Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sunday January 30th, 2011 Long Live the Queen

The recent engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton has sparked a flurry of interest in all things royal. While every little girl dreams of being a princess, the role of a real life queen is fraught with difficulties. The late Mr. T. H. Smith, my history teacher at Port Arthur Collegiate, taught us that you could learn as much about an era from the role of the Queen and her court, as you could from the King and his battles.

The women who have been Queen through the course of a thousand years of English history could not be more different. Some sat as monarch in their own right, born to rule; others came to the crown through marriage, sometimes of love but more often than not of political alliance. From shy teenagers to dowager widows, the Queens of England have always made for fascinating stories. In the game of chess, it’s the Queen that holds the power, in reality many of these women met tragic ends.

These are a sample of some of the most recently published novels about the women who have sat on the throne in the past.

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir

The Lady in the Tower chronicles the last five months of Anne Boleyn’s life, from the death of Katherine of Aragon, whom she had replaced as Queen, until her execution in June 1536. The novel examines the motives of the main players in Anne’s downfall and why they pushed for her death. Challenging the idea that Anne was simply a pawn in a political game between the Boleyn’s and Thomas Cromwell, Weir explores the school of thought that it was the ideas of reform which Anne supported that would cost her head.

Captive Queen by Alison Weir

Eleanor of Aquitaine was a strong woman who used her wit, guile and beauty to first marry King Louis of France, then to reject him to marry the much younger Henry Fitz-Empress who would become Henry II of England. Eleanor formed a dynasty, though a very tempestuous one. Despite her love for Henry, Eleanor supported her sons in defying his authority, leading the country to the brink of civil war. Henry was forced to keep Eleanor captivity for seventeen years in an effort to control her.

Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

As heiress to the house of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrendered her belief that the Lancasters should have been England’s true rulers. A widow and mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to put her son on the throne regardless of the cost to England or to the child. Margaret marries twice for both money and political clout, forming dangerous alliances, and gambling with her life in a treacherous game to create a king.

Elizabeth I by Margaret George

Much has been written about Elizabeth Tudor, but somehow she remains a woman of mystery and contradictions. The author, Margaret George, offers her own take on the character of the woman, those who surrounded her and the conditions that gave birth to what has become known as the Elizabethan age.

Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter by A.E. Moorat

For anyone who might like a laugh with or at their monarch, Moorat offers up the story of a young Queen Victoria who discovers that, along with the crown, she has inherited the role of royal dispatcher of the ghouls who threaten her empire. Part gothic horror, part comedy and part historical fiction, the novel will change your view of her Majesty and Victorian London.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunday January 23rd, 2011 Taking Care of You

Many of us spend an enormous amount of time, money and effort on looking our personal best. All you have to do is open any magazine to find dozens of ads for creams, lotions and potions. As well, let’s not forget our inner best which is so important to how we feel. What kinds of information does the library have that you can use to strive for your best? Let’s take a look.

How to Cut Your Own Hair Or Anyone Else’s by Marsha Heckman. Not for the faint of heart, this book shows you how to cut hair for 15 of the most basic cuts, covering men’s women’s and children’s styles. If you feel confident enough to try it yourself this book has the ideal instructions. From bobs to blunt, bangs or the buzz cut, it’s all here. Every type of hair is covered as well; from thin to thick, curly or straight. How to style it once you are done? Not a problem as this book will show you how and save you money at the same time.

t Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun. Women spend an extraordinary amount of money on cosmetics. Want to know more about the products you are buying? This is a unique guide to cosmetics, including reviews of brand name products as rated by the author along with their price point. A summary near the end focuses on the best products. There is also an ingredient dictionary at the back for those unpronounceable words and whether or not they are potentially harmful. This is a good sourcebook for shopping smart and spending wisely.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Body by Daniel Amen. This book focuses on using the relationship between the brain and the body to obtain the optimal you. The brain is the center that controls not only the way we think and feel but also the way we look. The book contains 15 easy to implement solutions using positive thinking, vitamins and supplements and nutritious foods to reach your ideal weight, lower blood pressure, avoid depression, sleep better or even to sharpen your memory. We have copies in print, as well as an e-audio book and e-book through our website.

Shred It With Weights on DVD featuring Jillian Michaels. Jillian Michaels, one of the trainers from the popular television show Biggest Loser, shows you how to work out with a kettlebell or, if you don’t have one she also does the exercises using hand held weights. Be sure to watch the tutorial first. She starts with a warm up and then moves into circuits or cardio and strength combinations. There are two 30 minute routines designed to burn maximum fat and build lean muscle.

Prevention Magazine. This magazine is jam packed with all kinds of health, beauty, fitness and nutrition information and tips, coupled with a few tasty recipes. The February 2011 issue has such topics as heart attacks among women, losing weight, age-erasers and beauty secrets from the cover girl Christy Brinkley. This magazine is available for reading online from our website using your library card and pin number and accessing the database Masterfile Premier. We also have print copies too.

Mindfulness In Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana. If you are looking for a way to focus your mind and relax try out some meditation. This is a great book for anyone who has never tried meditation before. The concept of mindfulness is a difficult thing to explain and this book does an excellent job. The basics are covered starting with the most important part, your breathing. This book is also available online at:

It’s never too late to put your best foot forward because you are important too!

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sunday January 16th, 2011: Knitting, it's for the guys

As a child, I was totally enthralled by a documentary on television about the history of knitting. From a young age, I was delighted to learn that knitting was dominated by men up until the beginning of the last century. Knitting was commonplace for both sexes in the home, but in the world of business, men strictly ruled, operating the knitting guilds and, thus, the market for knitted garments.

How times have changed. What was once a popular and commonplace pastime for everyone has now been denigrated to the realm of women.

Now, I’m not the world’s most skilled or creative knitter – just ask my husband about the gloves I knitted him that were at least 10 centimetres too long for each finger, and the sweater that would have been a little loose even for The Incredible Hulk. The satisfaction and joy of knitting, though, has been with me since my mum sat me down at a very young age, and we gradually progressed from simple scarves to Fair Isle and Aran sweaters – the majority of which fitted.

Thankfully, too, the claim that knitting is a forgotten art is definitely an exaggeration, and knitted garments are a lot classier these days than the old twin set and crocheted poncho. So, there’s absolutely no reason to look like a complete dork.

You just have to look at the variety of knitting books available at the Thunder Bay Public Library to see that things have come a long way. From our latest offering you’ll find titles that suit a variety of needs, including baby knits, one ball projects, fashionable men’s garments, beginners’ knits and, with the latest fad for vampires and zombies, why not try: VAMPIRE KNITS: PROJECTS TO KEEP YOU KNITTING FROM TWILIGHT TO DAWN, by Genevieve Miller. This will probably deter a lot of knitters, but it actually has some really interesting patterns that don’t set out to make you look like you’re heading to a costume party.

KNITTING IT OLD SCHOOL: 43 VINTAGE-INSPIRED PATTERNS, by Debbie Brisson is also an interesting book, as it revamps old knitting patterns, transforming them from dorky to trendy. It even has an updated take on the 70’s zip-up track suit jacket. Remember that one?

Or, if you want to make something special for the man in your life or if the man in your life wants to make something special for himself, MEN'S KNITS: 20 NEW CLASSICS, by Erika Knight offers some great sweater patterns that don’t try to make the average guy look like a fashion model or ultra trendy.

Beginners might like to try FEARLESS KNITTING WORKBOOK: THE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO KNITTING CONFIDENCE, by Jennifer E. Seiffert. This book breaks down pattern instructions, translating them into understandable language. It also includes small projects that emphasize new skills, and these can then be applied to larger projects.

An exciting addition to the Thunder Bay Public Library’s calendar of events for 2011 is the Knit Wits group that will be meeting at the Brodie Resource Library, February 3 to March 24, on Thursdays afternoons. Knit Wits is a Recreation 55+ Community program and welcomes both new and experienced knitters. We’d love to see you there.

Rosemary Melville, Library Technician

Monday, 10 January 2011

Sunday January 9th, 2011: Staying Warm this Winter

Stay warm this winter with the Thunder Bay Public Library. Start by visiting one of your library locations and pick up some hot, new titles, such as Nemesis by Philip Roth. Roth’s new book focuses on a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely knit, family-oriented community.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda explores the issues of culture and belonging. Follow the stories of Asha, a baby girl from India; her mother Kavita, who must give Asha away; and Somer, the American doctor who adopts Asha.

Rescue by Anita Shreve tells the story of Sheila Aresnault and Peter Webster who fall in love, marry and have a daughter, Rowan. When Sheila takes off eighteen years later, Peter must raise their daughter alone. But Rowan’s behavior soon has Peter fearing for his daughter’s life and when Sheila returns suddenly, the family must face the reasons that tore their family apart and find out if the worst is yet to come.

If it’s too cold to go out, you can find a large selection of titles in eBook or eAudiobook format that you can download for free from home. Just go to our website, and click on Overdrive under Quick Links. You will need a library card and PIN to sign out titles.

If you are still freezing, try wearing a warm, wool sweater. Wool acts as an insulator and therefore will keep you warm during cold temperatures. Find some great sweater patterns in Nancie M. Wiseman’s Knitted Sweaters for Every Season. Or warm up your toes with a pair of knitted socks from The Big Book of Socks: The Ultimate Beyond-the-Basics Guide to Knitting Socks by Kathleen Taylor. If you’re just learning to knit, the library has tons of books that will help you get started.

Try wrapping your hands around a hot cup of cocoa. Get creative with one of the recipes from Susann Geiskopf-Hadler’s book A Cozy Book of Winter Drinks: Rich and Delicious Recipes to Keep You Warm. Or warm up with a bowl of soup, like Moroccan Chicken Soup or White Bean and Chicken Soup. These recipes can be found in Marcie Ver Ploeg’s book Chicken Soup: 75 World-Class Recipes to Warm Your Heart and Soul.

Warm up by trying a fun winter activity. Build a snow fort with help from Norbert E. Yankielum’s book How to Build an Igloo and Other Snow Shelters. Take in the winter scenery and go cross country skiing or snow shoeing. You can learn the basics in Iseult Devlin’s book Winter sports. Or stay inside, put on some music and dance the chills away! If all else fails, catch a plane and take a trip to a hot location. You can find travel guides on warm locations like Cuba, the Dominican Republic or the Bahamas at the library. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.

Lindsey Long, Reference Services Librarian

Sunday January 2nd, 2011 The Indian That Became A Thunderbird

If you visited the Mary J.L. Black Library recently, you may have noticed something missing from the lobby area wall just inside the front door. The large tiled mosaic that has hung on this wall for the last 45 years has been taken down for restoration.

This mosaic mural by Fort William Artist, Ruby Owen, is based on a painting by Norval Morrisseau. It depicts a man transforming into a Thunderbird and is called The Indian That Became A Thunderbird. The mural is a strong representation of Mr. Morrisseau’s painting and Mrs. Owen was successful in finding nearly exact colour replicas in coloured glass and ceramic tile. According to an article in the Times Journal on Nov. 19 1965 the mosaic contains 27,000 tiles.

The artist Norval Morrisseau was born in Fort William in 1932. He is the first Eastern Woodlands artist to translate his culture (that of the Anishnaabe or Ojibway people) visually, through acrylic paintings, prints and drawings. He invented the pictographic style, now used by three generations of Aboriginal artists. The painting upon which the Thunderbird mosaic was based, was created in 1964 or earlier. It must have also been quite close to the time when he was solidifying his pictographic style and beginning to incorporate the bright colours that would become his trademark. Mr. Morrisseau’s contribution to Canadian Art was profound. He was a member of the Order of Canada, the Royal Canadian Academy of Art, a holder of the Eagle Feather (the highest honour awarded by the Assembly of First Nations), and a Grand Shaman. He had numerous connections to the Thunder Bay area.

Ruby E. Owen, was born in Fort William, locally educated and graduated from Fort William Collegiate. She worked in oils, clay and mosaics. She was also an art and craft teacher and entrepreneur. Ruby opened the first craft and hobby store in Fort William in 1948 with friend Iris McMullin. Originally called Ryry Arts, the name of the store was later changed to Ruby’s Creative Arts. It was located on Brown Street for many years. Ruby also had her own Saturday morning program on television called Ruby’s Craft Hour and offered arts and craft classes in her shop for neighbourhood children.

The Thunderbird mosaic took Ruby a year and a half to complete. It was installed in the lobby of the Mary J.L. Black Library on Nov. 18 1965. On Dec. 14 2010 it was carefully removed from the wall and placed in the auditorium of the library. A local art conservator will be working on restoring the mosaic. Many years of accumulated dirt have dulled the original colours of the tiles. Once the mosaic has been cleaned and restored it will be hung in the lobby of the new Mary J.L. Black Library, currently under construction, on Edward Street South.

During the process of planning the new branch, it was agreed that something needed to come from the old library to connect it with the new one. The mosaic was chosen unanimously. It represents a link from old to new, as well as a connection to the City of Thunder Bay and specifically to the Westfort and First Nations communities. So when you join us in celebrating the opening of the new Mary J. L. Black Library later this year, pause in the lobby and take a moment to appreciate the history, work and achievement found in the Thunderbird mosaic.

Sources:; Article from the Times Journal Nov. 19, 1965; Meaghan Eley Conservation Report March 15, 2010;

Helen Cimone
Public Services Assistant at the Mary J.L. Black Library