Tag Archives: Canada

Last book of 2017

31 Dec

You’d think I would end the year with a happy book. I didn’t, but The Marrow Thieves,  by Cherie Dimaline was really good.

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Publisher’s Summary: Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

That description doesn’t really indicate the power of the writing. Main characters’ back stories are told in “coming to” chapters. Storytelling is woven in. And Dimaline creates a Canadian wilderness impacted by global warming that seems terrifyingly probable.

The book is full of loss and sacrifice, but the beautifully lyrical language of the book makes it worth reading.

The Tragically Hip

20 Aug

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Many Canadians will tune away from the Olympics today to watch The Tragically Hip’ last concert live. I’ve already bookmarked the CBC’s live stream site on YouTube.

 

All of Canada mourned when the band announced in May that lead-singer Gordon Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. They released their last album in June and the CBC decided to live cast the final concert from their hometown in Kingston, so the nation could say goodbye.

It is not surprising to me how Canada is rallying around the band, and doing it in a way that, I think could never happen un the USA. Because it is not about whether you like The Hip or not. It’s about rallying around an idea of what it is to be Canadian. When the CBC asked fans to answer the question“What does the Tragically Hip mean to you?” in 3 or 4 words, they got answers like “Canada’s heart and soul” and “Great poets of our time”.

I was never a rabid Hip fan, but I concur with the two sentiments above. They appeared just after I’d finished university and had started teaching, but I had cassettes of  “Up to Here” and “Road Apples”  that I played frequently. And they were two  of the cassettes I took with me when I went to teach in Colombia.

I called my 85-year-old mother this morning and, half-jokingly asked if she’d be watching. She said she would. So, this afternoon, I will join millions of people, in Canada and across the world to watch this

If you don’t know The Tragically Hip, you can get the check out Rolling Stone’s  article about what they consider their 10 essential songs.

 

Crawling to the Airport

6 Jul

Rather than driving directly to the airport for my 6pm return flight home, my sister and I took a leisurely drive to the airport yesterday in order to participate in the Lakeside Yarn Crawl.

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Unlike Portland’s 4-day Rose City Yarn Crawl, the Lakeside Yarn Crawl begins in mid-June and runs through Labour Day. That gives you two months to visit the twelve participating LYS (local yarn shops) that rim the Southern end of Georgian Bay in Ontario.

Our first stop was True North Yarn Co. in Barrie.This was the only shop of the 12 in the yarn crawl my sister had been to before. The first shop on a yarn crawl is always tricky. You don’t want to get carried away and spend too much, but you don’t want to walk out without supporting a local yarn shop. I bought a colorful self-striping yarn.

Our next stop was also in Barrie. Eliza’s Buttons and Yarn is a treasure, tucked away in a strip mall just off the 400. That’s a major highway for those of you not from Ontario. Deb, who was manning the store that day, was a gregarious knitter.She and her sister, Lyn, design patterns under the name Cabin Fever.  I was anxious to get to this shop because I knew from the passport that they stocked the signature yarn of the crawl and I wanted to ask about it. Deb told us about Dragon Strings,  the local dyer who produced the yarn, a cashmere blend called Lakeside, dyed to match the colors of Georgian Bay.

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I didn’t purchase a skein here, but chose another skein by the dyer in Fall colors. Me & my earth tones! My sister did get one, however, and we left feeling as though we had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

After a bite to eat at Panera, we went off the 400 and onto what William Least Heat Moon calls a blue highway. our destination was Alliston, and two more shops.

The first, Alliston Yarns, is what we like to call a grandma shop. It caters to an older, more traditional knitter. This is not the place to look for hand-dyed Blue-faced Leicester, but you can find a great gran for knitting aster or baby blanket. I got a skein of gradient sock yarn here.

A little further down highway 89 was our last stop, The Knitting Basket, in Rosemont, a tiny town about 10 miles west of Alliston. Angie, the owner of this shop, was my favorite shop person of the day. She runs her small business out of her house in this rural area. My sister and I fantasized about how we could do this when we retire. For a small shop in rural Ontario, she has excellent yarn. She has a lovely mix of everyday yarns and a range of independent dyers. I finally got my skein of Lakeside here! My sister and I each got a gift bag, too. We had a lovely chat with Angie about how her business operates. If you are in the area, you should definitely stop in to see her.

So, here’s my stash.

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My sister’s GPS indicated we could get to the airport on more blue highways, so, rather than return to the 400, we meandered through the Central Ontarian landscape and small towns towards Toronto, stopping for a Tim Horton’s in Bolton.

I got to the airport in a timely manner and had a bit of Canadian money left, so, I did what any self-respecting ex-pat should so: I bought the candy I can’t get in the USA!

Here’s my other stash.

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Booked!

19 Jan

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Home from Boston, surrounded by the piles of arcs I collected, my mind has turned to summer.

This summer, my niece, my twin sister’s only child, graduates from high school and turns 18 in the same week. I got to thinking I’d like to be there for those two big events and checked flights. Prices were very good.

So, in conversation with my sister last night we talked it over. As the Superintendent for elementary schools in her district, her time can be flexible, even though school will still be in session if I were to arrive the last week of June. We looked at the calendar and talked things over. I went online while we were talking and found nonstop, round-trip, PDX to YYZ  flights on Air Canada for $422, a very good price. We talked it over and I though tempted to book it right away, I decided to sleep on it and book it in the morning if I still felt confident.

I am now booked to go and I feel very happy about it.

It makes me amazed, how easy all this is to do now. It used to take days or weeks to make these kinds of plans.You’d make a plan. Then you’d have to go see a travel agent. They’d give you some options. You’d think them over and decide. Later, you’d get your paper tickets. It is all so different now.

I started shopping for my own tickets when I lived in Colombia. Once my Spanish was good enough, I skipped the travel agent and would just call the airlines directly. I can’t remembered how I paid, but it must have been by credit card over the phone. I still have my Lonely Planet guidebook  Colombia: A Travel Survival Kit   ©1988.

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The inside covers refilled with notes, including flight information I scratched down while on the phone with Avianca.

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It is a ratty old book now, but it is a storehouse of memories.

Books under my tree

26 Dec

OK, so the title of they blog post is a bit of a lie because I haven’t put up a Christmas tree for years. My place is only 700 square feet and I am lazy. I am also up to about 75 Howliday cards, which festoon my bookcase.

Speaking of which, I received 3 books this holiday and thought you’d like to know what I’ll be reading shortly.

For my birthday I got Dispatches from the Front by David Halton.

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Goodreads Summary: As senior war correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation during the Second World War, Matthew Halton reported from the front lines in Italy and Northwest Europe and became “the voice of Canada at war.” His gripping, passionate broadcasts chronicled the victories and losses of Canadian soldiers and made him a national hero.

Born in Pincher Creek, Alberta, in 1904, Halton was to achieve the fastest ever ascent in Canadian journalism. A year after joining the Toronto Daily Star as a cub reporter, he was in Berlin to write about Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power and – long before most other correspondents – to begin a prophetic series of warnings about the Nazi regime. For more than two decades, he witnessed first-hand the major political and military events of the era. He covered Europe’s drift to disaster, including the breakdown of the League of Nations, the Spanish Civil War, the sellout to Fascism at Munich, and the Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia. Along the way he interviewed Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hermann Göring, Neville Chamberlain, Charles de Gaulle, Mahatma Gandhi, and dozens of others who shaped the history of the century.
In Dispatches from the Front, acclaimed former CBC correspondent David Halton, Matthew’s son, also examines his father’s often tumultuous personal life. He unravels the many paradoxes of his person­ality: the war correspondent who loathed bloodshed yet became addicted to the thrill of battle; the loner who thrived in good company; and, in some ways most puzzling of all, the womanizer with a deep and enduring love for his wife.

For Christmas, I received two books, Tell by Frances Itani, is a sequel to  Deafening (which you should read if you haven’t)

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and Emancipation Day  by Wayne Grady which is set in  post WWII Canada and “Steeped in jazz and big-band music, spanning pre- and post-war Windsor-Detroit, St. John’s, Newfoundland, and 1950s Toronto, this is an arresting, heartwrenching novel about fathers and sons, love and sacrifice, race relations and a time in our history when the world was on the cusp of momentous change.”

 

 

 

More than just a number

11 Dec

I get weepy around Christmas time. My twin sister likes to send me Hallmark ads to see if I’ll cry. t’s always the good kind of cry, and I try to get her back. So imagine how surprised I was to find myself more than a little teary-eyed at the end of a picture book about hockey!  The Highest Number in the World is written by Roy MacGregor and beautifully illustrated by Geneviève Després.

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From the publisher: 9-year-old Gabe (Gabriella) Murray lives and breathes hockey. She’s the youngest player on her new team, she has a nifty move that her teammates call “the Gabe,” and she shares a lucky number with her hero, Hayley Wickenheiser: number 22. But when her coach hands out the team jerseys, Gabe is stuck with number 9. Crushed, Gabe wants to give up hockey altogether. How can she play without her lucky number? Gabe’s grandmother soon sets her straight, though–from her own connection to the number 9 in her hockey-playing days to all the greats she cheered for who wore it, she soon convinces Gabe that this new number might not be so bad after all.

 What starts off as a simple story about a disappointed little girl becomes a much more complex and meaningful tale once Grandma starts sharing her story. Talk about girl power and historical context.

As a kid hockey wasn’t even an option for me. Where I grew up, girls didn’t play, we watched.  Hockey heroes were big for us. I loved watching Guy Lafleur skate down the ice hair flying (these were the days before mandatory helmets). In 1979, Roch Carrier, published The Hockey Sweater, which you can watch as an excellent National Film Board of Canada short here. The Highest Number in the World, feels like an homage to  The Hockey Sweater and girls in sports all at once. I’m going to be sure my twin sister reads this one. I bet she cries, too.

Graphic History for Two Tuesdays

3 Nov

Tomorrow is election day in the United States and next Tuesday is Veteran’s Day in the US, Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries, and Armistice Day in France and Belgium. Interestingly, there is a new graphic novel to tie into each day.

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Sally Heathcote Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot, follows the fortunes of a maid-of-all-work swept up in the feminist militancy of Edwardian Britain. Sally Heathcote is a working-class maid in turn-of-the-century Manchester, in service to Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the leaders of the British suffrage movement. telling the Suffragist story in a graphic novel is a stroke of brilliance because it really shows 21st century readers how hard women had to work to get the right to vote.

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In 1914, Canada went to war as a subject of Britain. In 1939, it made the choice to fight all on its own. Canada at War follows the developments and setbacks, wins and losses, of a nation learning to stand up for itself under the toughest possible conditions: in the midst of the most difficult war of the twentieth century.

With the cold weather and darker evenings, perhaps these are just the thing, along with a nice cup of tea, to enjoy on a blustery November night.

Thinking about Ottawa

24 Oct

My sister shared this video with me today and it made me cry. I thought I’d share it with you, too.

That’s all I have to say today.

Some Canadian Book Award finalists announced

4 Sep

2014 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Literature Awards: Finalists announced

Today, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre the nationally-renowned authority on all things related to youngCanLit, announced the finalists for the 2014 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards.
The seven major children’s book awards, which will be awarded at two invitation-only galas in October and November, include:
  1. TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000) Sponsored by TD Bank Group;
  2. Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse ($30,000) Sponsored by TD Bank Group;
  3. Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000) Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie;
  4. Norma Fleck Award For Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000) Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation;
  5. Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000) Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund;
  6. John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000) Sponsored by John Spray; and
  7. Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000)  Sponsored by HarperCollins Canada.
Here are the short lists for each award category, as announced by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre today:
1. TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

Branded by the Pink Triangle
by Ken Setterington
Second Story Press

In the Tree House
by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Kids Can Press

The Man with the Violin
by Kathy Stinson
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Annick Press

Once Upon a Northern Night
by Jean E. Pendziwol
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Groundwood Books

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten
Doubleday Canada

 2.  Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse 

Destins croisés
par Élizabeth Turgeon
Les Éditions du Boréal

Le lion et l’oiseau
par Marianne Dubuc
Les Éditions de la Pastèque

Ma petite boule d’amour
par Jasmine Dubé
Illustré par Jean-Luc Trudel
Les Éditions de la Bagnole


Le Noël de Marguerite
par India Desjardins
Illustraté par Pascal Blanchet
Les Éditions de la Pastèque

La plus grosse poutine du monde
par Andrée Poulin
Bayard Canada

3. Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

Fox and Squirrel
by Ruth Ohi

North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada



How To
by Julie Morstad
Simply Read Books

The Man with the Violin
by Kathy Stinson
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Annick Press

My Name Is Blessing
by Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Tundra Books

Where Do You Look?
by Marthe Jocelyn and Nell Jocelyn
Tundra Books

4. Norma Fleck Award For Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction

Branded by the Pink Triangle
by Ken Setterington
Second Story Press



A History of Just About Everything: 180 Events, People and Inventions That Changed the World
by Elizabeth MacLeod and Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Kids Can Press

The Last Train: A Holocaust Story
by Rona Arato
Owlkids Books



Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood Books

My Name Is Blessing
by Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Tundra Books

5. Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
Brothers at War
by Don Cummer
Scholastic Canada

Graffiti Knight
by Karen Bass
Pajama Press
Little Red Lies
by Julie Johnston
Tundra

The Manager
by Caroline Stellings
Cape Breton University Press
Me & Mr. Bell
by Philip Roy
Cape Breton University Press
6. John Spray Mystery Award

The Further Adventures of Jack Lime
by James Leck
Kids Can Press





The Metro Dogs of Moscow
by Rachelle Delaney
Puffin Canada

The Spotted Dog Last Seen
by Jessica Scott Kerrin
Groundwood Books




Whatever Doesn’t Kill You
by Elizabeth Wennick
Orca Book Publishers

Who I’m Not
by Ted Staunton
Orca Book Publishers

6. Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy

Curse of the Dream Witch
by Allan Stratton
Scholastic Canada



Rush (The Game, Book 1)
by Eve Silver
Katherine Teegen/HarperCollins

Sorrow’s Knot
by Erin Bow
Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic




The Stowaways
by Meghan Marentette
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Pajama Press

Slated (Slated Trilogy, Book1)
by Teri Terry
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group


Hosted by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and TD Bank Group, the Children’s Literature Awards will celebrate great Canadian children’s books and present the winners of the awards on the evenings of October 28 and November 6, 2014 in Montreal and Toronto, respectively.  

Vimy

10 Aug

The highlight of my trip to Ottawa was visiting the Canadian War Museum. It  presents Canada’s military past and how it shaped the country.The exhibits explain Canada’s rich military history from earliest times to the present, featuring the experiences of people on the battlefields and at home.

It was extremely well done and made me cry more than once.

The weekend I was there marked the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, so being there was especially poignant. I was especially touched by the display of the Vimy War Memorial.

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If you don’t know much about the Vimy War Memorial, I recommend reading The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart, who happens to be one of my favorite Canadian authors for adults.

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The book was originally published in 2001, but really captures the passion and heartbreak of war and the power of art to transform.

From the publisher: Set in the first half of the twentieth century, but reaching back to Bavaria in the late nineteenth century, The Stone Carvers weaves together the story of ordinary lives marked by obsession and transformed by art. At the centre of a large cast of characters is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master carver, a seamstress haunted by a love affair cut short by the First World War, and by the frequent disappearances of her brother Tilman, afflicted since childhood with wanderlust. From Ontario, they are swept into a colossal venture in Europe years later, as Toronto sculptor Walter Allward’s ambitious plans begin to take shape for a war memorial at Vimy, France. Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War, The Stone Carvers follows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power.

If you’ve never read anything by Jane Urquhart, I highly recommend that you do. She is a beautiful writer.

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