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In Defence of our Libraries, 2017


In Defence of our Libraries…..

The recent furore over the renovations of the Trent University has highlighted the severe disconnect between those who use libraries and those who have been charged to administer and fund them.  Trent will be closing its library building for a much needed renovation, for an entire year. This has brought up two main issues: first what are students to do in the meantime, and second, who will the new library function afterwards.

Mixed up within these issues is the fact that the university officials seem to be oblivious as to how students and staff use these facilities.  As was stated by a number of Trent students and staff in interviews with the media since the story broke, the library stacks are an important way in which they access information.  Sure, the library has an electronic catalogue where users can look up the location of specific books, but ultimately it is the shelf where it is located that informs them of the breadth on the topic.

Computer catalogues are useful tools, of that there is no doubt, but they are not designed for browsing.  The programming is not able to replicate the ways in which individuals locate information.

During the renovations the library seems to be offering an “Amazon” type experience, where the student orders a book, and has it delivered to some location on campus, and then they take it back to wherever to read. It has been pointed out by many that this system ignores the fact that libraries are a place to read books, a quiet place to study with easy access to the important sources of information.

While the renovations to the building were no doubt needed, questions have been raised as to the changes being made to it.  It seems that those who planned it are very keen to build a library of the future.  The thing is we live in the present, and perhaps by looking so far forward they ignore how we currently access, process and use information, and the rate that technological change is actually incorporated into our social and professional lives.

I cannot but think of the sales of digital books.  A few years ago all were touting the benefits and future of digital books.  It was said that their popularity would replace the physical book.  And for a while digital sales were booming.  Digital books currently account for 20% of sales [ ]


The Bata Research & Innovation Cluster will be a part of the changes to the library, and was described as “The funding received from the federal and provincial governments, combined with commitments from the library and generous donors, will revolutionize the research and collaborations that take place at the Bata Library as it becomes a third millennium research, innovation, and entrepreneurship hub.” And while I think the centre sounds like a lovely idea, I am wondering why it needs to be in a library?  Why cannot the library be a place for books and study?


Because to accommodate this new “cluster” the library is having to purge 50% of its collection.  The university assures the public that the 50% being eliminated will be carefully chosen, but such a high number of books being lost cannot but mean that some essentials will be lost.   I am sure the librarian are not making their decisions lightly as to what stays and goes, but there is no one who can convince me that a librarian actually embraces the loss of half of their collection.  There was mention of the increase of digital content which would free up spaces in the library, but there are no guarantees that what you have eliminated in paper will miraculously appear in e-books.  Trent President Leo Groake was quoted in the local Peterborough Examiner as saying libraries cannot just be “museums for old paper” (PE, Oct 12, 2016). []  I cannot even imagine what he was thinking when he said that.  Libraries have never just been “museums for old paper,” but living breathing places of study, knowledge and reflection.


I am not trying to pick on Trent University specifically, although I call on them to rethink what they are doing to their library, and how they are handicapping their students by limiting their access to a well-stocked research library.  I will say that this is part of a worrying trend, where people who clearly do not actually use libraries decide to limit or eliminate libraries and their collections.  Books are the window to our world, the past, the present and the future.  Paper books are still the most favoured way to access information, and while I believe that libraries should embrace new technologies, they shouldn’t eliminate the old ones in a bid to appear modern or on-trend.


Please read Neil Gaiman’s words about the importance of libraries here:

Advice on talking to ladies, 19C

Gentlewomen Aim to Please: Edited from Victorian Manuels of Etiquette, Jerrard Tickell, London: George Routledge & Sons, 1933.


Do not use a classical quotation in the presence of ladies without apologizing for it, translating it.  Even this should only been done when no other phrase would so aptly express your meaning.  Whether in the presence of ladies or gentlemen, much display of learning is pedantic and out of place.

What to wear on your honeymoon, 19C

Gentlewomen Aim to Please: Edited from Victorian Manuels of Etiquette, Jerrard Tickell, London: George Routledge & Sons, 1933.


The dress of the bride during the honeymoon should be characterized by modesty, an attractive simplicity, and scrupulous neatness.  The slightest approach to slatternliness in costume, when all should be exquisitely trim from chevelure to chassure, would be an abomination, and assuredly beget a most unpleasant impression on the susceptible feelings of the husband.

[Because on your honeymoon it would be very bad to hurt the susceptible feelings of your husband with immodesty – after all honeymoons are all about being modest!]


For the Bachelor Girl – Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 8 March 1919, page 10


Tested Kitchenette Equipment

For the batchelor girl, especially the one who wants comfort and cleanliness in cooking in her tiny kitchenette, and at the same time wishes to spend very little money, the proper tools are needed. The Standard Institute has tested out scores of appliances of all sorts, sizes and prices adapted for this use, and this service is “At Your Service,” if individual housekeeping is your lot in life. The appliances can be easily adapted for two, and a good meal can be bought for the coin you give the waiter, which leaves a margin on the daily food budget for savings, recreation, or the patronizing of better classes when you are too tired or hurried to be your own chef.

If you have not got an electric coffee pot or urn, then one of the percolating pots that can sit on the small electric heater will be found very suitable, especially if not too large to heat up quickly.

Either an electric chafing dish with an extra pan or too [sic] for its serviceable electric that it might be used, or the three-storied grill shewn in the picture, which permits of toasting, baking, poaching or even frying, all on the one tiny stove.  Even delectable corn pone or muffins may be baked in the little tin when placed over the coil and covered with one of the other pans. The pan can be uncovered and slipped beneath the heat – for browning when the bread is done.

The toaster shown is the king of toasters, because it automatically reverses the bread – no futile dabs be being made at the hot slice with the fingers. On letting down the side the toast accommodatingly slides down and turns itself.

If tea is wanted instead of coffee there is a most convenient tea infuser, which is merely a large teaspoon with a perforated top, and is just the thing for the solitary drinker of tea.

If the bachelor girl aspires to the last word in economy, and is enterprising enough to put up her lunch instead of buying it, there is a scholarly lunch box of distinguished appearance that will collaborate with her.  Besides the tin case for sandwiches, fruit and cake, there is a thermos bottle to keep soup, chocolate, tea or coffee hot, or lemonade, tea or milk cold, as season or taste may dictate. The thermos bottle idea relieves the “carried luncheon” from the usual criticism.  There is nothing dry or unattractive about such a luncheon with an appetizing hot or cold liquid accompaniment. And there is much more relaxation in eating such a meal quietly, with a magazine or book for company, than in seeking it amid the clamor and rush of the average lunch room that a girl with a salary of $15 a week can afford.

Bad Patriotic Poetry, 1803

Morning Post, 13 August 1803, p 3


Bonaparte’s Answer to John Bull’s Card, Inviting him to England, with a Few Lines concerning his Brothers Taffy, Sawney and Paddy.


Tune “Here we go up, up, up”


My dear Johnny Bull, the last mail

Brought over your kind invitation,

And strongly it tempts us to sail

In our boats, to your flourishing nation,

But prudence she whispers, “Beware,

Don’t you see, that his fleets are in motion;

He’ll play you some d—d Ruse de Guerre,

If he catches you out on the ocean”



Our fears they mount up, up, up,

Our bapers they sink down-y down-y,

Our hearts they beat backwards and forwards,

Our beads they turn round-y round-y.


You say that pot-luck shall be mine,

Fe n’chiens pas ces mots, Monsieur Bull;

But think I can guess your design,

When you talk of a good belly-full.

I have promis’d my men, with rich food,

Their courage and faith reward;

I tell them your puddings are good,

Tho’ your dumplings are rather too bard.


O my Johny, my Johnny,

And O my Johnny, my deary,

Let a few of us come over,

To taste your beet and beer-y.


I’ve read, and I’ve heard much of Wales;

Its mines, its meadows, and fountains,

Of black cattle fed in the vales,

And goats skipping wild on the mountains.

Were I but once safe landed there,

What improvements I’d make in the place!

I’d prattle and kiss with the fair,

Give the men the fraternal embrace.


O my Taffy, my Taffy,

Soon I’ll come, if it please ye,

To riot on delicate mutton,

Good ale, and toasted cheese-y.


Caledonia I long to see,

And if the stout fleet in the North

Will let me go by quietly,

Then I’ll sail up the Firth of Forth,

Her sons, I must own, they are dashing,

Yet Johnny, between me and you,

I owe them a grudge for the thrashing

They gave that poor devil Menou.


O my Sawney, my Sawney

Your bagpipes will make us all friskey,

We’ll dance with your lasses so bonny,

Eat haggis, and tipple your whiskey.


Hibernia’s another snug place,

I hope to get there too some day,

Tho’ our ships they get into disgrace,

With Warren, near Donegall Bay;

Tho’ my good friends at Vinegar-Hill,

They fail’d; be assured, Jack of all this,

I’ll give them French Liberty still,

As I have to the Dutch and the Swiss.


O my Paddie, my paddies,

You are all of you honest creatures,

Art I long to be with you at Cork,

To sup upon fish and potatoes.


A fair wind and thirty-six hours, &

Would bring us all over from Brest,

Tell your ships to let alone ours,

And we’ll manage all the rest.

Adieu! My dear boy, ‘till we meet;

Take care of your gold, my honey,

And, when I reach Threadneedle Street,

I’ll help you to count over your money.


But my fears they mount up, up, up,

And my hopes they sink, down-y, down-y

My heart it beats backwards and forwards,

My head it runs round-y, round-y



No Procession on the 12th, Montreal, 1877

Montreal Daily Star, 11 July 1877, page 1

No Procession on the 12th

The Orangemen Patriotically Accede to the Request of their Fellow Citizens and Abandon the Procession in the Interest of Peace

A great weight has been lifted off the city by the patriotic conduct of the Orange body in acceding to the request of their fellow citizens, and abandoning , for this year, at least, their intention of walking to the church in procession on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.  This resolution was not arrived at until a few minutes before midnight last night, and the deepest anxiety was manifested by large numbers of citizens who congregated in several places to know the result.  At St Patrick’s Hall the largest gathering with [illegible] and the heads of the Irish Societies were in session until a late hour.  The course that has been pursued reflects honor upon all concerned.  The sp[illegible] of wise concession and forbearance showed by the Orangemen deserve the highest recognition, and the Roman Catholics were among the first last night to acknowledge the spirit of conciliation that was manifested in the resolution arrived at.  Every one looked forward to serious trouble, if not loss of life if the procession took place, and the feeling that was prevailed for some time past in this community has been a profoundly painful one.  Much of the happy result accomplished is owing to the wise and moderate con [illegible] pursued by the leaders of the Irish societies, who suggested and succeeded in getting truly representative meeting yesterday [illegible] all our National Societies. The sensible speeches of those gentlemen, who met in the parlour of the St Lawrence Hall, and notably the observations of the chairman, could not fail to have effect in averting what was looked forward to as a civil war. Our city has been spared scenes of riot and disorder that would have fallen upon her like a nightmare.  Good sense has prevailed, and citizens now look forward to a long continuance of that peace, harmony and good will that should always prevail among a people and by the ties of a common Christianity and citizenship.  The matter has been acquitted in such a form that both sides can co[illegible] shake hands over the result, and no feeling of triumph or defeat be felt on either side.

We stated in last evening’s issue that the meeting in the St Lawrence Hall passed a resolution earnestly among the Orangemen to give up the procession.  This result was communicated to the leaders of the Orange Society by a deputation and a copy of the resolution signed by all the representatives of National Societies, [illegible] added to Colonel Smith and Mr Grant the latter County Master and Chairman [illegible] the mass meeting of Orangemen which was being held in the Orange Hall. These gentlemen promised to lay it before the meeting without delay and return as early as possible with an answer. The signers remained in session awaiting an answer, and the reports from time to time that arrive, up to the last kept up the most painful anxiety to know the result. At 11:45 pm all felt as if they could breath freely, as an advance courier armed with the pleasing news that the resolution was carried (although by a narrow majority) to abandon the idea of  having a procession.  Messrs. Grant and Smith followed soon after as the ambassadors of peace and evidently well pleased to come in that capacity.  The meeting to receive the report took place at once, with Mr Devlin in the chair.  The following is the substance of what occurred.

Mr Grant said there had been a large attendance of the membership of the order, who after discussion had come to a resolution, which had been carried by a small majority, not to make a public demonstration.  The committee would be served with an exact copy of the resolution which had been arrived at. The society reserved their right to march when they pleased, but there would be no procession on the 12th of July this year. The members would proceed to church about half past eleven and trusted that there would be no disturbance or endeavour to hinder them in the charge of their privilege and duty of going to church.

Col Smith said that he had only to say that this decision had been arrived at after earnest deliberation upon the requests of the societies. They had determined to give way but reserved their right to go to church. He trusted the societies would now do their duty and see that the Orangemen were not molested. The society had acted in deference to the wishes of their fellow citizens.

Mr Grant said he ought to state that a deputation from the City Council had this day waited on the Orangemen which had tended in a great measure to influence their decision.

Mr Devlin said it was only necessary for him to say that he congratulated the societies on the result which had been arrived at, which was calculated to sustain and continue the friendly feeling which had existed for years.  He regarded the result, not as a triumph of party, but as a triumph of peace, good will and fellowship, and as such he regarded it.  He would announce the result at another meeting this evening.  All might rest assured that the proceedings throughout had been conducted with good will as tending to the prosperity of the Dominion and of the city of Montreal.

Col Smith said that in light of the society had acted in the interest of peace and good will.

Mr Devlin said he considered the best thanks of the committee and of the citizens generally were due to the gentlemen who had waited upon the committee, and also to all who had cooperated towards this good result. The Irish Catholic societies did not desire to triumph over Protestants, but were actuated by desires for the best interests of the whole country.

Mr Kerry, St George’s Society, said before the meeting separated it ought to thank the gentlemen of the Orange Society present for the interest they had taken in the matter.  He thought a vote of thanks should be passed to them for their kind offices.

Mr McMaster, of the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society, in seconding the motion, said he had no doubt that the gentlemen had made many personal sacrifices for the peace of the city.

Several gentlemen having spoken in this sense.

Col Smith thought that the vote should be passed to the society generally.

Mr Kerry said he should be glad to amend his motion in that sense.

The motion having been carried.

Col Smith, in acknowledging it, said he hoped after all this would be considered brethren.  The meeting adjourned.

Servant Question, Ottawa, 1912

Ottawa Citizen, 8 October 1912, page 3

Servant Question – Charity Board Member has Ideas for the Girls

A local member of the charity board of the city when seen by the Citizen regarding the alleged low wages paid to girls and the evil consequences resulting, was of the opinion that the condition of the shop girl was somewhat improved now to what he thought it used to be a few years ago.  While he thought that the small sum of say $3 per week was not all sufficient, when girls had no parents or a domestic home, when they had homes of their parents to go to they could then just manage to get along until they became so proficient as to command fair wages.

“When a girl comes from the country,” he said, “and wants to engage in what they consider ‘genteel’ occupations they must, if they would reflect, expect this state of affairs, but if on the other hand they would go out to domestic service, where there is such a pressing demand, they would not only get better homes but be able to save more money also.

“Within the last ten years,” he went on, “I can remember when girls were glad to work in law offices as stenographers and typists for the experience only.” As this gentleman could not say definitely whether this was the case now or not, he was inclined to believe it was not.

He was a strong advocate of girls supplying this great demand – that of domestic service, for here they would not be exposed and come less in contact with a large amount of immorality which no unfortunately prevails especially in large cities.

Santa’s arrival in Montreal, 1919

Montreal Daily Star, 1 December 1919, page 7

Santa Claus Came Here by Aeroplane

And now resides at his castle outside Goodwin’s

Santa Claus came to Goodwin’s on Saturday in true chimney-pot style. Always by nature progressive, the children’s patron saint decided to keep abreast of the times and at 4.15 Saturday afternoon appeared from out of the skies and under the able pilotage of Harry Wilshire, landed safe and sound on Fletcher’s Field from an aeroplane.  Here, His Worship the Mayor, was waiting to welcome him and when Santa Claus, clad in white and gold, stepped out of the machine, the former presented him the key to the Castle of Golden Twinkles.

“I hope,” said the Mayor, as he made the presentation, “that this key will be large enough to open the doors of all the homes in Montreal and especially those of the poor.”

Santa thanked the mayor and proceeded by sleigh to his castle at Goodwin’s, as did thousands of his young disciples who had stood in the snow and slush of Fletcher’s Field for as much as an  hour to obtain a good position from which in witness his arrival.  Barely had Santa’s aeroplane touched the ground before swarms of little people accompanied by fatigued but obedient parents, rushed across the field and surrounded him and many of them did not leave his vicinity for over an hour and a half. When their white-whiskered and genial friend got into his sleigh they followed him to the store and when he disappeared inside they formed up on the sidewalk outside his castle and refused to move.

Santa Claus is now officially in residence. From 4 pm to 6 pm and from 7 pm to 9 pm, each day he will occupy his castle and from 9 am to 11 am, he will be in the toy department to consult with his young friends in his white fur reception costume.

The Illegality of Marrying a Wife’s Sister, Liverpool, 1837

Gore’s Liverpool General Advertiser 21 December 1837 p3


Illegality of Marrying a wife’s sister

At the sitting of the judicial committee of the Privy Council, on Wednesday, Mr. Baron Parke gave judgment on the part of their Lordships in an appeal.  Sherwood v Ray, respecting a marriage within the prohibited degrees, the appellant having married Miss Emma Sara Ray, the sister of his deceased wife. The case had been before Dr Lushington, and also Sir Herbert Jenner in the Arches’ Court; subsequently the present appeal was made to his late Majesty in council.  The judgment of their Lordships was that the decrees of the Arches’ Court must be affirmed.

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