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Ontario Picnics

We remember picnics. They stick with us in a way that other things don't. Maybe it's because the history of picnics is essentially the history of humankind and hence so imprinted upon us. Picnicking is a return to who we are as a species—we and our earliest primate ancestors have been eating outdoors for over 55 million years. It's really only relatively recently on the human evolutionary timeline that we stopped being nomads, formed permanent settlements, began to tend crops, and moved further and further indoors.

The following images are from Ontario Picnics: A Century of Dining Outdoors, available now from your favourite bookseller.

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Photo of two girls and a boy taking tea outdoors in old fashioned clohting

Tea Party at Mr. McCurry's, Ottawa, October 10, 1892

"...Photo taken by James Ballentyne, who founded both the Ottawa Literary and Scientific Society, and the Ottawa Camera Club. He was an extremely talented amateur photographer."

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Two Indigenous women having a picnic with four children. They're all wearing bonnets and fine dresses.

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On Telling the Truth in Politics

The Queer Evangelist is Cheri DiNovo's story of her life as a queer minister, politician and staunch activist for LGBTQ rights. She shares how she went from living on the streets as a teenager to performing the first legalized same-sex marriage registered in Canada in 2001. From rights for queer parents to banning conversion therapy, her story will inspire people (queer or ally) to not only resist the system—but change it.

The following excerpt takes place during her time as an MPP for Parkdale-High Park in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, where she served from 2006 to 2017.

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There’s an old saying, “If you’re going to dine with the Devil, you’d better have a very long spoon.” The maneuvering included timing the introduction of bills, getting the press involved if an important human rights bill wasn’t going to be put forward, and as always bringing activist pressure to bear on the process. It all took a lot of work and my terrific team to carry it off. In that regard, politics, like most careers, involves, well, politics. Once you lose your idealism about partisanship, you can actually accomplish an amazing amount on behalf of the marginalized. As a socialist, I should have had no illusions about capitalist governments, and I only really harbo …

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The Chat with Derek Mascarenhas

Coconut Dreams - Author Photo - Credit Khadeja Reid

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Derek Mascarenhas' debut collection of short fiction, Coconut Dreams (Book*hug), explores the lives of Aiden and Ally Pinto and their family, and connects their world in suburban Ontario with the family’s ancestral village in Goa.

In a starred review, Quill and Quire says “Mascarenhas is brilliant in capturing the first-generation immigrant experience, with attention given to the particularities of being a South Asian kid growing up in a mostly white suburban town. The innocence of childhood is mired in the depths of something unseen but deeply felt.”

Derek Mascarenhas is a graduate of the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing Program, a finalist and runner-up for the Penguin Random House of Canada Student Award for Fiction, and a nominee for the Marina Nemat Award. His fiction has been published in places such as Joyland, The Dalhousie Review, Switchback, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Antigonish Review. Derek is one of four children born to parents who emigrated from Goa, India, and set …

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The Chat with Kevin Hardcastle

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This week on The Chat we’re in conversation with Kevin Hardcastle. His debut novel In the Cage—about an ex-MMA fighter named Daniel trying to do right—is receiving rave reviews across the country.

The Globe and Mail called it a “fierce and beautiful novel." The Toronto Star says that “Hardcastle has a talent for sketching believable but noir-tinged criminal types with a few quick details and gestures.

Kevin Hardcastle is a fiction writer from Simcoe County, Ontario. He studied writing at the University of Toronto and Cardiff University. He was a finalist for the 2012 Journey Prize, and his stories have been published widely in Canada and anthologized internationally. Hardcastle’s debut short story collection, Debris, won the Trillium Book Award and the ReLit Award for Short Fiction.

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THE CHAT WITH KEVIN HARDCASTLE

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Trevor Cor …

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Catch These Authors at Canada's July Lit Fests in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia

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Yeehah! The festival season is beginning, so we're highlighting the final lists of authors appearing at the first four of the season: The Lakefield Literary Festival (Lakefield, ON), the Saskatchewan Festival of Words (Moosejaw, SK), Read by the Sea (River John, NS) and the Leacock Summer Festival (Orillia, ON). In a couple of weeks we'll do the same for Canada's August Lit Fests.

The Lakefield Literary Festival, running July 12–14, includes:

  • Linda Bailey
  • John Bell
  • John Boyko
  • Jean Murray Cole
  • Connie Brummel Crook
  • Lauren B. Davis
  • Michael Epp
  • Douglas Gibson
  • Thomas King
  • Lewis MacLeod
  • Enid Mallory
  • Lee Maracle
  • Esperança Melo
  • Alison Pick
  • Bill Slavin
  • Linda Spalding
  • Drew Hayden Taylor
  • Kathleen Winter

You can purchase tickets via this page.

The 17th Saskatchewan Festival of Words (Moosejaw) running July 18–21, includes:

  • Angie Abdou
  • Annabel Lyon
  • Candace Savage
  • Carmen Aguirre
  • CS Richardson
  • Catherine Banks
  • CJ Katz
  • Dave Bidini
  • Ken Babstock
  • Dawn Dumont
  • Greg Johnson
  • Linda Spalding
  • Melanie Schnell
  • Marie Louise Gay
  • Mary Balogh
  • Miranda Hill
  • Rosemary Griebel
  • Rabindranath Maharaj
  • Robert Currie
  • Ross King
  • Sheri-D Wilson
  • Shana Stock
  • Tom Wayman
  • Zoe Whittall
  • Wayne Arthurson

For the schedule, click here and to purchase tickets click here …

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Enter to Win a Collection of the 2013 Trillium Award Finalists

The contenders for Ontario's 2013 Trillium Award—Ontario's leading literature award, with past winners including including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Timothy Findley, and Anne Michaels—are formidable.

Any one of these books would demand top billing on your nightstand and an indulgent evening or two in to take them in, but the Ontario Media Development Corporation has given us permission to post a contest today in which the winner will receive the entire English-language 2013 shortlist; please see the full list here with all the details on the books. You just need to guess which finalist will win the award!

Just click on the "Pick a Winner, Be a Winner" tab in the top, right-hand corner of this page. Click on that tab to open the poll and enter to win. The contest closes at 5:00 pm ET, Tuesday, June 18.

We will draw for the winner June 19, and announce him/her shortly after that. Good luck!

NB: For those in Toronto, several of the shortlisted authors will be reading on the evening of June 17, 2013, at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street. There is no admission fee or RSVP required to attend—it is first come, first seated. Doors will open to the public at 6:30 pm, and the readings will commence at 7:00 pm. Please contact trillium2013@omdc.on.ca for further information.

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