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February 2015

Snapshots in History: February 24: Remembering T.C. “Tommy” Douglas

February 24, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)





On February 24 and beyond, take a moment to remember Thomas Clement (T, C.)  “Tommy” Douglas (Born: October 20, 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland; Died: February 24, 1986 in Ottawa, Ontario), former Premier of Saskatchewan (1944-1961), the first leader of the New Democratic Party (N.D.P.) of Canada (1961-1971), and recognized by many Canadians as the father of socialized medicine in Canada given his advocacy of a universal, prepaid, medical care program that first took root in the province of Saskatchewan under the tutelage of his successor, Premier Woodrow Lloyd, in 1962, following the conclusion of the Saskatchewan Doctors’ Strike.

Douglas first came with his family to Canada in 1910, settling in Winnipeg. Douglas came with a bone condition called osteomyelitis in his right knee, following an injury. Coming from a poor family, Douglas faced amputation of his right leg to deal with the osteomyelitis. However, an orthopedic surgeon came to the rescue, offering to operate for free, provided that his medical students could observe the procedure. Tommy Douglas’ right leg was saved after several operations. This experience instilled in him the belief that health care should be free to all, regardless of the ability to pay.

The Douglas family returned to Scotland during the First World War so that his father, Tom Douglas, could enlist in the British Army. The family returned to Winnipeg in late 1918, meaning that Tommy Douglas witnessed the unfolding of the Winnipeg General Strike from a teenage lens, becoming a strong proponent of fundamental liberties and rights. Douglas also became the Manitoba lightweight boxing champion in 1922, successfully defending his title in 1923.

Douglas had dropped out of high school to support his family and served a 5-year apprenticeship to become a linotype printer. Desiring to continue his schooling to become an ordained minister, he enrolled in Brandon College to complete his high school equivalency and to study theology. He became immersed in the Social Gospel that combined belief in Christianity with the need for social reform. Douglas completed his undergraduate education in 1930 and finished his Master of Arts degree in 1933 from McMaster University with a thesis on eugenics (to which Douglas seldom referred and never implemented while in public office – the embracing of eugenics by the racist Nazis in Germany made eugenics a less palatable option for progressive people). Serving as a Baptist minister in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, he sought election to the House of Commons in the October 1935 federal election under the banner of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the forerunner of the New Democratic Party (NDP). Douglas won the election and went to Ottawa as the Member of Parliament (M.P.) for Weyburn constituency in the midst of the Great Depression. Saskatchewan was adversely affected by the economic collapse, falling commodity prices, and extreme weather conditions. Tommy Douglas brought these issues to the fore. However, he also paid attention to the international stage, visiting Nazi Germany in 1936 and predicting the upcoming Second World War, which he supported in opposition to CCF leader James Shaver Woodworth, a pacifist. Following his re-election to the House of Commons in 1940, Douglas was courted by the Saskatchewan section of the CCF to run for leader. He won the leadership in 1942 and resigned as a MP in 1944 when the Saskatchewan provincial election was called. The Saskatchewan CCF won the 1944 election with 53% of the vote and 47 of the 53 legislative seats under the motto of “Humanity First”, forming the first democratic socialist government elected in North America.

The Douglas government pioneered many initiatives including: the creation of the publicly-owned Saskatchewan Power Corporation to expand electrification to rural farms and villages; the creation of the Saskatchewan Government Insurance Office to offer affordable, publicly-owned automobile insurance; free collective bargaining to Saskatchewan’s civil service with the passage of the Trade Union Act; the introduction of hospital insurance under the Saskatchewan Hospital Services Plan to provide residents with free hospital care; implementation of vocational training for the developmentally disabled and therapy for those suffering from mental disorders; passage of the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights in 1947 to cover equality rights and fundamental freedoms, one and a half years before the United Nations authorized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and well before the enactment of the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

In fiscal matters, the Douglas government proceeded with innovative programs while paying down the large public debt left by the previous Liberal administration. Douglas’ primary goal was the introduction of medicare, or a universal, prepaid medical care scheme in the province of Saskatchewan. However, Douglas reluctantly resigned from provincial politics to contest the inaugural leadership of the newly-formed New Democratic Party, winning the contest handily. Some may have seen the change in position as a comedown for Tommy Douglas, from the leadership of a provincial government to the leadership of a minor federal opposition party. However, Tommy Douglas was nothing if not a master of perseverance. He had suffered a humiliating, personal defeat in the 1962 federal election at the height of the Saskatchewan medicare crisis and doctors’ strike but was most concerned about medicare getting established in the province of Saskatchewan. Douglas and his colleagues did exert some influence on the Liberal minority government in the 1960s, seeing the establishment of the Canada Pension Plan and the Québec Pension Plan and the groundwork laid for the pan-Canadian establishment of medicare in all parts of Canada.

Ever the civil libertarian, Tommy Douglas took a principled but unpopular stand against the imposition of the War Measures Act in peace time during the October Crisis in 1970, following the kidnapping of British Trade Commissioner James Cross and the kidnapping and murder of Québec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte by the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). While critical of the FLQ, Douglas was concerned about the limitations placed upon Canadians’ civil liberties and freedoms. Douglas retired as federal NDP leader in 1971 and remained a Member of Parliament until 1979. Tommy Douglas succumbed to cancer on February 24, 1986.

A plurality of Canadians participating in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Greatest Canadian contest selected Tommy Douglas as the Greatest Canadian in 2004.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:




Tommy Douglas by Vincent Lam Tommy's team the people behind the Douglas years Tommy Douglas the road to Jerusalem Tommy Douglas building the new society The making of a socialist the recollections of T C Douglas Dream no little dreams a biography of the Douglas Government of Saskatchewan 1944-1961


Tommy Douglas by Vincent Lam




The Greatest Canadian. Volume 1: Tommy Douglas, Wayne Gretzky / Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2004. 90 Minutes.


Tommy Douglas the fight of a lifetime [Life and Times] / Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1999. 47 Minutes.


Snapshots in History: February 20: Remembering the Avro Arrow

February 21, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)




On February 20 and beyond, take a moment to remember the cancellation of the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow interceptor aircraft on February 20, 1959 by the then-Progressive Conservative federal government of Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker. For many people, the “Avro Arrow” has been a symbol of Canadian aerodynamic and technological accomplishment. The Mark 2 version of the airplane achieved a supersonic maximum speed of almost Mach 2 at altitudes of 15,000 metres (or 50,000 feet).

The establishment of A.V. Roe Canada Limited arose out of a desire from the then-Liberal federal government after the Second World War to develop a homegrown, Canadian, and high-technology aviation industry. There was disagreement within the Liberal cabinet about the efficacy of proceeding with the Avro Arrow project but Brooke Claxton, the Minister of National Defense, pushed for the airplane’s development over the concerns of C.D. Howe, the Minister responsible for the Department of Defense Production but the project was re-evaluated over time. Things came to a head when the newly-elected Progressive Conservative government of John Diefenbaker inherited the Avro Arrow file upon the assumption of office. The government had been forced to assume the cost of developing the fire control and missile systems of the Avro Arrow as well.

Test flights indicated the potential of the Avro Arrow becoming the world’s most advanced and fastest fighter interceptor aircraft. The Diefenbaker government cut costs by stopping work on the fire control and missile systems in October 1958. The United States and the United Kingdom would not commit to buying the Avro Arrow at the expense of their own domestic aerospace industries. However, in the light of the Cold War with the launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) by the Soviet Union, the United States was promoting Bomarc missiles as a defensive measure. The Diefenbaker government saw the Bomarc option as a less expensive alternative to the Avro Arrow but its indecision over whether to arm the Bomarc missiles with nuclear warheads contributed to its eventual defeat in the 1963 federal election by Lester B. Pearson’s Liberal Party. Failure to drum up export sales for the Avro Arrow was the final nail in the coffin as far as the Canadian government was concerned. With the project’s cancellation on February 20, 1959, A.V. Roe Canada Limited fired 14,000 employees, many of whom went to work in the American aerospace industry and outer space program. Many people questioned the government’s order to destroy the plans and prototypes of the Avro Arrow.


Consider borrowing the following titles from Toronto Public Library collections:



The Avro Arrow the story of the great Canadian Cold War combat jet in pictures and documents Storms of controversy the secret Avro Arrow files revealed 4th ed Requiem for a giant A V Roe Canada and the Avro Arrow The Arrow Avro CF-105 MK.1 pilot's operating instructions and RCAF testing basing plans



Requiem for a giant A V Roe Canada and the Avro Arrow Fall of an arrow



Or, watch the 2005 DVD Supersonic sentinel: the story of the Avro Arrow. This top secret promotional film was originally produced in 1958 and available only to the Canadian government and management officials of the A.V. Roe Canada Ltd. at the time. This film footage has been digitally rendered and made available in DVD format. Also included on the DVD are the following films: “Arrows in Flight” and “The Avro Jetliner”.


Snapshots in History: February 13 and 15: Remembering Galileo Galilei and his Trial

February 17, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)


(Credit: – Galileo Galilei)



(Credit: Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition. Painted in 1857 by Cristiano Banti) 


Let us remember the contributions of the multi-faceted Galileo Galilei (Born: February 15, 1564 in Pisa, Florence, Italy; Died: January 8, 1642 in Arcetri, Tuscany, Italy), a major contributor to the Scientific Revolution in the Renaissance with work in mathematics, physics, astronomy (including improvements to the telescope and support for Nicolaus Copernicus’ contention that the planets including the Earth revolve around the Sun and not the other way around), and philosophy. Galileo’s trial for heresy began on February 13, 1633 for supporting heliocentrism (revolution around the Sun by planetary and other bodies). He was found “vehemently suspect of heresy” on June 22, 1633 and subjected to house arrest for the remainder of his life. His work Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, (contrasting the heliocentric view of Nicolaus Copernicus with that of Ptolemy in which the Earth was the centre of the universe) published in 1632 and a bestseller at the time, was banned and added to the Index of Forbidden Books, known in Latin as the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, only to be removed in 1835 (along with Copernicus’ On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) as the Catholic Church’s opposition to heliocentrism waned over time.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:  



Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems Ptolemaic and Copernican

Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican / Galileo Galilei, 2001. Book.

In this 1632 work, Galileo offers proof for the Copernican theory that the Earth and other heavenly bodies revolve around the Sun, in stark contrast to the Ptolemaic view upheld by the Church that the Sun and other celestial bodies revolve around the Earth. Despite being a popular work, the Church used Dialogue… against Galileo in his 1633 trial.  


Selected writings Galileo Galilei

Selected writings / Galileo Galilei; translated by William R. Shea and Mark Davie; with an introduction and notes by William R. Shea, 2012. Book.

All of Galileo’s writings on science and religion are included in this book as well as important documents from his trial before the 1633 Inquisition.

Contents: A sidereal message -- Letters on the sunspots. First letter; From the Third letter -- Science and religion. Letter to Don Benedetto Castelli; Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina; Letter from Cardinal Bellarmine to Paolo Antonio Foscarini; Observations on the Copernican Theory -- From The assayer -- Dialogue on the two chief world systems. First day; From the Second day; From the Third day; Fourth day -- The trial -- Two new sciences. From the First day -- From the Third day.  


The case of Galileo a closed question

The case of Galileo: a closed question? / Annibale Fantoli; translated by George V. Coyne, 2012. Book.

University of Victoria (B.C.) philosophy professor Annibale Fantoli offers readers a distilled but focused account of years of painstaking research into the Church’s 1616 ban on Copernicanism, as well as Galileo Galilei’s support of Copernicus and his work On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres that led to his own trial in 1633. Fantoli, a renowned Galileo scholar, criticizes the responses of Cardinal Poupard and Pope John Paul 2 to the 1992 reports of the Commission for the Study of the Galileo Case.  


The trial of Galileo 1612-1633

The trial of Galileo, 1612-1633 / edited by Thomas F. Mayer, 2012. Book.

Mayer, a scholarly expert on Galileo’s trial, offers the reader an examination of the trial as a legal event, translating correspondence, transcripts, legal documents, and sections of Galileo’s works to provide the reader with the opportunity to critically analyze primary sources related to the trial.  


The Earth moves Galileo and the Roman Inquisition

The Earth moves: Galileo and the Roman Inquisition / Dan Hofstadter, 2009. Book.

The stage is set: Pit two former friends (Galileo Galilei and Pope Urban VIII) against one another as Galileo’s 1633 trial takes place within the context of scientific and political change, including Galileo’s improved telescope, against the backdrop of a 1616 Church edict against heliocentrism intended to dissuade laypeople from challenging the Scripture and church doctrine.  


Galileo goes to jail and other myths about science and religion

Galileo goes to jail: and other myths about science and religion / edited by Ronald L. Numbers, 2009. Book.

This book sets straight some of the myths that have found their way into the religion versus science debate, such as Galileo being imprisoned and tortured for supporting Copernicanism (rather, Galileo was subjected to house arrest) and Islam’s supposed opposition to science (See Ehsan Masood’s 2009 book Science & Islam: a history (also available in eBook format) that points out that the invention of algebra, the crank, the camshaft, and the reciprocating piston occurred in the Islamic world.)  



400 years of the telescope a journey of science, technology and thought

400 years of the telescope a journey of science, technology and thought [1 videodisc] / PBS, An Interstellar Studios Production, 2009. DVD. Documentary. 57 Minutes.

This PBS documentary draws on interviews with leading astrophysicists and cosmologists from renowned universities and observatories who explain a variety of concepts, including Galileo’s use of a simple telescope to explore the cosmos.  


Galileo’s battle for the heavens [1 videodisc] / Simon Callow et al.; WGBH/Boston in association with Channel 4, 2006. DVD. Documentary. Dramatization. 120 Minutes.

This Nova production dramatizes Galileo Galilei’s life, explores his scientific accomplishments and his defense of the once controversial view that the earth rotated around the sun (which ran counter to official beliefs in the 1500s and 1600s. The documentary draws on correspondence from Maria Celeste, Galileo’s illegitimate daughter, which places Galileo’s scientific discoveries and his heresy trial into context.


Science and religion [2 videodiscs] / Lawrence Principe; Teaching Company, 2006. DVD. Lectures. 360 Minutes.

This DVD set includes twelve (12) lectures of thirty minutes each in duration by Professor Lawrence M. Principe, Professor of the History of Science and Technology, and of Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University. Contents include: Lecture 5. Church, Copernicus, and Galileo; and, Lecture 6. Galileo's trial.  

Genius Galileo

Galileo [1 videodisc] / Kultur; produced and directed by Ruth Wood; narrated by Kate Harper, 2001. DVD. Documentary. Dramatization. About 50 Minutes.

This documentary tells the story of the preeminent Italian astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei who challenged the accepted teachings of his day which brought him into conflict with Church authority. Galileo had to contend with the Inquisition, a trial, and his later years under house arrest. Dramatizations are used to show Galileo’s life and work. Historians Les Prince and Joel Roderick offer commentary and analysis to the viewer.


See also: Snapshots in History: February 19: Remembering Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543).

Remembering Arthur Ashe: February 6: Snapshots in History

February 7, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)



During Black History Month, it is appropriate to acknowledge the contributions of professional tennis player Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. (Born: July 10, 1943 in Richmond, Virginia; Died: February 6, 1993 in New York City, New York). Ashe was the first African-American player chosen for the United States Davis Cup Team, and the only African-American man to win the male singles Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, or the Australian Open as well as be ranked number one in the male professional tennis world. For those not as familiar with professional tennis history, Arthur Ashe was involved in the formation in 1969 of what later became the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) as a means to facilitate the growth of prize money to the top players in keeping with other sports. Ashe also became known as an activist when he was denied a visa to play in the South African Open on account of his skin colour by the then-apartheid supporting regime in South Africa. Ashe called for the expulsion of South Africa from the professional tennis circuit and from Davis Cup play.

In 1975, Arthur Ashe reached the pinnacle of his career by winning the singles title at Wimbledon and attaining the world number one ranking. A heart attack in 1979 and subsequent bypass surgery led to his retirement in 1980 from professional play. However, Arthur Ashe became involved in sports commentary on television, a columnist for the Washington Post and Tennis magazine, served as captain of the American Davis Cup team, wrote books about the athletic history of African-Americans, and was involved in several philanthropic initiatives.

Arthur Ashe also had heart bypass surgery in 1983. In 1985, Ashe was elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1988, after brain surgery, Arthur Ashe learned that he was HIV-positive as a result of tainted blood that he received during his second heart bypass surgery in 1983. Initially, Ashe was able to protect his privacy but rumours persisted and he announced to the world on April 8, 1992 that he had AIDS. Ashe became involved in raising awareness about the disease. Less than a year later, on February 6, 1993, Arthur Ashe died.

As one remembers this tremendous athlete and activist, consider the following items for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:



Arthur Ashe on tennis strokes strategy traditions players psychology and wisdom A hard road to glory a history of the African-American athleteArthur Ashe tennis and justice in the Civil Rights eraGame set match champion Arthur Ashe

I remember Arthur Ashe memories of a true tennis pioneer and champion of social causes by the people who knew him



The classic match Connors v. Ashe men's final 1975



Please also view Snapshots in History: February 6: Remembering Bob Marley

Snapshots in History: February 4: Remembering Rosa Parks

February 6, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)


(Credit: National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306)

It is fitting during Black History Month that one remembers the African-American civil rights activist Rosa Parks (Born: February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama; Died: October 24, 2005 in Detroit, Michigan). For many people, Rosa Parks’ claim to fame was her courageous stand in fighting racial segregation on public buses in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955 by refusing to give up a seat in the bus section reserved for African-Americans after the section for white passengers had already been filled. Her arrest for refusing to comply with unfair rules led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott from December 1, 1955 to December 20, 1956 which ended when the United States Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery city and Alabama state laws on bus segregation were unconstitutional. Leading civil rights leaders such as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy played prominent roles in the boycott campaign.

Rosa Parks, along with her husband Raymond Parks, were members of their local chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Due to her active role in the civil rights struggle in Alabama, Rosa Parks and her husband suffered economic hardship and briefly re-located in Hampton, Virginia before settling in Detroit, Michigan. Parks fought against segregation there in education and housing as well. While often disagreeing with Dr. King on process, Parks was able to convince King to appear with local Democratic Representative candidate John Conyers who was elected to Congress in November 1964. (John Conyers still sits in the House of Representatives and is currently the longest-serving member of the present American Congress.). Following his initial election, John Conyers hired Rosa Parks to work as a secretary in his Detroit office, a position from which she retired in 1988. Parks kept Conyers well-informed on socio-economic and community issues.

Following her retirement, Parks penned an autobiography and lived a private life in Detroit. She received different awards, including the NAACP Spingarn medal in 1979, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1996), and the Congressional Gold Medal. Rosa Parks suffered from frail health and dementia in her later years. Upon her death, Rosa Parks’ body lay in honour in the Capitol Rotunda. After she died, Rosa Parks was honoured with a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:




Our Auntie Rosa the family of Rosa Parks remembers her life and lessons The rebellious life of Mrs Rosa Parks Rosa Parks my story I am Rosa Parks Dear Mrs. Parks a dialogue with today's youth



I am Rosa Parks unabridged




Our Auntie Rosa the family of Rosa Parks remembers her life and lessons The rebellious life of Mrs Rosa Parks


Large Print:


The rebellious life of Mrs Rosa Parks



DVD Documentaries:


Architects of civil rights Historical icons Rosa Parks mother of civil rights

Snapshots in History: February 2: Remembering the Battle of Stalingrad

February 5, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)


(Center of Stalingrad after liberation – February 2, 1943 – Credit: RIA Novosti)


On February 2 and beyond, take a moment to remember the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad on February 2, 1943 that resulted in approximately 2 million casualties altogether between the German and their allied forces and the defending Soviet forces. If one goes back to the summer of 1942, in particular late June, July and August, the German forces initiated Case Blue which consisted of a two-pronged thrust towards the city of Stalingrad on the Volga River, a major industrial city on a major transportation waterway, and further south towards the Caucasus region with its rich oil fields, a substantial prize for sustaining a major war effort. Capturing Stalingrad was supposed to protect the German push into the Caucasus region.

German forces had major tank and air support in pushing forward. The Luftwaffe had bombed Soviet troop and supply ships on the Volga River in late July 1942. On August 23, 1942, a major aerial bombardment by the Luftwaffe resulted in a firestorm in Stalingrad, causing thousands of deaths and rendering the city a burnt-out and rubble-laden city. This bombardment set the stage for the subsequent close quarters of building-by-building, floor-by-floor urban warfare fighting in Stalingrad itself between German and Soviet forces, dubbed by the Germans as “rat war” (or Rattenkrieg). General Vasily Chuikov, commander of the Soviet 62nd Army, was given the unenviable task of defending Stalingrad to the last person. “Not a step back” reflected the order from Moscow not to retreat or there would be dire consequences. In fact, some Soviet soldiers were executed for cowardice.

The German Sixth Army became trapped in Stalingrad as a result of Operation Uranus on November 19, 1942, initiated by Soviet General Georgy Zhukov, in which counter-attacking Soviet forces overran the Romanian Third Army, thereby cutting off the German Sixth Army from the remainder of the German and their allied forces. The Luftwaffe’s attempt to transport in supplies to the trapped German Sixth Army was a failure as was the German Army’s relief effort, Operation Winter Storm, under Field-Marshal Erich von Manstein from December 12-23, 1942. The subsequent Soviet capture of the Pitomnik and Gumrak airfields on January 16, 1943 and January 21/22, 1943 respectively meant that the Luftwaffe could no longer take out wounded German soldiers. The area remaining for the trapped German and allied soldiers, known as the “Kessel” (or cauldron) became increasingly smaller. German forces were reduced to two holdout pockets with the first surrendering on January 30, 1943 and the second on February 2, 1943. Some 10,000 German soldiers refused to surrender and held out for another month.

The Battle of Stalingrad has been regarded by many as a turning point in the European theatre of World War Two as German forces were pushed back westwards until eventual capitulation in May 1945. Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Books by Military Commanders:

The beginning of the road / Vasilii Ivanovich Chuikov; translated by Harold Silver, 1963. Book.

Marshal Zhukov’s greatest battles / Georgii Kostantinovich Zhukov; edited and introduced by Harrison Salisbury; translated by Theodore Shabad, 1969. Book.


Some Key Sources about the Battle of Stalingrad:

199 days: the Battle for Stalingrad [1st ed.] / Edwin Palmer Hoyt, 1993. Book.

Military historian Hoyt effectively used secondary sources as well as German and Russian accounts (and more recently available material from Russian archives) to set the stage for the battle. The German military commanders did not challenge their supreme leader’s orders, while the Soviet military commanders enjoyed more leeway from their leadership in executing operations that facilitated the first major victory for the Red Army in World War Two.


Stalingrad the city that defeated the Third Reich

Stalingrad: the city that defeated the Third Reich / Jochen Hellbeck, 2015. Book.

This book was originally published in the German language in 2012. Historian Jochen Hellbeck interviewed both German and Russian/Soviet veterans from the Battle of Stalingrad. Unlike some other books on the subject, Hellbeck has presented the Soviet defenders in human terms. Portraits of and interviews with some of these Soviet and German veterans can be found on the author's website .

Also available in eBook format (Access Online).


Stalingrad the fateful siege 1942-1943

Stalingrad: the fateful siege: 1942-1943 [1st American ed.] / Antony Beevor, 1998. Book.

Military historian Beevor used primary sources in German and Russian as well as more newly-available Soviet archival material to offer the reader arguably the best account of this most important turning point battle of the Second World War on the Eastern Front. The context is set: soldiers on both sides of the battle fought under the watchful eye of Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes (or else) while dealing with both the horrible and the boring. But do not forget the civilian population of Stalingrad (many of whom were not allowed to leave the city) who also suffered deprivation and death among with the military combatants.

Also available in eBook format (Access Online).

Also available in Hungarian and Polish book formats.


Stalingrad the infernal cauldron 1942-1943

Stalingrad: the infernal cauldron, 1942-1943 / Stephen A. Walsh, 2000. Book.

Military historian Walsh provided a detailed account of the Stalingrad battle that lasted over 140 days and resulted in a crushing defeat for the German 6th Army. The reader is introduced to many black and white photographs that had not been published previously as well as detailed appendices offering information on the orders of battle, losses, and equipment.



BBC History of World War II. War of the century, when Hitler fought Stalin / Laurence Rees and Samuel West; BBC Video, 2005. DVD. 190 Minutes.

This four-part documentary series built upon interviews with surviving Soviet and German participants from the war as well as drawing upon eastern film archives and expertise from historians. Episodes: 1. High hopes -- 2. Spiral of terror -- 3. Learning to win -- 4. Vengeance. 


Secrets of the dead Deadliest battle

Secrets of the dead. Deadliest battle (1 videodisc) / Liev Schreiber; PBS Distribution, 2010. DVD. 60 Minutes.

Join actor Liev Schreiber as narrator of this episode of Secrets of the Dead that looks back at the full impact of the destructive Battle of Stalingrad. 


Stalingrad (1 videodisc) / History Television, 2012. DVD. 47 minutes.

Watch History Television’s Lost Evidence television program to learn about the Battle of Stalingrad.


The unknown war WWII and the epic battles of the Russian front

The unknown war. WWII and the epic battles of the Russian front (5 videodiscs) / Harrison E. Salisbury, 2011. DVD. 990 Minutes.

Watch this collaborative Soviet-American 20-part documentary series from 1978 with journalist Harrison Salisbury. Contents include: Episode 5: The Defense of Stalingrad; and, Episode 6: Survival at Stalingrad.

Also available in eVideo (Access Online) format. 


The world at war. Volume 3 (1 videodisc) / Laurence Olivier et al., 2004. DVD. 210 Minutes.

Join actor Laurence Olivier as narrator of this landmark documentary series from the 1970s. Contents include: The desert, North Africa 1940-1943 -- Stalingrad, June 1942-February 1943 -- Wolf pack, U-boats in the Atlantic 1939-1944 -- Red star, the Soviet Union 1941-1943. 


Feature Films:


Stalingrad (1 videodisc) / Fedor Bondarchuk, Peter Fedorov, Thomas Kretschmann et al., 2013. DVD. 125 minutes. Russian language. English, Russian, and Ukrainian subtitles available.

A small group of Soviet soldiers and sailors attempt to hold a strategic building during the battle of Stalingrad, while looking out for the welfare of a teenage girl. 


Stalingrad 1998

Stalingrad (1 videodisc) / Dominique Horwitz, Thomas Kretschmann et al., 1998. DVD. 138 minutes. German and English dialogue with English subtitles available.

Follow the story of four German soldiers transferred from the North Africa campaign to the Eastern Front who become trapped with the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad.

Additional copies of this feature film are also available under the following cover: 


Stalingrad 2013

Stalingrad (1 videodisc) / 2013. DVD. German language with English subtitles.



Snapshots in History: February 3: Remembering the 1916 Parliament Hill Fire

February 5, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

Citizen news bulletin Dominion House of Parliament is in ruins. Fire Feb. 4, 1916


On February 3 and beyond, take a moment to remember the fire and destruction of Canada’s Centre Block Parliament Building in the City of Ottawa on February 3, 1916, save the Parliamentary Library which survives to this day. The fire in the Centre Block was reported at 8:37 p.m. and spread quickly. The saving of the Parliamentary Library has become a piece of Canadian historical folklore. Librarian Alpheus Todd showed prescience by insisting on the library having iron-made fire doors, and library clerk Connie MacCormac insisted that the iron fire doors be closed before the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings was evacuated.

Speculation was rampant about whether the fire had been deliberately set given that the First World War was ongoing at the time. A man in the reading room in the northwest corner of the Centre Block noticed smoke emanating from something in a garbage basket. A staff member was alerted but the fire spread with rapidity. Then-Prime Minister Borden escaped from his office by crawling on his hands and knees in a smoke-filled corridor. Firefighters had to contend with a cold night in fighting the fire. The large bell in the Victoria Tower crashed to the ground after midnight. The burned Centre Block became encased in ice due to the cold temperature. View images of the fire, the firefighters, and the aftermath here.

Construction of the new Centre Block began almost immediately, while Canada’s Parliament temporarily relocated to what is now the Canadian Museum of Nature. The first sitting of Parliament in the new Centre Block took place on January 26, 1920. The replacement for the Victoria Tower, the Peace Tower, was completed in 1927 as a commemoration of Canadians who lost their lives in conduct of the First World War.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Fire on Parliament Hill! / Jane Varkaris and Lucile Finsten, 1988. Book.

This book specifically deals with the 1916 Centre Block fire on Parliament Hill in the City of Ottawa.


Jewel on the Hill: the story of Canada’s Parliament buildings [1 videodisc] / Neil Bregman and André R. Lavoie; Sound Venture Productions, 2000. DVD.

Learn about the architectural splendor and history as well as the political history associated with Canada’s Parliament Buildings.


If you are interested in the history of Canada’s Parliament Buildings, consider these titles as well:




Canada's parliament buildings Canada's parliament buildingsExploring the HillThe glory of Ottawa Canada's first parliament buildings



Canada's parliament buildings

How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity

February 4, 2015 | Maria Samurin | Comments (2)

Sometimes—usually on Wednesdays—I like to browse the Albert Campbell Branch shelves in search for wacky books: often odd, always hilarious.

This week's #WackyWednesdays pick: How to make your cat an internet celebrity: a guide to financial freedom by Patricia Carlin.

How to make your cat an internet celebrity : a guide to financial freedom

For years, financial freedom was achieved with careful planning and a successful career, or—if one was lucky—by winning the lottery. Nowadays, all you need is to adopt a furry friend, or so author Patricia Carlin claims.

Her book provides dozens of tips on how to make your cat famous, from understanding kitty's strengths and weaknesses, to filming viral videos.

What first caught my attention—and had me laughing—was the title (the part about 'financial freedom', to be precise). After reading the first few pages, I was convinced! Now, I religiously follow my cat, camera in hand, hoping for a windfall. Lottery tickets have long since been replaced with film equipment, floor space with cat toys, and 'free time' with 'kitty time'.

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn't share some adorable (viral) cat videos:


Now are you ready to make your cat an Internet celebrity? If your answer is 'yes', why not take some time to analyze the appeal of Grumpy Cat, pick out the purrfect kitty with just the right amount of oomph, and learn to care for your furry friend. Here are some books that can help:

Grumpy cat The cat handbookI just got a kittenGuide to home pet grooming

If kitty's career doesn't work out, don't despair! Give your furry friend a great, big hug and attain your financial freedom the traditional way. At Albert Campbell Branch, our Employment Ontario Information Session, Tap into the Hidden Job Market, and Discover the Right Career seminars are here to help.

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