Thursday 27 February 2014

The International Festival of Authors featuring the authors nominated for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize


The International Festival of Authors’ 40th season continues in March with an event featuring the authors nominated for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize.
All five finalists for this year’s RBC Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction will take the stage at Harbourfront Centre for a lively panel discussion. Join Charlotte Gray (The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country), Thomas King (The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America), J.B. MacKinnon (The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be), Graeme Smith (The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan), and David Stouck (Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life) for an event like no other.
This panel discussion is supported by Maclean’s MagazineIt will take place at 7:30pm in the York Quay Centre along the waterfront (235 Queens Quay West). Tickets are $10 to the general public, FREE for supporters of the IFOA, students and youth 25 and under with ID. 

Media interested in covering this event should contact Stephen Weir at

Presented annually to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception, the RBC Taylor Prize recognizes excellence in Canadian non-fiction writing and emphasizes the development of the careers of the authors it celebrates.Since its inception as The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, the Prize has helped engage Canadians in literary non-fiction and boost sales of its finalists’ books. The winner of this year's $25,000 prize will be announced Monday, March 10.

The RBC Taylor Prize was founded to commemorate the life of the late Charles Taylor, one of Canada ’s foremost essayists and a prominent member of the Canadian literary community. Charles Taylor was a foreign correspondent with The Globe and Mail and the author of four books: Radical ToriesReporter in Red China,Six Journeys: A Canadian Pattern, and Snow Job.

The Trustees of the Charles Taylor Prize Foundation are Michael Bradley ( Toronto ), David Staines (Ottawa), and Noreen Taylor ( Toronto ). The Foundation gratefully acknowledges the support of RBC Wealth Management as its presenting sponsor, along with its major sponsor Metropia, and greatly appreciates the support of its media sponsors CNW Group,
The Globe and MailMaclean’s Magazine,  The Huffington Post CanadaGlobal TelevisionQuill & Quire Magazine, and CBC.CA, and its in-kind sponsors IFOABen McNally BooksEvent Source, and The Omni King Edward Hotel.
Since its inception in 1974, IFOA has hosted over 8,500 authors from more than 100 countries, including over 20 Nobel Laureates. Their season runs from September to June and includes the annual International Festival of Authors (October 23–November 2, 2014), including Young IFOA and IFOA Ontario, and the annual ALOUD: a Celebration for Young Readers with Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™ (May 14–15, 2014).
For further information, please visit:
Follow the Prize on Twitter: @taylorprize 
Follow IFOA on Twitter: @IFOA
Visit IFOA online:
To download high-resolution images related to the 2014 prize, please
Issued by/Media Contact:
Stephen Weir & Associates, Publicists, RBC Taylor Prize
Stephen Weir: Direct: 416.489.5868 | cell: 416.801.3101 |
Linda Crane: Direct: 416.727.0112 |
IFOA Media Contact:
Maeve O’Regan:; 416-973-5836

Saturday 8 February 2014

Muppets, Puppets and Buckets Of Mucus at the Science Centre

Where in the world is Dr Jay?

William Doyle-Marshall interviews Dr. Jay and Dr. Julielynn Wong

Today he was at the Ontario Science Centre. Pictured, radio host William Doyle-Marshall interviews medical doctor Julielynn Wong and her puppet Dr. Jay. The two doctors were taking part in a special media family day at the Science Centre -- they were talking to the media and their children about public health care issues during their visit to a new children's health exhibition at the Toronto facility.

Julielynn Wong is a Harvard-educated, award-winning physician and journalist. Dr. Wong trained in public health and preventive medicine and serves on faculty at Singularity University, where she co-founded the Health and Wellness Program. She is a blogger for Huffington Post.

And Dr Jay?  Dr Wong says he is originally from New York City and now lives in a large suitcase here in Toronto. Dr. Jay will have his radio debut on William Doyle-Marshall's CHYR-fm show this Tuesday (spoiler alert - Dr Jay isn't much for radio -- he lets Dr Wong do all the talking).

The media family day was in conjunction with The Science Centre's newly opened exhibition -- the Body -- which is being stage in concert with the long running Sesame Street TV Show. 

Created by Sesame Workshop, Sesame Street Presents: The Body is an engaging, free-flowing learning experience set in the fun, familiar and reassuring world of Sesame Street. The Muppets anchor an exciting collection of interactive multimedia experiences that allow children to study the human body and learn how to keep it healthy. Each exhibit area has multiple activities to provide exciting, age-appropriate learning opportunities for children at a variety of developmental levels. The exhibition emphasizes scientific investigation and developmental learning goals for children ranging from two to eight years old.

From big, squishy noses to fuzzy, furry feet, Sesame Street Presents: The Body allows children to learn about the human body from the inside out. Pictured is a giant nose and a bucket of mucus - all part of an interactive display within the Body exhibition.

Friday 7 February 2014

Murder in Toronto the Good (back on February 8, 1915)

  Canadian Best Seller On The Shortlist For The RBC Taylor Prize

99-years ago tomorrow, Bert Massey was shot to death on the steps of his modest 169 Walmer Rd home by his live-in 18-year old housemaid.

Award winning Canadian historian Charlottte Gray's The Massey Murder. A Maid, Her Master And the Trial That Shocked Country is a true Toronto crime story that rolls the curtain back on one of the city's most important families and examines - street address by street address - a city that was growing out of its Toronto-the-Good Victorian roots, into a modern urban centre where women were beginning to get rights and a role in politics and law.

His wife away in the US,  Charles “Bert” Massey—of the Masseys, they of Massey Hall and Massey College—walked towards his Annex home. As he approached the front door, his young English servant, Carrie Davies, burst out, brandishing a revolver. She is reported to have yelled “You ruined my life,” before she pointed the handgun and fired. The first shot missed, the next found his heart. He was dead within seconds.  Davies was arrested, confessed and taken to the Don Jail.

As one reviewer has written, "the irresistible storyline of a poor but virtuous maiden defending herself from disgrace made the ensuing trial a sensational affair, attracting reams of newspaper coverage and packing the courtroom with blue-collar workers and society mavens alike".

Gray tells the story of Carries Davies and the legal team that saved her from the gallows.  We learn about the real Massey Family.  Yes they were good corporate citizens (Massey Hall, Fred Victor Mission etc) but they were less kind to their own.  The Massey Family attempted to have the murder charges thrown out of court and the house-maid sent to a mental institution rather than have the family's dirty laundry aired in the papers.  Massey was a disenfranchised Massey - a "vain ne’er-do-well, a respectable cad". A man who “took much enjoyment out of life,” according to one newspaper, Massey was “quite a popular figure among the younger society set,” said another. Put less charitably, Massey liked sports cars and fast women even though he was married with child.

The case was fodder for a raging newspaper war in the city. In Gray's book we meet John Ross Roberts and Black Jack Robinson (The Toronto Telegram), Joseph Atikinson (Toronto Star) and Toronto's ace female reporter Helen Ball (Evening News).   Despite the horror stories coming from Europe (World War 1), these papers kept the murder story, the  arrest, the inquest, the Supreme court trial and the Massey family on the front pages throughout the month of February.

The house-maid was from England, sent to Canada to raise money for her impoverished UK family. She was little more than an indentured slave.  She shot her master after he made lurid passes at her while his wife was away.

The plight of women like Carrie, both in terms of living/working conditions and treatment by the courts was of concern to Florence Gooderham Hamilton Huestis (Toronto Local Council of Women) and suffragette Nellie McLung.  The two women are featured in this book.

Newspapers debated the merits of the case, and Davies’ character, in extended coverage of the trial and the verdict. The editor of Women’s Century argued: “She was as justified in killing the man for her honour as a soldier is in shooting the enemy for the honour of his country.”

Spoiler Alert - Davies' lawyer Herbert Dewart, brings in medical experts who testify that the house-maid is a virgin.  Supreme Court Judge  Sir William Mulock and the jury find Davies not guilty and on February 27th she walks out of court a free woman!

Naming streets, homes and buildings that still stand, this is a riveting read for Torontonians wanting to know about their Hog Town's roots.  And for those that really want to know about the Massey Family the book includes a fold-out family tree chart, vintage photographs and information on where each Massey family member lived in Toronto and where they all the bodies are literally buried.

Journalists - if you would like to know more about the book, the author and /or the RBC Taylor Prize (formerly the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction) contact Stephen Weir at