Rendering of new space

Construction on the third level of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre is now complete!

Last fall IKBLC began construction to create a one-stop service point for users. The space opened during the first week of March.

The new “multi-service desk” offers support for checking out books and answering reference questions, and features IT support – all from one desk. In addition, self-checkout machines have been added to ease the flow of traffic.

The refurbished space also includes new pavilions for the Writing Centre, AMS Tutoring and Peer Academic Coaching. “At any point, any student from any faculty and any academic year can come and speak to any of our student-volunteer coaches,” says Teri Grant, the Student Development Coordinator who oversees the Coaches Corner program.

“It offers improved space for our programming partners,” says Simon Neame, Director of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. He added that the new spaces are more flexible and allow for collaborative work.

Access to the Library is now available via the third level entrance. 

For questions about the project, please visit the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s website or contact Gordon Yusko, Assistant Director.

Illustration of the Empress of Britain by Kenneth D Shoesmith, found inside a promotional booklet for the ship

Every time we open a new box from the Chung Collection to digitize, it’s always exciting to see what’s in store for us. Sometimes the boxes are filled with Canadian Pacific pamphlets about train travel across the Rockies or vacation trips for “couples only” to Mexico, or menus from the Empress Hotel or Sporting Maps. 

In Box 219, we found the usual array of items from menus to shuffleboard game rules, but what sets this box apart from some of the others is that every single item relates to the CP ocean liner the Empress of Britain.

The Empress of Britain was launched in 1931 as the largest passenger ship in the CP fleet and traveled the world in first class style. Not only was she launched by British Royalty, but also was host to HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the end of their Canadian tour in 1939. The Empress of Britain sank in name of “King and Country” in 1940 after she had been converted from a luxury ocean liner to ferrying troops across the Atlantic Ocean as part of the war effort.

The items within Box 219 cover many transatlantic and world wide sailings, however it is possible to pick out items from an individual sailing including passenger lists, drink lists, programs of entertainment, luncheon menus, abstract logs of sailing, and personal letters written by passengers aboard the ship.  With all this we are able to create a profile of what life aboard the Empress of Britain was like, including weather throughout each sailing, which prominent people were on board and what they would eat while dining with the ship’s Captain. Meanwhile, other documents allow us to compare this with what the third class passengers could expect for their meals.

Items like these highlight the depth of the Chung Collection and give us a glimpse of life in a different era. The individual items, although interesting in isolation, become much more meaningful when correlated with other material within the collection.

Here are a few examples from Box 219.

Letter written by a passenger while on board the Empress of Britain to family in Massachusetts Apartment plan for the Empress of Britain, showing all compartments and decksAbstract log from the Empress of Britain

poster-2013-page-001Every year, Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of black Canadians, past and present.  Canadians take this time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of black Canadians who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation it is today. During Black History Month Canadians can gain insight into the experiences of black Canadians and the vital role this community has played throughout our shared history.

Despite a presence in Canada that dates back farther than Samuel de Champlain’s first voyage down the St. Lawrence River, people of African descent are often absent from Canadian history books.  There is little mention of the fact that slavery once existed in the territory that is now Canada, or that many of the Loyalists who came here after the American Revolution and settled in the Maritimes were Blacks. Few Canadians are aware of the many sacrifices made in wartime by black Canadian soldiers, as far back as the War of 1812.

In an attempt to heighten awareness of black history in the United States, historian Carter G. Woodson proposed an observance to honour the accomplishments of black Americans. This led to the establishment of Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson is believed to have chosen February for this observance because the birthdays of the renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass (February 14) and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (February 12) fall in this month.  During the early 1970s, the week became known as Black History Week. It was expanded into Black History Month in 1976.  In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month, following a motion introduced by the first black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine.

The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre is proud to host a display exhibition of resources for Black History Month located on the second floor foyer display case exhibition.

Here are some resources about Black History Month

Reading list compiled by the Toronto Public Library – Link

Hogan’s Alley Resource guide created by the Vancouver Public Library – Link

Black History in Canada Education Guide - Link

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