Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sunday July 25th, 2010 How awesome is that?!

Perched high on the Globe and Mail Bestsellers list and also on the hold shelf at the Thunder Bay Public Library is The book of awesome: Snow days, bakery air, finding money in your pocket, and other simple, brilliant things by Neil Pasricha. Browsing through it the other day, I found it hard to put down. The inside cover describes the book as filled with smile-inducing moments that make you feel like a kid looking at the world for the first time. Read it and you’ll remember all the things there are to feel good about. With touching, warm, and funny observations, each entry ends with the big booming feeling you’ll get when you read through them: AWESOME! It all began with the Webby Award winning blog that was launched on June 20, 2008. The website’s counter currently clocks over 17 million hits. Morphing into a 400-page hardcover in April 2010, the book became an instant bestseller. Kind of indicates the importance of remembering the small stuff and living in the moment doesn’t it? Here are some fun things for you and your children to do while living in this summer moment.

Go to the beach

A beach doesn't have to be the ocean. It can be anywhere there is water or sand. Even the sand box. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes. Build a sandcastle together. Sand castles step-by-step by Lucinda Wierenga provides a step-by-step guide to building sandcastles. Elaborate ones with stairways, towers, moats and fairy tale balconies. Also included are more basic projects for smaller children.

Catch fireflies

Do you remember catching fireflies in the summer when you were a child? Take a jar, punch some holes in the lid, catch some fireflies, and then most importantly, let them go. Fireflies in the night by Judy Hawes describes how fireflies make their light and the best ways to catch them and let them go.

Go for a bike ride

What could be more fun than biking down an unexplored trail together? Fun and good exercise, you may be surprised at all the things you will see. Biking: An outdoor adventure handbook by Hugh McManners is a book written for kids who like mountain biking on the trails. He also offers ideas for games and activities as well as instructions for setting up an obstacle course.

Go outside at night and look up at the stars

Getting to know the night sky is easy. Just check out a book on stars and constellations and discover a whole new world above you. Seeing stars by Dandi Daley Mackall is a great place to start. The North Star and ten other familiar constellations are introduced and illustrated with sparkly tin foil on darkness. If you happen to be outside any night over the next month you can watch for meteor showers. Sometimes you will see as many as twenty meteors in one hour. Now that’s a light show

Be crafty

Crafts in the summer are fun and easy. You can do them outside and use items you find on the beach or in the backyard. Crafts to make in the summer by Kathy Ross contains twenty-nine simple and fun summer craft projects such as firecracker finger puppets and seashell candle holders.

There are literally a thousand ideas to choose from. Swing until you have that feeling in your stomach when you go really high (#748 from The book of awesome), or celebrate your pet’s birthday even though they have no idea what’s going on (#758). Don’t let summer go by without trying at least one. But whatever you decide to do, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. You never know. It could be awesome.

Caron E. Naysmith, Supply Staff

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sunday July 18th, 2010 Genealogy Gems

In May of this year I had the opportunity to attend part of the Ontario Genealogical Society’s ( annual conference in Toronto. I attended a one day workshop that kicked off the weekend activities and focused on genealogical research and programs in libraries. I was amazed to learn how many libraries and communities are invested in the hunt for genealogical gems and local history research.

Now that it is summer and prime time for doing research and filling in the blanks of your family history, visit the Thunder Bay Public Library for its extensive collection (located primarily at the Brodie Resource Library) of materials about Thunder Bay and the surrounding area. Highlights of the collection include: Special Collections (comprised of books, albums and photographs related to the past and present history of Thunder Bay and surrounding area), local newspapers and news indexes dating back to 1875, city directories from 1884-2004 (at which point they ceased publication), photographs dating back to the early 1800s, historical maps of the Thunder Bay region, obituary indexes for Fort William and Port Arthur dating back to 1900, the library of the Thunder Bay branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, Canadian and American phonebooks. The library also provides access to three useful databases for genealogical research: Ancestry Library Edition, Thunder Bay News Index, and the Gateway to Northwestern Ontario History (which is run by Knowledge Ontario as part of the project to provide access to the digital collections of libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, government agencies, and private collections from across Ontario).

Another tidbit of information I learned at the genealogy conference is that only 5 per cent of all genealogical information is available online. Not to say that the online resources aren’t thorough; I’m sure many of us have seen the television commercials for the Ancestry database, which is an excellent tool and really fun to use. Another online site that can be useful is the Family History and Genealogy Records (, which provides free genealogy records and resources at an international level. To supplement this database there are Family History Centres across North America for accessing microfilm and other materials. The Thunder Bay centre can be found at 2255 Ponderosa Drive.

If you’re just getting started with your family history, here are some helpful tips to get you going in the right direction:

  1. Start with yourself and work back, don’t try and skip over generations to a distant relative. Gather the information you need to draw a line from person to person over the years.
  2. Talk with relatives and family members to gather stories and information from those who are still around.
  3. Consult genealogy guidebooks (of which there are many at the library) such as GENEALOGY IN ONTARIO: SEARCHING THE RECORDS by Brenda Dougall Merriman or FAMILY HISTORY 101: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO FINDING YOUR ANCESTORS by Marcia Melnyk
  4. Keep an open mind when it comes to dates and the spelling of names or places. Older records can be hard to decipher and the proper spelling of names was not always a priority.
  5. Always refer to the original document of primary source of information whenever possible. Relying on someone else’s interpretation of a document is not always accurate and the original will often provide more detail than is accessible in a summary.
  6. Join a genealogical society to talk to like-minded individuals and researchers.
  7. Visit your local library to ask questions and learn more about how to use the material.
And most importantly, be organized! Keep records of where you have looked, interviews completed and make sure to choose a recording system that works well for you. There are so many options for recording and developing a family tree that you are bound to find one that suits your needs.

Happy hunting!

Jesse Roberts, Head of Reference Services

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunday July 11th, 2010 Baseball @ Your Library

With the World Junior Baseball Championships happening in the city July 23 – Aug 1, now would be a good time to immerse yourself in baseball. I grew up with 3 older brothers who were sports fans. Our family would take our trailer down to Minneapolis to enjoy “Campers Weekend” where we could set up camp in the parking lot of the stadium and enjoy the games. I would always cheer for the team who was playing AGAINST the Twins, much to my brothers’ chagrin. I now live with a baseball nut so I waved the white flag long ago and have learned to enjoy the game and its subtle nuances. I have yet to learn the numbers for each position so I can score a game card but I have definitely come a long way from the Minnesota Twins games. Before you head out to the games stop by the library: we have the factoids, we have the stats, we have the movies!!

My favourite baseball movie is Field of Dreams (1989) starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice in his corn field tell him, "If you build it, he will come." He interprets this message as an instruction to build a baseball field on his farm, upon which appear the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. When the voices continue, Ray seeks out a reclusive author to help him understand the meaning of the messages and the purpose for his field. This film is based on a book by Canadian author W.P. Kinsella titled Shoeless Joe Jackson Goes to Iowa. The library has copies of both the book and the movie in its collection.

Baseball between the Numbers, by the Experts at Baseball Prospectus, 2006. In the numbers-obsessed sport of baseball, statistics don't merely record what players, managers, and owners have done. Properly understood, they can tell us how the teams we root for could employ better strategies, put more effective players on the field, and win more games. The revolution in baseball statistics that began in the 1970s is a controversial subject that professionals and fans alike argue over without end. In separate chapters covering every aspect of the game, from hitting, pitching, and fielding to roster construction and the scouting and drafting of players, the experts at Baseball Prospectus examine the subtle, hidden aspects of the game, bring them out into the open, and show us how our favourite teams could win more games. This is a book that every fan, every follower of sports radio, every fantasy player, every coach, and every player, at every level, can learn from and enjoy.

The N
orthern Game: Baseball the Canadian Way by Bob Elliot, 2005. Opening at the 2004 Olympic baseball tournament, where the unheralded Canadian team came within an errant throw of the gold medal game, the author recounts Canada's rich baseball history, from 1838 to 2004, when the top rookie in both major leagues hailed from the Great White North. See the current day top Canadian talent at the World Junior Championships in the city.

See you at the library and then at the field. Play Ball!!!

Barbara Philp, Head of Adult Services

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sunday July 4th, 2010 Stanley

West of Thunder Bay on the banks of the Kaministiquia River, lies the hamlet of Stanley. This community was once a bustling place. I have family connections with Stanley. My grandparents settled there when they came to Canada from Sweden. There’s even a road in the community that’s named for my family. According to the Stanley Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir History Book, this community was named for Lord Stanley, who visited the area in 1856. And my cat Christopher Stanley was named for this community, as well as for my father in law.

Source: History – Thunder Bay and District #169

Bottling Plant

Prior to World War I, the Stanley Mineral Springs company began a soft drink bottling industry in Stanley. The spring behind the plant was the source of the spring water that they used. They produced a variety of beverages such as lemonade, ginger ale and, of course, water. The springs also supplied water for the hotel, general store and some area residences. When the plant closed, barrels of soda were distributed to lucky area residents.

Source: LF NWO Stanley

Cheese factory

Between June of 1940 and 1956, the Stanley Co-Operative Cheese Company was in operation. It was built on the site of the former bottling plant. Over 400 people were in attendance to see them cut the cheese on June 19, 1940. A dance at the community hall followed the official ceremony. Area farmers supplied the company with 9,500 pounds of milk on a daily basis. John Zatti was the company president and the cheese maker was Stuart Coughlin. Their cheese was sold around the world. In 1970, the former cheese factory was dismantled.

Source: LF NWO Stanley

Source: News Chronicle June 20, 1940

Railway Station

The Port Arthur, Duluth and Western Railway (commonly called the P.D.) once ran through the area. The station was located in the vicinity of the hotel. It was the only station on the P.D. line that housed a telegraph office. The Stanley area was once a popular picnic destination and people from town would come out by train. The last P.D. train was on March 24, 1938, which was long before my time. I do however have a connection to it. We had a cat named P.D., which we found as a kitten on the P.D. Road.

Source: LF NWO Stanley

Stanley Hotel

If you’ve ever had a Stanley Burger, then you’re familiar with the Stanley Tavern. The first hotel built there was called the Park Hotel. In 1906 you could get a room for $1 or $2 a day and accommodations for your horse. Behind the hotel was a large chicken coop and the hotel was known for its chicken dinners. During the days of the P.D. railroad it was a popular watering hole for travelers. The hotel burned down on September 25, 1945. A new hotel was built on the site by the Smith brothers and was first known as Hotel Stanley. It opened in 1946 and is still standing.

Source: LF NWO Stanley

Source: Stanley History. (published by the Stanley Women’s Institute)

General Store

Do you remember the Stanley General Store? I recall going there in the 1960’s. In fact we obtained our first Siamese cat from the owners of the store. I mostly recall that you could go in and have bacon or fresh cheese cut from a slab. The first store was built in the early 1900’s and moved to a new location near the Stanley Hotel in the 1930’s. After the closure of the store it became a private residence.

For a general history of Stanley, be sure to check out the book Stanley History. It’s in our local history collection at Brodie. It has maps and photos, information on schools, farms, area landmarks, organizations, etc. This wealth of information was published by the Stanley Women’s Institute. For information on Stanley or other local communities remember that we have a great local history collection at the Brodie Reference Department.

The next time you’re taking a drive down River Road or perhaps enjoying a Stanley burger think about what a bustling little place Stanley used to be. And enjoy the peace and quiet of the Stanley of today.

Karen Craib is a Library Technician