Sunday, 27 December 2015

Sunday December 27, 2015 Favourite Reads of 2015

The winter thus far has certainly been a little different.  Whether you love or hate winter weather the past few weeks have thrown us all a little off balance.  Snow, sleet, and rain over the course of the day and then freezing overnight is vile no matter how you look at it.  With that in mind, and considering that you may not be able to enjoy your favourite outdoor seasonal activities, some of the staff and I have pulled together favourite reads from 2015.  Those of you who already have reading on your winter activity list, I hope you find some new reading inspiration here.

Picture Books:

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
This sweet picture book shares the sibling relationship between a bunny and her adopted younger brother.  Will Dot ever accept Wolfie or not?

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
Princess Pinecone’s pony may not be the horse she wished for, but sometimes we’re surprised by getting exactly what we need.

Juvenile Graphic Novels:

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s “Smile” will enjoy this tale of friendship, growing up, and finding your own interests.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Don’t be surprised when you see Stevenson’s name come up again under Young Adult Graphic Novels, her stories are truly enthralling.  I hope you enjoy these feisty girls as much as we did.

Young Adult Fiction:

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson
This is an intensely emotional read about grief, guilt, and how different kinds of relationships can help us heal.

The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion by Chris McCoy
Come along on this extremely funny extraterrestrial road trip with humans caught up in wacky alien adventures in the tradition of offbeat sci-fi like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan
If you’re looking for an engaging fantasy series with interplay between the human and faerie worlds I invite you to join Henry and Mr. Fogarty on their adventures.

Young Adult Graphic Novels:

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Is a funny, clever, and bittersweet fantasy graphic novel that you'll wish was part of a series.

Adult Graphic Novels:

Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt
This graphic novel series has been described as being somewhat similar to the television series “Lost”.  We have a flight where something goes wrong, but the flight reaches its destination with one problem.  None of the passengers have retained their memory.

Displacement:  A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
Knisley’s second travelogue tells the story of a cruise with her grandparents, with all the highs and lows that accompany such a vacation.

Adult Fiction*:

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson
The Three by Sarah Lotz
The Fold by Peter Clines
Eighth Grave after Dark by Darynda Jones
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
Outline by Rachel Cusk

Adult Non-fiction*:

Future Crimes:  Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable, and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman

Super Fresh:  Super Natural, Super Vibrant Vegan Recipes by Jennifer Houston and Ruth Tal

The staff who contributed to this list were given very short notice that I wanted their thoughts on favourite books they read this year (most of which were also published this year) and I marvelled at how quickly they were able to provide titles and some thoughts on the books.  Needless to say my own to read list grew exponentially while preparing this column, as did the lists of several staff members.  Wishing you the very best of winter reading.

*Adult fiction and non-fiction lack descriptions due to my running out of words!  Needless to say all of these titles have been greatly enjoyed by staff and are ones that they heartily recommend.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Sunday December 20th, 2015 Free Financial Planning Seminars

In the New Year, the Thunder Bay Public Library will once again offer free financial seminars with Financial Advisor Kara Polson. From January to April, each month will focus on a different topic; starting a financial plan, mortgages, registered accounts, and insurance. There will also be time to answer questions about your own financial situation. These seminars are open to all ages. For more information go to or pick up a copy of TBPL’s winter edition of Connect.

Getting on the right financial path can have its challenges, but at the Thunder Bay Public Library you will find resources that can assist you with budgeting, investing, managing and saving your money. One title that continues to show up on lists of the top financial books to read is The Wealthy Barber: The common sense guide to successful financial planning by David Chilton. Chilton, a Canadian financial advisor, was part of the popular TV show Dragons’ Den. Written in the form of a novel, the financial advice is provided by barber Ray Miller, who shares his money managing strategies with others. If you find this book to be helpful, you may want to read Chilton’s second book, The Wealthy Barber Returns.

Also from the TV show Dragons’ Den, Canadian businessman Kevin O’Leary has shared his financial knowledge in The Cold Hard Truth series. O’Leary wrote these books to provide readers with lessons on how to avoid money mistakes and manage money wisely.

Another popular Canadian financial advisor, who is also seen on TV, is Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Vaz-Oxlade has published a number of books including Never Too Late: Take control of your retirement and your future.  Her books provide financial advice for every stage of life, from learning to save money at a young age to preparing for your retirement.

To browse other resources on financial planning, you can search the library catalogue, which is an online list of everything that is available in the library. You can search the catalogue when you are visiting the library or from anywhere outside the library with an internet connection. Just go to catalogue automatically defaults to search by title, but this can be changed by clicking on the arrow and selecting another option from the dropped down menu. Try selecting the keyword option. Using this option is similar to doing a Google search; any words you type, a keyword search will search the entire catalogue and retrieve any items that contain those words. Try typing in words such as financial planning, money, investing, or budgeting. If you have any troubles finding information, just ask the friendly staff at your Thunder Bay Public Library and let us help you start a plan to reach your financial goals in 2016.

Lindsey Long

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sunday December 13, 2015 World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project

The World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project continues to go from strength to strength with new content being added all the time. This project has engaged a wide range of cultural partners and the community, who continue to send in artifacts and interesting stories about their family members. The Timeline & Local Obituaries section is of particular interest, and you can now follow the progress of local participants via their service records, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and obituaries which appeared in local newspapers. Here are some examples of how the lives of the men of Port Arthur and Fort William who went to war can be traced using the World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project.

William Steers was born in Watford, England in 1876 and lived on Francis Street in Fort William. He was married, worked as a cook, and had some previous military experience. When he enlisted on April 1, 1915, William was 34 years old, 5 ft 6 in tall, with a 35 inch chest, dark complexion, brown eyes and light brown hair. He became Private 438555 in the 3rd Battalion of the Canadian Infantry and died on November 17, 1915. It was reported in the Fort William Daily Times Journal on November 24 that he was ‘missing, believed drowned, ex-hospital ship Anglia.’   He is remembered at the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton, England.

Theodore Studdert was from Kilkee, County Clare, Ireland. He became a Lance Corporal in Thunder Bay’s very own 52nd New Ontario battalion and died on November 2, 1915, age 29. The following notice appeared in the Fort William Daily Times Journal on November 27: ‘Theodore Studdert, the member of the machine gun section of the 52nd battalion who died November 2 from pneumonia, used to board somewhere in this city prior to enlistment. A. Morris, undertaker, of Port Arthur, is anxious to communicate with his former boarding house people, but does not know where to locate them. If this notice meets their eye, they are asked to get in touch with Mr Morris by phone.’   Theodore is remembered at the Thunder Bay (St Andrew’s) Roman Catholic Cemetery.

On occasions, when local men were involved in large scale actions in France or Flanders, the local newspapers would report the loss of several men at once. On October 23, 1915, for example, the Port Arthur News Chronicle reported ‘Thirteen Killed and Nine Missing in Twenty Eighth’. The A Company of the 28th Regiment was in some heavy fighting around October 8 and the casualties included three men from Fort William who were all single, born in England, and enlisted on October 23, 1914.

Private Hubert Smith was born in Croydon, Surrey in 1892 and worked as a brakeman on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Lance Corporal Walter Saxelby was born in Manthorpe, Lincolnshire in 1887 and worked as a clerk. Albert Chapman Johnson was born in Wigginton, Yorkshire in 1885 and worked as a labourer. They were all killed in action on October 8. Johnson and Saxelby are remembered at the Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, and Swift’s name appears on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Their names are also listed on the Honour Roll of Personnel from Fort William, Ontario, who died in World War One. 

At least 43 men from Port Arthur and Fort William were killed in the war during 1915. The World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project will continue to track the impact of the war on Thunder Bay, both at home and abroad, up to November 1918 and beyond. If you have any family stories, war diaries, letters, records or other memorabilia which you would like to share, please contact us at

John Pateman

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sunday December 6th, 20015 Share the Gift of Laughter This Christmas

For many, the days of December are stressful - wrapping up projects at work, shopping for and wrapping up gifts at home, baking or cooking, planning and visiting – it is hard to keep one’s balance through all the hustle and bustle. For others, it can be a lonely or difficult time of year. That is when the opportunity to make someone smile, or even better, to make someone laugh – the kind of laughter which racks your body and causes you to wheeze or chortle or guffaw - is most appreciated. For that reason, I am sharing with you some ideas for books which are sure to squeeze a smile or two from the most Scrooge-like customer. You can find them at your Library to enjoy, or you might consider buying one for a friend who shares your sense of humour or could use a good laugh.

Holidays on Ice: with Six New Stories by Dave Sedaris; a seasonal offering from the sharp-humoured Sedaris who is widely acknowledged as one of the funniest writers around today.

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by the perennially popular Dave Barry is both funny and a little bit warm and fuzzy in this semi-autobiographical Christmas story.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson is the brand new book by this hilarious writer who leaves you laughing even as you cringe a little reading her honest and irreverent memoir about growing up with mental illness and a taxidermist Dad. It actually rivals some of my own family memories which is why I bought it for my sister for Christmas.  I also recommend her earlier book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.

The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis. Winner of the Stephen Leacock award for humour, this political satire about an old curmudgeon who agrees to stand for city election as a favour to a desperate campaigner and who wins despite mounting no campaign whatsoever. Funny, fresh and witty.

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz is another very funny memoir full of insight and self-deprecating humour by the woman who brought us the TV show, Little Mosque on the Prairie. It would have special appeal for any independent-minded adult child of conservative immigrants.

Fifty Shades of Black by Arthur Black. He’s back! Many will remember him from his days in Thunder Bay and the local CBQ radio and will especially enjoy Black’s anecdotal style and humourous rants about technology, aging and a slew of things we forget are actually quite funny.

As a children’s librarian I cannot end this article without some suggestions of laugh-out-loud children’s books. If your pre-teen child does not already own Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, then you can be the one to introduce this to a beloved young person. The poems and drawings are daringly, manically funny yet there is an underlying tone of compassion and morality which is undeniable. This one is a classic for a reason. And for younger children, parents won’t even mind repeated readings of the Chester or Scaredy Squirrel series of picture books by Melanie Watts. Chester is a mischievous cat who talks directly to the reader as he argues with the author trying to tell his story, and Scaredy Squirrel is the master of paranoid over-preparation. You can’t go wrong with either.

Thanks Mom for giving me a sense of humour and teaching me how to see the amusing element in anything. And have a very happy holiday readers.

Angela Meady