Sunday, 28 June 2009

Sunday June 28th, 2009 Nature Crafts

With the abundance of nature all around us it’s not hard to come up with some great crafting ideas and projects. Rocks, flowers, twigs and pine cones are just a few of the materials available in many backyards. Using a few tools, maybe a glue gun, some wire, scissors or a saw, you too can create your own craft recipe this summer.

Rhubarb is always a great addition to any garden. Whether it’s in cakes and muffins or just eaten plain and sprinkled with a bit of sugar it can be a tasty treat. But what about those lovely large leaves? The texture of the leaf, with its large veins, is a perfect stencil for a concrete stepping stone. With a bit of patience and a few extra supplies you can create a one of a kind stone that’s both functional and decorative. Using a Google search you can find lots of different websites with instructions for the stones. Here is one that I like:

Making Twig Garden Furniture by Abby Ruoff is a look at using twigs, bark and vines, to create simple pieces of garden furniture, bird feeders and houses, planters and stands. Each item lists the materials and tools required along with the cutting instructions and directions. The instructions will also state whether it is geared for a beginner, intermediate or experienced skill level crafter. It also covers the types of wood that can be used, with willow being fairly common. Cane, Rush and Willow by Hilary Burns includes directions for woven baskets. For a dose of humour and a quick craft idea, watch the video on You Tube of Martha Stewart and Conan O’Brien making a twig peg rack. Go to , enter the search term ‘twig peg rack’ and it should be near the top of the results list.

Grace your front door with a handmade wreath made with natural items from the outdoors, or a craft or grocery store. Making Classic Wreaths by Ed Smith showcases seasonal wreaths, wreaths for the kitchen or for that special occasion. Using dried flowers, fruit, moss, grasses or even stones, you can create that unique gift or decoration. This book covers the basic materials required, types of wreath bases, and how to tie ribbons and bows. Preserving flowers from your garden can supply you with some of your crafting needs. Dried Flowers For All Seasons by Jenny Raworth contains tips on drying and using flowers.

Gourds from the garden can be converted into vessels or pots and birdfeeders. You can find instructions on how to create a gourd birdhouse from the magazine Mother Earth News using our magazine and newspaper database online. Go to our website at, and click on the Virtual Collection tab, and then click on the Sleeping Giant. Before you begin a search you will be prompted to enter your library card and pin number. Enter the search term ‘gourd birdhouse’ and check off the category for magazines and newspapers. It should be near the top of the results in your list. You can also check out our copy of the book Gourds by Bonnie Gibson for more ideas.

Kids love crafts and what better way is there to spend a rainy summer afternoon than working on a project. Ecology Crafts For Kids by Bobbe Needham is a wonderful book filled with lots of simple ideas, making use of household items through recycling, and backyard or outdoors materials. Containing 50 different ecology crafts this book has something for everyone. Twig frames, sand candles, cornhusk angels, and birchbark baskets are just a sample of the projects you’ll find. My personal favourite? The dog biscuit photo frame. While it doesn’t make use of nature, I can find plenty of dog bones around my house.

If you decide to take advantage of all that nature has to offer in beautiful Northwestern Ontario, remember, when harvesting from nature to do so responsibly.

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician, Brodie Reference Department

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Sunday June 21st, 2009 National Aboriginal Day

Happy National Aboriginal Day. According to the Government of Canada’s National Events List, this day was established in 1996 to encourage Canadians to recognize the cultures of First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis communities and their contributions to the development of Canada. Events today are taking place at Marina Park, starting with a sunrise ceremony at 5:30 a.m. It’s a full day of activities, ending with a Powwow at 7 p.m. Hope you get out and enjoy the celebrations.

I’ve already written about the local history collection at Brodie, but I can’t say enough about it. History is comprised not only of big events, but also small events, that were big events to those involved. What other events have happened on June 21? Let’s look at what was happening around town 50 and 75 years ago.


I was curious as to what was happening 50 years ago. We carry old newspapers on microfilm and I’m always fascinated by what you can find. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, providing you don’t suffer from motion sickness. Looking at the Saturday June 20, 1959 edition of the Times Journal (there were no Sunday newspapers at that time) I found a few interesting things. The sports section featured an article called - Tocheri, Massaro To Manage Stox. This article is about the Lakehead Stock Car Racing Association and mentions local drivers such as Louis Tocheri, Tony Massaro and Barry Kettering.

For more information our Local History file contains various newspaper clippings on stock car racing under the heading LFTB Sports - Automobile

In other news there is an article from South Gillies called – Women’s Institute Members Celebrate 40th Anniversary. It said while chatting over coffee, tea and a birthday cake made by Mrs. C. Maki guests were entertained by a choir and looked at copies of the history scrap book. This intrigued me and I recalled that we carry photocopies of some of the area Tweedsmuir History Books, which were compiled by various Women’s Institutes. I checked and we actually have one from South Gillies. If you’re interested in looking at it, the Local History file number is #170 History – Thunder Bay and District. It contains information on schools, businesses, area photos, obituaries and even histories of some of the local families such as the Couch and Hymers family.


Let’s delve a little deeper and find out what was happening 75 years ago. I checked the Thursday June 21, 1934 edition of the Times Journal. One newsworthy item was the opening of the new location of Lakehead Motors Limited, at the corner of Cummings and May Streets. A quick check in the LF TB – Business – Lakehead Motors file tells me the company began in 1931. Did you know that in 1949 in conjunction with Jim Griffis and the P.A. Board of Education, they introduced driver education?

It’s interesting to see what businesses were advertising in 1934 that were still here in the 50’s, 60’s and beyond. There was Fryer’s Studio, my Optometrist O.G. Snyder, Eaton’s and the Royal Edward Hotel, where you could get dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. for 75 cents.

In Other Local History News

Members of the Local Ontario Genealogy Society have been diligently indexing obituaries, death notices and memorials from very old issues of both the Fort Willliam and Port Arthur newspapers. These invaluable indexes are housed in the Brodie Reference Department and are a great asset to our local history collection.

If you know someone with a big birthday or wedding anniversary coming up, check out our local newspapers to see what was happening on their special day. Here’s a great party idea, one library patron photocopied parts of the newspaper to be used as placemats. What a novel idea.

The next time you find yourself with time on your hands, stop in and read an old newspaper. You never know what you might find.

Karen Craib is a Library Technician

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Sunday June 7th, 2009 Can the Library Help You Kayak?

After thoroughly enjoying two kayaking excursions the previous summer, I found myself daydreaming more and more about the activity as winter dragged on. There is just something about gliding through the water on the banks of a lake or river that just appeals to me. Now, of course I am not the master kayaker that I claim to be to anyone who will listen. Nor am I an intermediate level kayaker. I am more between the level of beginner and extreme beginner (but God forbid that my friends and family know this fact). However, I plan to update my kayaking status with the help of a few key resources found at the Thunder Bay Public Library.

At any of the four TBPL branches, current books that specialize on the subject of kayaking can be found. A great example is the book Paddle Your Own Kayak: an illustrated guide to the art of kayaking by Gary and Joanie McGuffin. This beautifully illustrated book covers numerous kayaking topics on fundamentals, proper techniques, weather, clothing and safety with step by step instructions that will interest kayaking beginners and experts alike.

On the other hand, a book that focuses solely on the safety aspects of kayaking can also be obtained from the library. The Sea Kayaking Safety Guide published by the Canadian Coast Guard aims to educate recreational kayakers on potential dangers, proper regulations, trip planning advice accompanied with a thorough checklist, individual provincial information and first aid (a free PDF version of this book can be found on Transport Canada’s official website).

For those of you thinking about the opportunity to fish from your kayak, try Kayak Fishing: the ultimate guide by Scott Null and Joel Mcbride. These authors share both fresh and saltwater fishing tips based on their extensive experience on the subject. I’m hoping that these gentlemen might be able to provide some insight as to avoid being dragged all over the lake when hooking that big monster, or in my case, how not to fall out of the kayak when trying to rid myself of a snag.

One last book that might be of interest details the actual building of a fabric covered sea kayak. Building the Greenland Kayak: a manual for its construction and use by Christopher Cunningham is a concise manual that covers the design of a Greenland kayak with easy to understand instructions and numerous illustrations and diagrams.

Instead of relying solely on print materials relating to the subject of kayaking, instructional videos can also be found at the TBPL. DVD’s such as All About Kayaking written and produced by Kent Ford will offer viewers instruction on the basics of kayaking and kayak touring. In addition, The Kayaker’s Toolbox by Joe Holt (winner of the best instruction video at the 2006 National Paddling Film Festival), which was filmed in high definition quality, showcases instruction on the more advanced subject of whitewater kayaking.

Also found at the Thunder Bay Public Library is the Virtual Collection, which is a great online resource that can be accessed from inside the library or from the comfort of your home (provided one has internet access and a library card). Many of the electronic databases contained within the collection offer insightful articles on topics relating to and about kayaking.

As I become more and more familiar with the proper techniques and attempt to not look like a complete novice, I intend to make the most out of my summer and explore the fantastic wilderness in and around beautiful Thunder Bay and who knows what the future will hold. Whitewater kayaking? Yeah, I don’t think so…..

Derek Gradner, Library Assistant at the Waverley branch –