On October 23, our Late Nights at the Library team is putting together a special Halloween-themed program. Get ready for Friday Night Frights! We’ll be talking ghosts and hauntings and all that good stuff, with special guest Jaymes White. Along with some oracle reading, we’ll be delving into some local urban legends and haunts—come with your best spooky stories! Ages 18+.
If you’re like me, you love a good urban legend. Unlike older myths and folklore, the origins of urban legends can often be traced back to a source, if you really cared to find it. A lot of mid-20th century legends—campfire classics like “The Hook”, “High Beams”, and “The call is coming from inside the house…”—stemmed from newspaper advice columns, where fears about teenage impurity abounded (you know all those stories about “Lovers Lane”? That’s what happens when you get caught neckin’!). And this goes double for all the newer stories that originated on the Internet; oftentimes, we literally know who created the legend. These modern stories usually don’t concern themselves with morals, like those of the past—we’re just looking for a good spooky scare! In The Vanishing Hitchhiker, well before the dawn of the Internet, urban legend historian Jan Harold Brunvald notes that “It might seem unlikely that legends—urban legends at that—would continue to be created in an age of widespread literacy, rapid mass communications, and restless travel”, and yet here we are. It seems nothing will quell our collective desire to explore the unknown. To borrow a catchphrase from The X-Files, we want to believe.
So in honour of the spooky season, and these time-tested tales, let’s look at some urban legends—some very new and some quite old—and see how exactly they came to be the—wait for it—legends that they are today.
For increased mortality rates, that is. According to a mortality overview report by StatsCan for 2014-2016, the deadliest month in 2016 was December, followed by March, then February, then January (Figure 3, Seasonality of Deaths) – see how they’re all the winter months? It actually starts a bit earlier, in October & November, and stretches all the way till April – the months that had a higher average number of daily deaths than the annual average – but you can see that there’s a peak December through March. And seeing both as we’re headed into these deadly winter months as well as towards the start of our upcoming adult program, Crash Course in Death and Dying, I figure ’tis the season, then, to talk about death.
But it’s a bit of a taboo subject to bring up still, right? Or at least that’s the feeling I get whenever I do want to bring up death in conversation. So how do we start the conversation? Because it’s going to happen at some point in your life (well, if we’re talking about your death, it’s going to happen at a pretty predictable point in your life, actually: the end of it), and there are logistical matters to take into consideration even apart from the sentimental or spiritual aspect of it (e.g. what kind of funeral to hold, if holding one? how to deal with the body?), so it’s probably a good idea to think about it and write up your will & deal with your estate (with The Canadian Guide to Will and Estate Planning, 4th edition, for example) even before you start considering how close you may or may not be to your inevitable end or thinking about how to start talking to your loved ones about your choices.
And what better time to start thinking about wills & power of attorney, or advance care planning, than with the start of our program on death & dying that will cover Wills & Power of Attorney (Wed Oct 16, 7-8:30pm at the Bathurst Clark Resource Library with guest speaker Adam Giancola) and Advance Care Planning (Wed Oct 23, 7-8:30pm at the Bathurst Clark Resource Library with a guest speaker from Hospice Vaughan).
Register for these talks/workshops now on Eventbrite! This has been changed into a drop-in program, so please come drop into the program!
But beyond that, I’d like to mention a few death-related materials to help you become more comfortable thinking and talking about death and dying, as well as to make it easier to initiate the topic of discussion with someone who might be otherwise disinclined to talk about it (which is not to say to force them to talk about it). This post is going to be focused more on how we can be more open in discussions about death and be more prepared for our own inevitable demise.
Vaughan Public Libraries is thrilled to host award-winning author Allan Stratton for an author visit October 14th at 3:00pm! In fact, we’re even more thrilled than just thrilled, because we’re going to be having Stratton visit us for two events!
- Author Visit at Woodbridge Library (for which information you’ll find above); and
- Unleash Your Story at Pierre Berton Resource Library, which is a teen event that happens the same October 14, in the evening hours from 7:00 – 11:30pm. Remember to pre-register! (You can find some more info on the Teen Vortex for this event also.)
Stratton has been nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award under the Young People’s Literature – Text category for his new novel The Way Back Home, a teen-adult crossover title, of which he will be doing a fifteen-minute reading. Here is what the novel is about, as taken from Stratton’s site:
Zoe Bird is angry and lonely, bullied by her cousin and disbelieved by her parents. Her only true friend is her granny, whose Alzheimer’s is worsening. When her parents decide to put Granny in a home, Zoe hits the road with Granny to find her long-lost uncle. But there are hard home truths along the way.
Stratton also talks about why he wrote the book on his own site, so you can take a look at that and think about what you would like to talk to Stratton about or ask him in the Q&A session after the reading.
For more of Stratton’s works, take a look through our catalogue.
Vaughan Public Libraries appreciates the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for this reading series.