Off the Page
A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between
Tommy Douglas, the longtime premier of Saskatchewan, was the father of medicare. Born almost exactly 110 years ago (Oct …
Mother of 11 children, Lillian Gilbreth was also a psychologist, a leading efficiency expert, industrial engineer, an au …
For some reason there are more books about dogs than cats. Conspiracy?
In this excerpt from Canadian Spacewalkers, Bob McDonald shares his own experience with simulated spacewalking, and spea …
Nature enslaved no longer elicits wonder. Yet Bacon calls wonder 'the seed of knowledge.' Without seed, what can we expe …
Sean Cranbury chats with Carrie Snyder, whose novel, Girl Runner, has just been shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Trust Fi …
We've made some great pairings of recent Canadian books of note, creating ideal cross-genre literary companions.…
In Quick Hits, a new 49th Shelf series, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, el …
Want to know more about the books and authors making waves this season? Just dive in to this great selection from 49th S …
"Talking History" is a new biweekly series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage. The series focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, exploring the notion of history as a compelling form of storytelling of interest to large audiences. These articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts use the power of narrative to bring the past to life, drawing connections between then and now to show how these stories are not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today.
This week, we're pleased to present Charlotte Gray, one of Canada’s pre-eminent biographers and historians, who has won many awards for her work, including the prestigious Pierre Berton Award for a body of historical writing, the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, the Ottawa Book Award, and the CAA Birks Family Foundation Award for Biography. Over nine books, she has brought our past to life. Gray is a Member of the Order of Canada and was a panelist on the 2013 edition of CBC …
Throughout National Science and Technology Week (October 17–26), we're celebrating new Canadian books on science and technology. Today we're talking to celebrated children's author Monica Kulling about her latest non-fiction picture book in the "Great Ideas" Series, Spic-And-Span! Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen, illustrated by David Parkins.
Lillian Gilbreth might be familiar to you as the mother of the family that inspired the Cheaper by the Dozen book and films, and sequels too. But in addition to being the mother of 11 children, Gilbreth was also a psychologist, a leading efficiency expert, industrial engineer, an author, a professor, and an inventor. Her inventions included the electric mixer, and the compartments you use every day in the door of your fridge
Monica Kulling explains why she was so captured by Gilbreth as a character, and what it was like to render her life in just a few pages.
49th Shelf: Lillian Gilbreth’s life was so remarkable—you’d scarcely believe it if it were fiction. What parts of her experience were most immediately compelling to you?
Monica Kulling: Lillian Gilbreth was absolutely larger than life. I think what impressed me most was her ability to remain calm and centered in the midst of so many demands on her time, both …
There are two camps of people: pet-lovers and pet-haters. And among pet-lovers, we all know that cats are the superior species.
[Back again. Some tidying up to do after numerous dog-lover tackles. You know who you are.]
For the pet-lovers among us, even you dog people, this post is for you. It's filled with books about the incredible bonds we can have with animals, and about the myriad ways dogs, horses, and on admittedly rare occasions, cats, can heal us and make us better people.
The Dog and I, by Roy MacGregor: From Canada’s beloved award-winning journalist and bestselling author comes a collection of essays, new and previously published, on man’s best friend. In the course of 20 years of column writing about everything from politics to hockey and everything in between, Roy MacGregor has learned firsthand that the columns with the greatest reader impact have been those about the family dog. Roy has collected these columns and written many more on everything from puppy love to the sorrow of losing a pet, as experienced by Roy and the dogs he’s known and loved.
Throughout National Science and Technology Week (October 17–26), we're celebrating new Canadian books on science and technology. Today's pick is Canadian Spacewalkers, in which celebrated science journalist Bob McDonald compiles perspectives of the three Canadians who have walked in space (astronauts Chris Hadfield, Steve MacLean, and Dave Williams). The book includes an extensive interview transcription—a one-on-one with spacewalkers who tell tales of training underwater in the world's largest swimming pool; recount how they learned to use power tools in zero gravity while wearing bulky gloves; and describe the moment when they opened the hatch and stepped outside.
In this excerpt, McDonald shares his own experience with simulated spacewalking, and speaks with Steven MacLean about the feeling of being head over heels.
One of the great joys of being a science journalist is getting to play with big toys. Over the years I’ve managed to get myself into many different types of torture devices—I mean training equipment—used on pilots and astronauts. Often a simple phone call asking if I can do a story on the subject gives me a ride in an aerobatic airplane, a zero-g flight or a chance to experience a wide assortment of very clever machinery designed to sim …
Throughout National Science and Technology Week (October 17–26), we're celebrating new Canadian books on science and technology. Today, we bring you a chapter from Bold Scientists: Dispatches From the Battle for Honest Science, by Michael Riordon. In his book, Riordon asks deep questions of bold scientists who defy the status quo including:
- An Indigenous biologist who integrates traditional knowledge and a trickster’s wit;
- An engineering professor who exposes the myths and dangers of fracking;
- A forensic geneticist who traces children stolen by the military in El Salvador;
- A sociologist who investigates the lure and threat of mass surveillance;
- A radical psychologist who confronts psychiatry’s dangerous power;
- A young marine biologist who risks her career to defend science and democracy.
In this short chapter, Riordon poses the paradox of science: "Nature enslaved no longer elicits wonder. Yet Bacon calls wonder 'the seed of knowledge.' Without seed, what can we expect to grow?"
Human responses to a spider’s web:
- Eeew, call the exterminator!
- Make metaphors: “O, what a tangled web we weave, / When first we practice to deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, 1808)
- Make sense: “Given the presumed metabolic effort required by …