find most fascinating about Downsview's history?

G: There is a variety of buildings and landscapes in Downsview reflecting the layering of many different backgrounds and influences. Take places of worship, both located on Keele Street, for example. The Downsview United Church was built in 1870 to serve the farming and village communities of the time; the Bar Am Synagogue (Ramses  Shriners Temple) built in the 1960s, appealed to recent Jewish immigrants who wanted to make a new life for their conservative community away from the inner city. 



D: What buildings in Downsview have been declared as “heritage”?

G: There are 3 buildings in Downsview that are listed in the city’s Inventory of Heritage Properties: Downsview United Church at Keele and Wilson (1870), George Jackson House also on Keele (1885), and North Park Nursing Home at 450 Rustic Road. In addition there are several buildings on the York University campus that are listed [Click here for a PDF listing of the buildings]. There are also several buildings at Parc Downsview Park such as 65 Carl Hall Road which was formerly occupied by the Canadian Air and Space Museum that are in need of protection.


D: What are some of the interesting facts about Downsview?

G: Did you know...

  • John Perkins Bull’s Farm was called Downs View – it was located on the highest point in the area.
  • Early settlers depended on farming for their livelihood.  They planted potatoes, turnips, and Indian corn.     
  • There were 3 saw mills in the area.  As an example, John Boake bought and received a contract for sawing lumber for the New Plank Road, in 1854.
  • The first (log) school in Downsview, was built in 1817 on the south-east corner of Lawrence & Bathurst. It was replaced in 1864 by a solid brick one-room building at a cost of $655.00.
  • In the 1950s Downsview's only inn was a brick tavern run by Robert Hiscocks,
    north of Weston, on the corner of Albion and Weston Roads, east of the bridge
    over the Humber.
  • Downsview was the site of production of the Mosquito aircraft during the second world war.
  • Downsview was NOT where the AVRO Arrow was built (it was built in Malton) but the Canadian Air and Space Museum at 65 Carl Hall Road was the home of the full scale metal replica.
    *UPDATE: An e-newsletter from the Canadian Air & Space Museum announced that the AVRO Arrow would be moved from Downsview back to its birthplace in Malton on September 21/22, 2013.

    For more information about the AVRO Arrow, check out:

    For more information about the move, check out:

Thank you Geoff for the sneak preview to the special Downsview Heritage program!


If you're looking for some interesting resources with Downsview-related information:

North York Modernist Architecture

Case Downsview

Pioneering in North York: a history of the borough -

Downsview Lands Community Voice Association -


Keele & Wilson
Can you guess the location of this photo? Click to find out!

Don't forget to check out Toronto Public Library's Digital Archives for some historical images of the Downsview area -


Come to the Downsview Heritage: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow program and learn more interesting facts about the Downsview area! 

Join us for light refreshments at 6:30 pm and get a chance to chat with the speakers before and after the presentation.  

For more information about the speakers and to register for the program, please contact the Downsview Branch at 416-395-5720 or visit the branch at 2793 Keele Street.   





 Did you live in the Downsview area?

Do you have memories of growing up, going to school or doing something fun in the Downsview area?

Do you currently live in the Downsview area?

Then you may be interested in our upcoming Culture Days @ the Library program - Your Story! Learn about creating a video of your story + memories with Anna-Louise from Tree of Life video!

Join us on Saturday September 28th at 1:00 pm to learn how you can put your stories and memories into videos to share with friends and family!

Please call the branch at 416-395-5720 for more information and to register.



Welcome to the York Woods District Libraries' blog. Our purpose is to provide information about Library programs and services, community news, and special events in the Black Creek, Downsview and Jane-Finch neighbourhoods. You are invited to be a part of our interactive space where you can post and respond to comments. Visit the blog often, or subscribe to the RSS feature for automatic updates. Follow the link for an explanation of RSS feeds and how to subscribe.