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October 2014

War is hell... let's sing!

October 21, 2014 | Cynthia | Comments (0)

Many songs and poems arise from the events of the world, and the Great War was no exception. For the first time, Canadians fought under Canadian commanders, and we were recognized as a country independent of the British Empire. Canadians, as well as the British and Americans, put their feelings in poems and songs, many of which we are familiar with today.   

The songs of this time offer insight into conditions at home and abroad, both pro and con, and serious to more lighthearted. Leon Botstein, president of Bard College in New York State, says that “music may have an even greater claim than the other arts to being indispensable in time of war.” Songs can inspire patriotism and bravery, and help people to feel like they are part of a larger effort. They can also provide a form of entertainment and socialization. People may not remember speeches, but more easily remember tunes and the lyrics to songs. Music can become the catalyst for governments to recruit soldiers, keep up enthusiasm among those already in the military, and gain support from civilians for the war effort.

“It’s a long way to Tipperary” was written in 1912, but became a popular marching song in 1914. “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag (and smile, smile, smile)” was another popular song of the day, aimed at boosting British morale. “Mademoiselle from Armentieres” was part of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry’s regimental march.

Songs could be used to oppose the war, such as “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier” but later changed to “I didn’t raise my boy to be a coward" when recruitment and morale were flagging.

Later in the war, Irving Berlin wrote “Oh! How I hate to get up in the morning”, shortly after he was drafted in 1918. It provided some comic perspective on military life. The Rev. J.D. Morrow wrote “You bet your life we all will go” as an inspiration when recruiting slowed down later in the war.

Women were also important in the pro-war propaganda, featured in songs like, “If he can fight like he can love, look out Germany!”. And as more and more women took on traditionally male tasks and responsibilities, men were given the heads-up about what to expect when they returned with the song, “You’d better be nice to them now.”

Poetry of the First World War    When This Blood War is Over    In Flanders Fields     Songs of War



Related Posts:

World War I Centenary: Canada's Local Responses to the Great War - October 30

Laughter in the face of death: the trench newspaper, The Wipers Times

A Whole Lot of Music

October 10, 2014 | Denise | Comments (1)

Robert Plant and his Sensational Space Shifters' new album Lullaby and -- the Ceaseless Roar.











The soundtrack from Frozen.  Frozen_bg


The new J J Cale tribute album, Eric Clapton & friends - the Breeze   The breeze

with Clapton and Mark Knopfler.




What on earth could they have in common? 


All are available for your listening pleasure on HOOPLA - TPL's on-demand Internet streaming media service. In fact, all were available at practically the same time as they were released. 


Get started here. Need some guidance? Book A Librarian at Barbara Frum Branch. We will be thrilled to get you listening on the device of your choice. 

And - did I mention HOOPLA's content includes film and TV shows? Winter is certainly looking a lot less daunting...


Rediscovering Toronto: Things to Do in the City

October 1, 2014 | Loretta | Comments (2)

This past week I've been racking my brain for things to do with my relatives visiting from overseas. Mind you, they aren't rookies when it comes to being a tourist in Toronto. Heck, they've been coming annually to our beloved city for the past 20 years - they're practically Torontonians. Plus, they've been to all the hot spots: Niagara Falls, CN Tower, every inch of Downtown Toronto & most of the GTA/Markham. You can see why it's been a tough gig playing tour guide!

For me, what defines Toronto is the hustle and bustle of Downtown Toronto. And dining. (We Torontonians love to eat!) Forgetting that my relatives are from a high-tech, overpopulated city where hustle-and-bustle is the norm, my suggestion for spending the day downtown was met with moans & groans. Back to the drawing board. 

Here's a list of things that I came up with, for you to share with your friends & family who want a relaxing time in Toronto:

Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG)- A favourite among families with small children, wedding photographers, and joggers & cyclists, TBG is perfect for a lazy mid-day stroll. I'd suggest going on a weekday to avoid a packed parking lot. Check out their Teaching Garden and my all-time favourite, the Organic Farmers' Market (year-round, Thursdays 2-7 p.m.). My relatives loved the fresh air and the mini nature walk. Pack some sandwiches and you're ready to go! See more info on walking trails in the city by visiting Kate’s post. 


Toronto Botanical Garden

Museums & Art Galleries - Did you know that you can borrow a Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) from the library with your library card? A MAP pass lets you and your family (2 adults & up to 5 children) explore venues such as the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo, Art Gallery of Ontario, and more, for free. At the Barbara Frum Branch, MAP passes are given out on a first come, first served basis on Thursdays at 9 a.m. 

Toronto's Neighbourhoods - There are a ton of hidden gems in Toronto: locally-owned cafes, pubs, restaurants, and markets. Here's a guide from BlogTO that takes you through the 55 pockets in the GTA - what to do, where to eat, and it includes a map of where these neighbourhoods are. My (touristy) go-tos for an afternoon on the patio for food & drinks are the Distillery District, St. Lawrence Market, Annex, Financial District, and the Beaches. 

For more info on tourist attractions for your relatives who've never been to Toronto, here are some books to help you plan their visit & for you to brush up on your knowledge of Toronto's history:

Toronto     Fodor's Toronto       Streeteats


Also, see the City of Toronto website for Festivals & Events happening in the city.

See? Being a tour guide does have its perks. Not only do you view the city through the eyes of a tourist but you rediscover all that our wonderful city has to offer. Not to mention, the favour is reciprocated when you visit your relatives overseas. Happy Touring!

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