Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunday June 28, 2015 Summer Reading Club

It’s summer, and here at the Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL), that means it’s time for the annual TD Summer Reading Club! The TD Summer Reading Club aims to keep children and youth reading all summer long by making reading fun! During weekly visits to their local libraries, kids ages 3-14 will receive stickers, prizes, and other take home activities as a reward for reading through July and August. July 8th is the official start date, but registration is now open at all TBPL branches.

“When children don’t read over the summer, they often start school a step backwards in the fall,” says Angela Meady, Head of Children’s and Youth Services at TBPL. “That’s why it’s so important to keep them reading over the summer months.”

And that’s the reason the TD Summer Reading Club was developed jointly by the Toronto Public Library, TD Bank Group, and Library and Archives Canada. The program was originally started in Toronto in 1994, expanding to all of Ontario in 2001 and finally across Canada in 2004. Last year, almost 290,000 children and youth from across the country participated and read over two million books!

This year, registration for the TD Summer Reading Club opened on June 24th here at TBPL. Children ages 3-14 are welcome to register into one of two groups (ages 3-6 or 7+). There are 440 spots available between all four of our branches. When registering, make sure to choose the branch that’s most convenient for you to visit because you’ll be checking in at the same branch for the entirety of the TD Summer Reading Club. On July 8th, your kids can pick up their notebook, which is where they can track the books they’ve read. Kids are asked to read either three books or three chapters of a book each week. Then every week, they get to visit the library, where library staff will ask them what they liked and disliked about the books they read. After that, kids are given a sticker and a prize or a take home activity. Prizes over the summer include a free ticket to a regular season Border Cat’s game, a free bowling pass for Mario’s Bowl, and a free kid’s meal at Boston Pizza. And don’t worry, if you’re away on vacation - you can catch up on a later week.

“We love hearing about what the kids think when they review their books” says Meady, who was first involved with the Summer Reading Club at TBPL when the library first ran its own program; this was prior to joining the national program in the 1990’s. “They’re quite the astute reviewers.”

At the end of the summer, there’s always a wrap up party. TBPL’s parties often include games, snacks, crafts and more; sometimes library staff have even put on a puppet show! Kids will receive an invitation two weeks before the party; this year it is on Wednesday, August 19th.

The theme for the 2015 TD Summer Reading Club is Play; the idea is to encourage kids to see reading as a form of play. It’s a looser theme than previous years, which have included 2013’s Go! (encouraging kids to explore the world around them), and last year’s Eureka! We are dreamers of dreams, makers of worlds, (encouraging kids to create). This year, the stickers and other illustrations are by Josée Bisaillon, an artist from Montreal who has illustrated books for children, and magazines and newspapers for adults. Josée has a very whimsical art style, which perfectly conveys the theme for this year’s reading club.

For more information and reading lists, check out the tbpl kids space at or head to the TD Summer Reading Club website at

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Sunday June 21, 2015 World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project

The World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project involves a wide range of cultural partners in the city who are sharing their resources and expertise to tell the story of the Lakehead and its people in the Great War. The project website is an ever expanding source of information - one of the latest additions is an obituaries index of local casualties during or as a result of the war, which were published in the Fort William Daily Times Journal and the Port Arthur News Chronicle.

Together with the service record, from the Libraries & Archives Canada (LAC) website and the burial record, from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website, it is possible to find out more about those who fought and died in the war. Here are some of those stories:

‘Corporal W.J. Huston of Fort William Dies of Wounds Received in Trenches’ appeared in the Fort William Daily Times Journal on February 3, 1915. According to his service record William John Huston was born on November 25, 1876 at Owen Sound, Ontario. He was a Presbyterian, lived at Fort William and worked as a contractor and builder.  He had some previous military experience in the 96th Lake Superior Regiment before he volunteered at Ottawa on August 27, 1914. At the time of his enlistment he was 37 years old, 5 feet 7 inches high, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. The scar on his right thigh and mole on his forehead were noted for identification purposes.

William Huston became Lance Corporal 795 in the 2nd Company of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment). The CWGC website records that he died on January 25, 1915, age 38. He was the son of Alexander and Jane Huston and the husband of Edna Ray Huston of 631 North John Street, Fort William, Ontario. He is remembered with honor at the Dickebusch Old Military Cemetery, Belgium.

William’s obituary, which was published in the Port Arthur News Chronicle on February 3, 1915 notes that he was ‘the first man to fall on the field of battle among all those who have gone from the two cities as members of regular Canadian contingents.’ He was an ex-alderman, prominent Mason, curler and crack shot of the district, who left a widow and three children.

‘Corporal Matheson is First Among Port Arthur Recruits’ was published in the Port Arthur News Chronicle on April 10, 1915. According to his Attestation Paper, John Matheson was born in Scotland on June 18, 1879 and lived with his wife, Isabella, at 103 Ontario Street, Port Arthur. He was a labourer with eight years previous military service in the Highland Light Infantry. On enlistment at Valcartier, Quebec, on August 27, 1914, he was 39 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, with dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He was a Presbyterian with scars on his shin and chest.

John Matheson became Private 8919 in the 1st Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. He died on March 18, 1915 and is remembered with honor at the Le Touret Memorial, Pas De Calais, France. John’s obituary notes that ‘Mr Matheson left Port Arthur with the first expeditionary force. He came to the city from Winnipeg. He was a son of the Rev. Dougall Matheson, late of Tarbotness, Rosshire, Scotland, and came to Canada eight years ago.’

The obituaries index is updated monthly to coincide with the centennial of these events and commemorate the sacrifice of those individuals and their families. If you know of someone who should be included here, please contact us at

John Pateman

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Sunday June 14th, 2015 Travelogues and Fiction

When we think of travel books we often think of the guidebooks that help us plan our next trip or of works of fiction that may take us to another time or place, but sometimes we forget about travelogues.  What makes them unique is that they may read like fiction, but are in fact someone else’s experience of that place.  In planning this column I thought it might be fun to pair travelogues with fiction by authors from the same region. 

The first book to catch my eye was Robber of Memories: a River Journey through Colombia by Michael Jacobs.  The dual narrative of Jacobs’ Magdalena River journey and his parents’ decline into dementia and Alzheimer’s respectively makes for a riveting tale.   If the interwoven stories of Colombia and London weren’t enough we also join Jacobs in meeting Gabriel García Márquez in the prologue.

Now you might presume that I would pair this book with 100Years of Solitude by García Márquez, but I did not give in to that temptation.  Instead I have selected The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez.  Why this choice?  Well it doesn’t hurt that in the very first paragraph the Magdalena Valley is mentioned and both books deal with the very serious challenges faced in Colombia.  These two books offer a fascinating view into a country which is so much more than the headlines about Farc rebels and the drug trade.

After our time in Colombia let’s travel east to the Himalayas.  For our non-fiction counterpart I selected Walkingthe Earth’s Spine:  A 2,700 kilometresolo hike through the Himalayas by Jono Lineen.  I resisted the urge to find two books on Everest as I feel most of us have at least a passing familiarity with that mountain.  Lineen spends four months hiking from Pakistan to Nepal through the mountains and shares his experiences with us in this book.  Walking the Earth’s Spine has a very different format from Robber of Memories in that it is set up as journal.  For me this is one of the great things about a travelogue, much like fiction the structure is truly up to the individual author.  So even within this genre we have subgenres to explore.  However, like Jacobs’ book Lineen also has a very personal story to share regarding the death of his brother. 

Even avoiding Everest there was a great deal of choice for me when looking for a novel to partner with Walking the Earth’s Spine, I ended up with The Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam.  Initially undecided as to whether I would start with a Pakistani or Nepalese author it seemed right to travel in the same direction as Lineen.  While Aslam is not writing about the Himalayas here we have the story of two (foster) brothers and the different paths they take, only to join forces sneaking into Afghanistan.  The events of this book occur post 9/11 and are a powerful reminder that like Christianity Islam has many faces.

I’ll leave you here with hope that you are as eager as I am to travel to new worlds through both fiction and travelogues.  I had intended to share several other locations and books, yet find myself running out of space.  Instead then I encourage you to check out our diverse collection and find the trip that’s right for you.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thunder Bay Seniors Column: Summer Reads

As summer approaches, I thought I would pull together a list of titles for your summer reads and being a librarian, I thought I would focus on titles with a literary or book theme.  I'll chose titles both that I have read and not read, titles that are both new and older, but all the titles are available from the library collection - both hard copy and virtual.

Enjoy the list and enjoy the summer!  Happy reading.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. (2014)
"A middle-aged bookseller mourning his lost wife, a feisty publisher’s rep, and a charmingly precocious abandoned child come together on a small island off the New England coast in this utterly delightful novel of love and second chances".

The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl (2015)
"Near the end of the nineteenth century, two bookaneers--literary pirates seeking authors' manuscripts to steal--are caught up in a colonial war on Samoa as they compete for Robert Louis Stevenson's last manuscript and make a fortune before a new international treaty ends the bookaneers' trade."

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon.  (2004)
"A boy named Daniel selects a novel from a library of rare books, enjoying it so much that he searches for the rest of the author's works, only to discover that someone is destroying every book the author has ever written".

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore  by Robin Sloan (2012)
"The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco web-design drone and landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything. Soon he embarks on a complex analysis of the customers' behaviour and ropes his friends into helping him figure out just what's going on".

Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (forthcoming June 2015)
Simon Watson, a young librarian on the verge of losing his job, finds a mysterious book that holds the key to a curse that has haunted a family of traveling circus performers for generations.

Barb Philp
This column was published in Thunder Bay Seniors