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May 2010

A Local Landmark

May 31, 2010 | Claire | Comments (0)

We are very lucky to have Riverdale Park in our neighbourhood.  Local residents, from dog walkers to athletes,  have enjoyed access to one of the most beautiful parks in Toronto.  At the south-east corner of Riverdale Park there is a monument to Dr. Sun Yat-sen.  Most people wouldn't know why this monument is standing here, but during the weekend I have spent some time on this question.  I'd like to share the story.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen is known as a revolutionary and he is honoured as the Father of Modern China.  He visited Toronto around a hundred years ago, and gave a speech at Victoria Hall to raise funds for his revolution.

In 1983 there was a National Open Sculpture competition to create a statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.  Joe Rosenthal was selected as the sculptor, and he completed the monument in 1985.   The biography of Dr. Sun Yat-sen is on the back, as are the names of the donors to the monument.  Most of the donors were local people of Chinese origin.

This monument shows Dr. Sun Yat-sen holding a book.  The book is his famous ideology "The Three Principles of the People".  It talks about nationalism, democracy and socialism. 

Thanks to Mr. Dale Cheung, Co-chair of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, for giving me some sources of information about this important local monument.

Riverdale Library Hosts Author Cathy Marie Buchanan

May 22, 2010 | Claire | Comments (0)

Are you a fan of great historical fiction?  Come to Riverdale Branch to meet Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Day the Falls Stood Still.  A gripping story set against the natural majesty of Niagara Falls, The Day the Falls Stood Still has been on the New York Times bestsellers list and has been featured on the National Post's "Canada Also Reads" project.  This talented author will give us her insights into the history and environmental issues which underpin her book, and also answer audience questions. 

The reading takes place Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 7 pm.  Bring your library card!

Riverdale and History

May 13, 2010 | Claire | Comments (0)

As I walked through the non-fiction bays here at Riverdale branch yesterday, I stopped for a moment by the 940’s, that is, by the books  that cover the history of the twentieth century.

 Lively times, the twentieth century, if not lovely.  Someone who had lived, say, from 1910 until now would have seen a lot of history: world wars, revolutions, rockets, computers, not to mention the rise and fall of disco.

 “Disco’s not history”, says someone. “HISTORY is politics and killing people.”   It is true that “history” is not everything that happened but what happened that made a difference.  History is a story, history has a plot.  And what matters depends on which story is being told.   So, when you got your first job, it became part of your (personal) history.  It mattered.  The sausages you had for breakfast this morning just…happened.

 The twentieth century, if you look at it, is not one story but many stories woven together, like the main wires wound around each other into a thick suspension cable.  Each story supports, and is supported by, the other strands.  Some strands are countries, some people, and some institutions. 

Riverdale Branch, which is a hundred years old this year, is one of those strands. Our branch, too, has a history.   Since before the Russian revolution right up to the latest stock crash,  we, the staff at Riverdale, have been checking books in and out, answering  questions, holding programs, updating our collections, talking with patrons and doing all those day-to-days that go into maintaining a library branch.  

Where in all this is the story, the plot, the History of Riverdale Branch?   Two things come into mind.   First that our strand in the cable is itself made up of thousands of narrower threads—individual stories of those who worked in this branch and those who used itIf there is a Riverdale “story,” if there is a “plot,” (and I’m sure there is) we may not be able to see it.  We are the actors in this play.

Are we in a comedy or an action thriller?   Only the audience knows.  

And who is the audience?