Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sunday July 19th, 2009 For the Love of Bushwalking!

Describing a leech as uncuddly would have to be one of the more laughable understatements I’ve encountered of late. Not only are they the epitome of all that is vile, fearsome, and evil, but in no way do they possess any measure of cuteness. Leeches are the bane of my favourite past-time, bushwalking, for which I have a love/hate relationship. My children blame me for their irrational fear of the putrescent beasties, but when you’re driving along and suddenly spot one latched onto your arm, hysteria is inevitable.

My most nightmarish bushwalking/leech experience was when my husband and I strayed from the track on a three day walk in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. We stopped briefly to consult the map, and within nanoseconds the leeches were on to us. From every direction, a black, seething mass wiggled toward us. Frozen panic, followed by an embarrassing jumping session were what ensued. (That was just me actually; my husband is much more mature), but it was uncanny how those leeches - hundreds - no thousands of them smelled blood and set out for a sucking frenzy.

Actually, my husband has the best bushwalking/leech story. One of his university professors, a mad keen bushwalker, awoke one morning with an odd, lumpy, feeling in his throat. Upon asking his chum to investigate the matter, he was informed that a leech had in fact made its way into his gaping orifice during the night and ensconced itself there. The prof’s response was to regurgitate the little – insert expletive here – and bite it in half on the way through, just to teach it a lesson.

The sheer exhilaration and sense of achievement when walking in the wilderness and conquering that mountain top certainly makes any potential leech invasion nugatory. Even bashing through relentless horizontal scrub, with the burden of a full pack and soggy gear, is no restraint to the ultimate reward. Bush beasties do, unfortunately, go hand in hand with any outdoor experience, especially around Thunder Bay, but knowing how to deal with them is the vital key. Ticks, mosquitoes, black flies and leeches are amongst the greatest disincentives to venture outdoors. For some helpful information, try Ticks and What You Can Do About Them, by Roger Drummond. It’s an all-you’ll-ever-need-to-know guide and includes information on what to do if a tick lands on you.

The Complete Guide to Walking in Canada, by Elliott Katz also has a chapter entitled Avoiding Insects That Bite. He accurately describes mosquitoes as flying piranhas and recommends against wearing dark coloured clothing, favouring whites and yellows instead. Blue jeans are not an option!

As far as leeches go, try searching our Virtual Collection with Environment as the search category. It brings up some interesting article titles. For example: Leech therapy among notable spa offerings across Canada; These blood suckers die for us; or The analytical bend of the leech.

The region in and around Thunder Bay offers some great opportunities for bushwalking, and with summer here it’s time to get out and explore it. TBPL houses a number of practical publications on the topic. The Thunder Bay Hiking Association’s Trail Guide is regularly updated and contains details on graded walks, including Mink Mountain and Mills Block Forest. Check out their website at

Another book recently added to our collection is the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists’, Thunder Bay Nature Guide: A Guide to Natural Spaces in the Thunder Bay Area. It goes one step further by describing the flora and fauna associated with specific walks.

If you’re after a good, general bushwalking guide, the Wilderness Education Association’s, Hiking and Backpacking covers everything from buying gear to packing up camp. Also try the Canadian Hiker’s and Backpacker’s Handbook: Your How-to Guide for Hitting the Trails, Coast to Coast to Coast by Ben Gadd.

Or if climbing is your thing, Thunder Bay Rock: A Climber’s Guide to Thunder Bay, Ontario and Environs grades routes and provides tips on tackling specific climbs.

So, whether you’re a novice walker or a seasoned trekker, our region has a lot to offer. I certainly feel privileged to live here: Thunder Bay is one of Canada’s best kept secrets!

Rosemary Melville, Library Technician

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Sunday July 12th, 2009 Dinner and a Murder

The phrase says that “everybody loves a mystery”, and in my case it couldn’t be more true, if given a choice I’ll always grab a whodunit. While my tastes vary from the hard boiled thriller to the intricate plots of a historical mystery, depending on my mood and the season; I’m always in the mood for a cozy mystery.

For those not familiar with mysteries, cozies are a subgenre known for their humour and attention to character. Normally, cozies develop into series, each developing the characters, their eccentricities and environment of the sleuths’ world. The fun in cozies is spending time with Miss Marple and the residents of St. Mary’s Mead or Jim Qwilleran and his sleuthing cats, Koko and Yum Yum in one of Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who.. mysteries or tracking the romantic life of Stephanie Plum and the antics of Grandma Mazur in the latest Janet Evanovich; and the mystery just keeps you turning pages.

If you like a mystery as much as I do; this summer the library has a great contest for you, with its adult reading game, Dinner and a Murder. Come in to any branch and pick up a ballot, just read five books and solve the murder for a chance to win a $50.00 gift certificate for a five course gourmet dinner for two in the Nordic Dining Room at the Valhalla Inn. The more books you read the more ballots you can complete.

In order to get you on the case and whet your appetite, there is also a $50.00 gift certificate from Boston Pizza (perfect for stakeouts), as an early bird prize just for coming in and filling out a ballot.

The books you read for the contest don’t have to be mysteries, just read what you enjoy. If you are interested in grabbing a cozy mystery or two for camp, here are a collection of new ones the library has just ordered.

Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen

Set in 1932, Bowen's third whodunit to feature Lady Georgiana, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria), will please fans of romantic, humorous historicals. Georgie makes an ill-advised attempt to start her own business, leads to embarrassment, danger and scandal. Sent off to the family castle in Scotland, Lady Georgiana turns sleuths when a series of serious accidents suggests that someone is targeting members of the royal family. The violence soon escalates to murder, leaving Georgie in the crosshairs.

Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews

Winning a rose show can drive a person to murder, in the 11th Meg Langslow mystery set in Caerphilly, Va. Before the event, Meg’s dad’s roses are sabotaged, and another enterant’s purebred Maltese is kidnapped in order to prevent the owner from competing. The stakes turn deadly when while exploring the estate, where the show is taking place, Meg discovers a woman stabbed in the back with a pair of gardening shears. It’s up to Meg to weed out the murderer before she becomes the next gardener pruned.

Fed Up by Jessica Conant-Park

In the 4th mystery to feature Chloe Carter, it’s up to Chloe to clear the name of Josh Driscoll, her chef boyfriend, when he serves up some poisoned lamb on a cable cooking show called, Chefly Yours, and a randomly chosen participant eat too much of the digitalis-laced dish and dies. Was she the intended victim or just unlucky? Was it a prank gone wrong, someone out to steal Josh’s TV show, or murder for another reason? The preparations for Chloe’s best friend’s wedding may distract her from her sleuthing a bit but Chloe intends to find the culprit.

The Alpine Uproar by Mary Daheim

In Daheim's,21st mystery to feature newspaper editor-publisher Emma Lord, an altercation between car mechanic and trucker at the Icicle Creek Tavern in Alpine, Wash., leaves one dead dead and another in jail. Emma, however, thinks that the witnesses' statements don't quite add up, especially when they're followed by a traffic accident that kills the nephew of the local grocery store owners. Emma then learns that the nephew was high on cocaine and other drugs at the time, suggesting that a dealer is active in the area. Her investigation into the drug trade may just make her, their next victim.

The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King

This is the ninth re-imagining of the life of Sherlock Holmes by mystery novelist Laurie R. King, who fleshes out Holmes character with a loving and much younger but equally brilliant wife, named Mary Russell. The focus of this book is Sherlock Holmes estranged artist son, Damian Adler, who unexpectedly arrives on Holmes and Mary’s doorstep, trying to enlist his father’s aid in searching for his missing wife and daughter. While Holmes tackles the case, Mary goes undercover to investigate Damian’s questionable past.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Sunday July 5th, 2009 Bridges

What would we do without bridges? We wouldn’t be able to watch deer on Mission Island or enjoy coffee at Caribou Coffee in Duluth. Bridges take us from one place to another and from one heart to another.

The Pigeon River Bridge

In August 1917 this bridge first opened and was known for years as the Outlaw Bridge, due to the fact that it was built without government approval by the Rotary Clubs of Duluth and Thunder Bay. On the day it opened a motorcade of 65 cars made the five and a half hour journey to Grand Marais. Our digitization collection features a photo showing vehicles lined up for the opening. It looks similar to the lineup I was in last year on the May long weekend. You can also find further information on the bridge in our Local History file.


Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

When Leslie Burke moves into the farmhouse next door she crushes the dream of Jess Aarons to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade. After he got over losing this coveted spot he finds out she’s not so bad. Friendship blossoms and soon they create a secret kingdom in the forest, named Terabithia. It can only be reached by swinging on a rope across a gully (hmm – wonder why it’s not called Rope To Terabithia). Here they see themselves as rulers of the kingdom. When tragedy strikes during a storm their world is changed forever. A tale of friendship and courage that will have you grabbing for a hankie. We have it in book or DVD format.

Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel

The album featuring this song was released on January 21, 1970, and we carry it on cd. Who can forget those haunting lyrics – When you’re weary, feelin small, When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all. I recall listening to and discussing this song in a high school English class. If you’re looking for the words and music we carry the songbook, The Simon & Garfunkel Collection. It features several of their hits such as Mrs. Robinson and The Sound of Silence (something my family doesn’t often hear). This past April saw the release of Live 1969, which contains recordings from the 1969 tour that started shortly before the album was first released.

The Bridge On The River Kwai

In 1957 this movie captured Academy Awards for best actor, director, cinematography, musical score and best motion picture. The story happens during World War Two in a Japanese prison camp in the jungles of Asia and centers around the construction of a railway bridge. It’s a battle of wills between Colonel Saito and a British prisoner, Colonel Nicholson, played by Alec Guinness. Meanwhile a team of Allied commandos is dispatched to stop the construction project by blowing up the bridge. We carry the movie on dvd. One of the songs this movie is best known for is the Colonel Bogey March. Who can forget the scene where the soldiers march across the bridge? If you’d like to hear this song visit the Naxos Music Library in our Virtual Collection. Who knows…you may want to get up and march around the house.

Local Bridges

We have information on local bridges in our local history collection located in the Brodie Reference Department. For example we have files on both the Swing Bridge and the old Jackknife Bridge (both of which scared me as a child. I was always afraid of being on one when it opened and tumbling into the river). The Jackknife Bridge went into operation on May 8, 1913. It was constructed in the open position and cost the CPR $350,000 to build. Did it ever fail to close? Yes, in August of 1975 it was stuck open due to an electric problem. A quick check of our Thunder Bay District News Index, located in the Virtual Collection, shows that demolition work of the bridge took place in spring of 2004.

Source: LF Thunder Bay – Bridges – Jackknife

Next time you take the bridge to Mission Island, don’t just enjoy the view, think about how lucky we are to have it. May each bridge you cross take you somewhere delightful.

Karen Craib is a Library Technician at the Brodie Resource library.