Programs

Morbid Curiosities

2014-054 WHS Casket

2014-054 WHS – Image of a man kneeling in front of a casket

Ok, I will admit it – I have a fascination with death. Perhaps, it is a hazard of being a genealogist and local history librarian, but I think that it comes from a deep and visceral level. We all die. It’s a fate that we cannot escape. The myriad of rituals and beliefs tied up with death and dying makes the obsession that much more intriguing.

I am a regular obituary reader. Daily, I’ll scan over the obituaries online to see if I recognize a name, a face or family. While I may not personally know the departed, I often recognize distant and former neighbours, co-workers, or casual acquaintances. As I grow older, the recognition of names, sadly, becomes more frequent.

Funerals are another curiosity of mine. The ceremony, rituals, beliefs and practices of death and its commemoration are fascinating – especially when seen over time. And I’ve always wondered about the special breed of people that choose or find themselves in this field of work.

Marion Roes knows much about funeral home history in Waterloo Region. Her family founded the Dreisinger Funeral Home in Elmira. Come join me on Monday November 16th @ 7pm at Country Hills Community Library, 1500 Block Line Road, Kitchener to hear Marion’s updated talk on funeral home history in Kitchener. She is sharing her vast knowledge and research on local funeral homes, particularly that of Schreiter-Sandrock, the oldest in our area. I’m told, that she has lots of new images to share, too.

The Country Hills branch is attached to St. Mary’s High School  (see map). The library is on the end of the complex closest to Homer Watson. There’s lots of free parking and no registration is required for the event.

Do you have a favourite Waterloo County funeral in your family history?

Cheers, Karen

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Programs

The Boy from Berlin

Mackenzie King, 1926

William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1926

Born 140 years ago today, 17 December 1874, in a home on Benton Street, Berlin, Ontario, William Lyon Mackenzie King grew up to become Canada’s longest serving Prime Minister.  As a person and politician, Mackenzie King has been source of inquiry, speculation and debate among academics and the public. Raised at idyllic Woodside (now a National Historic site managed by Parks Canada) from 1886 to 1893, how did King’s early experiences in Berlin (now Kitchener) affect his later political decisions and thinking?

Join us tonight at 7pm for a free public lecture at the Central Library on King’s early life in Berlin by Dr. John English, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Waterloo and Founding Director of the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History at the University of Toronto. No registration is required.  Displays, book sales and refreshments will be available in the Theatre reception room starting at 6:30pm.

The lecture has been organized by an informal committee known as the Mackenzie King Kitchener-Waterloo Legacy Network. The committee is non-partisan and promotes public discussion about King’s role in Canadian history.

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Programs

‘Tis the season to remember

Poppies by Giuseppe Moscato.  Image source: Flickr.  Used under Creative Commons license.

Poppies by Giuseppe Moscato (www.flickr.com/photos/pinomoscato/) Image source: Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

As November descends upon us, the season of remembrance begins. This year, it seems all the more poignant with the recent tragic deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. Remembrance is truly a season of reflection, gratitude and thankfulness.

This week, we’ll be remembering the gallant efforts of the Canadian military at the D-Day landing over 70 years ago.  Please join us on Tuesday 4 November 2014 as Ted Barris brings to life the stories, photos and individuals of Canada’s military on that fateful day back in 1944. Ted’s lecture will be held in the Central Library Theatre starting at 7pm.  No registration or ticket required. Information for the event can be found here.

Cheers, Karen

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Programs

The Great Escape: A Canadian Story

Great Escape - KPL Event

An evening with Ted Barris, author of the Great Escape: a Canadian Story, on Monday May 5, 2014 at Country Hills branch, 6:30pm

As I’ve been working on the Soldier Card Project, I am continually reminded of the need for remembrance and commemoration of our military veterans and heritage.  I recently picked up Ted Barris’ book, The Great Escape: a Canadian Story and thoroughly enjoyed it. Packed with fascinating details about prisoner of war life, Barris dispels the myths of the 1963 Hollywood movie by the same name. The Great Escape from Stalag Luft III is a great Canadian story – something which Hollywood and its storytelling machine frequently overlooks (remember Ben Affleck’s movie Argo?).  Reading the book, I was constantly moved by the ingenuity, resourcefulness and courage of the Canadian airmen incarcerated at the Sagan prisoner camp and their role in planning, supporting and executing the attempted mass prison escape of 24 March 1944. The terrible retribution for the escape and the forced march of prisoners by their Gestapo captors ahead of the Soviet advance across Eastern Europe is retold through the eyes and stories of Canadian POWs by Barris in moving detail.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Canada’s military history and heritage.

We are fortunate to have author, Ted Barris, join us to discuss his book in Kitchener.  I hope that you will join me on Monday May 5, 2014 at 6:30pm at the Country Hills Branch to welcome Ted and to hear about his research and the untold Canadian story of the Great Escape.  It’s a free event, but registration is required. Register online or call the Country Hills branch or InfoLink.

Cheers, Karen

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