New local history reads

Looking for some local history to read? Here are some new ones to join the collection. Place your hold!

Spanning from the beginning of organised sports in the 1870’s to the present day, Iconic stories from 150 years of sport in Manitoba by Sean Grassie is a comprehensive, richly illustrated reference work for anyone wanting to learn about the history of sports in the province and the great athletes that emerged in our first 150 years. The book highlights a large diversity of sports as well as athletes who excelled in them, from the early pioneers of sports like lacrosse, curling, rowing and hockey, the first olympic (and later paralympic) champions, the emergence of women professional athletes, right up to the 2019 Blue Bombers’ Grey Cup victory.

With over 140 photographs of a city constantly re-inventing itself, Old Winnipeg: a history in pictures by Christine Hanlon is a delight to browse through if you are interested in a trip back in time to buildings and locations that are no longer in existence. You can re-visit or discover for the first time places like the Beachcomber restaurant, Happyland Park, the early fortifications of Fort Garry, the Stevenson Aerodrome or Winnipeg’s first City Hall through this fascinating work, with many photographs never published before. A definite must-see title to see Winnipeg as it once was.

Mennonite Village Photography: Views from Manitoba 1890–1940 — Mennonite  Historic Arts Committee

Mennonite village photography: views from Manitoba, 1890-1940 is the work of four young Mennonites from villages in Southern Manitoba at the turn of the 20th century, who started pursuing a new hobby but ended leaving an enduring record of a unique period in the history of Mennonites in the Prairies. They captured formal portraits as well as candid humorous shots, images of childhood and funerals, of everyday work and play. The book helps shed a new light on Mennonite life in rural Manitoba back when they were themselves new to the province.

Radiant shards: Hoda’s north end poems is a “narrative poem” by Ruth Panofsky telling the story of the struggles and sacrifices of Russian parents recently immigrated to Winnipeg in the early 20th century, joining throngs of new Canadians trying to survive in a period of turmoil and poverty. The work incorporates historical photographs of Post-WWI Winnipeg that grounds the lyrical tale with the reality of time. Also a focus of her narrative is the life experience and inner world of their tenacious daughter Hoda, who is based on an actual resident of the neighborhood, who works as a sex worker in the North End, reflecting on the experiences of her complicated life.

The author of Latvian pioneers, socialists, and refugees in Manitoba, Viesturs Zarins set out to chronicle an overlooked topic: the experience of the Latvian community that settled in Manitoba starting in 1895 in the areas of Lac Du Bonnet and Sifton. Many of them were farmers and workers who fled their Baltic home because of persecution from Czarist forces following a failed revolution in 1905. Many continued to be activist and local politicians for socialist causes in their adopted home. Filled with intimate memories about their experiences settling in and pride for their achievements as entrepreneurs, this is another welcome addition to the diverse collection of stories from new Canadians in Manitoba.


Read Local!

Amidst the Code Red restrictions, we’ve been encouraged to support our small businesses and shop local. But why stop there? Why not read local as well?

I’ve been a fan of Prairie Literature for a long time but it only occurred to me recently that Laura Ingalls Wilder is mostly to blame. As a devoted library-goer, my Mom rarely let me purchase anything from the book orders but I somehow convinced her that I needed to become a member of the Little House on the Prairies Scholastic Book Club. I’ve actively sought out university and employment opportunities where I could read and write about Prairie Literature so, naturally, I jumped at the chance to create the Local Authors Info Guide.

The “genre” may have once been defined by farmhouses and blizzards but it now showcases more than just a rural way of life. These books are about Indigenous, immigrant and LGBTQ+ experiences, to name but a few. The guide has a whole section devoted to stories that are set in Winnipeg, highlighting our city in all its cold, complicated and compelling glory. There are also tabs for Manitoba and Canadian writers, calling attention to everything from the classics to the newly published.

Below you’ll find a handful of books that have shot to the top of my to-read list – some I’ve been meaning to read for years, others are hidden gems I didn’t even know existed.

Vanishing Monuments by John Elizabeth Stintzi
I went to university with John Elizabeth Stintzi and distinctly remember them reading a poem at a department colloquium that left everyone in the room with goosebumps on their arms and tears in their eyes. Their success comes as no surprise and I feel pretty lucky to have witnessed an early reading from one of Canada’s new literary stars. Vanishing Monuments is about Alani Baum, a non-binary photographer and teacher. They have recently returned to Winnipeg in order to visit their estranged Mother whose dementia is worsening. Alani stays at their Mother’s empty home, trying to reconcile painful memories of growing up, all the while, afraid of losing them.

Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks
To be honest, I totally judged this book by it’s cover – I was hooked by the neon colours. But after reading the synopsis, the plot seems just as intriguing as its visual representation. It’s 1981 and Sally McLean is in a car that shatters through the ice, to the bottom of Mistik Lake. Sally is the only survivor. Years later, Sally’s daughter, Odella, begins to question if it was this accident that caused her Mother’s pain and subsequent drinking problem. With her Mother having recently run off to Iceland, Odella tries to hold her family together, all while beginning to unravel family secrets.

Vikings on a Prairie Ocean by Glenn Sigurdson
Equal parts memoir, history and myth, this book explores the author’s life growing up around Lake Winnipeg. The book discusses the arrival of Icelandic settlers in 1875, specifically focusing on how fishing has informed a culture and community. Of particular interest are the relationships formed between Cree, Ojibway and Icelandic settlers who often worked and lived together in isolated settlements and fishing camps at the north end of the lake.

Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle
This is one of those books that pops up on my radar constantly and yet, I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. The novel is narrated by Mink, a shape shifter who is drawn to follow the story of Celia and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nuu-chah-nulth territory. Celia is a seer who, with her family’s support, must help her community heal from generations of trauma, the legacy of colonialism. The novel takes place during a moment of crisis when one of the village’s youngest residents is violently attacked by another community member. This is a book about healing and hope.

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Panic over grocery store essentials is a reality that many of us have had to face over the last 9 months. This book touches on similar feelings of fear. When a small northern Anishinaabe community is suddenly cut off – from both technology and resources – there is a struggle to maintain order and calm. This is only exacerbated by visitors from the south who are looking for resources and eventually try to take over. The answer to the chaos is found with the land and Anishinaabe traditions. Rice, a former Winnipegger, is currently writing a sequel!

If any of these books have caught your eye, please know that there are many more like them on the Local Authors Info Guide. Happy reading!


November is Financial Literacy Month

Did you know that November is Financial Literacy Month? Not only that, but November 2020 is the 10th anniversary of Financial Literacy Month!

Well, time is money, and to celebrate, we’ve compiled some great resources to save you time as you further explore the ins and outs of financial planning. Whether you’re just beginning your financial journey or already know a thing or two about making the most of your money, we’ve got something for you!

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has page dedicated to tips and tools for understanding your finances, and is an excellent starting point, covering topics from tracking your spending, to minimizing your debt, to setting financial goals, to setting up an emergency fund. You can also take advantage of their other tools, like the budget planner or bank account comparison tool.

If you’re looking for resources to help you teach your child smart money management, be sure to head over the Parenting Resources page on the Parents and Caregivers guide. You’ll find our Financial Literacy Booklist with lots of great titles for adults, kids, and teens, as well as a selection of fun and informative web resources to keep you learning as a family!

Teens can head to the Adulting section of our teen website, Booked. Here, we’ve compiled information specifically geared towards the decisions students might be facing when striking out on their own, whether that involves Registered Education Savings Plans for further schooling, or preparing for the job market.

While these lists aren’t exhaustive, they are an excellent place to start learning or get a conversation going on a topic that can be complicated and frustrating.

Happy reading,


What Is Literary Fiction?

Literary fiction occupies a strange place in the world of literature. Unlike a mystery, science fiction, or romance novel, where the genre clearly defines the category, literary fiction is a vague descriptor.

So what exactly is literary fiction?

The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction by Joyce G. Saricks says that literary fiction:

  • focuses on style, language, and character,
  • asks readers to pay attention to how it is constructed,
  • approaches subjects with serious intent (though this does not mean literary fiction is without humour), and
  • demands a certain focus on realism.

Literary fiction is often the genre that big literary prizes focus on. The Pulitzer, Nobel, Governor General, and Giller prizes are all usually awarded to literary fiction. Earlier this week the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the largest prize for Canadian fiction, was awarded to the short story collection How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa. You can find this title and the other nominees on our Fiction Info Guide.

Here’s some of my recent literary fiction favourites:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This novel follows two light-skinned Black twin sisters: one “passes” as white and makes a life for herself with this new identity, the other lives her life as Black. It is gorgeously written and seems likely to win many awards.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

This is a moody, atmospheric novel that involves a remote hotel in British Columbia and a Ponzi scheme. It is dark and mysterious and hard to put down.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Ann Patchett called this book “the best novel ever written about trees” and she’s right. This Pulitzer Prize winner is about people whose lives are entwined with trees. It is a heady novel, but beautiful, and you’ll never look at trees the same way again.

Interested in exploring more literary fiction? Check out our new Info Guide for more or fill out a Five-in-Five form to get personalized recommendations from a friendly librarian.


The Water Dancer

“The tree of our family was parted – branches here, roots there – parted for their lumber.” 
― Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer

This month the Time To Read Podcast Bookclub will be reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Even though libraries are temporarily closed due to the COVID Code Red status of Winnipeg and surrounding areas, this title is available through Overdrive as an ebook or audiobook. All you need is your WPL card (and maybe a LITTLE patience as there is currently a bit of a waiting list for both formats).

You can find to our most recent episode where we discuss Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women on our website or wherever you find your podcasts.

The Water Dancer is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ debut novel, but he is far from being a novice writer. He made his name as national correspondent for The Atlantic where he writes about cultural, social, and political issues.

He has written a number of non-fiction books, among them Between the World and Me which follows the format of an extended letter to his teenaged son. This epistolary device provides the reader with some insight into his childhood, worldview, and thoughts on race in America. It’s a riveting read and I highly recommend it.

Switching gears, Coates has also written storylines for Marvel Comics, most notably working on Black Panther. You can check out the first collection through Overdrive. A couple of years ago he began a run on Captain America, arguably Marvel’s most iconic character. He had an article in The Atlantic about writing for Captain America and it’s worth checking out.

This brings us to The Water Dancer, a tale set in the antebellum South involving a young man born into bondage who discovers he has “special powers” when he is around water. This title was voted as “our next read” by Time To Read’s recent Facebook poll, so I am sure our listeners will have lots to say about this book.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’m looking forward to seeing how Coates weaves his superhero sensibilities into this historical drama. While thoroughly researched and firmly based in historical fact, I’m expecting enough magic in this story to keep us engaged right through to the end.


Historical fiction – 50+ years in the past

Historical fiction has been a perennially popular genre since at least the 1800s, when readers devoured books like Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (about the French Revolution) and Walter Scott’s romantic tales of the Scottish highlands.

A historical novel is usually defined as one that’s set more than fifty years in the past, and based on research rather than personal experience – so strictly speaking, an autobiographical novel set during the era of the author’s childhood isn’t historical fiction. They draw heavily on historical detail (more or less accurate!) for atmosphere; plot and characterization emphasize and reflect the time period, and famous historical figures often appear as well.

You’ll find historical novels set during absolutely every time period you can think of, from the days of cave paintings and Neanderthals up to the 1960s (yes, that was fifty years ago). Here are a few WPL staff favourites:

Still not sure where to look? Check out our Tools for book lovers – a collection of websites and online resources that will help you find something fresh and interesting to read, whether it’s for yourself or your book club. Or if you’d like some personalized suggestions, fill out our “Five in Five” form with a little information about what you enjoy reading and get 5 titles chosen for you by WPL staff! 



This is my favourite time of year. I love the creepiness of the long shadows in the streets, the possibility of something sinister hiding behind your shower curtain, the chill down your spine when you hear an unexpected tapping at your window (a branch in the wind, of course). Here are some spooky reads to give you the heebie-jeebies; you might want to read them with the lights on!

We all know Stephen King as a master of horror. I recently read his newest work, If It Bleeds, which contains 4 short stories. The first short story in the book, titled Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, demonstrates that we should NEVER bury a cell phone with a dead person. The fourth story is titled Rat and it definitely gave me both Misery and The Shining vibes. Drew decides to drive up to his father’s cabin to write his novel, all by himself. Sound familiar? During his stay, he saves a rat from a storm which he then starts conversing with. Unnerving.

One of my favourite reads of this year has been Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories. Stories in the collection include a post-apocalyptic world, zombies, and other creatures in the Arctic chill. The book includes a glossary in the back which is very helpful for any Inuktitut words you might not be familiar with.

If you’re looking for some eerie graphic novels, Junji Ito is an awesome Japanese horror manga artist. One of my favourites is Tomie. Tomie is no ordinary woman by any means; she’s not exactly human, she’s immortal, and has the power to make anyone fall in love with her. Those that do end up so jealous, they usually resort to violence. Another of Ito’s works is titled Uzumaki. A supernatural curse causes spirals everywhere in town. The spirals slowly start taking over everything, even people. Can anyone survive them? 

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage really creeped me out. Hanna is a seven-year-old who is an angel around her dad, but doesn’t like her mom too much. Hanna also doesn’t speak, which definitely adds to the eeriness. She wants her dad all to herself, and there’s one person in her way. What is she willing to do to make that come true? You’ll have to read it to find out!

If you’re looking for a haunted house book, look no further than Kill Creek by Scott Thomas! Four horror authors are invited to spend the night in a haunted house on Halloween. It starts as a publicity stunt, but it quickly turns real. They might leave the house, but the house doesn’t leave them.                      

In Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World, seven-year-old Wren is vacationing with her two dads at a secluded cabin. It’s a surprise when a seemingly friendly man named Lenny walks up the driveway and befriends Wren. He tells Wren he’s sorry for what’s about to happen, as three more strangers come up the driveway. The group tells the family that they are the only ones who can help stop the end of the world. Whaaat?

I hope that these reads give you the chills that you’re looking for! To find more, check out our Horror Fiction section of our Other-Worldly Fiction Guide.

Happy reading!


Step Into Other Worlds…

Do you enjoy being frightened out of your skin, want to learn how to fight dragons, enjoy exploring the technology of the future, or visiting other planets? If you answer “yes” to even one of those questions (or all four!), or are interested in testing out those waters, then our Other-Worldly Fiction guide is the guide for you. This guide encompasses the genres known as Speculative Fiction which includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, and is specifically designed for you the reader! Whether you are interested in exploring the genres for the first time (we have book suggestions for just that!), are an avid reader and want to see the latest selections, or are looking for some staff picks, we’ve got you covered.

Horror fans take a look if you dare!

We have everything from Classic Horror, to Hauntings, to Horror with Gore, as well as links to our catalogue to make searching for horror a process that isn’t frightening in the least!

If you’re new to the Horror genre I would suggest the following book:

The Shining by Stephen King

“Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.” (Book summary)

Science Fiction fans, you may analyze the following data:

From Space Opera to Dystopian Science Fiction, and from Hard Science Fiction to books adapted for film or TV, finding your next Science Fiction read has never been so simple.

If you’re new to the Science Fiction genre I would suggest the following book:

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

“Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why. Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything. Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.” (Book summary)

Fantasy fans your quest for new books awaits!

Divining your next great Fantasy read doesn’t require going on a quest or translating a long-lost language. We have lists of local and Canadian Fantasy authors, fantastical books with strong heroines and historical novels with sometimes hints of or full-blown magic in them!

If you are new to the Fantasy genre I would suggest the following book:

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

“A brilliantly imagined historical fantasy in which a young con artist in eighteenth century Cairo discovers she’s the last descendant of a powerful family of djinn healers. With the help of an outcast immortal warrior and a rebellious prince, she must claim her magical birthright in order to prevent a war that threatens to destroy the entire djinn kingdom.” (from publisher)

I hope you enjoy exploring this guide and find some new reads. If you would like more personalized book recommendations, fill out our “Five-in-Five” form and receive five book suggestions based on the information you filled out by Winnipeg Public Library staff.

Happy Reading!


The Mi’kmaw Nation

October is Mi’kmaq History Month in Nova Scotia – an opportunity to raise awareness about the Mi’kmaw Nation, past and present. The traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq, called Mi’kma’ki, includes all of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, large areas of New Brunswick, the Gaspé Peninsula, and Newfoundland.

The public library is an excellent place to access so many resources that you can borrow to learn more about the Indigenous nations across the country and what it means to be Treaty people. Here are several to connect with to learn more about the Mi’kmaq.

Niniskamijinaqik = Ancestral images : the Mi’kmaq in art and photography by Ruth Holmes Whitehead

Mi’kmaw historian and ethnologist, Ruth Holmes Whitehead, connects us with the culture and way of life of the Mi’kmaq as depicted in 94 pieces of artwork and photography.

Song of Rita Joe by Rita Joe

Rita Joe, Mi’kmaw poet and songwriter, has been referred to as the Poet Laureate of the Mi’kmaq. She published seven books in her lifetime, was a member of the Order of Canada, called to the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, and a recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. This is her story in her words.

Doug Knockwood, Mi’kmaw elder : stories, memories, reflections by Doug Knockwood

Freeman Douglas Knockwood is a highly respected Mi’kmaw Elder and one of Canada’s premier addictions recovery counsellors. Many of his initiatives have been implemented across Canada and used by thousands of people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Living treaties : narrating Mi’kmaw treaty relations by Marie Battiste

Living Treaties shares contemporary perspectives of the Mi’kmaq and non-Mi’kmaq allies about the treaties and their histories.

The Thundermaker by Alan Syliboy

Mi’kmaw artist Alan Syliboy’s The Thundermaker is based on his mixed-media exhibit of the same name. In the book, Big Thunder teaches his son, Little Thunder, about the important responsibility he has making thunder for his people. Little Thunder learns about his identity through his father’s teachings and his mother’s traditional stories.

Truth and conviction : Donald Marshall Jr. and the Mi’kmaw quest for justice by Jane McMillan

Jane McMillan – Marshall’s former partner, an acclaimed anthropologist, and an original defendant in the Supreme Court’s Marshall decision – tells the story of how Marshall’s fight against injustice permeated Canadian legal consciousness and revitalized Indigenous law.


Teen Hallo-Reads

Ready to turn the lights down and get cozy with some spine-tingling tales? Here are some new additions to our teen fiction collection.

If you can’t quite decide if you’re in the mood for a ghost story or a detective story, well, why not both? Francesca Zappia’s Now entering Addamsville follows Nora, a teen with supernatural abilities she tries to hide while using them to keep her town safe. This is further complicated by the fact that she’s been framed for murder, and needs to clear her name. Add in a healthy dose of family drama, and Nora’s got plenty to keep her busy.

Looking for a classic? Then you need to try His hideous heart: thirteen of Edgar Allan Poe’s most unsettling tales reimagined. It wouldn’t be the season of spooky stories without a mention of Edgar Allan Poe, and what better way to celebrate his macabre genius than by having his tales reimagined by some of the best Young Adult authors out there? The first half of the book contains the reimagined stories; flip to the back half to read the original tales.

Girls save the world in this one by Ash Parsons is an excellent choice if you’ve ever sat around with your friends and planned out your zombie apocalypse survival strategy. June and her best friends are excited to head to ZombieCon and meet their favorite actors. Unfortunately, the zombies wandering around seem a bit too authentic, and the trio soon find themselves doing whatever it takes to survive the horde and save the world.

If you like a little folklore with your thrillers, Five midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal is for you. Lupe is staying with her police chief uncle in Puerto Rico, and Javier’s friends are turning up the victims of murder. Teaming up to solve the murders, they race against the clock, wondering if they’ll find a murderer or a monster waiting for them in the shadows.

And as a bonus, here’s one you won’t want to miss if you’re a fan of movies like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, or Halloween. Clown in a cornfield by Adam Cesare is set in Kettle Springs, a town that’s a bit down on its luck now that the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory has shut down. While the teens in town dream of getting out as fast as they can, Frendo, the Baypen clown mascot, decides that what the town really needs to regain its lost glory is to be rid of the ungrateful teens. Be sure to get your name on the holds list if you’re a fan of creepy clowns!

If this list has you wanting more mysteries, thrillers, and paranormal adventures, then be sure to swing by the Mystery and Paranormal & Horror pages on the Winnipeg Public Library teen website, Booked.

Happy reading,