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.
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.
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).
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.
It’s time to take a look at some of the recent arrivals in the Local History Room.
On June 19th, 1816 an event occurred that had a pivotal impact on the history of what would become Manitoba (even if it has somewhat receded from our collective memory). This was the of Battle of Seven Oaks that broke out between rival hunting parties of the fur trade companies (the Hudson Bay and North West) that were vying for control of the territory. The Seven Oaks Reader by Myrna Kostash offers a comprehensive retelling of the Fur Trade Wars. The book incorporates period accounts and journals, histories, memoirs, songs and fictional retellings, from a wide range of sources.
Come to the Local History Room and check it out!
We have a few new reasons for you to come and visit the Local History Room. A new display about the history of the railway system and how it shaped Manitoba is ready to explore, with artifacts and information generously loaned to us by the Manitoba Railway Museum – come and check it out! It’s also time to have a look at what’s new in the room’s collection, as it keeps growing with new additions.
Stay, breathe with me : the gift of compassionate medicine shares Helen Allison’s insights into the need to stop seeing patients simply as diseases needing cures and technologies but as living beings with symptoms and suffering that need to be addressed as a whole, with nonjudgmental medicine delivered with compassion. Several intimate stories tell of her experiences with her own patients in palliative care and the lessons she learned from them as they struggled with various, often fatal, ailments and how everyone, physicians or relatives, can contribute to improve their quality of life.
Finally, a title not in the Local History Room collection yet but which I would like to recommend for local fiction and horror fans is The Shadow Over Portage and Main: Weird Fictions, an anthology of short stories from authors who were influenced by their stay in Winnipeg. Whether it’s the extremes in our weather, our reputation for crime and murder, or our unique mix of cultures and ethnicities, authors like David Annandale, Eric Bradshaw and Keith Cadieux among others have written tales about the dark and gothic side of the city. My personal favourite is the story of a woman who discovers a book about superstition that has troubling effects on people who come in contact with it. Most of the stories are meant to inspire unease and fear, some of them have ghosts (predictably) and other supernatural threats, some don’t even mention Winnipeg but we are meant to recognize its “vibes”, which leads to the conclusion that our city can be quite a dark place!
Drop by and have a look in person, or feel free to explore the Local History and Genealogy Subject Guide for more of our recommended online resources to explore Manitoba’s past.
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.
On 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.
Law, 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.
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.
It’s time to take a look at the Local History Room’s recent arrivals, and there are great picks to choose from.
First, Wish 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Susan 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 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 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 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 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.
The 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.
The 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.
For 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.