Sunday, 24 September 2017

Sunday September 24th, 2017 Sheila Burnford

Chief Librarian John Pateman signing letter of intent with Burnford daughters, from left: Perenelle, Jonquil and Juliette

Sheila Burnford is the author of the classic book The Incredible Journey. This was her first novel and she wrote it while living in Thunder Bay (Port Arthur). It became an international bestseller and has been translated into countless languages as well as becoming the script for another classic – the Disney film based on the book. While many local people know the Burnford family, for an author of Burnford’s stature there is not that much written about her. That is expected to change for the better as there are some interesting developments in the making to share her story.

The first documentary on Sheila Burnford had its premiere at the Vox Popular Media Arts Festival (formerly Bay Street Film Festival) last week. The three adult Burnford sisters, Jonquil, Perenelle and Juliette were in town for this big event and the largest-ever audience witnessed a fascinating story which included incredible vintage film footage from the world premiere of the film, family movies from Europe and Canada  and unique recreations of the story done with local actors (including animals).  The Burnford family was also here to meet with History Professor Ron Harpelle who has been accumulating, documenting and digitizing the Burnford photos, papers and other memorabilia, and the staff and board of the Thunder Bay Public Library. A letter of intent was signed by all parties to indicate that the Sheila Burnford collection of all these materials will be turned over to the public Library for the development of a Sheila Burnford collection. This treasure will be made accessible to local researchers as well as those anywhere in the world and will put Thunder Bay on the map as the Sheila Burnford city – a destination for all lovers of her works.

Of course, The Incredible Journey is her best-known work, but she also wrote other fascinating and very different short stories, novels and non-fiction such as Mr. Noah and the Second Flood which is a prescient environmental children’s book (in the same sense that The Little Prince is a children’s book but of equal interest to adults). Without Reserve relates the stories of her travels north with her friend and collaborator Susan Ross. Sheila piloted a bush plane and they spent years visiting and living with the northern Cree and Ojibway people. While Sheila wrote, Susan sketched and it makes for a very interesting and unique book. The publisher of the book called it “the true account of two not- exactly ordinary housewives.”

Visit your library to read more by Sheila Burnford or to re-watch the original film, and expect to hear more soon about this exciting venture to honour a local author and her artistic friend with a special collection and archive.

Note: If anyone missed seeing A Long Walk Home, there will be another free showing at the Waverley Library auditorium on October 21st at 2:00 p.m.

Angela Meady

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday September 17th, 2017 Seed Saving

This Wednesday, there’s going to be a Seed Saving Workshop at the Brodie Resource Library in partnership with Roots to Harvest. Everyone is invited to learn from local seed saving experts from Superior Seed Savers how to save seeds from some of your garden plants. They will cover the basics of seed saving, and share tips to make your seed harvest a success. But if you’re too excited to wait until Wednesday to learn how to save seeds from your plants, fear not - the Thunder Bay Public Library has some fantastic books that will get you started!

My favourite book for beginner seed savers is Seedswap: the Gardener’s Guide to Saving and Swapping Seeds by Josie Jeffrey. Jeffrey covers the basics of how seeds reproduce, then shares different techniques for drying out seeds, and raising seedlings. She also talks about the benefits of seed swaps and libraries, and describes how to create one yourself. Finally, she has included a directory that explains how to save seeds from some common plants; most of the plants she covers are herbs and vegetables, but she includes a few flowers as well.

If you just want to save seeds from vegetables, you need to check out Seed Saving: A Beginner’s Guide to Heirloom Harvesting by Caleb Warnock. Warnock owns the heirloom seed company, which specializes in non-hybrid seeds. He jokes at the beginning of the book that if you follow his tips, you will know how to put him out of business. But in his experience, most people think it’s really hard to save seeds (plus we have the convenience of being able to buy seeds from grocery stores every spring). So he wrote his book to preserve this knowledge (and ideally to help bring it back to people). Seedsaving is a fantastic reference book, going into detail on the five seed types, seed genetics, and how to prevent wild seeds. What I really liked was his list of vegetable species that can cross pollinate with each other (so if you’re going to save seeds from these species, make sure you keep the plants away from one another). He ends the book with an in depth look at forty common vegetables and how to save seeds from them. Overall, Seedsaving is a fantastic reference for anyone interested in vegetable seeds.

The most comprehensive reference book on seed saving that we have is The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough. Starting with some information on harvesting/cleaning seeds, seed storage, and germination, the book then has 200 pages dedicated to saving the seeds from vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even trees.

If you’re interested in starting your own seed swap or library, check out Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People by Cindy Conner. Conner believes thatWhoever owns the seeds controls the food supply” (17), so it’s her aim to get seeds back into the hands of the people. She details the history of big seed business, and goes through the many benefits of seed swaps and libraries (which includes preserving the genetic diversity of plants, cultural heritage, and saving money for gardeners). Then she shares her many tips and resources for starting your own seed swap or library. The one thing this book assumes is that you already know how to save seeds; so if you need help with that, you’ll need to check out one of the other books first.

All of these and more can be found at your local library. And don’t forget to go to Brodie on Wednesday, September 20th for the Seed Saving Workshop - it starts at 6:30pm in the Fireside Reading Room.

Shauna Kosoris 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sunday September 10th, 2017 Linked to Learning

It is back to school time and we all know what that means – homework, research, and learning! Maybe that is music to your ears and maybe it isn’t but it certainly can’t be ignored. The challenge of determining real information from false has never been more difficult or more important. Students are faced with the daunting task of sifting through millions of websites, databases, books, articles, and other sources in search of facts. Parents and teachers are faced with the task of guiding young people (and sometimes themselves) through it all while providing them with the tools necessary to succeed. One of the tools available is your public library. In addition to credible information through books and databases, we also offer a variety of free sessions that can be delivered by library staff directly in your classroom. Designed to help students make the most of all that is available to them; these sessions can be customized to grade level and subject based upon your needs and the availability of library staff.

Below are some of the standard sessions that staff from the Thunder Bay Public Library can work with you to deliver:

Intro to the Library - Introduce your students to the wide range of services for children or teens, including homework help, online resources and more.

Great Reads - Encourage recreational reading with your students - we’ll use a combination of print and online materials to cover a topic of your choice. Popular topics include graphic novels, young adult authors, and Canadian classics. A perfect workshop for classes with independent studies or an upcoming holiday break.

Research Wizards - Enhance the research skills of your students with a live interactive session using online and print academic resources. Useful for preparing students to write essays, do projects & independent studies and cite works properly.

C.R.A.A.P. - Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose. Fake news...alternative facts. Digital and media literacy are critical for students to learn. This workshop is ideal for grades 5-8 or 9-12 and will provide practical guidance in evaluating information and determining source credibility.

These sessions are also a great opportunity for students to get a library card or learn more about one of the most diverse resources available in their community. To schedule one of the above sessions with a skilled library staff member, email us at More information and tips can be found online through the library’s website at As always, class visits to your nearest library location are also available and can include stories, puppet shows, and more.

Jesse Roberts

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sunday September 3, 2017 Audio on the Go

The summer is just too short and as August winds up it’s time for taking that last car trip before the kids head back to school or perhaps, the long car trip is to pack a child off to university or college with a car,truck or van full of their most valuable possessions.  Personally, I like driving in the autumn; the roads are clear and the turning of the leaves make the miles take on a surreal beauty .  Another of the joys of long periods in the car is popping in an audiobook and being entertained as the odometer clicks forward.

The library has a large number of audiobooks, in both physical and downloadable formats. Whether it’s cdbooks, mp3s, downloading to a flashdrive or plugging in your favourite device, finding the right audiobook for any trip is easy.  Whether it’s mystery, intrigue or romance, or even a classic novel that you’ve always meant to read, anytime is a good time to enjoy the audio version.  For anyone looking for inspiration, I’ve included a list of some of the best and newest we have on our shelves, and of course, we have them in print as well.

Blame by Jeff Abbott-This story follows Jane Norton who survived a car crash two years ago. The wreck left her friend David dead and Jane with amnesia.  Everyone is sympathic till they found a note in Jane’s writing; “I wish we were dead together”.

Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott – It’s 1950, and Ingrid Bergman is a major star until she has baby out of wedlock.  Jessica Malloy and worships Bergman is shaken to the core as is her family, including her ambitious mother and her PR father who made Ingrid a star at Selznick Studios.

The Child by Fiona Barton- The author of the bestselling “The Widow” is back with another spinetingling thriller.  When an old house is demolished in London, a tiny skeleton is found and journalist Kate Waters begins an obsessive quest to identify the baby, but some ancient secrets can still be deadly.

Seeing Red by Sandra Brown – Kerra Bailey is a journalist with a mission to score an interview with a very relunctant hero, the legendary Major Trapper. In order to do so she wrangles an introduction to his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper, but her meddling has now put the three of them in danger.

The Late Show by Michael Connelly – In a breakaway from his bestselling Harry Bosch novels, Connelly brings us Renee Ballard, a young detective trying to prove herself in the LAPD.  One night she catches two cases, a murder and a beating both of which she feels will go on the backburner unless she solves them.

Little French Bistro by Nina George – Our story finds Marianne stuck in a loveless marriage until one night in Paris she decides to run away and reinvent herself on the coast of Brittany. Here she meets a mengerie of locals and learns that she must love herself before she can love another.

Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank- Returning ot her beloved Lowcountry of South Carolina setting, Benton Frank tells the tell of two couple who begin a friendship that will last over twenty-five years and transform their lives.

Of course, if you’re not heading out anywhere, audiobooks are fabulous at the gym, while out for a run, cleaning up the garden or doing the dishes. Just slip in your headphones and enjoy.

Lori Kauzlarick