Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sunday September 26th Culture Days

Many of us may have spent our weekend so far attending events and activities around the city that celebrate Culture Days, which is a nation wide movement to be held every September. This year marked the first official Culture Days and Thunder Bay grabbed hold of the idea with full force. Activities throughout the city included public art displays, exhibits to highlight the history of our region and its industries, dance workshops, film screenings, storytelling at the public library, and much more. If you’ve been missing out, not to worry; there is plenty going on today as well. The traditional teaching lodge and fall ceremony at Chippewa Park features public healing, social singing and sharing and is open to everyone from 9am to 5pm. The Thunder Bay Art Gallery is hosting a public art maquette display and a family art event in the afternoon. Students from Lakehead University will be presenting unique earth art projects, and the McNulty Recital Hall will be hosting a special keyboard music workshop led by Harpsichordist Eric Lussier. Finally, local artist, Biljana Baker, will be welcoming you to a watercolour demonstration and tour of her studio in the afternoon. For more information on these events, you can check out the website.

All of the Culture Days events also tie in to the Inspire Thunder Bay Culture Plan currently being developed and implemented by the City and its partners. This plan aims at fostering a stronger promotion of culture within our community, further cultural development, and making cultural considerations an integral component within the municipal structure. Starting to sound vaguely familiar yet, kind of like the “creative economy” promoted by the likes of Richard Florida? The gist of it is that where you live is just as important a decision as what you do for a living or the people you choose to spend time with. Cities have to market themselves as culturally rich in order to attract new residents. Events such as Culture Days serve to promote the beauty of our city outside of the everyday activities that are so easy to neglect amidst the demands of work and family.

Did you know that a good public library system is one of the most attractive qualities for individuals considering a move to a new city? Granted, I may be slightly biased in this belief, but Thunder Bay has an exceedingly committed and dedicated public library. It also has a rich cultural history within the city. If you haven’t taken the time yet, look up the next time you’re in the Brodie Resource Library and admire the stained glass author portraits that were originally installed in 1912. Or check out our website to get updates on the new Mary J. L. Black Branch Library, which will feature a local art installation and an expansion of services we can offer to the community.

The cultural history of Thunder Bay can be tracked through the collections of the Thunder Bay Public Library, the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, the Thunder Bay Historical Museum, the local branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, the City Archives, and many other organizations throughout the city.

Jesse Roberts, Head of Reference Services

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sunday September 19th, 2010 Special Events

At a loss of what to write about for the Library Detective column I turned to the handy guide, Chase’s Calendar of Events, for some ideas. Chase’s is the most comprehensive reference source for holidays, special days, events, and notable birthdays. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable happenings in September.

September 19 is the start of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week both in the United States and Canada. According to the Canadian Cancer Society website at an estimated 470 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every week. The website supplies information on the signs and symptoms, treatment options and aftercare and support services. The library carries a number of up to date books on the subject. You might try The Canadian Guide to Prostate Cancer by Leah Jamnicky, or Dr. Peter Scardino’s Prostate Book. You can also access journal articles on the subject from the library’s Virtual Collection using your library card and pin number. A good database to start with is Health and Wellness Resource Center.

Three popular television shows made their debut on this date. The premier of the medical drama ER was televised on Sept. 19, 1994 with the final episode airing on Apr. 2, 2009. Remember Flipper? This family adventure series starring a dolphin first televised on this date in 1964 and ran for four years. And of course who can forget The Mary Tyler Moore Show, making its debut on Sept. 19, 1970. Mary and her WJM-TV newsroom colleagues made us laugh for the next seven years. The popular sitcom also starred Betty White who is currently enjoying a spectacular comeback starting with her role in the move The Proposal, available on DVD @your library.

September 19 is also International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Who knew? I hesitated in including this bit of trivial information however, the August/September issue of the magazine Canada’s History, available @your library, is entitled Pirates, so I had to check it out. In 1740, the husband and wife pirate team of Eric and Maria Cobham conducted raids from their hideout on the West coast of Newfoundland. They were allegedly known for killing every sailor to ensure no witnesses remained. Additionally, the pirated ships were sent to the bottom of the ocean and so were presumed to be lost at sea. So go ahead and swash those buckles, don your eye patch and and say Arrr, Matey, it be a fine day!

Remember to wash your hands frequently this week as it is International Clean Hands Week. With the flu and cold season fast approaching, and the kids back in school, this is a good time to start washing. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit website has some great information on hand washing techniques, the use of hand sanitizers, along with promotional material such as posters which are available in English, French, Ojibway, and Cree. The book Let’s Get Cleany-Clean! by Jean McElroy is a fun way to teach kids the importance of hand washing to avoid icky germs from spreading.

Finally, I looked to our newspapers on microfilm for some September 19 headlines. Choosing a random year of 1970 I loaded up the film for the Fort William Daily Times Journal to see what I could find. The big local news headline reads Three in Hospital with Stab Wounds. Internationally, the Middle East peace talks would not resume unless Egypt removed missiles implanted along the Suez Canal as demanded by the Israeli leader Golda Meir. The weekend magazine boasted colour comics. A three bedroom brick home in Westfort was selling at 19,500.00. Famous Players Theatres announced that the big new movie season is here with all seats for fifty cents each. And finally, the Lakehead Harbour Commission reports eleven ships currently in the harbor.

Every day has its highlights, whether big or small. What will today bring for you?

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday September 12th, 2010 Brodie Resource Library History

On April 29, 1912, two weeks after the Titanic sank, the Fort William Public Library (Brodie Resource Library) opened. We’ve done a lot better than that ill-fated ship. Mary J. L. Black was the first Librarian. Built with a $50,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation, this architecturally pleasing building is rich in history. I must admit, it really grows on you. When I came here twenty seven years ago I thought – what a creaky old building. With time I’ve learned to truly appreciate it, from the woodwork to the large arched windows complete with stained glass fanlights featuring well-known authors such as Dickens and Shakespeare.

1955 brought an addition to the south end of the building and the redesign of the entrance way, which was again renovated in 1966. In 1980 some of the original ambiance of the building was restored when oak tables and newspaper racks were returned to the Fireside Reading Room. It’s my favourite section of the building. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this anniversary as it approaches, but I thought I’d tell you a bit about us now. We do have an interesting history prior to 1912, but I’ll focus on events since then.


In the fall of 1918 parts of the library were pressed into use during the Spanish flu epidemic. The library was closed and the Reading Room and the lecture hall were turned into an emergency hospital. Twelve hospital beds were installed as well as beds on loan from the Frederic hotel. During the Swine flu epidemic last fall, staff recalled the library’s involvement. Some of us have been here long enough that you might think we were here for that event. During the 1918 epidemic the Board of Health kept a lid on schools, churches, pool rooms and other places of public gatherings. The first flu deaths occurred in the city in early October and things rapidly escalated until the epidemic ended in April. The tally was 1,005 hospitalized and 160 deaths. If you would like to read more about this we have the newspaper on microfilm in the Brodie Reference department.

Sources: Daily Times Journal October 7, 1958 and Daily Times Journal October 30, 1918


In the summer of 1940 the library board offered the ground floor of the library to billet members of the Lake Superior Regiment. At that time the reading room and lecture hall were located downstairs. Recruits for the regiment were arriving in town and were tested for entry into the unit. City buildings were offered to help house the influx of recruits.

Source: Daily Times Journal July 12, 1940

1941 to 1972

Did you know the Thunder Bay Historical Museum was located in the library?

1947 to 1967

The local office of the National Film Board was located in the library. In 1948 filmstrip distribution began. Remember filmstrips? How about the 35 mm movies we used to carry? Some staff have vivid memories of them. Especially the person who was showing a movie that was on three reels. The take up reel didn’t work and an audience member pointed out that the film was pooling on the floor.


On February 27, 1982 the Brodie Resource Library was designated as a historically significant building. Mayor Walter Assef was in attendance to unveil the plaque. Remember Jolly Wally? He was a colourful character, not unlike the stained glass fanlights in the library. In June the Victoriaville Library opened. It housed the fiction previously held at Brodie.

Source: LF TB Libraries – TBPL – Brodie Resource Library

The next time you’re in the area, stop by and have a look at this grand old building. Stay tuned for anniversary events in 2012. Hope to see you there.

Karen Craib is a Library Technician

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sunday September 5th Brown Bag Lunches

The dawn of a new school year is always exciting, and can bring mixed emotions. The excitement of starting fresh is often accompanied by nervousness about the unknown. Who is my teacher going to be? Will my best friend be in my class? What will I take for lunch? I can help you with that last one!

Your Library has a huge selection of cookbooks, covering every type of food from appealing appetizers to zesty zucchini. If you love cookbooks, check out the 641s the next time you visit the Library! Within this section you will find a few books filled with recipes, tips and ideas for “brown bag” lunches, including the following.

The brown bag lunch: A collection of recipes and tips for the perfect portable lunch, by Susan Epstein

This book includes a chapter “For the kids”, and fun tips like: “Cut out sandwiches with cookie cutters. They are really fun to eat and take only a few extra seconds to prepare. Perfect for the kid who won’t eat crust.” Or, for extra fun, leave the “crust” bit on and make a puzzle sandwich!

Lunch munch, by Bobbie Kalman

This is a recipe book FOR kids, and has easy-to-follow instructions and lots of pictures. It includes seven menus using the recipes in the book. Kalman includes an informative section on nutrition, and explains why a healthy lunch is important. Browse the 641 section in the Children’s Department for more like this.

The brown bag lunch cook book: Great choices for healthy lunches in today’s fast-paced work environment, by Miriam Jacobs

Although this book is written for the “work environment” it’s equally useful for packing school lunches. A section of note is called, “The freezer is your friend.” It lists common lunch items which can and can not be frozen. Freezing lets you plan ahead and manage your time. It also allows food to defrost gradually in your lunch bag, so it’s ready for you at lunch time. Frozen food doubles as a cool-pack in a lunch box. Jacobs also advises you to plan ahead by making a weekly schedule for lunch meals, and planning your shopping list at the same time.

Allergy-free desserts by Elizabeth Gordon

This is one of many allergy-friendly cookbooks that may be found at the Library. With the majority of schools going peanut-free these are helpful resources for all parents. Gordon includes chapters on cookies, bars, cakes, pies, breads and “extras”.

The internet is a great source of lunch box ideas. There are numerous blogs devoted to the topic, including, which is written by Meg, a mother of two. Meg shares her menu ideas, passes along news about lunch box products, and advocates for environmentally-friendliness. For a visual feast follow some of the links to flickr photo groups in the “lunch box resources” section.

Canadian Living’s Web site ( features an article by Dr. Joey Shulman: “Healthy lunch makeovers for kids: Tips for packing healthy lunch your kids will actually eat.” Shulman suggests keeping lunch interesting by trying different types of bread and alternatives like pitas and wraps. Visiting the health food store or bulk food section of your grocery store is also recommended, in order to stock up on things like dried fruit, yogurt-covered raisins and granola mixes which make healthy snacks. Having your child participate in grocery shopping and lunch packing is also suggested, in order to foster more interest in what they eat.

With these informative resources this school year will be the tastiest ever!

Joanna Aegard, Head of Virtual Services