Sunday, 29 May 2016

Sunday May 29th, 2016 The Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916, is one of the most well known battles of the Great War. It was also the blackest day in the history of the British Army. By sunset this volunteer army lay shattered on the banks of the Somme: 21,000 dead, 35,000 wounded, 600 prisoners, almost no objective gained.

The story of The First Day on the Somme is told by Martin Middlebrook who bases his vivid reconstruction of what happened on the personal experiences of British and German survivors, and conveys the horror and tragedy of that day in gripping and fully human terms.

Another compelling account based on eye witness testimony is given by Lyn MacDonald in Somme which looks at The Big Push that would at last break the long stalemate on the Western Front. However the 18 divisions that went over the top between Arras and St Quentin on July 1, 1916 walked into a hail of machine gun fire that cut them down like ripe wheat in the hot summer sun.
Among those going over the top that day was the Newfoundland Regiment who were given the objective of taking the village of Beaumont-Hamel. Two hundred and seventy-two Newfoundlanders were killed that day. No regiment suffered more casualties. It was the single greatest disaster in the island’s history.

Their story is told by Kevin Major in No Man’s Land, which pulls us into the lives of the young men of the Newfoundland Regiment as they prepare to set out for the trenches and what will come to be known as the Battle of the Somme. A classic war novel, the book is equally effective in its portrayal of the camaraderie and unnatural quiet before the storm, as in its graphic account of the fight to make it through the barbed wire and sweep of machine gun bullets.

Into The Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead is Michael Winter’s extraordinary narrative of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel that follows two parallel journeys, one laid over the other like a sketch on opaque paper over the lines of an old map.

The first journey is that of the young men who came from Newfoundland’s outports, fields, villages, and narrow city streets to join the storied regiment which first saw action in the debacle which was the Dardanelles campaign. From Gallipoli they were sent straight to the battle fields of France and into the gaping jaws of the Battle of the Somme. It is said that, as they walked into the hail of steel on July 1, 1916, they pulled down their helmets and settled their chins into the collars of their uniforms, just as they did when fishing in a storm in the Atlantic Ocean.

The second journey is Michael Winter’s visit to Beaumont-Hamel one hundred years after the battle, as he follows in the footsteps of the dead men to discover what remains of their passage across land and through memory.

The Battle of the Somme was designed, in part, to take pressure off the French Army which was being bled white at Verdun. John Mosier tells The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War 1: Verdun. No fewer than eight distinct battles were waged for the possession of Vedun. These conflicts are largely unknown, even in France, owing to the obsessive secrecy of the French high command and its energetic propaganda campaign to fool the world into thinking that the war on the Western Front was a steady series of German checks and defeats.

John Pateman

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Sunday May 22nd, 2016 Fishing

It’s the May Long Weekend, which means that walleye fishing season is now open! While the Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) may not come to mind as somewhere to go for your fishing needs, it should! Along with our many books and dvds on fishing, TBPL is also a TackleShare Loaner Site for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).

The TackleShare program, which is presented by Ontario Power Generation, was launched in 1998 as a way of giving new and young anglers a chance to fish for free. TBPL was one of the first libraries to partner with OFAH for this program; we’ve been a loaner site for many years. Children and youth ages 16 and under are able to sign out a rod, reel, and some tackle for a week from the Brodie or Waverley Resource Libraries. Coupled with the fact that anyone under the age of 18 doesn’t need a fishing license (as long as they have some form of valid id that indicates their name and birthdate), thanks to TackleShare, all young anglers will need to go fishing is some bait!

After your kids have their equipment, they may also need some fishing pointers. Jeff Burlingame’s How to Freshwater Fish Like a Pro is a great starting point. Burlingame provides an overview of the sport, complete with information on fishing safety and tips to land their first fish. Burlingame’s book is American, but all of the basics still apply; just be sure to check the 2016 Ontario Fishing Regulations for the specific walleye limits in the lake you’re wanting to fish. Another good choice is Hook, Line and Sinker: Everything Kids Want to Know About Fishing by Italo Labignan. Labignan’s book illustrates how to properly cast a rod; it even shows kids how to make their own tackle box! For tweens and teens, try Ultimate Freshwater Fishing by John Bailey; it goes into a lot more detail than the other two books but is a little too advanced for younger kids.

Of course we don’t just have juvenile fishing books. We have many adult books on fishing for beginners and veterans alike. But because walleye season is now open, I recommend checking out our excellent books specifically on catching them. Tournament fisher Mark Romanack shares his walleye fishing secrets in Catch More Walleyes. This book is full of great tips and tricks on everything from bait and tackle to trolling; with Romanack’s help you’ll be catching walleye like a pro! Another excellent choice is Walleye Patterns & Presentations: How to Catch Trophy Fish in Lakes, Rivers and Reservoirs. Like Catch More Walleyes, this book also gives an overview of the basics of bait and tackle but it is not as comprehensive on these areas as Romanach’s book. Where Walleye Patterns & Presentations really shines is in its detailed explanation of walleye habits; reading this book will give you a good understanding of where to find walleye in a lake, no fish-finder required.

While I’ve highlighted walleye fishing here, there are many other types of fish you can catch. Some fish, like largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and yellow perch are open all year long. Other fish, like muskellunge, aren’t open for another month. The library has some books on how to catch these and other fish; just be sure to check the 2016 Ontario Fishing Regulations to find out more information on when it’s okay to fish and how many of each type of fish you can catch.

And don’t forget, this year’s License Free Family Fishing week is July 2-10th. If you’re without a license, make sure you plan your fishing trip then so your whole family will be able to fish license-free!

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Sunday May 15th, 2016 World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project

The World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project is a multi-partner project to remember the impact of World War One within the Lakehead community. Port Arthur and Fort William saw a level of recruitment that exceeded the provincial and national averages. Men flocked to the colours and many joined the locally formed 52nd New Ontario Regiment. By May 1916 the 52nd was at the front and seeing plenty of action. This was reflected in the obituaries which were published in local newspapers.

On 13 May 1916 the Port Arthur Daily News reported that Private Joseph Obrey of the 52nd Battalion had died of wounds received in action. ‘At the time of enlistment he lived at 33 Mons Street but his wife now resides at 77 Secord Street. Private Obrey was 36 years old. He came from Chapleau four years ago and was in the 96th when he enlisted in the 52nd. He was in the city’s employ for some time before that. He is survived by a wife and seven children. The majority of the children are being cared for by relatives. Mrs Obrey is almost prostrated by grief. Her husband’s last letter written 26 December she received only on 17 April.’ Joseph Obrey died on 4 May 1916 and is remembered at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

On May 29 1916 the Fort William Daily Times Journal reported that Sidney Lloyd, of Port Arthur, was killed in action. ‘He was the son of Mr and Mrs C.E. Lloyd of 282 Lincoln Street and was 21 years of age. He enlisted in the 52nd battalion and was with the machine gun section. Before enlistment he worked at the dry dock and also at Davidson’s and Clarke’s bakeries. He was born in London, England, and had lived in Port Arthur for four years. In addition to his parents he is survived by two brothers, one of whom is married and lives in Port Arthur, and Frank, who works at the Prince Arthur hotel.’

Sidney died on May 15 1916 and is remembered at the Maple Copse Cemetery and on the Sons of England (Winchester Lodge, 99 Port Arthur) Plaque at St John’s Anglican Church, Port Arthur.

Our local churches are an important source for local historians. Many of them have plaques and memorials to the fallen of the Great War. The memorial at St Paul's Anglican Church in Fort William was painted by Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson.

On May 25 1916 the Port Arthur Daily News reported that Major Norman Campbell Pilcher of the Mounted Rifles was killed in action. ‘Major Pilcher was a former manager of the Port Arthur and Fort William street railway, having been appointed to this position under the joint board in 1909-10. Major Pilcher went to France with the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles and his wife and young son went to England and remained there while he crossed to the front.’

Major Pilcher was a veteran of the South African Campaign (1901-02) and also served in the 96th Lake Superior Regiment, Port Arthur (1909-10). He died on May 19 1916 age 37 and is remembered at the Poperinghe New Military Cemetery.

May 1916 was a quiet month on the Western Front. The term is relative only, for the Canadians suffered upwards of two thousand casualties that month. In the continual artillery duel the Germans had an overwhelming advantage in gun power; for the tremendous build-up for the Somme left few extra guns available for other parts of the British line. It was in May, however, that the Canadian Corps first made use of wireless for controlling artillery fire. The experiment was awkward and confused and nearly ended in tragedy, but it marked the beginning of a new system of control which gave more rapid and accurate fire.

To find out more about the World War One Centennial Project visit

John Pateman

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Sunday May 8th, 2016 Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a way of celebrating the mother in the family, motherhood and all the good things that mothers do every day. Mother's Day in Canada is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and typically involves small celebrations and gift-giving to one's mother, grandmother, or any important female figure in the family. This year Mother’s Day falls on the eighth of May, which coincidentally is today!

The Thunder Bay Public Library helped celebrate Mother’s Day one day ahead of time by hosting a fun Mother’s Day tea on Saturday in the Waverley Auditorium. There was a special Mommy and me story time and a teatime craft.  The library has a variety of other resources and books to do with mothers and motherhood.

The Queen Mother: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Who Became Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother by Lady Colin Campbell is a captivating book about the amazing life of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, the smiling duchess.

Another great book is Her Mother’s Daughter...The Lessons Are Everywhere, in Each Day, in Each Conversation, in Each Entry...Listen, Learn, Love by Sandi Boucher. The author not only writes books but is a motivational speaker, born and raised in a small Northern Ontario town. A proud member of the Seine River First Nation, she introduces the world to the Ojibwe teachings of her mother and uses these lessons to illustrate how best to find and enjoy individual strengths and gifts.
In My Mother’s Kitchen: Three Generations of Simple, Delicious Family Food by Trish Magwood, photography by Brandon Barre. This book describes mother’s kitchen as a place where both memories and meals are shared. The author’s mother cooked simple, delicious daily meals for her six children. The author’s grandmother did the same. The book contains classic recipes as well as new favourites. Included also are photographs of the family’s kitchen garden which enables the children to learn where their food comes from. 

The Mother of All Baby Books: An All-Canadian Guide to Your Baby's First Year by Ann Douglas is a hands-on guide to caring for your new baby. Providing a fresh, fun approach to a baby's exciting first year and based on advice from over one hundred Canadian parents, the book offers comprehensive answers to many of your baby-related questions. 

And for our children and the child in all of us, there is The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One Rhyme at a Time by Jan Peck and David Davis, where the traditional Mother Goose rhymes have gone green. Using recycled paper, this book has all of our favorite characters teach us things we can do to take care of our Earth.

If you’re looking for something to watch, the American sitcom series, How I Met Your Mother, is available to borrow. The show follows the main character, Ted Mosby and his group of friends in Manhattan. Ted, in the projected year 2030, recounts to his children how he met their mother.

So come and take advantage of all that the Thunder Bay Public Library has to offer, and enjoy today and every day to the fullest. Happy Mother’s Day!    

Caron E. Naysmith

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Sunday May 1st, 2016 De-Stress at Your Library

Ways that the Library can help you to de-stress and lead a more joyful life 

With Mental Health Week coming up May 4 through 10, I am reminded again of how important it is to take time for oneself and to deal with stress. Every person deserves to be happy and fulfilled and if you are not feeling that way yourself this week – first, take a deep breath, unclench your jaw and sit back. 

For my part, I will share with you my top ten tips for how you can use your Library to help you in your efforts to become more centered, relaxed and joyful. 

  1. Read something funny!  Pick out a biography from someone you find amusing, or a comedy on DVD or a book by Arthur Black or David Sedaris. Curl up. Read. Repeat
  2. Borrow some relaxation, meditative music or New Age CDs – we have a big selection along with lullabies for babies (and tired parents).
  3. Learn about mindfulness – a cognitive therapy which teaches one to become more aware of patterns of thinking, to live more in the moment and be kinder to oneself.
  4. Browse through books on a subject which gives you pleasure, whether it is house plans for that dream house, knitting patterns or cook books. Indulge your creative side and make something. 
  5. Bring children to the Library for a story time or puppet show or just for some unstructured play. They might discover the Thomas the Tank Engine set, or the wooden puzzles or “Tuggy the Tugboat”. Oh the places that boat has been!  
  6. Visit the MakerSpace at Waverley. Bring kids and your sense of wonder as you watch the 3-D printer or get your hands dirty on “Tear Down Tuesdays” as you explore the inner workings of a toaster. 
  7. Join a book club. There are several at the Library and I always hear the members laughing so I think they must be on to something.
  8. Take in a free program, whether it is meditation, financial advice or an armchair travel series. Get out of the house and meet and mingle.
  9. Stream calming music from the Naxos database when you have to work on your computer. Naxos is available at and you can listen to the best classical or soothing relaxation music. 
  10. Do something nice for someone else. This never fails to make me feel better. Donate a gently used book. Make a memorial donation in honour of someone you loved.  Consider volunteering with the Friends of the Library or as a reading partner for children this summer. 

I will close with a quote from that very smart bear, Winnie the Pooh - “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” 

Angela Meady