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Biography

Aloha Wanderwell: The Border-Smashing, Record-Setting Life of the World’s Youngest Explorer
Christian Fink-Jensen and Randolph Eustace-Walden

In 1922, a 15-year-old girl, fed up with life in a French convent school, answered an ad for a travelling secretary. Tall, blonde, and swaggering with confidence, she might have passed for twenty. She also knew what she wanted: to become the first female to drive around the world. Her name was Aloha Wanderwell. The Wanderwell Expedition created a specially modified Model T Ford for the journey that featured gun scabbards and a sloped back that could fold out to become a darkroom.

Drawing upon Aloha's diaries and travel logs, as well as films, photographs, newspaper accounts, and previously classified government documents, Aloha Wanderwell reveals the astonishing story of one of the greatest — and most outrageous — explorers of the 1920s.

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Culture and Society

Secret Path
Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire

Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.

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Exploration and Geography

An Intimate Wilderness: Arctic Voices in a Land of Vast Horizons
Norman Hallendy

An Intimate Wilderness is an unforgettable and beautifully illustrated account of one man’s journeys in the eastern Arctic over 50 years, and a revealing look into the world of the Inuit. Weaving together stories from Inuit elders with his own observations, Hallendy paints an incomparable portrait of a vibrant culture in a remote landscape.

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Military and War

The Vimy Trap: or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War
Ian McKay and Jamie Swift

The Vimy battle is, some say, Canada’s heroic founding moment. Yet the myth is rather new. This important new book questions this story. “Uncomfortable and inconvenient questions are signs of a robust culture, especially when they are about war and how it is remembered. McKay and Swift have taken up the torch with vigour, detail, and irony.” R.H. Thomson, producer, The World Remembers.

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Politics, Business and Law

A Town Called Asbestos: Environmental Contamination, Health, and Resilience in a Resource Community
Jessica Van Horssen

For over a century, manufacturers from around the world relied on asbestos to produce a multitude of fire-retardant products from building materials to auto parts to household appliances. As use of the mineral became more widespread, medical professionals discovered it also had harmful effects on human health. Mining and manufacturing companies downplayed the risks to workers and the general public, but eventually, as the devastating nature of asbestos-related deaths became common knowledge, the industry suffered a slow, terminal decline.

A Town Called Asbestos looks at how the people of Asbestos, Quebec, worked and lived alongside the opencast Jeffrey Mine, the largest chrysotile asbestos mine in the world. This book unearths the local-global tensions that defined Asbestos's proud and painful history and reveals the challenges similar resource communities have faced -- and continue to face today.

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Regional Interest

The Frontier of Patriotism: Alberta and the First World War
Adriana A. Davies and Jeff Keshen

An in-depth look at all aspects of Alberta’s involvement in the First World War, reflecting Albertans’ experiences both on the battlefield and on the home front.

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Historical Fiction

Stone Woman
Bianca Lacoseljac

Stone Woman is a saga of Blossom’s unconventional family of five women, whose lives are bound by a Vietnam-War draft dodger, David, immersed in the Yorkville subculture of the hippie daze of Toronto. During the 1967 Art Symposium, a giant block of marble intended for a sculpture disappears from High Park, and the mystery of the theft becomes the focus of speculation in the Toronto arts community. The novel draws the reader into a web of liaisons and into David’s love affair with Blossom’s mother Liza, his covert dealings with her friend Anna, as well as the mysterious Helena. The intrigue culminates in the convergence of their loves and tragedies, and quests for social and cultural change inherent in the tumultuous milieu of the period. The story is brought to the present through the lives of the women’s daughters who discover that their family secrets have been sculpted literally into an art form that imparts a sense of homecoming and alludes to a more hopeful future.

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Young Readers

Li Jun and the Iron Road
Anne Tait

It's 1882 in southern China. Li Jun, a feisty homeless girl disguised as a boy called Little Tiger, works in a fireworks factory and yearns to sail across the ocean to the mysterious Gold Mountain in faraway British Columbia to find her long-lost father and fulfill her promise to her dying mother.

She joins thousands of Chinese men blasting a path for the new railway through the "impassable" Rocky Mountains. There she faces danger, deceit, and prejudice at every turn. Then, defying all the rules, she falls in love with James, the son of the railway tycoon.

Should she reveal her true identity to him? Coming from such different worlds, could they make a life together?

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