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March 2015

March 20 is World Storytelling Day

March 20, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

World Storytelling Day logo 600px-Wsdmatslarge

(Credit: Mats Rehnman – World Storytelling Day logo)


World Storytelling Day from Anne E Stewart on Vimeo.


World Storytelling Day from Rodivision on Vimeo.




March 20 is World Storytelling Day (“a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling”), an idea that began back in Sweden in 1991-1992 as "Alla berattares dag" (All storytellers day) and has spread throughout the world, including to Australia and Latin American countries in the late 1990s, to Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Lithuania in 2002, and to Canada and other countries in 2003, culminating in participation from 25 countries on 5 continents for World Storytelling Day 2005 with even more participation in 2006. Here is a list of agreed upon themes for World Storytelling Day dating back to 2004:

  • 2004 - Birds 
  • 2005 - Bridges 
  • 2006 - The Moon 
  • 2007 - The Wanderer 
  • 2008 - Dreams 
  • 2009 - Neighbours 
  • 2010 - Light and Shadow
  • 2011 - Water
  • 2012 - Trees 
  • 2013 - Fortune and Fate
  • 2014 - Monsters and Dragons
  • 2015 - Wishes


The 2015 Toronto Storytelling Festival runs from March 19 to 29, 2015. Several Toronto Public Library branches (Pape/Danforth 2-3p.m., Long Branch 2-3p.m., Runnymede 2-3pm, Morningside 2-3p.m., Dufferin/St.Clair 11a.m.-12noon, North York Central Library 2-3p.m., and Richview 2-3p.m.) are participating in Storyfire on Saturday, March 21, 2015 to help kick off the 2015 festival. Please contact the library branch of interest for additional information.


Storytelling can be used in different situations and various contexts and take different forms (i.e. digital, oral, written etc.). Consider borrowing some of these examples of storytelling resources from Toronto Public Library collections:


Your leadership story use your story to energize, inspire, and motivate Script changers digital storytelling with Scratch Video game storytelling what every developer needs to know about narrative techniques Experiencing spirituality finding meaning through storytelling Strange material storytelling through textiles Digital storytelling capturing lives, creating community Story physics harnessing the underlying forces of storytelling Tell me a story sharing stories to enrich your child's world Storytelling and the sciences of mind Show me a story 40 craft projects and activities to spark children's storytelling The storytelling animal how stories make us human Lead with a story a guide to crafting business narratives that captivate convince and inspire Winning the story wars why those who tell and live the best stories will rule the future Learning Little Hawk's way of storytelling The power of storytelling captivate convince or convert any business audience using stories from top CEOs Tell to win connect persuade and triumph with the hidden power of story The art of storytelling telling truths through telling stories Tell me about yourself storytelling to get jobs and propel your career The elements of story field notes on nonfiction writing Braiding histories learning from Aboriginal peoples' experiences and perspectives including the Braiding histories stories co-written with Michael R. Dion

Snapshots in History: March 19: Remembering Louis Riel and the 1885 North-West Rebellion

March 20, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

On March 19 and beyond, take a moment to remember Métis leader (and founder of the province of Manitoba) Louis Riel (Born: October 22, 1844; Died: November 16, 1885) in connection to the anniversary of the establishment of the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan on March 19, 1885, an event that led to the start of the North-West Rebellion on March 26, 1885 with the Battle of Duck Lake. A force under the command of Métis military leader Gabriel Dumont defeated a smaller force of North-West Mounted Police troops. A month later on April 24, 1885, Dumont’s forces defeated a larger Canadian military force at the Battle of Fish Creek, while allied indigenous Cree and Assiniboine forces under Chiefs Poundmaker and Fine Day defeated a larger Canadian force at the Battle of Cut Knife on May 2, 1885. However, the Battle of Batoche from May 9-12, 1885 was a victory for a larger Canadian militia and regular military force over Dumont and Riel and their supporters. This was the turning point in the rebellion and led to the collapse of the provisional government on June 3, 1885. The subsequent capture of Louis Riel, his trial and eventual execution on November 16, 1885 in Regina, Saskatchewan remain controversial footnotes in Canadian history.

Many see Louis Riel as leader in the fight for indigenous and Métis rights (in spite of mental health issues and spending time in an asylum in the 1870s (between the 1869-1870 Red River Rebellion and Riel’s ensuing provisional government of Manitoba [including the court-martial and execution of opponent Thomas Scott on Riel’s orders], the subsequent founding of Manitoba as a province within Canadian Confederation and into the 1880s leading up to the North-West Rebellion.)). Lands promised to the Métis people in Manitoba were mismanaged by the federal government and opportunities were stymied before they could even get started; this contributed to a westward migration into the Northwest Territories onto land that is now part of the province of Saskatchewan. Riel and some of his supporters fled to the United States for a time as a general amnesty was not forthcoming following the execution of Thomas Scott.

Fast forward back to 1885 and Riel’s trial for treason. The jury found him guilty but recommended mercy. However, the presiding judge sentenced him to death. Fifty years after Riel’s execution, one of the jurors opined that Riel was tried for treason but executed for having Thomas Scott executed. Francophone Canada (especially Québec) began to turn away from the Conservative Party towards the Liberal Party for several generations following Riel’s execution.

A less popular viewpoint puts the blame squarely on Louis Riel and the Métis people for their own misfortunes.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections to learn about Louis Riel and the Métis people:



Riel's defence perspectives on his speeches Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont Louis Riel firebrand Louis Riel and the creation of modern Canada mythic discourse and the postcolonial state The false traitor Louis Riel in Canadian culture Louis Riel Riel and the Rebellion 1885 reconsidered 2nd ed



Riel a life of revolution Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont


Snapshots in History: March 18: Remembering the First Space Walk and Beyond

March 18, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)







On March 18 and beyond, those of you who are outer space enthusiasts may want to take a moment to remember the importance of space walking, known officially as extravehicular activity (EVA). Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov completed the first ever tethered space walk on March 18, 1965 outside of the spacecraft Voshkod 2 for a duration of twelve (12) minutes and nine (9) seconds. Leonov experienced trouble with his ballooning spacesuit which made it difficult to operate a camera and to return inside the spacecraft. This further delayed the return of Voshkod 2 to Earth by forty-six (46) seconds and resulted in a landing 386 kilometres away from the intended landing spot, forcing Leonov and fellow cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev to spend a frigid night in their spacecraft until the recovery crew found them.

On June 3, 1965, American astronaut Edward White became the first American (and second overall) to walk in space. He was reluctant to finish his EVA (total of 36 minutes) and had to be ordered back into the Gemini 4 spacecraft. A problem developed when the hatch mechanism had problems being relatched after having been opened. Fortunately, the problem was fixed otherwise White and fellow astronaut James McDivitt would not have been able to re-enter the atmosphere without Gemini 4 burning up on impact.

Recently retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian (and 127th overall) to walk in space. In fact, Hadfield completed 2 EVAs for a total duration of 14 hours 53 minutes 38 seconds. Hadfield has written and spoken about his time in outer space, including his recent stint as commander of the International Space Station (ISS).

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


Walking in space An astronaut's guide to life on earth You are here around the world in 92 minutes Spaceflight the complete story from Sputnik to Apollo and beyond Smithsonian atlas of space exploration Canadians in Space the forever frontier Canada in space the people & stories behind Canada's role in the exploration of space The orbital perspective lessons in seeing the big picture from a journey of seventy-one million miles Sky walking an astronaut's memoir Canadian spacewalkers Hadfield MacLean and Williams remember the ultimate high adventure

Snapshots in History: March 18: Remembering the Stanley Cup and Frederick Arthur Stanley

March 18, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)



Hockey fans in Canada look forward to the start of the ice hockey season each autumn and the start of the playoffs each spring, including those who follow the National Hockey League (NHL) to see which professional team will win the Stanley Cup championship trophy. On March 18 and beyond, take a moment to remember the beginnings of the Stanley Cup and the man who made it possible, Frederick Arthur Stanley, who served as Canada’s sixth Governor-General from 1888-1893, after which he became the 16th Earl of Derby in the United Kingdom. While in Canada, Stanley’s children embraced winter activities such as ice hockey, ice skating, tobogganing, and snowshoeing. A sports enthusiast himself, Stanley wished to encourage competition in the amateur realm of ice hockey through an annual challenge cup. On March 18, 1892, a message was read out on behalf of the Governor-General to the Ottawa Athletic Association, conveying the desire for an annual challenge cup tournament, in keeping with the growing interest in ice hockey, to be held by the winning hockey club on a year-to-year basis. Hence, the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup (now better known as the Stanley Cup) was born and first awarded to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association in 1893. (The original Stanley Cup is on permanent display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto.) Over the years, both professional and amateur hockey teams won the Stanley Cup until 1910 when the cup was awarded exclusively to professional ice hockey teams. Between 1917 and 1926, the winning teams from both the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL) played off for the Stanley Cup trophy. From 1927 onwards, the teams of the NHL exclusively competed for the Stanley Cup, following the dissolution of the PCHL.

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


Stanley Cup 120 years of hockey supremacy Legendary Stanley Cup stories Greatest games of the Stanley Cup the battles and the rivalries The ultimate prize the Stanley Cup Quest for the Cup a history of the Stanley Cup finals 1893-2000 Brian McFarlane's history of hockey Stanley Cup fever 100 years of hockey greatness A Great Game The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey



Driver Education Resources Offline and Online

March 17, 2015 | John P. | Comments (1)

Many residents, regardless of whether they are Canadian-born or newcomers to Canada, face the challenges brought about by driver education. Toronto Public Library carries various resources to support this important step. The Official MTO Driver’s Handbook is the provincial government guide to help people get through the G1 and G2 licensing levels in the province of Ontario. The French language equivalent is: Guide officiel de l'automobiliste publié par le MTO.

Chinese speakers can make use of  最新考筆試必讀, 2014 新版 = Zui xin kao bi shi bi du, 2014 xin ban = Driver's handbook for Chinese written test and 分 級考牌制度: 最新考筆試及路試手冊 =  Fen ji kao pai zhi du: zui xin kao bi shi ji lu shi shou ce = Graduated Driver’s Handbook for Chinese Written and Road Test .

Some people also like to study driver education online. One can access the Official MTO Driver’s Handbook Online and access the same information as with the print version on getting your driver’s license, safe and responsible driving, traffic signs and lights, keeping your driver’s license, your vehicle, and the level two road test.

Several websites offer free online practice tests, including the following: offers free access to 155 sample questions for the Ontario G1 written knowledge test with no software to download and no personal information collected. The equivalent test is also available in several other languages:

Test pratique du permis G1 (French Version)

Prueba para licencia G1 (Spanish Version)

أونتاريو اختبار الممارسة  G1 (Arabic Version)

G1实践测试 (Chinese Version) also provides up to 30 free questions for both the Ontario G1 Driving Permit Practice Test and the Ontario M1 Driving Test (motorcycle) and up to 5 free questions for both the Ontario A Driving Test (semi-trailer truck) and the Ontario D Driving Test (truck). has eight free Ontario G1 practice tests, offering from 40 to 200 questions in two sections about Ontario road rules and road signs. is a free website offering 250 questions including pictures and animation. Once again, there is no software to download and one can practice with no limit at no cost. offers 5 free sample test questions on road rules for the Ontario G1, Ontario M1 Motorcycle, Ontario Class A Truck and Ontario Class D Truck and on road signs for the Ontario G1, Ontario M1 Motorcycle, and Ontario Class A Truck. 

Snapshots in History: March 13: Remembering William Herschel and the Discovery of Uranus

March 13, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)




On March 13 and beyond, take a moment to remember British astronomer (and music composer) Sir (Frederick) William Herschel (Born: November 15, 1738; Died: August 25, 1822) for his discovery of the planet Uranus on March 13, 1781. Born Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in Hannover, Germany, Herschel migrated to Great Britain at nineteen (19) years of age. In 1773, William Herschel began an interest in astronomy that would last for the rest of his life, building his first large telescope in 1774, and carrying out sky surveys for a (9) nine-year period with the purpose of finding double stars. During the course of this celestial odyssey, Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, the first planet in our solar system to be discovered in more modern times.

William Herschel developed the use of astronomical spectrophotometry to study wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation from different sources (including visible light) by using prisms and equipment measuring temperature. In this regard, Herschel is credited with the discovery of infrared light/radiation. Herschel also calculated a more specific rotational period for the planet Mars and detected seasonal changes in the Martian polar ice caps. He also discovered two (2) moons of both Uranus (Titania and Oberon) and Mars (Enceladus and Mimas) respectively.

William Herschel was also a musician and composer. He played the oboe, violin, harpsichord, and the organ as well as composing 24 symphonies, a lot of concertos, and some church music.

It is also worth mentioning that Herschel’s sister, Caroline Lucretia Herschel (Born: March 16, 1750; Died: January 9, 1848), was also an astronomer in her own right, credited with the discovery of several comets, who worked closely with William Herschel.

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




Discoverers of the universe William and Caroline Herschel The complete guide to the Herschel objects Sir William Herschel's star clusters nebulae and galaxiesThe Georgian star how William and Caroline Herschel revolutionized our understanding of the cosmosThe age of wonder how the romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of science

For additional information, please read online the 1980 article by National Research Council of Canada astrophysicist Peter M. Millman entitled “The Herschel Dynasty – Part 1: William Herschel”.

Snapshots in History: March 12: Remembering the World Wide Web

March 12, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)






On March 12 and beyond, take a moment to celebrate the birth of the World Wide Web (WWW) on March 12, 1989. In 2015, the World Wide Web continues to evolve, whether it is Google’s improvements to safe browsing on its Google Chrome browser, or one hears more and more about the Internet of Things. In 2014, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, submitted a guest blog post to the Google Official Blog entitled “On the 25th anniversary of the web, let’s keep it free and open”. Sir Tim reminded readers that he was working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, when he submitted a proposal that became the basis for what one knows today as the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee used existing technologies such as the Internet and hypertext to create WWW. CERN agreed that the developed WWW technology would be made available to all freely without the need to pay royalties. People outside of CERN began to participate on WWW in 1991. Berners-Lee emphasized that the intent of the World Wide Web and the Internet was to be “non-hierarchical, decentralized and radically open” to encourage participation, regardless of language, device, and software used. From that point onward, many more people became involved in the construction of the World Wide Web and even more people have joined in as online participants (some 40% of the world’s population by the end of 2013, according to the International Telecommunication Union) and contributed to trillions of dollars in economic activity.

While the anniversary of the World Wide Web deserves acknowledgement and celebration, Sir Tim Berners-Lee posed some sobering questions that seek to be answered such as: What can be done to get the other 60% of the world’s population online to the World Wide Web in a timely fashion? What can be done to ensure that the WWW is supportive of all languages and cultures? Can consensus be furnished around open standards to support the burgeoning Internet of Things? Will restrictions be placed upon the “open web” and be tolerated? Or, will the ability to say, discover, and create be left unrestricted? How can those spying on the Internet be made publicly accountable within a system of checks and balances?

In an exclusive to The Guardian, Tim Berners-Lee is advocating for a digital bill of rights (dubbed an online Magna Carta) in each country to protect the independence of the World Wide Web from corporate and government influence and foster net neutrality. Berners-Lee’s digital bill of rights proposal has become part of the WebWeWant initiative urging “people around the world to stand up for their right to a free, open and truly global Internet.” He is supportive of the principles of privacy, free speech, and responsible anonymity being considered within the digital bill of rights framework. Tim Berners-Lee has been critical of the activities of American and British espionage networks in light of Edward Snowden’s revelations involving the National Security Agency in the United States.

For information on those predictions about the World Wide Web that did not come to pass, consider reading the following articles:

Chloe Albanesius,5 Terrible Early Web Predictions”,, March 12, 2014.

James O’Toole,5 predictions for the Web that were WAY off”, (Money), March 11, 2014.

Looking to the future? Consider the following article:

Carina Kolodny,Here’s What The Internet Could Look Like in 2025”, Huffington Post (Technology), March 11, 2014.

Visit Nominet’s Story of the Web website to follow the timeline leading to the World Wide Web. Visit the Web at 25 website to view greetings from users of the World Wide Web the world over.


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



How the Web was born the story of the World Wide Web Weaving the Web the original design and ultimate destiny of the World Wide Web by its inventorArchitects of the Web 1000 days that built the future of business 100 ideas that changed the webIntelligent web search smart algorithms and big dataCataloging the world Paul Otlet and the birth of the information age



50 digital ideas you really need to know Web cartography map design for interactive and mobile devices


Snapshots in History: March 5: Remembering Winston Churchill and the Iron Curtain Speech

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



On March 5 and beyond, take a moment to remember an important footnote in post-World War Two history: Winston Churchill’s famous speech entitled “The Sinews of Peace” which he gave at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, U.S.A., on March 5, 1946. The speech is best known for its reference to an “iron curtain” that became a defining point in the Cold War between the western capitalist bloc of countries led by the United States and the eastern bloc of communist countries headed by the Soviet Union: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe…” In the speech, Winston Churchill also spoke of the special relationship between Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom and added that it would have been “…wrong and imprudent to entrust the secret knowledge or experience of the atomic bomb, which the United States, Great Britain, and Canada now share, to the world organization [i.e. United Nations Organization], while it is still in its infancy…”

Only some six months before on September 5, 1945, Soviet cypher clerk Igor Gouzenko defected from the Soviet embassy in Ottawa with proof of Soviet espionage activity in Canada, although the Canadian government only granted Gouzenko and his family political asylum on September 7, 1945 following an abortive attempt by Soviet officials to recapture him. As a follow-up to the Gouzenko Affair, the Canadian government arrested thirteen (13) suspects under the auspices of the War Measures Act on February 15, 1946. Following Winston Churchill’s March 5th speech, within the context of the Cold War, twenty-six (26) individuals were arrested in Canada on March 14, 1946 on spying charges, including Fred Rose, Canada’s only elected Member of Parliament for the Labour Progressive Party (i.e. Communist Party of Canada).

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




Our supreme task how Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech defined the Cold War alliance Words that ring through time from Moses and Pericles to Obama fifty-one of the most important speeches in history and how they changed our world World War II behind closed doors Stalin the nazis and the west How the cold war began the Gouzenko affair and the hunt for Soviet spies Stalin's man in Canada Fred Rose and Soviet espionage



World War II behind closed doors Stalin, the Nazis and the West

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