Author Archives: lbujold

What’s New in the Local History Room

Winnipeg Riot [Portage Avenue]

“Winnipeg Riot” postcard from the PastForward database

We are marking the centennary of one of the most significant events in our city’s history this year: the Winnipeg General Strike, which began on May 15, 1919, and lasted for over a month, helping to shape labour history throughout Canada for decades after.

The Winnipeg Public Library will be hosting a series of lectures at the Millennium branch, beginning on Wednesday March 20th, from noon to 1:00 PM, and continuing on for the next four Wednesdays.  For more details you can consult our newsletter – follow this link to our program calendar.

Also, come have a look at some of our new reads in the Local History Room:

Local author Gordon Goldsborough has recently released a sequel to his previous excellent book about our province’s hidden history, entitled More abandoned Manitoba : Rivers, Rails and Ruins.  The book is richly illustrated (thanks in part to clever drone photography), exploring abandoned sites around Manitoba, describing their features, what caused them to be abandoned, and their link to the larger history of Manitoba.

Cover image for Wisdom from the homeless : lessons a doctor learned at a homeless shelter

Wisdom from the homeless : Lessons a Doctor Learned at a Homeless Shelter  is both a timely wake-up call and inspiring read.  The stories in it’s pages are from people who attend Winnipeg’s Siloam Mission,  the homeless men and women as well as those who help take care of them.  It “is about the wisdom that people with nothing can teach all of us in affluent North American culture”.  Dr Neil Craton writes about his experiences as a physician in Siloam Mission’s medical clinic, treating all kinds of wounds, but also learning lessons in kindness and respect from his patients as fellow human beings persevering through pain and difficulties with joy and compassion.  His stories also include the experiences of other volunteers and staff working in the shelter and how it changed their lives and their faith.  The book is easy to read and benefits from great photography.

Cover image for Prairie fairies : a history of queer communities and people in western Canada, 1930-1985

Bringing to the forefront the previously marginalised history of the LGBTTQ community of the Western province was the aim of history professor and author Valerie Korineck in her new book Prairie Fairies : A History of Queer Communities and People in Western Canada, 1930-1985.  It focuses on five Prairie cities: Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, and Calgary, exploring the regional experiences and activism of queer men and women through oral and archival histories.  In the first part of the book, spanning from 1930 to 1970, we learn about the public hangouts (restaurants, clubs, etc.) where queer people could assemble prior to creation of an organized movement  The second part is about the role played by different activists and other community actors in the 1970’s and onward that helped create spaces for gay and lesbian individuals dedicated to their communities and transforming the local social and political landscape.  Though this is a hefty academic title, it is filled with personal anecdotes and stories that makes it quite accessible to the more casual reader.

Gimli Harbour & Fishery : An IIlustrated History by Andrew Blicq explores the rich stories of the men and women who, over the last 140 years, have ventured out onto Lake Winnipeg in search of a living and a future.  We see a way of life that grew fishery through archival documents and photos, seeing the evolution of the boats, the various industries and businesses that helped keep Gimli prosper, and the stories of the families for whom fishing was an arduous yet rewarding calling.

Image result for north east winnipeg historical society volume 2

Finally, we have just received the second volume of the community history North East Winnipeg Area History : Elmwood, East Kildonan, North Kildonan  which offers a look back on some of the earliest inhabitants of one the oldest neighborhoods in the City of Winnipeg.  In addition to providing detailed histories of local pioneering families (some going back as far as the early 19th century), this volume describes the early road system in Winnipeg and methods of transportation such as the Kildonan Ferry.  Of particular note is the section devoted to Glen Hamilton and his home which eventually became famous for its séances, where attempts were made to communicate with the spirits of deceased loved ones, some famously photographed.

Come and check it out!


30 Years Ago: The Fall of the Berlin Wall

“Today I walk from my place up Brunnenstrasse, past Frau Paul’s tunnel to Bernauer Strasse where the Wall was. There is a new museum here. Its greatest exhibit is opposite: a full-size reconstructed section of the Wall, complete with freshly built and neatly raked death strip, for tourists.”       –Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

Cover image for The year that changed the world : the untold story behind the fall of the Berlin Wall

We are going to mark several anniversaries of important historical events in 2019, one of them being the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the end of the Cold War – 30 years ago already!  And the library has a lot to offer fans of history on this topic.

For over 50 years, Germany, which was divided between the victors of WWII, was a symbolic battleground where two ideologies and their competing East/West alliances faced-off.  This era that became known as the Cold War was marked by varying periods of tensions and detente between the two blocs of nations.  The city of Berlin, an already divided city in a divided nation witnessed the erection in 1961 of a wall protected by mines, barbed wire and watch towers, supposedly to protect East Berliners from the evil of the capitalist West (the wall’s official name in the Soviet sphere was the  “Antifascist Bulwark”) but was really there to keep them in.


Cover image for The Berlin Airlift : the relief operation that defined the Cold War

70 years before the wall, Berlin was already a flashpoint of the Cold War that pitted former wartime allies over the fate of a still-ruined German capital.  In 1948, Stalin ordered the closing of all land access points to the city, leaving West Berliners potentially isolated in East Germany without food or fuel.  The Russian dictator hoped that the Western nations would lack resolve and accept the loss of the blockaded city to the Communists in order to avoid another shooting war so soon after the last global conflict.  Instead, the United States and its allies (including Canada) chose to keep West Berlin supplied through a massive airlift operation where transport plane flew around the clock, defeating the blockade while avoiding a shooting war.  The blockade was lifted after 11 months and over 200,000 sorties by allied planes ferrying 2,300,000 tons of food and fuel, but this first triumph of the West set the tone for what would become a new type of conflict that would define the lives of most nations of the world for decades to come.  Barry Turner’s The Berlin Airlift is an excellent book for readers interested in learning about the day-to-day experience of Berliners as well as those who took part in the airlift operations to preserve their freedom, often at the risk of their lives.


Cover image for Berlin 1961 : Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the most dangerous place on earth  Cover image for Bridge of spies [DVD videorecording]

The brinkmanship that characterised the Cold War came to its most dangerous point in the early 1960’s, with the risk of a nuclear war and the end of humankind becoming a real possibility.  It was in this context that the Berlin Wall was built, taking most everyone by surprise.  In Berlin 1961Frederick Kempe explains how a series of diplomatic blunders and misunderstandings across the globe came to a head when the armies of both super powers became fully mobilised in Berlin.  Up until then, travel between East and West Berlin was still possible even if closely monitored by the state.  This led to 3.5 millions East Germans defecting to the West between 1946 and 1961, leading Eastern leaders to find a way to stop this exodus by effectively closing its border.  Construction of the 156-kilometer wall began on August 13th and would be reinforced and improved over the coming years.  Attempting to cross it without official permission became a crime punishable by prison or death, with up to 200 people killed while trying to escape and 5,000 managing to reach West Berlin out of 100,000 attempts.  The recent movie Bridge of Spies, featuring Tom Hanks takes place in part during that period and portrays the real-life efforts of an American lawyer trying to secure an exchange of prisoners at the height of the crisis.


Cover image for Forty autumns : a family's story of courage and survival on both sides of the Berlin Wall

One woman who did manage to escape East Germany was Nina Willner, and her memoir Forty Autumns is an intimate portrait of how one person had to choose between her freedom and the loved ones she had to leave behind.  Nina takes us deep into the terrifying world of East Germany under Communist rule, revealing both the cruel reality her relatives endured and her own experiences after becoming an intelligence officer, running secret operations behind the Berlin Wall that put her life at risk.  We also learn of the aftermath, when both sides of her family had a chance to meet each other when the wall fell.


Cover image for Stasiland : stories from behind the Berlin Wall

Probably the most terrifying aspect of life in East Germany was its all-powerful and ever-present surveillance apparatus in the form of the Stasi (with 1 out of 6 East Germans being either informants or agents, it surpassed even the KGB and the Gestapo in its pervasiveness in the lives of East Germans).  In Stasiland : stories from behind the Berlin Wall, Ana Funder collected the testimonies of former East Germans, even some former members of the Stasi, to get a sense of everyday life in a totalitarian society where everybody lied and risked being betrayed, even by the people they knew.  Stories include those who tried to escape and were jailed and then pressured to spy on others in exchange for their release, a rock star who experienced being made an “un-person” to be erased, and then those who were still unrepentant about their role in propping up the regime they served through.  This is an important but difficult read but it also has hope and humour as people have had time to rebuild and reflect after German reunification.


Cover image for The collapse : the accidental opening of the Berlin Wall

I used to think I had a good idea of how the Wall fell but historian Mary Sarotte’s The Collapse: the Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall made me realize how much I had missed from previous readings.   The forces that ultimately brought the Berlin Wall down had been at work for some time, but the announcement that the border between East and West would open on November 9th, 1989, took the world (least of all East Germans) by surprise.  That was in part because it was the work of East-European politicians working behind the scenes, combined with a growing popular peaceful protest movement against a stagnant and stifling dictatorship.  But according to the author, the tipping point was a series of miscommunications that culminated in a small error by an East German official during a press conference about new travel regulations that accidently led to the floodgates opening literally overnight and heralded the end of East Germany a few months later.  Sarotte’s account is well-researched and is a suspenseful read that I recommend for anyone wanting to learn the fascinating history of the millions of ordinary citizens whose actions were instrumental in bringing this about.


Cover image for Berlin now : the city after the Wall

It is fitting that the last book of this post should discuss the revival that Berlin has experienced since the fall of the wall in 1989 and how it has changed.  Berlin Now: the City after the Wall by Peter Schneider offers a tour of the reunited city and how it has changed since while describing the insidious legacies of division and re-unification that remain, like the lingering suspicion instilled by the East German secret police to the clashing attitudes toward work, food, and love held by former East and West Berliners.  It explores a city still in flux, with hodgepodge architectures from different worlds, construction cranes everywhere, and animated by a vital art and clubbing scene and rich in diversity of its inhabitants, new and old.

Come and check out these great reads!



What’s new in the Local History Room?

With the coming of Winter it’s time to have a look at the new arrivals in the Local History Room collection.

Cover image for Rooster Town : the history of an urban Métis community, 1901-1961

A long-anticipated arrival is Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Métis Community, 1901-1961 by Evelyn Peters which is the product of years of exhaustive research into a part of Winnipeg’s history that has re-surfaced after decades of obscurity, thanks to her work.  Rooster Town, which grew on the outskirts of southwest Winnipeg from 1901 to 1961, was one of many Métis communities in Manitoba on the edges of urban areas, and probably the most famous of them all with 59 recorded households at its peak in 1949. Those years in Winnipeg were characterized by the twin pressures of depression and inflation, chronic housing shortages, and a spotty social support network.  Rooster Town grew without city services as rural Métis arrived to participate in the urban economy and build their own houses while keeping Métis culture and community as a central part of their lives.

Cover image for Stolen city : racial capitalism and the making of Winnipeg

Stolen City: Racial Capitalism and the Making of Winnipeg by geographer Owen Toews is a widely-acclaimed new arrival that critiques what he identifies as the emergence of a ruling alliance that has installed successive development visions to guarantee its hold on regional wealth and power.  Through a combination of historical and contemporary analysis, Toews argues how settler colonialism, as a mode of racial capitalism, has made and remade Winnipeg and the Canadian Prairie West over the past one hundred and fifty years. The author gives particular attention to “an ascendant post-industrial vision for Winnipeg’s city centre that has renewed colonial ‘legacies’ of dispossession and racism over the past forty years.”


Cover of Memories of the Moonlight Special and Grand Beach Train Era

In the first half of the 20th Century, the Canadian Northern Railway, later CN, established a train service to the east shores of Lake Winnipeg called The Victoria Beach Sub Division. This rail line opened up cottage country and changed people’s lives forever. Author Barbara Lange offers to take us through a time capsule with Memories of the Moonlight Special and Grand Beach Train EraSixty years after train service to the east shores of Lake Winnipeg ceased, a writer embarked on a journey of discovery. “People remember the boardwalk, concessions, the Moonlight Inn, picnics, the carousel, the dancing pavilion, Daddy Trains, beach romances, Hot Lips ginger beer, bands, Morse code, ice boxes, honey pot toilets, red boards, the Wye, fishflies, bittersweet vine, the Snowshoe Special, and a bygone era when passengers felt part of one big family.”

Cover image for Settlers of the marsh

Settlers of the Marsh by Frederick Philip Grove is actually an old read: first published in 1925 after much resistance, and welcomed with much condemnation from critics, it has gradually become recognised as one of the greatest novel about the experiences of immigrants settling in the Prairies. The story centers on recent Swedish immigrants to Canada, based partly on the author’s own personal experience, taking place in northern Manitoba where settlers like protagonist Niels Lindstedt were hoping to start their own homestead despite inhospitable climate and the arduous work it required. Niels’ attempts to come to terms with his new land and community, and the toll that these attempts take on him are further complicated by his relationships with two very different women. His dreams of domestic happiness married to his neighbour’s daughter, Ellen, being dashed after she rejects him, Niels is seduced by a local widow, Clara, with devastating consequences for all three.

  • Louis-Philippe

Remembering Canada’s Hundred Days and the End of the First World War

Cover image for The greatest victory : Canada's one hundred days, 1918A hundred years ago, the First World War was coming to an end, after four years of carnage never witnessed before in history. The year 1918 had begun with the Allied armies (also known as the Entente Powers) still locked in stalemate with Germany on the western front with no clear end in sight. Then in the spring, the German army launched its final offensive and although it succeeded in pushing back the British army, it failed to create a decisive breakthrough. This was followed in August by a general counter-attack (now known as the Hundred Days Offensive) by the Allies that would finally break the deadlock of the trenches and force Germany and the rest of the Central Powers to sue for peace by November. The four divisions of the Canadian Corps played a central role in breaking the back of the German army in a series of victorious battles that ended in the French city of Mons on November 11, 1918. The prestige earned on the battlefield helped create a new sense of national identity and Canada had separate representation at the peace conference at Versailles, moving away from its former colonial status toward independence from Great Britain.

Despite involving more men (and more casualties) than the Normandy Campaign of 1944, and despite being the pivotal battle of the First World War, the Hundred Days Offensive has been largely forgotten until recently with the centennial of the First World War bringing renewed interest in its history. For readers who are not familiar with this topic but are interested in learning more, historian Jack Granatstein’s book The Greatest Victory: Canada’s Hundred Days, 1918 is a recommended introduction that is accessible to everyone. It chronicles the march and bloody struggles of the Canadian Corp out of the trenches from Amiens through Valenciennes, the Hindenburg Line, the Canal du Nord, and Cambrai, toward Mons and final victory. Granatstein describes the historical context of the offensive, how Canadians trained constantly beforehand in the use of new tactics and weapons, and were led by General Arthur Currie, likely the best General of the War. Despite being overshadowed by the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the minds of most Canadians, the author convincingly argues that the Hundred Day’s Offensive was Canada’s greatest feat of arms of the First World War.

Cover image for They Fought in Colour / la Guerre en Couleur : A New Look at Canada's First World War Effort / Nouveau Regard Sur le Canada Dans la Premi?re Guerre Mondiale.

Remembering the First World War can be challenging due to the memory of it having faded over the decades, and having been overshadowed by the second global conflict that followed its uneasy peace. Since we no longer have living veterans to relate their stories, our vision of the First World War exist almost exclusively in black and white, whether they be written books or historical footage. The book They Fought in Colourpublished by the Vimy Foundation, attempts to offer a new look at Canada’s experience during the Great War by presenting the reader with colorized pictures, as the people experienced it, with commentary from some of well-known Canadian personalities, including Paul Gross, Peter Mansbridge, Margaret Atwood, and many others.

Cover image for The secret history of soldiers : how Canadians survived the Great War

Historian Tim Cook is a prolific author of Canadian military history who has just released his latest title: The Secret History of Soldiers: How Canadians Survived the Great War This is a welcome addition, providing an intimate look at the daily lives of the men and women who experienced the conflict, as opposed to the more conventional reviews of the war from official records and the distant point of views of politicians and military leaders focused on strategies and tactics. These first-hand stories were mined from the letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral accounts of more than five hundred combatants. They reveal aspects of the life behind the front-lines, a “hidden society” that coped with the extreme hardships of war by creating their own satirical songs, trench art from battlefield debris, newspapers that criticized army life and all kinds of entertainment that took their mind off the war. You learn how camaraderie was built on shared experiences and goals, what motivated Canadians of all walks of life to keep going, and how they kept informed about the war and their families back home.

Cover image for 1918 : winning the war, losing the war

For readers who are interested in an in-depth study of the Western Front in the last year of the war, another new arrival at the library, 1918 : winning the war, losing the war is an informative review of the armies that were facing each other (the inexperienced but vast American army joining the battle-weary but experienced French and British forces against the German). This multi-author work contains ten chapters by some of the best historians of the First World War. It analyzes how armies built from a 19th century model evolved and adapted the lessons learned from past failures and used new technologies and weapons to fight a twentieth century war. The book also covers neglected fronts like Italy and the Middle East where the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish empires were fighting for their continuing survival. It also looks in detail at the war at sea and in the air, and considers the aftermath and legacy of the First World War.


Finally, if you come by the Local History Room at the Millennium branch, you can view a display called The World Remembers 1918 that the library is hosting to commemorate the centennial of the 1918 Armistice. Until November 11, a video monitor will display the names of over 800,000 soldiers who lost their lives in the final year of the war from Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the US, Turkey, Belgium, Australia, the Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia, China and the former British Indian Army. The World Remembers website has more information about this project and this is the page where names can be searched to learn when they will appear on-screen.


Discover the Library’s IdeaMILL !

After years of anticipation, the makerspace of the Winnipeg Public Library, named the IdeaMILL, is now finally open!  The ideaMILL makerspace, located on the 3rd floor of the Millennium Library, offers community access to new and emerging technologies in a collaborative space.

Makerspaces in libraries allow members of the library’s community to gain access to tools, software and mentorship that can help take creative ideas and turn them into real products or prototypes.

You may not know how to use some of the tools and equipment available, but there are plenty of books that will help you familiarize yourself with them and get you started on your own maker projects.

Cover image for The big book of makerspace projects : inspiring makers to experiment, create, and learn   Cover image for 63 ready-to-use maker projects

Makerspace projects books

These titles are all about inspiring readers to experiment with a wide variety of projects and are ideal for anyone wanting to familiarize themselves with the concept of the makerspace and its possibilities.

Cover image for Getting started with 3D printing : a hands-on guide to the hardware, software, and services behind the new manufacturing revolution   Cover image for Make: 3D printing projects

3-Dimensional Printing

A popular feature of the IdeaMILL is the ability to crate objects – from the most basic memento to complex models – using 3-D printing technology.  These books will introduce the technology and steps required to make your own objects, and offer 3-d printing projects for both beginners and experts, with step-by-step instructions.

Cover image for Digital photography : an introduction    Image result for The green screen makerspace project book todd

Digital Photography  and Video Recording

Using a digital camera and the green screen available in the space, customers can create their own photography or movie projects, complete with sophisticated effects.  These guides will offer project ideas with detailed instructions.


Cover image for Makerspace sound and music projects for all ages  Cover image for The singer-songwriter's guide to recording in the home studio

Sound Recording

The IdeaMILL is equipped with two bookable sound recording booths, allowing anyone to record and edit their own songs using high-quality equipment.  The library has books to teach you how to effectively use sound recording and learn the steps of the recording and editing process.

Cover image for Knitting with beads made easy : simple techniques, handy shortcuts, and 60 fabulous projects  Cover image for Home robotics : maker-inspired projects for building your own robots


For those who need a space reserved for working on their crafting projects, a crafting area with sewing machines, button makers and more are available in the IdeaMILL.  If you need ideas for a knitting project, we have a large selection of books on all types of crafts from knitting, sewing and even robot-making.

Come and check it out, the ideaMILL is open to customers of all ages, and is accessible during Millennium Library’s standard opening hours.



What to Watch on Kanopy?

The Winnipeg Public Library recently started offering access to a new streaming service for films and documentaries, so I decided to check out this new resource.  In addition to documentaries, Kanopy offers a wide selection of international as well as Hollywood movies.

Here are some of my favourite titles so far:

The King’s Choice is a Norwegian film based on the incredible-but-true events surrounding the period of April 9-11, 1940.  When Nazi forces invaded Norway, King Haakon VII was faced with an ultimatum: accede to the demand to surrender his country without resistance, or support the continued resistance of his government and escape the country into exile.  For two days, the king and his family were pursued by the invading German army through the Norwegian countryside. They shared the fear and uncertainty of their countrymen as their towns and cities experienced a new kind of war and then four years of occupation.

In Manchester By The Sea a depressed man, Lee Chandler, must face his painful past when he reluctantly returns to his Massachusetts hometown after the sudden death of his brother.  Upon arrival, he finds that he has been made sole guardian to his teenage nephew. This is a realistic look at the personal cost of guilt with very flawed characters who are struggling with addictions and crushing grief, and yet they must find a way to carry on with the daily tasks and responsibilities of life.


In Brooklyn, a young Irish woman immigrates to Brooklyn in the 1950’s in the hopes of finding new opportunities. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland for the shores of New York City and is soon swept up by the intoxicating charms of new love. When family circumstances back home require her to return unexpectedly, she is faced with deciding between two countries – her home and family in the old world and the life she built with the man she loves waiting for her in the new.  Besides the great acting by Saoirse Ronan, the period reconstitution is also excellent, and the story reflects the journey that so many have done and continue to do so today.

Le Samourai is a mix of “1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture.”  Alain Delon (one of France’s top actors of all time) plays a contract killer with samurai instincts in 1960’s Paris.  If you have watched and loved The Professional or Ghost Dog, you can now see the movie that undoubtedly inspired both.  John Costello is a contract killer that works according to his own personal code, surviving against both law enforcement and the criminal world by being a loner.  What happens when you are forced to let someone into your life – will it save or destroy you?

I had heard of the Italian movie classic The Bicycle Thieves many times before, but thanks to Kanopy, this was my chance to finally see it.  In postwar Rome, a man is on his first day of a new job that offers hope of salvation and escape from poverty for his desperate family.  Putting posters on walls may be a modest job, so when the bicycle which is needed for his work is stolen, he sets off to track down the thief with his son in tow.  An increasingly desperate quest to save their future.

Another classic from the silent cinema era is Fritz Lang’s Metropolis,  now available fully restored and with the original orchestral score.  The film takes place in 2026, when the populace is divided between workers who must live in the dark underground while slaving away maintaining nightmarish machinery, and the rich who enjoy a futuristic city of splendor.  Will the love of two people from those separate worlds be enough to bridge the divide?  This was the first time that a humanoid robot was featured on film, and it’s visuals would inspire science-fiction work up to this day.
What about you, what would you recommend?

1968: Remembering a Year that Shook the World

Cover image for 1968

We have reached the 50th anniversary of one of the most tumultuous years of the 20th century, with many events happening across the globe that helped shape the world we live in. 1968 has often been characterised as a year of painful transition, revolt and chaos, with post-World War II youth of the West finding their voice and demanding change from what they saw as a corrupt and unjust establishment amidst a background of war and revolts brewing all over the globe. Winnipeg Public Library has plenty of material for those interested in learning about or remembering the important events that marked the year.

Cover image for Trudeaumania : the rise to power of Pierre Elliot Trudeau

In Canada, 1968 saw the implementation of Medicare laws, and the growing protests in Quebec in favour of independence from the rest of the country, which would culminate in the FLQ Crisis two years later. This was also the year Pierre Trudeau was elected Prime Minister, and his personal appeal to wide swaths of Canadian society (notably the younger generation) would coin the term “Trudeaumania.” Robert Wright’s recent book Trudeaumania: The Rise to Power of Pierre Elliott Trudeau chronicles the phenomenon while also trying to correct some of the myths and over-simplifications surrounding the election that started his 15 years as Prime Minister of Canada. Like John F. Kennedy in the States, Trudeau’s appeal was a mix of personal charisma and strength of conviction (skillfully wielded through his televised appearances), but even then, the author notes, he only won the Liberal party leadership by a slim majority and the Liberals won the election with 45.5 percent of the popular vote against relatively weak opponents (Conservative Robert Stanfield and Tommy Douglas of the NDP). Wright credits Trudeau’s lasting appeal on his pragmatic policies that he implemented to fight for a Canada that was unified (in direct opposition to Rene Levesque’s sovereignist movement), modern and multicultural.

Image result for vietnam war ken burns Cover image for The odyssey of Echo Company : the 1968 Tet Offensive and the epic battle to survive the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War reached its peak in 1968 and its effects were felt globally, with movements both for and against the involvement of the U.S. military spreading all over the world.  (Canada became a safe haven for thousands of Americans seeking to avoid the draft, while at the same time hundreds of Canadians volunteered in the U.S. army to fight in Vietnam.) The recently released documentary The Vietnam War (both the DVD series and companion book) produced by the always-excellent Ken Burns is one of the best retrospectives of this grim conflict. Both the book and the 10-part DVD series are filled with testimonials from survivors from all sides who took part in the conflict, on the battlefield or on the homefront, and they offer not only their memories but also reflections on how the conflict has changed them fifty years later. It is highly recommended for those interested in a fresh, introspective look into this not-so distant part of history.

The odyssey of Echo Company : the 1968 Tet Offensive and the epic battle to survive the Vietnam War by journalist and author Doug Stanton is the account of a platoon from the American 101st Airborne Division fighting for survival during this campaign. Through the author’s narrative, you follow Stan Parker from his humble childhood as a son of an itinerant ironworker to his experiences in Vietnam and his return home. Stanton captures the loyalty and camaraderie of infantrymen as well as the very dark and desperate fighting that occurred, and the psychological wounds that men like Parker had to quietly bear in the years that followed.
Cover image for The plot to kill King : the truth behind the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  Cover image for "R.F.K. must die!" : chasing the mystery of the Robert Kennedy assassination
In addition to the war overseas, American society was being fractured along multiple lines as it had not been since the Civil War a century ago. Racial violence erupted in multiple cities, along with large-scale street protests. 1968 was also a year marred with the assassinations of two great figures of American politics. Martin Luther King, minister and activist in the Civil Rights movement against the racial oppression of African-Americans was shot in Memphis on April 4th. King’s death led to burning and rioting in 30 US cities prompting the mobilization of National Guard units to restore civilian control and order. The result was thousands of arrests and at least 39 dead and large-scale destruction throughout the Unites States. On June 5th, barely two months later, Robert Kennedy, younger brother of the slain president, was murdered during a campaign rally in Los Angeles, ending the hopes of millions who saw in him an heir to his brother’s political legacy and re-shaping the American election.
Cover image for Playing with fire : the 1968 election and the transformation of American politics
The death of RFK was just one part of the story of one of the most tumultuous elections in U.S. history, one that echoes to our present political climate and its excesses. Writer and TV host Lawrence O’Donnell has recently published Playing with fire : the 1968 election and the transformation of American politics, a detailed history of this pivotal electoral campaign that saw several strong contenders from both party fight not only to unite their own fractured parties, but also a fractured nation rocked with riots and protests. The book tells how Richard Nixon managed to win despite his  opponent’s initial lead through skillful use of the media (aided by Roger Ailes, future CEO of Fox News), promising to bring peace in Vietnam “with honor”, and the splintering of the old Democratic party during its national convention. Though the author does not hide his partisan bias, this is still a well-researched history told in an easy to read style.
Cover image for Apollo 8 : the thrilling story of the first mission to the Moon

In a more hopeful conclusion after a year marred by much violence and rancor, the end of 1968 also saw the first manned spacecraft, Apollo 8, to travel and orbit around the moon, paving the way for Neil Armstrong’s voyage a year later.

Jeffrey Kluger’s Apollo 8 : the thrilling story of the first mission to the Moon takes us from Mission Control to the astronauts’ homes, and the race to prepare an untested rocket for an unprecedented journey that made the dream of setting foot on the moon seem within reach practically overnight.
Much more was happening in the world that year: the Communist world was convulsing under the Prague Spring uprising and the Cultural Revolution in China was at its height.  Planet of the Apes and 2001: Space Odyssey were released in movie theaters.
What will you remember 1968 for?

Ukrainians in Canada

Ukrainian Canadian Pioneer Experience Display

On now until February 15 Journey to Canada: Ukrainian Immigration Experiences 1891-1900 is a large panel exhibit at the Millennium Library (fourth floor) featuring the early period of Ukrainians on the Canadian prairies.

The exhibit chronicles experiences arriving in a new land, setting up temporary settlements and then constructing homes, churches, and communities. This first wave of Ukrainian immigration is retold through photographs, documents and early narratives.

Local History Room Display Ukraine

Be sure to pick up a copy of our Ukrainian Canadians search guide to help find more information about this topic and browse through the many items in our Local History Room and the rest of our collection.

The display is sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Manitoba Provincial Council and was created by the Kule Centre for Ukrainian Folklore at the University of Alberta.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Dauphin Manitoba

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Dauphin, Manitoba.
Source: The Rob McInnes Postcard Collection , Winnipeg Public Library’s PastForward: Winnipeg’s Digital Public History            


We look forward to having people drop by!



What’s New in the Local History Room?

The Holiday season is upon us and among the new titles that have arrived in the Local History Room collection, we have a very special treat for history fans.

Cover image for Manitoba at Christmas : holiday memories in the keystone province

is an anthology of stories from by and all about how Christmas was celebrated by Manitobans from the earliest Christmas recorded in the days of exploration before the establishment of the Red River colony to the 21st century.  From simple rituals, like a toast while sharing memories of absent families in pioneer times, the observance of Christmas evolved and grew more elaborate as the years passed and different cultures added their own traditions: church services, family reunions, ever-growing street parades and decorated storefronts.  The sights, sounds and smells of Manitoba at Christmas left happy memories which one can re-visit in the pages of this book: visiting Toyland at the Eaton’s store, sharing letters and stories with family in rural Manitoba on Christmas morning, or preparing a concert at a school to be attended by Fraserwood’s entire community.  In darker times, it was a time to hold on to hope: Margaret Owen, one of the featured authors, talks about how during the Christmas of 1941, her family waited to hear news about her father, a POW for several years after being captured during the defence of Hong Kong.  In addition to fun anecdotes, personal stories, great historical photographs and illustrations, the book also contains holiday recipes, for example a vinarterta, a traditional Icelandic layered Christmas cake .
Golden Boys
Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the NHL, Ty Dilello’s Golden boys : the Top 50 Manitoba Hockey Players of All Time, offers us a look at fifty players that have shaped the history of hockey in Manitoba. Featuring detailed biographies that were extensively researched, interviews both past and present, rare photographs and never-been-told-before stories, this is a must for both fans of local sports or those interested in Manitoba’s history in general.  While some of the names included are obvious choices: greats like Jonathan Toews, Andy Bathgate, Ron Hextall and Bobby Clarke, this is also valuable if you are curious about less-well known players like Bones Raleigh (his poetry was reviewed in the New York Times) or Dan Bain (he played and won some of the earliest Stanley Cups in the 19th century), or Terry Sawchuk (best goaler and crowned #1 player overall by Dilello).
agassiz cover

Were you aware that not too long ago, existed a lake so large it could easily have swallowed our present Great Lakes?  Lake Agassiz was an enormous glacial lake that covered a large chunk of the North American landscape between 14,000 and 8,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age.  This is the story that Bill Redekop wanted to explore when he started writing Lake Agassiz: the Rise and Demise of the World’s Greatest Lake.  Born of the melting ice that had covered North America for millennia, Lake Agassiz was a force of nature for 6,000 years. Its story is one of superlatives: inconceivable tsunamis that bored through solid rock; tributary torrents that gouged huge valleys, and colossal outpourings that created a mini-ice age in Europe.  The book is extensively researched and shows readers the “footprint” that Lake Agassiz left all over the prairie provinces (as well as some American states): from remnants of beaches nowhere near bodies of water, to valleys that were formed by retreating glaciers and left as remnants Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba, and Lake Winnipegosis as we know them today.

Cover image for Out of old Manitoba kitchens
Out of Old Manitoba kitchens by Christine Hanlon is the story of the people and the food they prepared by melding recipes, photographs and narratives of its earliest cooks, including the Indigenous people, Selkirk Settlers and first homesteaders. From wild rice to perogies, smoked goldeye to tourtière, one can find a blend of pioneer cuisine dating back to the fur trade and beyond. See how wave after wave of immigration brought with them their own recipes.  This book is a great read for those who enjoy history, good food, and memories of food prepared on the campfire, the hearth and the cast iron stove, from the trails of the buffalo hunt to the outdoor kitchens of the early settlers.
Cover image for The North End revisited
Finally, John Paskievich’s excellent photography book has just been re-published with an extra 80 photographs chronicling the history and transformation of his native neighbourhood from the 1970’s up to the present.  The North End Revisited also contains interviews with the author exploring different aspects of his work  in chronicling the stories of ordinary Winnipeggers from a very special community.
In the fun read  Snacks: A Canadian Food Historylocal historian Janis Thiessen profiles several iconic Canadian snack food companies, including Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hawkins Cheezies, and chocolatier Ganong.  These companies have developed in distinctive ways, reflecting the unique stories of their founders and their intense connection to specific places.  These stories of salty or sweet confections also reveal a history that is at odds with popular notions of ‘junk food.’  Through over 60 interviews and archival research, Thiessen uncovers the roots of our deep loyalties to different snack foods, what it means to be an independent snack food producer, and the often-quirky ways snacks have been created and marketed, like the “Kids Bids” local TV program where children bid for prizes using empty Old Dutch chips bags.

What’s New in the Local History Room?

This fall, the Winnipeg Public Library is proud to be a partnering with The World Remembers organization by hosting an electronic display of names in the Local History Room. This is part of a nation-wide act of remembrance and commemoration of the men and women who died a century ago during the First World War.

The World Remembers is a non-profit company based in Toronto whose sole purpose is to build and facilitate The World Remembers project.

The ongoing project began in 2014 by displaying, for one minute starting on October 15th and ending on November 11th, the names of everyone killed in the conflict in 1914, and repeating the process the following years.  The World Remembers organization displays the names of those soldiers who died in World War 1 so that people not only remember these fallen soldiers but honor these shared histories.   The monitor screen set up in the Local History Room shows a continuous loop of the names of soldiers killed in war in 1917. This display will end on November 11th and will display more than 661,800 names of soldiers who lost their lives from UK, Canada, France, Germany, the US, Turkey, Belgium, Australia, the Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia, China and the former British Indian Army.  This display will also be running simultaneously at other organizations (libraries, schools, and universities).

Here are the locations of the schools, cities, libraries, museums and other groups that are presenting The World Remembers names display.

If you are interested in finding a specific individual whose name will be displayed, you can search the TWR database here and find out at the exact day and time it will come up.

There is also a book display set up near The World Remembers display for those interested in learning more about the First World War.  Come and have a look.