by George and Darril Fosty

In Ontario we are well aware of the trail of the Underground Railroad that allowed black slaves to escape into freedom to as far north as Owen Sound. But long before that route was gaining momentum, there was already a large population of Blacks living in Nova Scotia, the population of which was added to when Black Loyalist refugees from the War of 1812 settled there. Just a decade later, these new settlers were playing this new game, a combination of shinny and Mi’kmaq hockey, and a few decades after that the first official Coloured Hockey League was formed. While it centres on the history of this leagues’ teams, players and games, Black Ice is far more than a sports book – it tells the historic tale of the Black experience in the Maritimes, recounting their challenges, their contribution to the efforts in WWI, their victories and the accomplishments of their leaders such as James Kinney. Kinney was the first Black man to graduate from the Maritime Business College and he later became a force in forming the Coloured Hockey League. He was also a student of Booker T. Washington, and after the league folded, Kinney used this education to influence other Black leaders in the establishment of a Black orphanage, the Nova Scotia School for Coloured Children. The author includes many uncomfortable examples of the type of racism that defined this history as well, so as Black History Month draws to a close, read Black Ice and try to determine how far our attitudes have come – and how far we still have to go. Click here to find it in the SPL catalogue.

by Ron C. Judd

We are officially less than a year away from the twenty-first Winter Olympiad, the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Canada’s “own the podium” campaign has been swinging into high gear as of late, with athletes winning gold medals in various world championships as they hope to peak just in time for next February. With the Olympic torch scheduled to pass through Stratford next December, the Olympic spirit is sure to be high in this region, so you can prepare for the frenzy by boning up on Winter Olympic trivia from this new book. It covers the history of the games, of course, and if you’re actually going to the Vancouver Games there is plenty of information about the venues, tickets, transportation and other handy travel tips. But if you will be watching the games from the comfort of your living room you can skip all that and get right into the in-depth chapters on the sports themselves. Divided into two sections on ice sports and snow sports, each chapter gives a history of the sport in the Olympics, exciting narratives of memorable races or competitions, a ‘spectator’s guide’ to the rules and equipment of the sport, the records broken, a schedule of the sport events for the Vancouver Games and (YAY!) a thoroughly Canadian perspective highlighting our athletes’ accomplishments (as well as other ‘legends’ of each sport). There is even mention of the newest event at the Winter Games, the ‘ski cross’ – a freestyle skiing event that is described as “motocross on skis”, which should be interesting viewing! The Winter Olympics: An Insider’s Guide to the Legends, The Lore and the Games is a great book for any sporting enthusiast and is especially recommended for proud Canucks who will be cheering on our athletes.

Edited by Helene Scheu-Riesz

Long before jumbo-trons and hot-air balloon rides at dawn, the most elegant proposals of marriage were done so through the written word, in the form of a love letter. Will You Marry Me? brings together some of the most beautiful, memorable, and also notorious and unusual love-letters and matrimonial requests throughout history. Arranged in chapters by era, you can peruse proposals from the Victorians, Renaissance and even what the editors have termed the Gothic era - which is actually the high to late Middle Ages - in which one can read the love letter of 14-year old Arthur, Prince of Wales, to his Spanish bride, Catherine of Aragon. Each letter is preceded by some historical context and tells you if the letter was successful in wooing a wife. There are some remarkably romantic notes (as a certain Thomas Carlyle’s is to his future wife), and some are as unromantic and pragmatic as a business contract (a great deal of these were unsuccessful!) There are also several examples of letters written by enterprising young women who were too high-spirited and intelligent to wait for young men to declare themselves. This slim volume is a perfect companion for Valentine’s Day whether you celebrate it or not – there are letters enough for the romantics out there as well as the cynics – presented as it is with beautifully illustrated old engravings. It may also be a handy guide for those who are planning for a future proposal of their own! Click here to find it in our on-line catalogue.

Boy oh boy, can we all use help in this regard these days. Not only are we in an economic crisis, but money-related stress is now considered the biggest factor in relationship stress as well. Luckily, Pat Foran (who is most recognizable as the Consumer Reporter on the CTV network) has just released the updated edition of his money-management guide. Incorporating many items seen in his Consumer Alert segments on Canada AM, this second edition of his book is just as thorough as his first, and provides tips and advice on what to do and not do to reduce debt, save for the long-haul and just manage your day-to-day finances. Foran provides not just the basics with handy budget sheets, but also goes into the questions of automobile leasing or buying, gives an extensive chapter on all-things mortgage-related, explains why making a will can save you money, and even clarifies whether or not to say “I do” to a prenuptial agreement. It is so up-to-date that there is even a section on the new tax-free savings accounts that most banks are touting these days. He is particularly helpful in explaining the benefits of RRSP’s and RESP’s (but not so much on mutual funds), the chapters are short and very straightforward (the one on day-trading is three paragraphs long), and it is easy to skip over the parts that do not apply to you (yet) and not get lost. There are great tips for people living in Ontario (i.e. why you should stop renting your hot-water heater), and he reveals other little-known secrets of saving; like the virtually unknown law around those automatic scanners at grocery stores that could save you a small wad of cash if you are diligent when you shop (expect longer lines once more people latch onto it!) This is an extremely helpful guide that will help take the stress out of your money management and perhaps allow you to sleep more easily at night. Click here to reserve your copy in our on-line catalogue.

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