Tag Archives: local history

BookFest! The Bookiest of Days!

[Yes, we know ‘bookiest’ isn’t a word – but we couldn’t find the perfect one, so we made one up.]

We are super excited to have put together a really special event – our first ever BookFest is just two weeks away on Saturday, November 19! What is a book fest? Well I’m glad you asked. It’s a smorgasbord of prairie book goodness taking over the second floor of Millennium Library, brought to you by Winnipeg Public Library as well as the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers, and generously funded by the Winnipeg Public Library Board. There are tons of things planned:

1-handwrittenBook Tastings

Like a wine tasting — but with books! We will provide small yummy samples of new and top titles in prairie fiction and non-fiction. A sure way to find new favourites, with one of the showcased books up for grabs at every ‘tasting’.
Running time is 11 am – 4 pm in the Anne Smigel Room (second floor, west side of the library).

Here are the 30-minute seatings:

11-11:30 am Life and Death: notable new memoirs & mysteries

12-12:30 pm Past and Present: compelling local history and military must-reads

1-1:30 pm Fact and Fiction: hot (and hidden gems) in non-fiction and fiction

3-3:30 pm Turtle Island Reads: new and classic Indigenous titles

2How to Judge a Book by Its Cover

I’ve started to notice a trend in what books pique my interest enough to pick them up (bold colours, retro photographs). What kind of cover makes you reach for a particular book? How does a publisher choose which cover to use? Why do so many book covers feature headless people, anyway? Charlene Diehl of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival will lead a discussion 2-3 pm in the Carol Shields Auditorium featuring cover designers from Doowah Design and Mel Matheson, Librarian Barbara Bourrier-Lacroix, and Jamis Paulson of Turnstone Press.

See what I mean by a headless cover?

matchmaker

3-2Book Fair

Tables and tables and tables of local authors and publishers scattered around the second floor, with prize draws every hour! From 11 am to 4 pm.

number-4   Colour & Create

Anishinaabe artist Jackie Traverse will be showcasing her brand new Indigenous colouring book, Sacred Feminine. Colouring sheets will be available to try out. From 11 am to 4 pm in Wii ghoss.

sacred

number-5-handwritten     Book Club Corner

We know you’re always searching for good book club picks and we’ve got titles your group will love (or love to discuss, at any rate)! Plus, enter to win a set of 10 copies of The Opening Sky and an appearance by its author Joan Thomas at your book club!

opening

 And Even More Books!

Just in case you weren’t already staggering under armloads and lists of to-read books, there’s still more! Displays of recommended reads on different themes will be stashed throughout the second floor, including a selection of titles personally curated (so fancy) by our Writers-in-Residence, Christine Fellows and John K. Samson!

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See you Saturday, November 19 all over the second floor, Millennium Library, 251 Donald Street!!

 

 

 

What’s New in the Local History Room

Electric display LH

It’s time to have a look at what is new in the Local History Room.

First, come and learn about the history of electric power in Manitoba. The new display set up in the room, through collaboration with the Manitoba Electrical Museum which has loaned artifacts and historical photographs, illustrates this fascinating aspect of our history.

While there, take some time to browse and explore some of the new titles in our collection:

Cover image for Andy De Jarlis : the life and music of an old-time fiddler

Andy De Jarlis: The Life and Music of an Old-time Fiddler by Joe Mackintosh is the story of Andy de Jarlis (1914 – 1975), a successful Métis fiddler and composer who came from a long line of fiddlers and musicians. Though his name may not be familiar to many today, he is credited as having kept Métis fiddling music alive just in time to see a resurgence in today’s music scene. The book also describes the hot spots for live folk music and dancing in Winnipeg from the mid-1950s onward where Andy played on his way to national fame.

Cover image for The ballad of Danny Wolfe : life of a modern outlaw
The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw by Joe Friesen is a much tougher read, which starts with one of the most famous prison breakouts in recent Canadian history, perpetrated by a man some would come to see as a living symbol of a sad legacy. Through 24 chronological chapters, the author traces the early years of Daniel Wolfe’s life: from his birth in Regina to his mother Susan Creeley, a First Nations woman marked by the residential school system; to his first brush with the law at the age of four and then his subsequent arrests; to the birth of the Indian Posse in 1989 – the Aboriginal street gang in Canada that would eventually claim the title of the largest street gang in North America with over 12,000 members (from BC to Ontario, and even Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona) and Danny at the helm; to Danny’s death in 2010.


Diagnosed with a rare cancer in 1994, Tefs spent the next 20 years coping with this new reality while raising a family, writing acclaimed works of fictions, battling cancer, and cycling. Wayne Tefs is the “Dead Man on a Bike,” his posthumous follow-up memoir to Rollercoaster: A Cancer Journey. Riding throughout Manitoba and parts of Europe was the author’s way of dealing with “the wound,” and provided space and  time for reflections that he shares with the reader.

Cover image for Solving poverty : innovative strategies from Winnipeg's inner city
In Solving Poverty: Innovative Strategies from Winnipeg’s Inner City, Jim Silver, a scholar actively engaged in anti-poverty efforts in Winnipeg’s inner city for decades, offers an on-the-ground analysis of complex and racialized poverty. Silver focuses particularly on the urban Aboriginal experience, and describes a variety of creative and effective urban Aboriginal community development initiatives, as well as other anti-poverty initiatives that have been successful in Winnipeg’s inner city, especially in regards with subsidised housing.


Often under-valued, under-recognized and under-appreciated, support units are seen as less “glamorous” than infantry or armoured units when it comes to military reading, and yet their role is no less essential. Bruce Tascona’s book United in Effort: Manitoba Combat Service Support History, 1870 to 2015 is the first publication to undertake a study of the integral role of logistics and training support in military operations with a specific focus on Manitoba service support units domestically and overseas. These include transporting troops and supplies as well as medical, dental, pay, postal, provost and veterinary services. The book follows the history of these units in Manitoba from the Riel Rebellion to Afghanistan tracing the development and growing importance of logistics in modern warfare.


He has dangled by his toes over a hundred hungry alligators in Florida, been buried alive in India, and jumped from a plane wearing a straightjacket in Japan; escape artist Dean Gunnarson doesn’t shy away from a challenge. The book Dean Gunnarson: The Making of an Escape Artist by Carolyn Gray explores the Winnipeg-born entertainer’s career from its beginning. It describes how after surviving leukemia as a child, his friendship with fellow cancer patient Philip Hornan inspired him to attempt a series of stunts culminating in a near-fatal submerged coffin act on the banks of the Red River that propelled Gunnarson to stardom.

Come and check it out!

  • Louis-Philippe

What’s New in the Local History Room

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It’s time to take a look at the exciting new arrivals in the Local History Room collection.  First, a new display about the history of Winnipeg transit is available for viewing, thanks to collaboration with the City of Winnipeg Archives, City of Winnipeg Transit Department, and Manitoba Transit Heritage; which have all contributed photos and artefacts.  Come by and have a look.  We also have books about the history of Winnipeg Transit for you to enjoy.

Cover image for On the frontier : letters from the Canadian West in the 1880sOn the frontier : letters from the Canadian West in the 1880s is an updated edition of William Wallace’s collected correspondence with his family in England during the early period of the West’s settlement.  This kind of literature where history is seen through everyday personal observations is a pleasure to read as it provides insights about the ordinary struggles and experiences of 19th century prairie life.  For a newly arrived settlers in the Canadian West, the geography (just getting to your new homestead is not a simple task when you do it by ox car) and the weather (freezing winters, thunderstorms, and prairie fires only added to the challenges of the hard work necessary to survive) were always on the mind as they worked to make build a home in their adopted country.

Cover image for Law, life, and government at Red River. Volume 1, Settlement and governance, 1812-1872Law, life, and government at Red River. Volume 1, Dale Gibson is an original take on the history of the Red River settlement and its diverse population that focuses on the evolution of its governmental and legal system.  Up until the Red River Resistance and Manitoba’s entry into Confederation, the colony was run by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), which struggled at times to create legal institutions that could fairly serve justice to the diverse people that worked and settled in the vast territory it controlled.  The result was a unique form of government that struggled to govern the colony up to 1870, gradually adapting to represent the First Nations and Metis peoples and the different groups of settlers that gradually came.  In addition to giving a good portrait of ordinary life, its challenges and complexity, the book covers an extensive list of legal cases that the nascent court had to deal with, including accusations of corruption, treason and infanticide.

Relics of interest : selections from the Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection is a publication from the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature that highlights treasured artefacts from the HBC collection with the aid of beautiful photographs and detailed descriptions that provide historical context.  These include an ivory statue of the SS Baychimo, Inuit art, tools, and a rifle from the company and even an Halkett boat: an early example of an inflatable boat made around 1850.  A brief historic of the HBC and its evolution up to the 20th century is helpfully included.

“If you grew up in Transcona between the 1950s and 1980s you likely will know the name Edna Perry”.  Thus was dedicated a street in honour of the person whose autobiography: Prairie girl’s life : the story of The Reverend Edna Lenora Perry has just arrived on our shelves.  Edna grew up during the Great Depression in rural Manitoba, her parents both coming from well-off families but now were largely penniless.  Starting out as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, she fell in love with a British soldier stationed in Canada and followed him to war-torn Britain.  Returning to Manitoba in 1947, she became a school principal and then one of the first female Anglican ministers in 1981.  This is a simple and tender tale of local a woman who touched many lives and has been justly recognized for it.

Fire Eater Cover

Another good example of  local history is Memoir of a Smoke Eater, by veteran firefighter Renald Laurencelle. Laurencelle tells of his personal experiences, sometimes terrifying, other times funny, during his 31-year career in the St. Boniface Fire Department. Laurencelle joined Number 2 Fire Hall in 1966 and learned the ropes while coping with tragic situations where fatalities occurred, witnessed famous fires like the one that consumed the St. Boniface Cathedral, and forged life-long friendships with his fellow smoke eaters.  The book is not only a valuable piece of personal history, but an homage to a generation of firefighters who had to face tough situations without many of the technological innovations that are now part of present-day firefighting.

Winnipeg has a celebrated musical history with many local household names, but readers now have the opportunity to discover a lesser-known but no less authentic era of our musical scene.  Musician and author Sheldon Birnie has recently released Missing like teeth : an oral history of Winnipeg underground rock 1990-2001, which tells the story of this decade in Winnipeg’s (as well as Brandon’s) underground musical scene, especially its punk rock wave.  The author paints a vivid picture of the gritty and innovative time, centered in barrooms and basements of community centres, through a series of interviews with local artists (including members of bands like Kittens, Propagandhi, and the Weakerthans) who helped shape a new genre, some who grew in popularity from modest basement gigs to become well-known bands.

If you would like to meet the author in person, Sheldon Birnie and members of the University of Winnipeg’s Oral History Centre will share how oral history can be used to capture stories and characters like those found in his book.  The program is entitled Oral History and the Arts: Documenting the Winnipeg Underground Rock Scene and will be held in the Carol Shields Auditorium at Millennium Library on Thursday June 2 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

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Titles Winnipeggers Love – Favourite Books from the Library’s Aboriginal Resources Collection

Titles in Winnipeg Public Library’s Aboriginal Resources Collection have been very popular the last number of years.  With a growing number of authentic and ground-breaking books being published, it’s a wonderful time to be working in libraries and sharing these great reads with the public.

View The Reason You Walk in our catalogue.On track to be the most popular title in 2016 has got to be Wab Kinew’s The Reason You Walk.  There are about 200 requests right now, but with 50 copies the list should go quickly.  (Don’t forget we have it available as an eBook too).
How many of the most-borrowed titles below have you read or, better yet, shared with those you know?

These are just a tiny number of the Library’s Aboriginal Resources Collection.  We now have just over 2000 titles for adults and nearly 2000 different children’s titles too.  To find out how to search for these books visit our Aboriginal Services guide.View The Inconvenient Indian in our catalogue.

I don’t know about resolutions, but with the recent release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’ s Final Report, the announcement of a forthcoming national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, new course requirements and treaty education initiatives at our universities, the opening of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, in addition to inspiring ongoing cView Unsettling the settler within in our catalogue.ommunity initiatives (Got Bannock?, Drag the Red, Bear Clan Patrol, Meet Me at the Bell Tower), 2016 seems like the perfect year for picking up one (or more!) of these books.  For even more recommendations, drop in to your local branch.

 

 

The Inconvenient Indian : A Curious Account of Native People in North America
by Thomas King

Unsettling the Settler Within : Indian residential schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada by Paulette Regan

 

Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writers From the Land of Water
edited by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Warren Cariou

Wícihitowin : Aboriginal Social Work in Canada  Aboriginal Social Work in Canada
by Gord Bruyere (Amawaajibitang), Michael Anthony Hart (Kaskitémahikan) and Raven Sinclair (Ótiskewápíwskew) 

North End Love Songs
by Katherena Vermette

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One
by Aimée Craft

They Came For The Children:  Canada, Aboriginal Peoples and Residential Schools
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

All The Way: My Life On Ice by Jordin Tootoo
by Jordin Tootoo

Ojibway Heritage by Basil Johnston
by Basil Johston

Monique W.

What’s New in the New Local History Room

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It’s time to take a look at the Local History Room’s recent arrivals, and there are great picks to choose from.

FirstWish you were here : hand-tinted postcards from Winnipeg’s halcyon days by author and photographer Stan Milosevic is a treat for readers who delight in going through books of historical photography. Stan has collected historical postcards of Winnipeg for years and he shares a portion of it in this book with a selection that illustrates the city as it was around the turn of the 20th century.

Cover image for Our forgotten heritage : the streetcars of Winnipeg

Winnipeggers have had a long and strong relationship with public transit and for many years, until they were discontinued in 1955, its presence was embodied by streetcars. Our forgotten heritage : the streetcars of Winnipeg is not the first book ever published on the subject but it is one of the better illustrated and full of details.  This partly due to the fact that the book’s author, Brian Darragh, was a streetcar operator himself and wanted to share his experiences and the importance of streetcars to the growth of Winnipeg, especially before the first city buses appeared here after the First World War. His added personal observations and anecdotes make this a strong recommended read.

Notable trials from Manitoba’s legal history by Norm Larsen is the story of 15 trials that took place in the province within the span of a century, starting in 1845 with a murder trial where a man was convicted and executed in a matter of days, to the case of a man who was tried three times in twenty years for murder only to be finally declared innocent in the 1980s. Cases of national importance are also covered, such as the trial of Louis Riel’s government in the murder of Thomas Scott and the trial of the 1919 General Strike leaders, which is interesting because that aspect of the strike has gotten very little coverage in the history books. Each trial included says something about the legal context of its time; we see the evolution of legal justice from frontier society to present issues.

  Farblonguet

Winnipeg in the decade before the Second World War is the focus of Premonitions of War by Robert Young.  The author dedicates his book to “the memory of those who warned”, and it is notable that the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper, led by John Dafoe and his editorial team, was an early and isolated voice warning of the rise of Fascism, often running against the grain of those who preferred appeasement to confrontation in order to avoid war. The book benefits from good illustrations and original content from the pages of the Free Press, including political cartoons and even advertising of the time. It also covers other stories that were popular with Winnipeg readers like the Dust Bowl, the coronation and visit of the new British King or the Olympic Games.

 Farblonget in the Wilds of North Winnipeg is the biography of WWII veteran Winnipeg Free Press writer Wilfred Mindess told in a series of humorous vignettes filled with his personal experiences during the Great Depression, the war, the flood of 1950, and all the places he visited as a “newsman”.  It’s a fun, light read and a good reminder that the Local History Room makes stories from ordinary Manitobans like this one available to all.

Finally, an overdue book about one of Winnipeg’s local celebrities with Dancing Gabe: One Step at a Time by Daniel Perron. Gabriel Langlois had been a fixture of Winnipeg’s sporting scene long before he was christened Dancing Gabe in 1991 when Winnipeg Jets executive Mike O’Hearn spotted him energising the crowd with his dance moves and presented him with a jersey. The author was put in touch with Gabriel’s older brother and the idea to do a biographic work about the life of a superfan who is much more than that, and the many people who helped him on his journey after being diagnosed with autism as young child.

Come visit the Local History Room in its new location on the 4th floor of the Millennium Library to look at these, and other, great new titles.

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What’s New This March?

New library materials arrive every day, and it can sometimes seem overwhelming when you’re looking for something new to read. I thought I would help by putting together a list of the books I’m most looking forward to this month. Hopefully you will too.

Dark rooms Secret History meets Sharp Objects in Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik, a stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school. Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only 16. The crime is solved, and quickly – a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession – but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed. Working at the private high school from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.

17 carnations17 Carnations: The royals, the Nazis and the biggest cover-up in history, by Andrew Morton, is the story of the feckless Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, and his wife Wallis Simpson, whose affair with Joachim von Ribbentrop embroiled the duke in a German plot to use him as a puppet king during their takeover of the British Empire. The Duke’s collaboration with Hitler had resulted in piles of correspondence between them; this damning correspondence could forever tarnish the reputation of the royal family. For the first time in history, the story of the cover-up of those letters, starting with a daring heist–by order of Churchill and the King–to bring the letters back safely to England, out of American hands is revealed.

pocket wifeSusan Crawford makes her debut with The Pocket Wife, a stylish psychological thriller. Dana Catrell is shocked when her neighbor Celia is brutally murdered. To Dana’s horror, she was the last person to see Celia alive. Dana’s mind is rapidly deteriorating. Suffering from a debilitating mania, the by-product of her bipolar disorder, she has holes in her memory, including what happened when she saw Celia the day of the murder. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before she descends into madness. Dana couldn’t be the killer. Or could she?

life from scratchLife from Scratch: A memoir of food, family, and forgiveness is a culinary journey like no other. Over the course of 195 weeks, food writer and blogger Sasha Martin set out to cook – and eat–a meal from every country in the world. As cooking unlocked the memories of her rough-and-tumble childhood and the loss and heartbreak that came with it, Martin became more determined than ever to find peace and elevate her life through the prism of food and world cultures. Martin’s heartfelt, brutally honest memoir reveals the power of cooking to bond, to empower, and to heal – and celebrates the simple truth that happiness is created from within.

clash of eaglesClash of Eagles by Alan Smale is perfect for fans of military and historical fiction–including novels by such authors as Bernard Cornwell, Naomi Novik, and Harry Turtledove. This stunning work of alternate history imagines a world in which the Roman Empire has not fallen and the North American continent has just been discovered. A legion under the command of general Gaius Marcellinus invades the newly-discovered North American continent. But Marcellinus and his troops have woefully underestimated the fighting prowess of the Native American inhabitants. When Gaius is caught behind enemy lines and spared, he must re-evaluate his allegiances and find a new place in this strange land.

better on toastBetter On Toast: Full meals on a slice of bread—with a little room for dessert, by Jill A. Donenfeld, features delicious, quick, easy-to-follow recipes for toasts with every possible topping – from hot to cold and savoury to sweet. Anyone can make delicious toasts, no matter his or her level of experience or kitchen size. Whether you use thick-cut French bread, slices of whole wheat, or her gluten-free bread recipe, Jill puts emphasis on flavour, using quality, wholesome ingredients to make each recipe stand out. You can enjoy these elegant yet simple meals anytime and for any occasion, using classic ingredients in new ways and playing with interesting ingredients you’ve always wondered about.

girl underwaterGirl Underwater, by Claire Kells, sees college student Avery is on her way home to Boston for the holidays with some fellow members of her swim team. When their plane goes down in a Colorado mountain lake, she and the other four survivors fight to stay alive in an icy wilderness. Following their rescue, Avery must come to terms with the crash, the secret she is keeping, and some specific new phobias, such as airports and water. She is also torn between two men: boyfriend Lee, who wasn’t aboard the plane and doesn’t know how to help her; and teammate and fellow survivor Colin, who understands the trauma she endured. Skillfully interspersing flashbacks with current events, debut novelist Kells has written an absorbing tale that will grip anyone who enjoys survival stories or psychological dramas. It is also a great choice for readers looking for new adult fiction with a bit more adventure.

strangler vineThe Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter was longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. This dazzling historical thriller is set in the untamed wilds of 19th-century colonial India. William Avery is a young soldier with few prospects; Jeremiah Blake is a secret political agent gone native, a genius at languages and disguises, disenchanted with the whole ethos of British rule, but who cannot resist the challenge of an unresolved mystery. What starts as a wild goose chase for this unlikely pair – trying to track down a missing writer who lifts the lid on Calcutta society – becomes very much more sinister.

reluctant midwifeThe Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman is the heartfelt sequel to Midwife of Hope River. The Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy. But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

mademoiselle chanelFor readers of Paris Wife and Z comes Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner,  a vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel. Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood. Transforming herself into Coco, the petite brunette burns with ambition, and an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life.

Barbara

New to the Local History Room

Cover image for The rise of the new West : the history of a region in Confederation Has it been a while since you read something related to Manitoba? Are you looking for something with a fresh angle on a familiar topic? It’s time to take a look at what’s new in the Library’s Local History collection as there have been several exciting new arrivals.

The rise of the new West : the history of a region in Confederation, an updated edition of Conway’s previous work, covers the political and economic rise of the western provinces from the time of the Riel Rebellion up to the first decade of the 21st century and the rise of conservative politics. This is a great read for those wanting to learn about the rise of socialist and unionist movements (culminating in the creation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, which would be succeeded by the New Democratic Party), the equally transformative impact economic sectors like agriculture and energy had in shaping politics, and the changing relationship of the “West” with the rest of Canada.

Author Christopher Dafoe has recently published a biography, entitled In Search of Canada, about his grandfather John Wesley Dafoe who worked as chief editor for the Winnipeg Free Press from 1901 to 1944 and became one of Canada’s most influential journalists. The book focuses on his formative years and early journalistic career in the 19th century, with many moves between Quebec and Manitoba, and the unforeseen events that finally led him to Winnipeg. He started teaching in Ontario while both of his parents had never been to school before beginning his career in journalism working for a Montreal newspaper at the age of 17. The book is filled with stories and recollections from those who knew him (including his wife Alice) before he became the man historians remember as well as the personal papers that “Jack” Dafoe left in the family archives.

Vikings on a Prairie Ocean: the Saga of a Lake, a People, a Family and a man is the memoir of Glenn Sigurdson, who lived with his family and ran a fishing business on Lake Winnipeg. Along with describing his personal experiences as part of a fishing family, he gives a portrait of the Icelandic community that grew from the initial 19th century settlers and developed an enduring partnership with the local Aboriginal communities. Sigurdson pays homage to the fortitude of his parents and the pioneers before them in overcoming many challenges and helping shape this part of our province.

Winnipeg’s General Strike: Reports from the Front Lines explores the emergence of two new daily newspapers that covered the strike from opposite sides while existing dailies were shut down. The media coverage from both pro-strikers and pro-establishment, and how it shaped public perception of events, is described in the context of post-World War I Winnipeg where fear of the emerging Communist threat of revolution clashed with workers’ demands for greater rights. The book’s approach to the subject is fresh, easy to read and well illustrated.

Cover image for Saving Lake Winnipeg

Concern about the environment, specifically for the health of Lake Winnipeg, is what motivated water analyst Robert Sandford to write this third in a series of manifestos: Saving Lake Winnipeg. Sandford wants to alert us to the increasing toxicity of the waters of not only Lake Winnipeg, but more and more lakes in Manitoba and the broader Great Plains region. He appeals for immediate action from government as well as business and society in general to combat this threat and prevent the spread of this phenomenon and save Lake Winnipeg from becoming an “open-air sewer.”

Up North: Manitoba’s Last Frontier is a beautiful book of photographs compiled by professional photographer Hans Arnold during an 8 month journey that took him progressively to the most remote parts of our province. The photographs collected in the book range from gorgeous shots of nature and fauna throughout the seasons mixed with signs of human presence like a dam, a road, or an isolated farm.

Summer might be over, and winter is coming, but it is also a great time for readers as fall brings a new crop of freshly-published titles to enrich our minds.

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“Three shots were fired…”

“What is past is prologue.” William Shakespeare

“There has to be more to it.” Senator Edward Kennedy

Today marks the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in Dallas. This was one the defining moments of my parent’s generation and, arguably, changed the course of world history. Most people who lived through this time can tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news. This “flashbulb memory” effect has, sadly, been repeated many times since, as with the deaths of John Lennon and Princess Diana, The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and 9/11, to name a few. The debate continues, to this day, as to what exactly happened in Dealey Plaza on that fateful afternoon, and it is questionable whether we will ever get the full story. I know that 250-300 words is not enough to even scratch the surface of this topic, but to mark the anniversary of this terrible day, the library has a number of resources to help.

Dallas 1963

Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis.

Rather than focus on the events of November 22, as most accounts do, this book takes a longer view, and examines the political and social climate of Dallas in the years leading up to Kennedy’s assassination. It looks at the various political, religious, and social leaders, why so many of them were “Anti-Kennedy,” and why Dallas was such a ripe spot for a possible assassination attempt. It’s well-researched and thought-provoking; and unapologetically honest about the mood of that city in the early 1960’s.

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The Day Kennedy Died: 50 Years Later. LIFE Remembers the Man and the Moment.

LIFE magazine was front and centre of the Kennedy story. It featured JFK and Jackie, yachting, on its cover even before they were married. The magazine covered the personal and family side of the Kennedys during the presidency, as well as the tense thirteen-day Cuban Missile Crisis. LIFE also contributed to the aftermath of the assassination, and the ensuing investigation, with the famous (possibly doctored) photo of Lee Harvey Oswald on the cover, and was the first to publish stills from the infamous Zapruder film. So, it only makes sense that LIFE would produce a commemorative book on the 50th anniversary of the assassination. This collection includes all 486 frames of the Zapruder film, plus an essay on how LIFE obtained exclusive rights to it. It also includes a ton of photos and remembrances from famous people as to where they were when they heard the news, and a look back at 50 years worth of conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.

JFK-poster[1]

Speaking of conspiracy theories, you really need to watch Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991). The movie depicts the attempts of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) to secure an arrest and conviction for Kennedy’s murder. It is riveting, and also showcases the various conspiracy theories that persist to this day. Was it the mafia? Or maybe Cuban ex-patriots? A rogue element in the government? CIA? FBI? The movie addresses each theory in turn and, rather than debunk any of them, raises more questions than it is able to answer. You may disagree with it, but you can’t deny that it is a masterfully made film that deserves to be remembered.

Profiles in courage[1]

When we think of the Kennedy assassination, we tend to get bogged down in the details of the day and its aftermath, which is only normal. But I’d like to leave you with a link to JFK’s 1955 book, Profiles in Courage. It was written when Kennedy was still a junior senator from Massachusettes, and contains the stories of eight unsung patriots in American history. It won the Pulitzer Prize, and became an instant “must read” title. It still moving and powerful by today’s standards, and serves as a celebration of courage; that human virtue of which we sometimes need to be reminded.

News from the Local History Room

The Winnipeg Public Library has partnered with the University of Alberta to digitize and provide access to our collection of Henderson’s Directories. Currently, the University of Alberta has most of the Henderson’s Directories from 1880-1965 available on their digital repository. The Directories can be searched, and viewed in a number of formats. Last month, we began linking to these from PastForward.  The links to the Henderson’s Directories on PastForward are also available on the Library catalogue.  This is great news for those who cannot come to the Millennium Library to consult the print or microfilm editions of the directories, which are still available to the public for research on the 3rd floor.

For those who are not aware of the Henderson Directories: they are similar to regular telephone directories, but in addition to listing residents alphabetically by name along with their address, they also record the person’s profession.  A separate listing by street name and address is also included which makes it possible to have a detailed yearly portrait of who lived where in the city.  It is no wonder why these directories have remained among the most popular items in the Local History Room.

This is a good place to highlight some new additions to the Local History collection. Apart from its historical fort, the northern community of Churchill is mostly known for being the polar bear capital of the world.  In 2008, a Californian author concerned with their potentially dwindling numbers, along with his wife and three children, decided to have a closer look and moved to Churchill in order to observe and study polar bears in their natural environment.  The book Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye by Zach Unger is not just about the auhor’s findings but also about his own family’s experiences in settling into this alien environment and an outsider’s view of the locals.

Local author and beer aficionado Bill Wright’s 300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba covers a relatively unknown aspect of our province’s history.  Brewing existed in the Red River colony as soon as Europeans came to settle in the area and names like Patrick Shea and E.L. Drewry rose to supremacy in the Manitoba’s beer business for most of the first half of the 20th century.  The history is fun to read and the illustrations of historical artifacts and posters (many praising beer as a product with an infinite number of health benefits for everyone) really add to the enjoyment of this book.

For those interested in topics closer to home, there have been a couple of recent arrivals, both dealing with Winnipeg neighborhoods. Wolseley Stories by Laina Hughes is about my neighborhood, so I enjoyed this short-but-sweet read where residents describe their experiences and perceptions living in the granola belt.  Mentions of the Wolseley Elm saga and the Happyland Park add to the contemporary accounts.

 North End Love Songs by Katherena Vermette is a work of poetry about the North End’s residents but speaks to universal themes of the human condition.  The poems express the pains, the joys, the ordinary lives of North Enders, how they see themselves and how the outside world see them.  The author often uses birds as symbols of people’s strengths and frailties.

Front CoverWinnipeg has its share of eccentric and colorful characters, and one who was very well-known a few decades earlier was Bertha Rand, Winnipeg’s own “cat lady.”  She made quite a few headlines and fought against city hall, was even jailed for a brief time for the right to keep caring for her cats in her home (which numbered at times between 30 and 65 by some estimates).  A recent addition to our collection is Maureen Hunter’s The Queen of Queen Street which tells about her life in the form of a play.  It is not light reading; Brenda’s life was far from idyllic as she struggled with mental illness and severe poverty, but it is certainly humanising.

Louis-Philippe

The Library has a time machine: PastForward

Winnipeg 1912 by Jim Blanchard

I recently took over the PastForward project at the Winnipeg Public Library. If you aren’t familiar with it yet, PastForward is our “digital repository”; a system and website where we can preserve and provide public access to historical documents, photographs, audio recordings, and videos (among other things). With an information technology background, I had come to the Library already interested in digitization projects from a technical point of view. What I didn’t realise is just how much I would love researching Winnipeg’s past!

So far, most of the time I’ve spent on PastForward has been adding descriptive information to scans of postcards from the Rob McInnes Postcard Collection. We call this information “metadata” and we create it so that people can find what the metadata describes. For example, the senders and recipients of used postcards are described in their metadata. So, for example, if you were researching your family tree, the sender metadata might allow you to find a postcard one of your ancestors wrote, which you could then read on PastForward or print for yourself.

SS AlbertaMost of the postcards I’ve worked with are from the early 1900’s. Born and raised in Winnipeg, I’d learned as a child that our city was, and still is, a transportation hub. What I hadn’t appreciated was just what a booming, exciting place it had been before air and automobile travel superseded riverboats and railways. Many travelers would stop in Winnipeg on their way to their destinations and send a card back home to let their loved ones know that they were safe. A number of these travelers would comment on what a fine and exciting city this was.

Guns'n'ViolinsThere have been a number of surreal moments in this work, such as discovering this photograph of an, as yet unidentified, City business that apparently was a bizarre hybrid of gun, music, and jewelry stores; with signs advertising, “Guns for rent” and “Watch repairing done here.” I’m not sure what it means that the violins, guitars, and accordion are kept behind glass, while the long guns hang outside the shop windows.

There was also HappylandCrowd at Happyland, an amusement park in what is now Wolseley, from which elephants and other circus animals escaped and roamed the City’s streets not once, but twice! In a scene reminiscent of 12

12 Monkeys

Monkeys, on a stormy night in 1907 future  Mayor, “Richard ‘Dick’ D. Waugh’s hired man was awoken in the early morning hours by the family dog’s incessant barking. According to the article, an enormous brown dog was trying to join the Waugh dog in its kennel. ‘The man gave him a kick and was greeted with a roar that could be heard all over the neighbourhood. Taking a closer look he saw the head of a fine lion with toothless gums snarling at him.’” (Cherney, Part 1, Part 2). The lion tamer later retrieved the beast which had lain down on the Mayor’s steps.

I’ve also been linking the scanned postcards in PastForward to Google’s Streetview images. Sometimes it’s eerie how little things have changed as in this postcard of the Union Bank Tower…

Union Tower, now and then.
…or this one (below) of the duck pond at Assiniboine (née City) Park. The family in the latter seems like ghosts, haunting the pond. Saddest, though, are when I find a parking lot where a beautiful building once was. Ghosts

I consider myself lucky to have been able to work on this project. I’ve always considered myself a Winnipegger, but I’m not sure I was ever so proud of my home until now.

Comment on PastForward and help us out by adding what you know about the history of our City and its people!

Mike