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Biographies and autobiographies

  • ’Tis a wonderful time to be alive : life in a Newfoundland outport
    Author:
    Oldford, Winston
    Summary:

    'Tis a Wonderful Time to Be Alive is Winston Oldford’s personal account of growing up in Burnside, Bonavista Bay, in the 1940s and 1950s.

    The tiny community underwent a baptism by fire—literally—in the early twentieth century. Following a devastating forest fire in the area in 1912, the settlements of Squid Tickle and Holletts Cove became known, collectively, as Burnside. Today, with a population close to 200, it is one of seven communities on the Eastport Peninsula.

    This book takes a look at the history of Burnside, as well as the day-to-day lives of those who have lived in the community over the last two centuries. Winston Oldford takes the reader on a guided tour of his hometown and the cultural foundations upon which Burnside was built.

  • Author:
    Clarke, Austin
    Summary:

    2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature — Longlisted 2016 RBC Taylor Prize — Longlisted The unforgettable memoir of Giller Prize–winning author and poet Austin Clarke, called “Canada’s first multicultural writer.” Austin Clarke is a distinguished and celebrated novelist and short-story writer. His works often centre around the immigrant experience, of which he writes with humour and compassion, happiness and sorrow. In ’Membering, Clarke shares his own experiences growing up in Barbados and moving to Toronto to attend university in 1955 before becoming a journalist. With vivid realism he describes Harlem of the ’60s, meeting and interviewing Malcolm X and writers Chinua Achebe and LeRoi Jones. Clarke went on to become a pioneering instructor of Afro-American Literature at Yale University and inspired a new generation of Afro-American writers. Clarke has been called Canada’s first multicultural writer. Here he eschews a traditional chronological order of events and takes the reader on a lyrical tour of his extraordinary life, interspersed with thought-provoking meditations on politics and race. Telling things as he ’members them.

  • Zero regrets be greater than yesterday
    Author:
    Ohno, Apolo
    Summary:

    "Zero regrets. It's a philosophy not just about sport but about life . There has to be a vision, a dream, a plan. Then you chase that with everything you've got." Over three consecutive Olympic games, Apolo Ohno has come to symbolize the very best of the competitive spirit. In Zero Regrets, he shares the inspiring personal story behind his remarkable success, as well as the hard won truths and strategies he has discovered in good times and bad. Raised by his single father, an immigrant from Japan who often worked twelve hour days, the young Apolo found it difficult to balance his enormous natural gifts as an athlete with an admittedly wild, rebellious streak. His career was almost over before it began when his lack of preparation caused him to finish last at the U.S. Olympic trials in 1998. At the age of fifteen, he recommitted himself to his training and at the 1999 World Junior Championships won first place overall-one of the most remarkable turnarounds in sports history. From that moment on, the world of speed skating had a new champion and Apolo was on his way to legendary status. Zero Regrets is a compelling portrait of a father-and-son relationship that deepened over time and was based on respect, love, and unshakable faith in each other. For the first time, Apolo reveals what he knows about his long-absent mother; he makes us feel what it is like to face the best competitors on the planet with the eyes of millions of fans upon you; and he shares his secrets for achieving total focus and mental toughness. We learn the details of the intense workout and diet that he endured while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics, a regime that literally reshaped his body and led to some of his most thrilling victories. While Apolo's own journey may be unique, the insights he has gleaned along the way have the power to help us all feel like champions every day.

  • Author:
    Pirsig, Robert M.
    Summary:

    Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

  • Author:
    Wilson, Sharry
    Summary:

    Young Neil is a detailed chronological narrative of the early life of iconic Canadian musician Neil Young. Exploring a time in this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s life that has yet to be documented with such depth of research, Young Neil is an exhaustive document of his “Sugar Mountain” years, from 1945 to 1966. From his birth in Toronto through his school years in Florida, Ontario, and Manitoba, the book examines the development of Young’s unique talent against a backdrop of shifting postwar values, a turbulent family history, and a musical revolution in the making. Includes many previously unseen photos, memorabilia, and set lists.

  • Author:
    Hunter, Martin
    Summary:

    Taking inspiration from John Glassco's Memoirs of Montparnasse, Young Hunting is both a story of discovery and transformation. While Toronto changes around him, from a puritanical British colonial outpost to a mixing bowl filled with colourful cultural components, a young boy emerges from his middle class childhood to become a flamboyant adolescent, a questioning adult who refuses to accept conventional wisdom. The Toronto of the '40s and '50s is often painted as the epitome of dull convention--but this was clearly not Martin Hunter's experience. The child of eastern Ontario farmers, he was exposed to fundamentalist Presbyterian values; yet at the same time he was connecting with a number of remarkable artists who profoundly influenced the course of his young life. In Young Hunting, the dichotomy is personified by Hunter's two closest friends: Dick, who would become an Academy Award-winning animator; and Jimmy, who would go on to become the minister of Canada's largest Presbyterian church. The pull of each of these influences was strong, and each helped define both Hunter's youth and developing view of life. Along the way, he soaked up vast and varied experience: as an actor in a children's theatre company; a boarder at an evangelical summer camp; a messenger delivering samples on Queen Street; an officer cadet in the Royal Canadian Navy; a student at Oxbridge-inspired Trinity College; and as a labourer at both a mining camp in the Yukon and a paper mill in Quebec. And while, as Young Hunting explains, Martin Hunter 'thoroughly enjoyed the often ludicrous pretension of these various institutions,' it was not until he escaped to fulfill his 'dreams of high culture' that he gained true perspective on his life's journey--discovering that Europe's vaunted old world cultural superiority was just as hollow as the institutions of his homeland.

  • Author:
    Bryon, Dennis
    Summary:

    From behind the drumkit to the top of the charts: the backstage story of the Bee Gees

    With worldwide sales of over 220 million records, the Bee Gees are the sixth-best-selling music artists in history. Dennis Bryon’s story of how he became the Bee Gees’ drummer during their peak period offers many never-before-told tales about such infectious hits as “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” and “Night Fever.” From Dennis’s beginnings in a Welsh band to his crucial role in the superstar group, You Should Be Dancing reveals unforgettable stories of his encounters with many famous musicians, including the Bee Gees themselves, Andy Gibb, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, and Olivia Newton-John. Illustrated with Bee Gees photographs and ephemera, Bryon’s memoir takes Bee Gees fans and music enthusiasts alike on one of the wildest rides in pop history.

  • Author:
    Chocano, Carina
    Summary:

    In this smart, funny, impassioned call to arms, a pop culture critic merges memoir and commentary to explore how our culture shapes ideas about who women are, what they are meant to be, and where they belong. Who is "the girl"' Look to movies, TV shows, magazines, and ads and the message is both clear and not: she is a sexed up sidekick, a princess waiting to be saved, a morally infallible angel with no opinions of her own. She's whatever the hero needs her to be in order to become himself. She's an abstraction, an ideal, a standard, a mercurial phantom. From the moment we're born, we're told stories about what girls are and they aren't, what girls want and what they don't, what girls can be and what they can't. "The girl" looms over us like a toxic cloud, permeating everything and confusing our sense of reality. In You Play the Girl, Carina Chocano shows how we metabolize the subtle, fragmented messages embedded in our everyday experience and how our identity is shaped by them. From Bugs Bunny to Playboy Bunnies, from Flashdance to Frozen, from the progressive '70s through the backlash '80s, the glib '90s, and the pornified aughts-and at stops in between-Chocano blends formative personal stories with insightful and emotionally powerful analysis. She explains how growing up in the shadow of "the girl" taught her to think about herself and the world and what it means to raise a daughter in the face of these contorted reflections. In the tradition of Roxane Gay, Rebecca Solnit, and Susan Sontag, Chocano brilliantly shows that our identities are more fluid than we think, and certainly more complex than anything we see on any kind of screen.

  • Author:
    Cutler, Sam
    Summary:

    Sam Cutler was tour manager for the Rolling Stones at some of their major gigs in the late sixties, including the infamous concert at Altamont where a man was murdered by a Hells Angel in front of the stage while the Stones played on. After the show, Sam was left behind to make peace with the Hells Angels, the various mobsters and organizations who had taken an overt interest in the event, and the people of America. There has never been an official investigation into events at Altamont and those involved have never before spoken on record.

    Sam Cutler has decided that it is time to put to rest the myths and legends that have grown up around this infamous event in rock history and for the first time reveal the truth.

    Sam survived Altamont and went on to live the ultimate rock and roll dream. This is also his own account of the high ol’ times he had managing tours for San Francisco band the Grateful Dead — who went on to become the world’s most successful live act. Along the way Sam draws intimate portraits of other stars of the psychedelic circus that was the music industry in the sixties and seventies, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, the Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, and Eric Clapton. This is an exhilarating, all-areas-access rock memoir from someone who has seen — and done — it all.

  • York's Sacrifice Militia Casualties of the War of 1812
    Author:
    Nickerson, Janice
    Summary:

    Not only professional soldiers but also citizens serving as militiamen participated in the War of 1812. The militia’s contribution to the War of 1812 is not well understood. Even now, 200 years later, we don’t know how many Upper Canadian militia men died defending their home.York’s Sacrifice profiles 39 men who lost their lives during the war. They include 19 residents of the Town of York, five residents of York County, and 11 residents of Halton, Peel, and Wentworth Counties. Where possible, biographies include information about each man’s origin, residence, occupation, civic life, family, militia service, and circumstances of death. A section on records provides detailed guidance in finding and using records from the period to trace an ancestors militia service and life in this difficult time period.A complete list of men who served in the three York regiments during the war identifies those who were killed, injured, captured, or deserted.

  • Yip Sang and the First Chinese Canadians
    Author:
    Hern, Frances
    Summary:

    During the second half of the 19th century, thousands of Chinese men arrived on the west coast of North America, seeking to escape poverty and make their fortunes in the goldfields or working on the railroads. Among them was 36-year-old Yip Sang, a native of Guangdong province in southeast China, who arrived in Vancouver in 1881 after failing to strike it rich in California. His luck was about to change. Through perseverance, hard work and an eye for opportunity, the enterprising Yip Sang amassed considerable wealth to pass on to his wives and 23 children when he died in 1927. As the unofficial mayor of Chinatown, Yip Sang was instrumental in helping new Chinese immigrants as they fought to overcome social, economic and political barriers. This fascinating history details the struggles and successes of Yip Sang and the first Chinese Canadians as they built new lives and left a lasting legacy for their families and community.

  • Author:
    Tendō, Shōko
    Summary:

    Born to a wealthy and powerful yakuza boss, Shoko Tendo lived the early years of her life in luxury. However, when she was six, everything changed: her father was jailed, and the family fell into debt. Bullied by her classmates because of her father's activities, and terrorized at home by her father, who became a drunken, violent monster after his release from prison, Tendo rebelled. As a teenager she became a drug addict and a member of a girl gang. At the age of 15 she spent eight months in a juvenile detention center after getting into a fight with another gang. During Japan's bubble economy of the eighties, Tendo worked as a bar hostess, attracting many rich and loyal customers, and earning money to help her family out of debt. But there were also abusive clients, one of whom beat her so badly that her face was left permanently scarred. Her mother died, plunging Tendo into a depression so deep that she tried to commit suicide. Somehow, Tendo overcame these tough times. A turning point was getting a full-body tattoo with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth, an act that empowered her to change her life. She quit her job as a hostess. On her last day at work, she looked up at the full moon, which became a symbol of her struggle to become whole, and the title of the book she wrote as an epitaph for herself and her family.

  • Xwelíqwiya The Life of a Stó:lō Matriarch
    Author:
    Point Bolton, Rena, Daly, Richard
    Summary:

    Xwelíqwiya is the life story of Rena Point Bolton, a Stó:lō matriarch, artist, and craftswoman. Proceeding by way of conversational vignettes, the beginning chapters recount Point Bolton's early years on the banks of the Fraser River during the Depression. While at the time the Stó:lō, or Xwélmexw, as they call themselves today, kept secret their ways of life to avoid persecution by the Canadian government, Point Bolton’s mother and grandmother schooled her in the skills needed for living from what the land provides, as well as in the craftwork and songs of her people, passing on a duty to keep these practices alive. Point Bolton was taken to a residential school for the next several years and would go on to marry and raise ten children, but her childhood training ultimately set the stage for her roles as a teacher and activist. Recognizing the urgent need to forge a sense of cultural continuity among the younger members of her community, Point Bolton visited many communities and worked with federal, provincial, and First Nations politicians to help break the intercultural silence by reviving knowledge of and interest in Aboriginal art. She did so with the deft and heartfelt use of both her voice and her hands. Over the course of many years, Daly collaborated with Point Bolton to pen her story. At once a memoir, an oral history, and an “insider” ethnography directed and presented by the subject herself, the result attests both to Daly’s relationship with the family and to Point Bolton’s desire to inspire others to use traditional knowledge and experience to build their own distinctive, successful, and creative lives.

  • Author:
    Thompson, David, Moreau, William E.
    Summary:

    David Thompson's Travels is one of the finest early expressions of the Canadian experience. The work is not only the account of a remarkable life in the fur trade but an extended meditation on the land and Native peoples of western North America. The tale spans the years 1784 to 1807 and extends from the Great Lakes to the Rockies, from Athabasca to Missouri. A distinguished literary work, the Travels alternates between the expository prose of the scientist and the vivid language of the storyteller, animated throughout by a restless spirit of inquiry and sense of wonder. In the first volume of an ambitious three-volume project that will finally bring all of Thompson's writings together, editor William Moreau presents the Travels narrative as it existed in 1850, when the author was forced to abandon his work. Accompanying Moreau's transcription is an introductory essay and a textual introduction, extensive critical annotations, historical and modern maps, and a biographical appendix. The definitive collection of Thompson's works, The Writings of David Thompson will bring one of North American's most important early travellers and surveyors and his world to a whole new generation of readers.

  • Author:
    Bliss, Michael
    Summary:

    One of Canada’s best-known and most-honoured biographers turns to the raw material of his own life in Writing History. A university professor, prolific scholar, public intellectual, and frank critic of the world he has known, Michael Bliss draws on extensive personal diaries to describe a life that has taken him from small-town Ontario in the 1950s to international recognition for his books in Canadian and medical history. His memoir ranges remarkably widely: it encompasses social history, family tragedy, a critical insider’s view of university life, Canadian national politics, and, above all, a rare glimpse into the craftsmanship that goes into the research and writing of history in our time. Whether writing about pigs and millionaires, the discovery of insulin, sleazy Canadian politicians, or the founders of modern medicine and brain surgery, Michael Bliss is noted for the clarity of his prose, the honesty of his opinions, and the breadth of his literary interests.

  • Wrestling with God : the story of my life
    Author:
    Geering, Lloyd
    Summary:

    Biography of New Zealand theologian Lloyd Geering [1918-]

  • Author:
    Kanyon, Chris, Clark, Ryan
    Summary:

    A rare glimpse not only into the life of a professional wrestler, but the life of a gay man in a straight world, this tragic memoir is told in Chris Kanyon’s own words, with the help of journalist Ryan Clark.

    One of the most popular wrestlers of the late 1990s, Kanyon kept his personal life private from his fans until finally revealing his biggest secret in 2004: he was gay. Going through the various roles that Kanyon played, both in the ring and out of it, as well as his battle with manic depression, this book explores the factors that led to his suicide in 2010.

    In his voice and the way he wanted it told, these are Kanyon’s last words about his experience rising through the ranks to the top of the professional wrestling world while keeping his sexuality hidden.

  • Author:
    Telfer, A.H., DiCorpo, Lorene
    Summary:

    In the 1880s the provincial government sent out teams of land surveyors to explore the northern Ontario hinterland. By rail, canoe and on foot they and their crews cut through the forests and across streams, establishing the boundaries for townships in preparation for settlement. Alexander Herkes Telfer was a member of the party led by the Haliburton surveyor Alexander Niven, who was responsible for running the lines for seven townships around the head of Lake Temiskaming. The child of Scottish immigrants who settled in Scarborough, Ontario, A.H. Telfer logged his experiences in a personal diary, revealing a love of new frontiers and adventure that the hardships of life could not diminish. His vivid account provides interesting details of early surveying methods and of the lives of some intrepid early settlers in this wild but beautiful land. An introduction and annotations by the editor and early photographs of the upper Ottawa/Lake Temiskaming area complement the diary and create a historical context. "I personally have long been interested in the surveyor Alexander Niven from Haliburton. I grew up on Niven Street in New Liskeard, and as a child wondered about the man the street was named for. The story of Niven and the other surveyors who mapped the Townships of the Little Clay Belt in the District of Temiskaming in the 1880s is long overdue. "A.H. Telfer’s personal diaries, which tell of the day-to-day hardships and accomplishments of these surveyors, are a fascinating account of the country before the great land rush of the 1890s and the Cobalt mining boom of 1903, which changed the landscape dramatically. This personal account by one of the members of the actual survey party of 1886 is interesting from a historical perspective, as it bridges the gap between the fur trading and logging eras, and the settlement of Temiskaming. Of equal interest is the mention in the diary of pioneers in the area, such as C.C. Farr, the founder of the town of Haileybury; Edouard Piche, one of the earliest settlers on Lake Temiskaming; and the Heard brothers from Haliburton, who were among the first homesteaders. "For anyone interested in the history of northern Ontario, this is a ’must read.’"- Bruce W. Taylor, genealogist, historian and author, his most recent book being New Liskeard: The Pioneer Years (2003).

  • Working the Dead Beat 50 Lives that Changed Canada
    Author:
    Martin, Sandra, Thorsell, William
    Summary:

    Longlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize and selected as a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book and an iTunes Store Best Book Globe and Mail columnist Sandra Martin honours the lives of Canada's famous, infamous, and unsung heroes in this unique collection of obituaries of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Here are Canadian icons such as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, social activist June Callwood, and urban theorist Jane Jacobs. Here are builders such as feminist and editor Doris Anderson, and businessman and famed art collector Ken Thomson. Here are our rogues, rascals, and romantics; our service men and women; and here are those private citizens whose lives have had an undeniable public impact. Finally, Martin interweaves these elegant and eloquent biographies with the autobiography of the obit writer, offering an exclusive and intimate view of life on the dead beat. Beautifully written, compelling, and vivid, Working the Dead Beat is a tribute to those individuals who, each on their own and as a collective, tell the story of our country, and to the life of the obit writer who chronicles their extraordinary lives.

  • Woodchips and beans : life in the early lumber woods of Nova Scotia
    Author:
    Parker, Mike
    Summary:

    Lumbering in Nova Scotia has a long and storied history, dating back nearly for centuries. A rich resource and lose to world markets, lumbering has played an important role in the development of the province, employing thousands of men and woman over the years. This oral history, covering a 30-year period from the 1920s to the 1940s, captures the personal experiences of those choppers, scalers, swayers, yarders, mill hands and cooks who were part of this rugged experience.

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