Spring and Summer exhibits at Osborne

Jack and Jill of All Trades: The World of Work in Children’s Books

Little Workers

C.M. Lowe. Little Workers. Illus. E. Stuart Hardy. London: Ernest Nister; New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., [1909]. Illustration “The Potters”, unpaged.

March 12 – June 4, 2016
An exhibition of books and ephemera depicting the changing world of work and occupations over the centuries, from eighteenth-century Cries of London
lease.

 

Three Bears and Beyond: Children’s Books About Bears 

Polar Bear's Gift

Jeanne Bushey. The Polar Bear’s Gift. Illus. Vladyana Krykorka. Red Deer, Alta.: Red Deer Press, c2000. Cover image used courtesy of Red Deer Press.

June  11 – September 3, 2016
This exhibition encompasses the real, the fictional, the iconic, the comic, and of course the cuddly bears of children’s literature, shown in books antiquarian and modern at the Osborne Collection.

 

Imaginary Places and Enchanted Realms

Hobbit 1946

J.R.R.Tolkien. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1946.

September 10 – December 3, 2016
From Neverland to Narnia, Middle Earth to the Island of Sodor, this exhibit celebrates kingdoms of the imagination in children’s books and book art.

 

 

Forthcoming Events:

 

The 13th Albert Lahmer Memorial Lecture

Margaret Crawford Maloney

Margaret Crawford Maloney, Head of the Osborne Collection 1979-1995

Thursday April 28, 8 p.m., community room,
Lillian H. Smith branch.
Margaret Crawford Maloney
“The Golden Thread Continues”
Distinguished author, and former Head of the Osborne Collection, Margaret Maloney celebrates the Golden Anniversary of the Friends with a lively illustrated lecture. Hosted by Chester and Camilla Gryski.
Join us for a special reception following the lecture.

 

The 10th annual Sybille Pantazzi Memorial Lecture

LeonardMarcus

Leonard Marcus, photo credit Elena Seibert

Thursday Sptember 29, at 8 p.m., community room,
Lillian H. Smith branch
Leonard Marcus
“Great Green Rooms of Our Making: Children’s Book Places and Their Transformations”
Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Phantom Tollbooth exemplify philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s remark that our childhood homes are the “first world” we know, the lattice upon which the thoughts, memories, and dreams that shape us grow. This illustrated lecture will consider children’s book places as symbolic reflections of the child’s quest to come face to face with the self and all that lies beyond it.

 

The 29th Helen E. Stubbs Memorial Lecture

David Day

David Day

Thursday November 3, at 8 p.m., community room, Lillian H. Smith branch.
David Day
“Let Us Compare Mythologies”
In concert with the Osborne Collection’s “Lands of Enchantment” exhibition, David Day will give a lecture that explores fantasy literature and examines how it has invaded, infiltrated and transformed our world, investigating a wide range of imaginary lands: from Utopia and Lilliput to Erewhon and Nehwon; from Wonderland and Neverland to Avalon and Earthsea; from Narnia and Oz to Krull to Westeros. All of these imaginary worlds, with varying degrees of success, have provided us with words, metaphors and ideas that have changed and enhanced our society, just as in past ages mythologies have changed and enhanced cultures and civilizations.

The main focus will be on the most successful of all modern epic fantasy writers: J.R.R. Tolkien, whose novels are set in the most complex and detailed invented world in any nation’s literature. We learn that Tolkien’s own self-proclaimed ambition was to create an authentic mythology for England comparable to that of the Greeks, Celts, Germans and Scandinavians. Day examines Middle-earth’s 37,000 year history, and reveals something of the creative process by which Tolkien conceived his Hobbits, Orcs, Ents, Balrogs, Elves, Dragons and Dwarves. He looks at how many of these creatures have invaded our world, and asks how successful Tolkien has been in his ambition to create a national mythology “… which I could dedicate simply: to England; to my country.”


 

Jill Shefrin

Jill Shelfrin

Jill Shelfrin

Jill Shefrin, distinguished scholar and former librarian at the Osborne Collection, will once again be teaching the children’s books course at the University of London’s Rare Books School in 2016:

http://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/study-training/research-training-summer-schools/london-rare-books-school/courses-2016#ChildrensBk

 

 

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2014 Lecture Podcasts

We are pleased to offer links to the podcasts of our 2014 lectures.

Linda Granfield delivers the 27th Helen E. Stubbs Memorial Lecture, “Marching in Quick Time”
Thursday October 23, 2014, 8 p.m., the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, Lillian H. Smith branch, Toronto Public Library:

Stubbs Lecture Oct 23, 2014 LHS

Kit Pearson delivers the 8th Sybille Pantazzi Memorial Lecture, Thursday November 13, 2014, 8 p.m. at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, Lillian H. Smith branch, Toronto Public Library:

Pantazzi Lecture Nov 13, 2014 LHS

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Research at Osborne

We welcome contributions of articles from new and established scholars in the field of children’s literature. Please contact Leslie McGrath, lmcgrath@torontopubliclibrary.ca for details.

Research at Osborne

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The Walker Legacy: inspiring leadership in the matter of art

The LAMPS Newsletter, December 1919

 walkers

Brian Walker, Gillian Marwick, Peter Walker

 

On September 18, 2014, the Friends of the Osborne Collection hosted a reception to mark the opening of “Lest We Forget: War in Books for Young Readers,” an exhibit curated by Elizabeth Derbecker, who also prepared the catalogue of the display.

Both the exhibit and its accompanying catalogue were dedicated to the memory of Margaret and Wentworth Walker, Life members of the Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections.

 

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Margaret Walker and Wentworth Walker

Margaret and Wentworth Walker: A Memorial Tribute
Margaret and Wentworth together made significant contributions to the cultural heritage of this city, and to Toronto Public Library’s Osborne Collection in particular. Following in the footsteps of his distinguished grandfather, Sir Edmund Walker, Wentworth Walker supported music, art and literature. A long-time member of the Arts and Letters Club, Wentworth also championed the preservation of important landmarks and natural resources through the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. On a more personal level, Wentworth was a mentor and a friend to all, from emerging scholars and young enthusiasts to experts in art and literature.  Elisabeth Margaret (née Steel) Walker, known to friends as “Margaret,” took an active role both in the Association of Women Electors as their Observer at the Board of Education and in a local Ratepayers Association, and also in building the Friends of the Osborne Collection, serving as the second Chair of the Friends Executive. In this capacity Margaret requested, and was granted, the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, who has twice visited the Osborne Collection.

Though he maintained a serene attitude, the death of Margaret in 1989 shadowed Wentworth’s life ever after. From that time, Wentworth sponsored many projects in memory of Margaret.  When Wentworth died in 2009 he had arranged a bequest for the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books. This plan, so generously realized by Margaret and Wentworth’s sons, Peter Walker and Brian Walker, was celebrated in an evening that featured speeches by the Chair of the Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections, Sylvia Lassam, the President of the Toronto Public Library Foundation, Heather Rumball, by the Senior Department Head, Leslie McGrath, and by a special guest speaker, Margaret Crawford Maloney, whose tenure as Head of the Osborne Collection spanned years of friendship with the Walkers.

sylvia

Sylvia Lassam

Margaret shared some delightful reminiscences of happy years, including a remarkable anecdote of Wentworth calmly swinging from a high chandelier at the Arts and Letters Club when a faulty ladder broke beneath him, and the complex work behind a visit to Osborne by a member of the Royal Family.

 maloney

 Margaret Crawford Maloney

Elizabeth Derbecker then escorted guests on a tour through the exhibit, “Lest We Forget,” which was designed to offer a context for parents and educators to use in introducing children to a difficult topic. One of the most successful Osborne exhibits to date, the display attracted visitors from across the city. This exhibit and its accompanying catalogue was very well reviewed, with one critic noting “It will gain the library many new friends be they bibliophiles, historians or friends of young readers’ literature.” (Wiebke Smyth, Ex Libris). In a congratulatory letter about the exhibit and catalogue, Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, wrote “I was delighted to learn of this wonderful initiative…I commend your efforts to ensure younger generations are aware of the proud history of the Allied and Canadian Armed Forces…It is imperative that today’s children understand that the freedoms they enjoy today are a direct result of the sacrifices made by brave men and women many years ago.”  We believe Wentworth and Margaret would have appreciated the spirit of the exhibit, and would have been particularly pleased by the wide audience it attracted.

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 lestweforget

 

 derbecker

Elizabeth Derbecker

Refreshments were provided by the Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections, who joined the Foundation, Toronto Public Library and the Toronto Public Library Foundation in paying tribute to Margaret and Wentworth, and to their sons, Peter and Brian, and their families, for making the  Margaret and Wentworth Walker Endowment Fund an enduring legacy.

 

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An evening with author and storyteller Jan Andrews

Please join us for the
12th Albert Lahmer Memorial Lecture

Thursday March 19, 2015
8 p.m., Community Room, Lillian H. Smith branch
(admission is free)

An evening with author and storyteller

Jan Andrews


Into the Darkness and Out:
Dreams of a Children’s Author for Her Readers,
Young and Grown

Young people read for reading’s sake. Often they want to be swept away to far off times and places, they want to have vicarious adventures, share likely and unlikely lives. I relish this, respecting their choices. I would not for one minute deny them the joys of the Hardy Boys or the Baby-Sitters Club or even Enid Blyton’s much-denigrated Famous Five. When I look at my own work, however, I have to admit to a hidden agenda—a theme which has been interwoven with my writing almost since the beginning; a theme which forms the underpinning to everything I create. I guess it might be called “the big idea.” It comes from who I am: from being born in England in 1942; from growing up with rationing and the omnipresence of bomb sites; from hearing stories of “the war” told over and over by adults all around. At heart, it has to do with knowledge of strength and with survival, with recognizing that always there is choice. It carries with it those dreams for my readers I have included in the title for the 12th Albert Lahmer Memorial Lecture. The “hidden agenda” is what the lecture will be about.

Jan Andrews

Jan Andrews

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Storybook Parade

June 14 – September 6, 2014

An Exhibit

at the

Osborne Collection

Come and see “Storybook Parade” in which children’s literary characters leave the printed page to “come alive” in a variety of manufactured and hand-made goods.

PeterRabbitBeswick

[Porcelain figurine]: Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. [Stoke-on-Trent], England: Beswick, [between 1955 and 1972]

Alice, Anne of Green Gables, Peter Pan, Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger of The Wind in the Willows, Pinocchio, Curious George, the Little Prince, Max and the Wild Things—these figures and many others are cherished by generations. Character-based toys, dolls and games extend the child’s experience of story, providing comfort, companionship and entertainment. Beautiful decorative objects, such as fabrics, stationary, figurines, tins, dishes, vases and clothing invoke nostalgia in adults, and become treasured memorabilia.

The relationship between children’s books and merchandising is longstanding—pioneering children’s publisher John Newbery sold his Little Pretty Pocket Book (ca. 1744) accompanied by a ball or pincushion as an enticement to buyers. The run-away success of the children’s poem “The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast,” first published in 1806, led to numerous imitations and an early tie-in—a printed textile, with illustrations based on those of the first edition. Designs by popular Victorian children’s illustrator Kate Greenaway rapidly gave rise to buttons, tiles and other decorative items, while Beatrix Potter herself took an active interest in the merchandising potential of her creations. Today, with media tie-ins and licensing controlled by large corporations, children’s book “spin-offs” are big business. Many characters have become global brands, generating millions, if not billions, in annual revenues.

In addition to commercially-produced merchandise, a number of hand-crafted literary tie-ins will be shown: papier-mâché Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet figures, hand-painted Alice doilies, hand-sewn dolls and stuffed toys. These offer touching proof of their makers’ deep attachment to stories and characters.

Admission is free.

Exhibit prepared by Martha Scott.

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Lest We Forget: War in Books for Young Readers

September 15 – December 6, 2014

Exhibit

at the

Osborne Collection

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, please come and see our upcoming special exhibit, and consider joining us for our two memorial lectures by distinguished Canadian authors who have written for children about war:

Poster for Exhibit and Lectures

Poster for Exhibit and Lectures

(Illustration ©2013 by Brian Deines from The Road to Afghanistan by Linda Granfield, published by North Winds Press, and imprint of Scholastic Canada. Reproduced by permission of the publisher.)

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The war, 1914: a history and an explanation for boys and girls by Elizabeth O’Neill. With illustrations. London; Edinburgh: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1914.

The year 2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of World War I, an anniversary commemorated at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books with an exhibit “Lest We Forget: War in Books for Young Readers.” The Great War is comparatively distant in the public memory, and preoccupied as the world is with more recent conflicts, it has become the task of teachers, curators and historians to remind rising generations of the struggles that came before them. Toronto Public Library’s Osborne Collection provides a different perspective in that its several diverse collections are gathered under the Osborne aegis, but they are all joined by a common theme: they are books written about and for children.

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At war! Text and drawings by Charlotte Schaller. London: Grant Richards, 1917.

Bobby can’t believe his ears … he has been told of a great war. Oh! Yes!
It must be really true, as it is written in the paper.

020_Mrs Bunnys Refugee_Page 28 and 29

Mrs. Bunny’s Refugee by Angusine MacGregor. London ; Glasgow ; Bombay : Blackie and Son, [ca. 1918?].

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Mrs. Bunny’s Refugee by Angusine MacGregor. London ; Glasgow ; Bombay : Blackie and Son, [ca. 1918?].

The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books began as a grouping of English children’s books collected by an English librarian, Edgar Osborne. The scope of this exhibit reflects the British and Canadian origins of the Collection, as well as the cultural diversity of Canada today shown through our modern notable books. Though exhibit space is limited, a remarkable assortment of books and book art has been included, as well as a small selection of periodicals, popular series  books and ephemera.

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Our hospital ABC [Anzac, British, Canadian]. Pictures by Joyce Dennys. Verses by Hampden Cordon & M.C. Tindall. London: John Lane, The Bodley Head; New York: John Lane Company; Toronto: S.B. Gundy, [1916].

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Alphabet de la Grande Guerre 1914-1916. Texte et dessins de André Hellé. Paris-Nancy: Berger-Levrault, 1916.

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A V.A.D. in Salonika: a tale of a girl’s work in the Great War by Marchant, Bessie. Illustrated by John E. Sutcliffe. London: Blackie & Son, Ltd. [1917].

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L’Alsace heureuse : la grande pitié du pays d’Alsace et son grand bonheur racontés aux petits enfants par l’oncle Hansi. Avec quelques images tristes et beaucoup d’images gaies. Paris: H. Floury, [1919].

Ce livre est dédié aux enfants de ceux qui ont donné leur vie pour le salut de la France
et la libération de l’Alsace et de la Lorraine.

053_Topical ABC_W is for warden

My topical ABC by Charles Tacey and Dorothy Dealtry. London: John F. Shaw, [1940].

The books prepared by the curator of this exhibit, Elizabeth Derbecker, range from tales of courage and valour that inspired and indoctrinated generations of young readers, to honest portrayals of horrific events witnessed by children. Most of the stories tell of bravery, sacrifice and loss, but convey messages of hope in their repeated wish for peace.

  Empire Day in the schools of Ontario, Friday, May twenty-second, 1942. [Toronto]: Ontario Dept. of Education, [1942] 40 pages: illustrations, portraits; 25 cm.

Empire Day in the schools of Ontario, Friday, May twenty-second, 1942. [Toronto]: Ontario Dept. of Education, [1942].

The exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Margaret and Wentworth Walker whose lives were devoted to service and to the cultivation of the arts and literature. The sponsorship of the Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections in publishing this catalogue, and in many other areas of collection support, is acknowledged with deep gratitude.

Leslie McGrath
Senior Department Head
Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books
 

Having begun this enterprise with the imperative “lest we forget”, there can be no more evocative words to use at closing than those etched on the memorial at the Hiroshima Peace Park:

This is our cry, this is our prayer: Peace in the world.

Elizabeth Derbecker

 

The 27th annual

Helen E. Stubbs Memorial Lecture

 Thursday October 23, 2014. 8 p.m.,

Community room, Lillian H. Smith branch

 Linda Granfield

Marching in Quick Time

Linda Granfeild

Linda Granfield (Photo by Studio Anka)

Linda Granfield is one of Canada’s most distinguished authors of nonfiction books for children. Her works include Cowboy (1993), Canada Votes (1990), Amazing Grace (1997) and Pier 21: Gateway of Hope (2001). Linda’s books about war have brought awareness to a new generation about the sacrifices that were made to ensure our freedom. Linda has won numerous awards and honours, including the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work and the Best Books selection of In Flanders Fields by the Internationale Jugendbibliothek.

The 8th annual

Sybille Pantazzi Memorial Lecture

 Thursday November 13, 8 p.m.,

Community room, Lillian H. Smith branch

 Kit Pearson

The Sanctuary of Story

Kit Pearson

Kit Pearson

Kit Pearson is the author of many distinguished books for young readers, including the Guests of War trilogy. Her novel Awake and Dreaming (1996) won the Governor-General’s Award for children’s fiction. Among other honours she has twice been the recipient of the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year Award, as well as winning the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work.

On Friday 12 May 2012, The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books and the Friends of the Osborne Collection hosted a section of From the Garden to the Trenches: Childhood Culture and the First World War, a conference partly sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC), Brock University, Trinity College, the University of Toronto, Mirvish Productions and the Leverhulme Foundation of the UK. The Canadian conference was part of the Leverhulme-supported network  Approaching War: Childhood, Culture and the First World War, with partners in at the University of Newcastle and the University of Technology, Sydney Australia; and the co-hosts acknowledge with thanks the inclusion of the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, Toronto Public Library, in this program.

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Margaret and Wentworth Walker: A Memorial Tribute

Introduction

 

treeThe story of Margaret and Wentworth Walker is a remarkable account of two extraordinary people. The warmth and generosity of their support of Toronto Public Library, among many worthy causes, was matched only by their modesty and reticence. Yet as patrons of all that makes Toronto an outstanding city, they would not hesitate to encourage others to join them in continuing to build our cultural resources.

WentworthandMargaretWalker

Wentworth and Margaret Walker (date unknown).

This year, we have received a bequest made by Wentworth Walker to the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, planned in memory of Margaret Walker and completed by the Walker family, together with a special donation of books. The Margaret and Wentworth Walker Endowment Fund will greatly enhance our ability to purchase rare and notable books beyond the library’s regular budget. Though the Walkers are missed as friends and colleagues by all who had the privilege of knowing them, their legacy lives on at Osborne, and can be seen in the beautiful books and art that surround visitors to the Collection.

Leslie McGrath
Senior Department Head,
Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books
Toronto Public Library

The Walker Legacy: inspiring leadership in the matter of art

The LAMPS Newsletter, December 1919                                                       

An institution’s story is not only told by the physical bricks and mortar that construct it, but also by the people who are involved within it. The papers of Wentworth Dillon Walker and his wife Elisabeth Margaret (née Steel) Walker tell many stories of their varied contributions to Toronto’s cultural community in general and The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books and The Arts & Letters Club in particular. Though the quote above is describing Wentworth’s grandfather, Sir Edmund Walker, it could and should also be applied to Wentworth and Margaret.

Wentworth remarked that his grandfather had a “tremendous influence” in his life. Sir Edmund Walker was a founding member and inaugural chairman of the Royal Ontario Museum, endowing it financially and with pieces from his own collection. He also co-founded the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Canadian Society of Authors, and, as Honorary President, re-organized and strengthened the operation of the Mendelssohn Choir. The elder Walker was involved in an effort to establish pictorial records of World War I, as he wanted to showcase not only Canada’s role in the war, but also its artistic output, and the advancement in art over the war years more generally. Given the Walker legacy, it is unsurprising that the lasting influence of Wentworth’s grandfather was in cultural involvement and philanthropy.

WentworthWalkerPhysics

Wentworth Walker receiving the physics prize from Appleby School (now College) for 1935.

Margaret met Wentworth when they were colleagues at the National Trust Company. As both were lovers of music, art and culture—with Margaret the ardent reader, and Wentworth with his heritage of cultural patronage—their attraction was immediate and compelling. They married in 1942, with Wentworth entering the army shortly thereafter. Two years later, he was discharged for health reasons. This allowed the couple the opportunity to settle in Toronto, where they could participate in the city’s blossoming cultural community and raise their sons, Brian and Peter. Despite the horrors of war, Wentworth saw his time served as an extremely valuable experience. He remarked that it was an education in its own right, as he “learned to live with other kinds of people…becom[ing] sensitive to their interests and concerns” (Cronin). Being interpersonally attuned was a focal point for both Wentworth and Margaret, both in their immediate relationships and in the larger community.

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Membership card issued to Wentworth Walker for his 21st birthday, 1938. Courtesy of the Arts and Letters Club Archives.

For his twenty-first birthday in 1938, Wentworth received a membership to the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, a gift that he cherished for the rest of his life. This gift carried on the Walker family tradition, as both Sir Edmund and Edmund Murton Walker, Sir Edmund’s son and Wentworth’s uncle, also held memberships at the prestigious club. Wentworth’s affinity for theatre production originated from his university years, after he realized studying math and physics was not for him. An involvement with Hart House Theatre soon lead Wentworth to pursue other opportunities with the Central Ontario Region of the Dominion Drama Festival, the Toronto Children Players, and the John Holden Players, where he performed stage managing and lighting duties. Despite his predilection for theatre, “Wenty” (as he was affectionately called) was never much of an actor, seeing himself as too self-conscious, too “wooden” a character. Though he saw himself as lacking the creative skills that characterized members of the Arts and Letters Club—he never excelled at any instrument, despite his father’s artistic sensibilities and the music that enveloped his childhood—Wentworth conceived of himself as a catalyst, uniting people and ideas, an important force in his own right.

Over the course of her life, Margaret also devoted her time to numerous and varied associations. She served as an active member and President of the Association of Women Electors (alongside her good friend Theresa Falkner), an organization that encouraged women to engage with public affairs.

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“Getting out the Vote on Election Day” (Globe and Mail, Nov. 17, 1964).  Margaret Walker (2nd from right) and another member of the Association of Women Electors [AWE] advertise all candidates’ meetings before the December election.

MargaretPic

Globe and Mail (date unknown).

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MargaretMayor

Above: Margaret Walker (3rd from left) with other members of the AWE;  Below: Margaret Walker receives recognition of the contribution of the AWE to good government in Toronto from the Mayor, Art Eggleton (dates unknown). Courtesy of the Walker family.

For a quarter of a century, Margaret held the position of observer at the Toronto Board of Education. In this role, she wrote reports on meetings that would assist the board in its public service activities. She also held the post of the Vice-President of the North Rosedale Ratepayers Association.

It was during the postwar years that Margaret first learned of the Osborne Collection, and her affection and involvement increased over the years. A year after the Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections was established in 1966, Margaret became its second Chair. That Margaret was nominated to occupy this significant role during the group’s formative years is a testament to her leadership, passion, and vision. In a letter dated January 1967, June E. Munro writes that the committee was “sure that under [Margaret’s] leadership the programme should be strengthened and extended”—and it was.

Though her tenure in this role was brief—having served from 1967-69—those three years were a monumental period in the Friends’ growth. Margaret’s chief accomplishment was securing the patronage of H.R.H. Princess Alexandra Ogilvy for the Friends in 1969, as she felt that having a royal patron would truly signify the historical background and importance of the collection. During Margaret’s tenure, the Osborne Collection became more visible and comprehensive through a visit from both H.R.H. Princess Alexandra and world-renowned children’s author Maurice Sendak, the presentation of Queen Mary’s Collection of Children’s Books, the purchase of a collection about the Taylors of Ongar, and the beginning of an advisory relationship with Oxford University Press editor William Toye. Such a relationship would become increasingly important as the Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections continued to add breadth to their facsimile publication collection.

Like Margaret, Wentworth was also an appreciator of beautiful things. He joined the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario in 1963, where he fought to preserve the province’s architectural heritage through fundraising and educational initiatives. He would later serve as both a council member and as chair of the advisory board, providing architectural counselling to people who were interested in restoring interesting houses. He remained involved with the ACO until a serious accident in 1991 forced him to resign. A recognition of the beauty of the natural world also prompted Wentworth to volunteer with the Federation of Ontario Naturalists.

Though Wentworth’s career was with Shell Canada, he saw an involvement in the arts as a logical complement to his business career. Unsurprisingly, given his predilection for theatre, his initial participation in the Arts and Letters Club was performing stage and lighting duties for the club’s spring revue and Christmas parties.

WentworthRandolph

Wentworth Walker (on right), with Randolph MacDonald, at the Arts & Letters Club production of “Oblomoff” by John Coulter. Photo taken by John Fleetwood Morrow,  March 8, 1945.

He later immersed himself in the dynamic activities of the club, faithfully contributing to its newsletter, proposing new members, updating the club’s bylaws and constitution, organizing and participating in the Literary Table, and serving as club secretary (1974-76) and chair of the membership committee (1980-81). Wentworth often credited this diversity of interests and natural curiosity to his grandfather. Such enthusiastic involvement is likely what earned him a partial dedication in fellow member Susan Ioannou’s poetry collection Where the Light Waits.

WentworthPortrait

Portrait of Wentworth Walker taken by Jim Parr, March 1995. Courtesy of the Arts and Letters Club Archives.

In 2002—for his 85th birthday and his 64th anniversary of membership—Wentworth received a book with a collection of poems, drawings, quotations, paintings, and letters that celebrated him as well as his years of service to the Club.

Ever the intrepid explorer, Wentworth helped to discover a large photographic collection by venturing through an old trap door in the Club in the spring of 1966. The Club’s archive was made all the richer for this adventure, but was also enhanced through his continued donation of personal photographs, newsletters, and newspaper clippings. As an Arts and Letters Club life member, Wentworth proved to be a stabilizing force in later years, as he identified many of the photographs in the Club’s archive. Much like his father, Wentworth was an extraordinary storyteller, a gift that he used to provide an oral account of the Club at an event in 1998.

Given the centrality of art and culture to his own life, it is unsurprising that Wentworth introduced the Club to an ever-growing audience of people. He frequently extended Arts and Letters Club membership invitations to artists, professors, students, writers, and architects, as he believed that a rich tapestry of backgrounds, viewpoints, and education would benefit all members. Wentworth had an affinity for young people in particular, with his actions demonstrating open friendliness and his words revealing genuine interest.

In 1982, Wentworth’s egalitarian approach to membership was yet again widened, as Wentworth suggested that women be allowed as lunch guests at the club on Mondays. This was quite a controversial idea at the time, given that prior motions to include women in the club in a meaningful way were seen as “an offense against males” and were readily shut down (McBurney 65). Fortunately, Wentworth’s proposal was adopted, ultimately precipitating the extension of membership to women in 1985.

Over the course of their involvement with the Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections, Wentworth and Margaret became valued and esteemed members. The couple donated extensively to various causes, whether it was expanding the materials in the Collection (such as their donation of two record sets of E. B. White recordings and A. A. Milne’s A Gallery of Children), disseminating research and knowledge (as they did when Wentworth sponsored lectures published as occasional papers in Margaret’s memory), recognizing an individual’s contribution to the collection, or improving the materials and facilities more generally (by donating picture frames or money for a new PA system). They also contributed to the Osborne’s extensive cataloguing project on several occasions. However, beyond their monetary beneficence to the Osborne, Wentworth and Margaret were also great contributors to the discourse that surrounded the collection, attending lectures, meetings, and strategic planning discussions. Such fervent, multifaceted involvement was not limited to their membership as Friends, but was typical of their membership in other associations as well.

Margaret and Wentworth were original donors to the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Trust Fund when it began in 1975. After Margaret died in 1989 from a long, debilitating illness, Wentworth honoured her memory through a lifetime Friends membership, eventually becoming one of the longest-term members. In Margaret’s memory, various members made donations to the Friends. The funds were used to purchase the Cries of London, published in London by Elizabeth Newbery (1799) and two watercolour paintings by Canadian artist Brenda Clark for Monica Hughes’s Little Fingerling (1989). The always genial and gracious Wentworth made sure to thank every donor and extend his gratitude personally. Wentworth was extraordinarily aware of his relationships with others; he always made a concerted effort to note dates, circumstances, and times so that he could draw on these notes when he later reconnected with someone. It is evident how deep and meaningful his relationships were, as he was often the author of tributes to various members of the Arts and Letters Club.

A theme in Margaret’s favourite book, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, is the beauty and importance of connection and relationships; this is a belief that both Margaret and Wentworth embodied. Perhaps more important than the donations they made or the roles they took, the Walkers’ legacy continues to live on in the hearts of those that knew them. Both were exceptionally private individuals, reluctant to receive recognition for their actions or their donations. Writings to and about the couple make frequent mention of their kindness, generosity, and devotion to the welfare of others. The pair often brought people together, forging new connections and relationships. Both Wentworth and Margaret were constantly sourcing unique books on art, history, and poetry to diversify the holdings of the Arts and Letters Club. A great number of these books featured influential Canadians, as the couple thought people should know the legacy of their city, its cultural heritage, and the citizens who created it. With the organization of the Walker Family fonds and the publication of this biography, people can learn about Toronto’s cultural heritage and two of the figures who helped shape it.

Ali Versluis
Archivist for the Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections

Works Cited

“Canada’s War Records on Canvas.” The LAMPS (Dec. 1919): n. pag. LAMPSLetters. Arts and Letters Club. Web. 07 July 2012.

Cronin, Fergus. Interview with Wentworth Walker. Arts and Letters Club Archives (1992): n.pag. Print.

McBurney, Margaret. The Great Adventure: 100 Years at the Arts & Letters Club. Toronto: Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, 2007. Print.

Munro, June E. Letter to Margaret Walker. January 1967.

 

For more information on Wentworth and Margaret’s activities:

Arts and Letters Club Archives at the Arts and Letters Club. 14 Elm St., Toronto.

LAMPSletters newsletters published by The Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

Walker Family Fonds at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books. 239 College St., Toronto.

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The Middle Ages in Books for Children

Come and be dazzled by the middle ages and see the exhibit of children’s books and art celebrating medieval history, tales and legends.

September 14 – December 7
Mon. to Fri from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.-6
Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books
Located on the 4th floor of Lillian H. Smith branch
239 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1R5

Admission is free.
Groups, please call ahead, (416) 393-7753.

What do Valentine and Orson, the two sons of the Emperour [sic] of Greece (1688), the Jell-O advertising booklet Robin Hood’s Toll (1923), The Paper Bag Princess (1980) and The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane (2012) have in common? All utilize stories, settings, and/or characters from medieval literature and history. This exhibit brings together materials from Osborne Collection holdings which relate to the thousand-year period, spanning 500 to 1500, known as the Middle Ages. Tales of chivalry, knightly deeds, damsels, tournaments, castles, dragons, pageantry and quests are central to our romanticized view of the Middle Ages. Many modern writers of “creative nonfiction” take the opportunity to engage with multiple perspectives when presenting medieval history to children. Among the titles on view in case 14 are: Saladin, Noble Prince of Islam and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies, a collection of monologues for children as spoken by young people living in or around a thirteenth-century English manor. The varied cast includes characters ranging from lord’s daughter and miller’s son, to runaway and beggar.

The exhibit includes:

Cases 1 to 9
Present retelling of stories which originated in, or were popular during the Middle Ages: Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the legendary tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood, among others. Also included are children’s biographies of Joan of Arc, the national heroine of France, who lived during the fifteenth century.

Cases 10 to 12
Historical and fantasy fiction, set during medieval times. These are divided by original date of publication: from the nineteenth-century classic Ivanhoe, to Linda Sue Park’s Newbery Award-winning A Single Shard (2001), set in twelfth-century Korea. Here you will also find Osborne’s recently acquired first British edition of The Sword in the Stone, T.H. White’s fantasy novel about the boyhood of King Arthur.

Case 13
Additional tales and legends, such as the stories of Marie de France, El Cid, national epic of Spain, and Sundiata: Lion King of Mali. By no means an exhaustive selection, these represent a few among many books held at the Osborne Collection which contain medieval legends and folklore.

Cases 15 to 17
Explore these popular topics. Case 17, in particular, looks at the dragon slayer myth, from the legend of St. George, to Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon and J.R.R. Tolkien’s mock-heroic Farmer Giles of Ham.

Case 19
The invention of moveable type by Johannes Gutenberg, 1450. Gutenberg’s invention revolutionized humankind’s relationship to knowledge and the printed word, and helped launch Europe into the modern era. Books about Gutenberg, as well as examples of early printed books from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are displayed in this case.

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Incredible Journeys

View the Osborne Collection’s exhibit of children’s books and art celebrating travel. Come and explore amazing destinations and modes of  transport, from Gulliver’s Travels and Around the World in Eighty Days to  Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and The Jolly Jump-Ups Journey Through Space. It could be a walk around the block, or a trip to the moon, children’s book characters are on the move!

This is an ongoing exhibit event running from
Saturday June 22, 2013 to  Saturday September 7, 2017
4th floor of Lillian H. Smith branch
               239 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1RSIncredibleJourneys

 

 

 

For more information, please contact Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books at 416-393-7753.

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