Sunday, January 31, 2016


The Guelph Night Market brings its second pop-up market to the eBar Wednesday February 10th from 7pm to 12am ($2 admission). Vintage clothing pickers, artists, screen printers, foodies, writers, record collectors, button makers, zinesters, thrifters, letterpress enthusiasts, antique lovers, upcyclers, knickknack hoarders, book binders, embroiderers, potters, comic book creators, and more will be vending and spending with drinks in crafty hands. In advance of their Winter Night Market, I talked local shop with Market makers Theresa Mullin & Emily Colley-Divjak.

- Brad de Roo, who will probably be working late in the Bookstore on the 10th to showcase some local publishers and presses among our busy shelves 

How did the Night Market originate? What brought about its creation?

In the past, we’ve always worked well together. Throughout our ten year friendship we’ve always schemed; collecting American coins to get us across the States in the old Tercel or drawing up business proposals for our dream cafe.

After moving back to Guelph, the two of us were seeking the perfect project since we were reunited in the same little city. Our number one goal, besides working together, was to enable our hard working pals in their efforts to do what they love... while paying the rent.

Have you been surprised with how it has been received so far?

Holy moly...yes! When we rented the Making Box space for our first market in October, we were crossing our fingers we’d break even. Looking out the window on the night of, our hearts nearly exploded; there was a line of umbrellas all the way to Quebec Street. Our attendance was over eight hundred and we couldn’t have felt more connected to our city.

How do you choose vendors? What are some of the stipulations, frustrations, challenges, joys of choosing?

Choosing vendors is an overwhelming and awesome task that we feel privileged with. When people enter the market space we want them to feel excited. It’s easy to become enamored with online folks who create cool stuff and we’re by no means against this method of sharing, but there is something truly special about connecting directly. We aim to bring together a collection of vendors that will ignite the same feeling that we get while reading their application. A huge challenge for us is space… it’s limited downtown. Capacity and accessibility are important to us, but it has been hard to find landlords who will take us and this puts a damper on the amount of tables we’re able to house.

What does the Night Market offer that other shopping experiences do not?

Shopping at the Night Market is different because it provides you with an opportunity for more than one meaningful connection with vendors. We try our best to provide a warm and inviting environment that lands between farmers' market and thrift shop; somewhere anyone can go and find something with a story.

How will the Night Market at the eBar differ from past markets?

Our pop-up style is on purpose, being in a different space each market is exciting. Making new connections with local businesses makes us feel more grounded in our community. With the bookstore-bar-restaurant combo, the space is unconventional for an event like ours. Having the ability to “take over” for a night keeps it interesting for us, and hopefully that feeling extends to vendors and folks attending. The eBar/Bookshelf has been amazing to partner with - the space is a Guelph institution. We’re really looking forward to the event.

What about handcrafted objects speaks to you?

Creating, collecting and curating are extremely personal acts. We think the vulnerability behind sharing those things is extremely important and beautiful.

We’re suckers for the connection between things and stories that inspire and challenge us.

What are your future plans for the Market?

Our main focus at the moment is to keep our momentum rolling and keep the community engaged in what we’re doing. Our future goals are to run the Night Market seasonally and hopefully in larger, more accessible venues within the downtown core.

Do you have any dream vendors?

We both have so many art crushes, it would be hard to list all of our existing dream vendors. A cool thing happened this time however, when group of U of G Studio Art students collaborated so that they could table. SADSATURDAZE became an instant dream vendor, with their weirdo assortment of buttons, prints, zines and patches that re-interpret the everyday mundane in a humorous way. We love this.

Do you have any advice or market wisdom you like to share with new event organizers?

Advice from us two goofs? Lol. Organization, curation and a clear concept of what we want to accomplish have been key to our market planning. Keeping true to our values has kept straight & narrow, and led us to amazing opportunities like our sponsorship from the Stone Store (yay local businesses!).

What would you never sell?


Anything else we should know?

Ya, we’re still new to this and we’re working out the kinks. Also! Thank you Guelph for all of your support, it means a lot. Also!! We need help finding spaces in the downtown area. Please please email us if you have an available space at

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Hillside Inside and the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival

Anna and Jane McGarrigle

Authors of Mountain City Girls: The McGarrigle Family Album

Saturday, January 30, 3 pm (doors open at 2:30 pm)
St. George’s Church, Sanctuary, 99 Woolwich Street

Reading followed by a Q&A, book-signing and fan photo opportunity

Tickets: $12 + HST from the Bookshelf and

A Guelph Fab5 Festival co-presentation supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation

Mountain City Girls, written by Anna and Jane McGarrigle - sisters to Kate McGarrigle - is a charming and intimate family memoir. The folk music duo of Anna and Kate McGarrigle produced some of the most memorable music to come out of the North American folk scene in the past 35 years. They are fondly remembered by their devoted fans as brilliant, insightful songwriters with incredibly luminous voices. Their sister Jane managed her younger sisters’ music careers from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. During this time she co-wrote several songs with the duo and performed with them in the studio and on tours of Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia.

Interspersed with lyrics and photos, Mountain City Girls captures the McGarrigles' lives, idiosyncratic upbringing, and literary and musical influences. No one can tell the story of the McGarrigles better than Anna and Jane, or in such an affectionate and captivating way.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Heraclitus told us centuries ago that there is nothing permanent except change. In that spirit we are excited to announce the next step in our ongoing collaboration with Miijidaa, the restaurant adjacent to The Bookshelf.

Beginning Tuesday January 12, Dinner and a Movie will prepared by the Miijidaa kitchen and made available both in our 2nd floor eBar bistro and downstairs at Miijidaa. Have a look at the Miijidaa menu HERE.

Seating in the eBar bistro is available Tuesday to Saturday. To book a table in our bistro, please call (519) 821 3311 (ext 5)

To book a table in the Miijidaa dining room, please call (519) 821 9271 (ext 2)

We are looking forward to great movies over the next months, so… Let’s Eat!

Monday, January 4, 2016


As I am writing this there is a bright blue sunny sky and it’s cold out. But let’s face it, the last two months in Guelph have been pretty grey and gloomy. That’s why if you see Painted Land your spirits will be lifted and your hearts warmed. In this documentary, back by popular request, outdoor lovers Joanie and Gary McGuffin, along with art historian Michael Burtch go in search of the exact location where many Group of Seven artists painted some of their stunning landscapes. Archival footage, photographs and voice over from letters are sewn in so expertly you feel you are in history. 

Such a joy to see Lawren Harris, JEH Macdonald, AY Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, Frank Carmichael and AJ Casson travel the box car to Algoma. The real scenery is so beautiful and it’s incredibly exciting when the art lovers actually find the exact spot where the scene for each painting has been been taken in and recreated on canvas. But here’s what amazed me: a full bright screen with a Tom Thomson painting is so inordinately beautiful that you will understand why art is so important! Yes, nature is spectacular but sometimes art takes every bit of its beauty and intensifies it.

Painted Land is back for a second run beginning Saturday January 9 at 2 p.m.

- Barb

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Village Podcast Vol. 3

Welcome back listeners! Thanks for all your great comments on our first two episodes. We'd love it if you'd share us with the world. Please head to our iTunes page and rate and review us. It would be great if you subscribed to us, but we know not all of you use iTunes for listening, so load up our RSS feed into your favourite podcatcher and never miss an episode.

It's December now and there's no getting away from the seasonal cheer and holiday shopping so we face it head on.

We share some of our December traditions, their favourite seasonal music and movies. And because we can't play it in the episode, head to YouTube and have a listen and watch of Chris de Burgh playing A Spaceman Came a Travelling. The Rankin and Bass animated collection of films get their annual mention, along with other classics like Die Hard, Home Alone and It's a Wonderful Life.

We also cover a few board games which would make nice gifts for groups of friends or family to play while visiting, including Angry Birds, Crib Wars, Pandemic, Anomia and Catan.

Which leads us to writing in books, whether they are meant to be written in, like The 52 Lists, or Wreck This Journal, or not, like that new hardcover book you received as a gift from your grandmother. Do you do it?
You've gotten this far in listening, or at least in reading, so now I can tell you that we have two gift certificates to give away this month. We have one $25 gift certificate to The Bookshelf and one $25 gift certificate to Miijida. We will draw two winners from the entries.

And to enter all you need to do is head to our iTunes page and give us a rating and review! Then grab a screenshot of that baby and email us at and let us know your name and phone number.
Follow the Bookshelf on Twitter and Facebook. Stay up to date on what's happening around the store at and join the weekly newsletter.
Theme music from the Free Music Archive, by The Underscore Orkestra

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


We see so many great books come into the store throughout the year that compiling a true "best of" would be near-quixotic. And if there's anything we miss, our customers usually point them out to us. Still and all, here's a queue that stood out to our booksellers over the year!

by Rachel Cusk

An alienated female writer comes to Greece to teach a writing class. Not only does she spin enchanting lucid prose but she also meets a cast of characters that show what fools we humans be! This philosophical novel with a very European feel made the Giller shortlist.

Fifteen Dogs 
by Andre Alexis

Alexis, in his writerly power as God, has given a few dogs the characteristics of humans while retaining their dog-like senses. This novel has been described as thin and yet epic, much like Greek myths. We engage with his characters and super-charged senses of smell and overwhelming desires for either domination or submission. You'd be surprised at how directly his characters woof their talk about the human condition. Quite a feat for Alexis!


by Ian Brown

Did I really need to read a book about a sixty-year-old guy who wanted to be 40? This is what I thought when the book came in, but because Ian Brown had written such a heart opening book called the Boy in the Moon about his severely disabled son, I decided to give it a try. Brown writes in such a conversational way that it is relaxing to read, even though some of his "hang-ups" drove me crazy (like is he still attractive to women...particularly young women?), I was moved by the breadth of his knowledge. His reading life has made him the thoughtful man he is!


The Road to Little Dribbling 
by Bill Bryson

The Daily Telegraph describes this as splendid and claims it is the best travel book of the year. Its subtitle is More Notes from a Small Island, banking on the fact that Notes from a Small Island has been the bestselling travel book ever. But that was 20 years ago and with this latest wandering of the British psyche and geography, Bryson gives us the best and worst of Britain today.


The Art of Nature Coloring Book

A colouring book for historians and nature enthusiasts, the plates that you are asked to colour were crafted in the 18th and 19th centuries. Of course, this is when there were no cameras, just the naked eye and pen or pencil. They are stunning and you can style them your with your own colour interpretation. Check out our great selection of colouring utensils!


What’s Happened to Politics 
by Bob Rae

If you were disturbed by the state of Canadian politics under Stephen Harper, this book will affirm that you had every right to be! It offers prescriptions to get Canada back on track on a community, national and international level. A very refreshing look at the future of Canadian politics. Essential reading for politicos.


Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better 
by Pema Chödrön

Ah, the power of Pema. You could finish this book in the bath or savour it over the year. Fail, is actually a commencement lecture on ones best possible relationship with failure. Very readable and very relevant.


A Brief History of Seven Killings 
by James Marlon

You will never listen to certain Marley songs the same way again. A bumping multi-narrative ranging from gangsters, to Cuban revolutionaries and ghosts. James has recreated the time leading up to and after the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976. Winner of the Man Booker Award! A difficult read but incredibly compelling and creative.


A Japanese Lover 
by Isabel Allende

This is a story with many threads – Japanese internment during the second World War, the impossibility of family, aging, well worn secrets and death. Allende has the knack of making something seemingly improbable a great read.


Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words 
by Randall Munroe

Munroe, author of What If? enlightens us this time with a series of simple blueprints of everything from nuclear reactors to the big flat rocks that we live on. A great book for nerdy people of all ages!


Death and Life of Zebulon Finch 
by Daniel Krauss

Zebulon Finch is a small-time hoodlum living a self-involved, violent life in turn-of-the-century Michigan. After he is murdered by an unknown assailant, it would appear that Zeb's unscrupulous existence has ended, until he finds himself mysteriously resurrected. This excellently-paced horror novel is the first of a two-part epic, following the teenaged criminal through several decades of American history as he tries to solve the puzzle of his murder, and discover the purpose of his unexpected revival.

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight 
by Tony DiTerlizzi

The Star War franchise has spawned its share of book titles over the years, but this stands as the most definitive children's book focusing on the first three films. Tony DiTerlizzi's text perfectly captures the excitement of the action sequences, and skillfully incorporates the most famous catchphrases from the movies. An excellent intro for soon-to-be fans and their already-there parents.

Why We Live Where We Live 
by Kira Vermond

Guelph writer Kira Vermond has won the Norma Fleck award for this thought-provoking picture book exploring the historical path of human civilization. Curious kids will love the often-silly illustrations, which complement informative text on the influence of everything from cultural shifts to climate change.


by Kevin Sylvester

12-year-old Christopher and his young crew members are sent to the planet Perses to mine rare minerals for a resource-deficient Earth. After the crew lose contact with their home planet, they must band together for survival; frightening circumstances that are made worse when Perses suddenly comes under attack by an unknown assailant. Excellent actio12-year old Christopher and his young crew members are sent to the planet Perses to mine rare minerals for a resource-deficient Earth. After the crew lose contact with their home planet, they must band together for survival; frightening circumstances that are made worse when Perses suddenly comes under attack by an unknown assailant. Excellent action-adventure for 10-14 year-olds. n-adventure for 10-14 year-olds.

The Good Little Book 
by Kyo Maclear

After being sent for a time-out, a small boy finds himself caught up in an unassuming, but life-changing, book. The "good little book" quickly becomes the boy's constant companion, until the day that the treasured tome goes missing. A heartwarming depiction all of the wonderful ways that reading can shape our lives.


The Winter Family
by Clifford Jackman

Though it might seem surprising to anyone taking a passing glance as it as a "genre" book, no one who's read Clifford Jackman's "The Winter Family" was surprised when it was long-listed for The Giller Prize, short-listed for the Governor General's Award, and is now starting to pop up on everyone's year's best lists. About a "family" of outlaws/mercenaries in the twilight of Manifest Destiny, Jackman's novel isn't just gory gritlit, but amounts to a studied look at how lawlessness begets law, and what happens to the agents of change once they're no longer needed.


by Kevin Hardcastle

The fringe grittiness of "Debris" – shotguns and fistfights and lawns strewn with debris and detritus – will likely be the dominant talking point with Kevin Hardcastle's first collection. Yet the refinement and delicacy of the seeing and telling that goes on makes for a stoic beauty that's the real success here, is what seriously sets the work apart from whatever generic comparisons it will inevitably attract. Harcastle's characters are not simply brutish dumb misfits, but men (mostly) and women driven by love and loyalty and duty in such a clear, unconflicted way that conflict is inevitable and intense. You'd be hard-pressed to find stories this loving, hurt, and alive in anything else coming out lately.

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy
ed Joe Hill

The most far out thing about this collection is that it's the first time the Best American series has tackled Science Fiction and Fantasy. This flagship installment, edited by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), displays the strength and merit of once-marginalized genres that are now beginning to dominate literature. As with the other Best American series, this one's a great introduction to your new favourite authors, the majority of which happen to be women here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Ever since I can remember its existence Greg Denton has been happily enframed by the renewing people and places of Guelph’s arts and culture scene. Known downtown as longtime musician, bookseller, and painter; he is also a painting instructor on campus. His practical and theoretical know-how combined with his daily commitment to the overlapping and busy fields of local artistic expression made him a natural choice as this year’s City of Guelph Artist in Residence. According to the city’s description, the residency ‘is a cultural initiative that embeds artists in a variety of public spaces’. Each year

artists are asked to engage the community in creative experiences. Engagement may include hands-on creative activities, collaborative creation of temporary works or exploration of broader community stories. The public space selected for 2015 is the core area of Downtown Guelph.
This year’s applicants to the position were asked to ‘draw inspiration from Lt.-Col. John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields, and the theme of remembrance’. Correspondingly, this summer Greg submitted, then swiftly completed a ‘100 portrait paintings in oil, depicting living military personnel, cadets, and veterans from the Guelph area, in uniform and wearing a poppy on their lapel’. Entitled ‘100 Portraits/100 Poppies: Sitting in Remembrance’ Greg’s work begin its exhibition on Nov 2 at Boarding House Arts and shows until Monday Nov 30th.

Having barely any knowledge of painting, and thankfully not having any direct experience of war, I was eager to get a civic understanding of how paintings inform the public remembrance of such a complex, even controversial topic. The following is an excerpt from the recording of a conversation I had with Greg at the Boarding House on Nov 1st at a solid wooden table facing his paintings. For what words are worth, it’s a single sitting portrait of a bigger picture.

- Brad de Roo, who after watching Greg paint one of 100 poppies last few portraits during his final stint painting in City Hall, was surprised to learn that the uniformed gentleman Greg was painting had been part of liberation of the Netherlands in WW2, thereby helping to spare Opa & Oma de Roo any further formative hardship.

Could you describe how you paint?

There is a process that I think I go through as a painter. And there is a process as representational painter. I have an interest in light and shadow and how that’s constructing the form. I have an interest in how colour works within the field of light that I’m painting. I have interest in the space of the painting. You know, I tend to work technically, so that I am usually working with a rough gestural sketch to try to get a sense of scale and placement. And then I’ll tend to start mapping in warm and cool colour relationships and tonal relationships. And then I’ll start to elaborate from there on more particular things. And I tend to work as a single session painter. I’m working wet in wet and with a fairly direct painting style, and with a fair amount of body and brushiness to the paint. I mean, it’s not the way to paint. It’s one way and it’s the way I tend to approach the construction of things.

Is this style of painting prone to any mistakes? Does it allow for surprises?

Oh absolutely. One of the formative things for me in painting was thinking that they’re improvisational. Being a single session painter, there’s somebody sitting in front of me and I am trying to look at it in the here and now and make a painting. The painting is a record of those decisions. I used to love Francis Bacon, a British painter, and he talked about painting as a process of courting accident. And he was interested in also subverting what he called the illustrative aspect of the painting. So he would be trying to find ways of realizing the representation through the process and through the paint and in a sense have the paint itself invent the image, rather than the painting be a material through which you render the image.

So it’s almost like there’s a greater texture to it?

Yeah, well texture or surprise. Or accident, right? I tend to think that’s what’s really interesting about a painting and I often will argue that these are fictions, rather than representations of people. I’m usually pretty critical about the role of portraiture as the idea that I’ve interpreted somebody’s personality, or tried to distill it, or represent it. You know, I’m looking at somebody. I’m looking at their face. I’m aware that there’s a psychology in action and I think a psychology gets enacted any time you see something that looks like a face. You know, like the front of a car looks angry or placid. So I am looking for readable psychology in painting, but I tend to think that there is so much accident in process; the paintload, the contrast that happens – you didn’t cover something adequately or the edge of the paint rolled of the brush in a funny way and it will create a kind of mood and expression and in fact likeness and I’m really interested in that. One of my other projects was the three hundred and sixty five self-portraits and that was an attempt to track however many different likenesses of the same person that process could generate. And in a sense when I do this sort of ensemble projects they’re often narratives of that process.

This one effected that narrative because I think there was a higher demand on it as likeness, on not giving myself permissions. I was working to a set schedule.

This would be somewhat of an emotional experience. People are coming in representation of someone or embodiment of someone etc. Did the emotional side of the project ever come to the fore while painting?

Absolutely. One woman started crying when I painted the poppy. She didn’t expect that. She didn’t expect it to be such an emotional punch. The symbolism of it hit her. Some people seemed to be very proud and some people seemed to express a lot of gratitude that the culture they are apart of us is being honoured. I was painting a lot of living veterans. There was a lot of emotion. There were times when I teared up.

People were probably telling you stories too…

That’s it. I’m painting some 96 year old guy who was 17 years old and on the frontlines going into Holland in the war or on Juneau beach on D-Day and you think about who you were as a 17-year-old and you realize the history of this person – the history that they embody.

Has this project changed your understanding of remembrance or memory?

This project allowed me to address something that I think has been happening over the last few years. I’m getting older and meeting older people and have more friends who have passed away and mortality and the images I have of these people in sketchbooks and paintings bears a different meaning to me now than it did when it was more of just a chance to do a formal exploration.

The likeness and recognizability of a person, and the portrait as an emblem of that became something more significant.

How do the individual portraits interact with your piece’s overall form?

I was interested in meeting them as people, rather than symbols. But also this was a chance for me to take what I do in terms of a repetitive form and in terms of trying to find a motif that repeats in the painting that isn’t the portrait but ascribes a different meaning to it.

The idea of a hundred people wearing poppies and the chance to make that a field of poppies appealed formally to me. Military I think of as a predominantly green culture, if I had to ascribe a colour to the idea of the military. So it seemed this was a real opportunity to make a green field with red poppies, which are contrasting colours and would give a chance for the poppy to be vivid. I realized if I am gridding them on a wall with spaces between them than I will want a white wall because it will make white crosses and that will extend the field as well.

I was also looking for a certain scale. I had to decide what size to make the paintings in order for the work to be sizeable and I wanted something mural scale.

Something that you cannot necessarily take all in a field of vision?

Yeah. Something that’s going to fill a wall. It’s 15 feet long and that seemed like a reasonable expanse. And I think there is an allusion to colour field painting. Barnett Newman, and that sort of thing; in terms of the scale and the fact that your vision is absorbed with colour. It fills your periphery. You’re not looking at it as a picture - it really is a field that you are absorbed in. It’s a green field. It can be seen as an allusion to colour field abstraction or an allusion to landscape.

Did the political landscape around the time of painting this complicate things?

It wasn’t ever an explicit part of this. There was a huge diversity of opinion in the people who were sitting. Some people very supportive of the Conservative Party.

There’s always this debate around Remembrance Day when people complain that its celebrating war and you’re always trying to position how you feel about that – are you celebrating war or are you honouring sacrifice and remembrance and what exactly that role is and I think this project sits in that territory. I think it can generate that debate, but I don’t think there is anything about it that is politicized in terms of taking a position on that.

Your piece is illustrative of the space of remembrance, rather than divisive?

What I think is really interesting about it is that when I’ve encountered military portraits historically I’ve often thought they are paintings of the uniform, paintings of the idea of valour, of dignity. I was focusing on their faces in a public space.

I tend to think I painted these people as people and as vulnerable people.

What would you like to be asked about your artwork that is normally overlooked? Are their every any misconceptions about it?

People get engaged with what I do in terms of an individual portrait - and I am interested in these as individual portraits - but I think that my work comes at it from two angles. I feel like people aren’t adequately engaging in what I do as a format and as a form and may not see they colour-field references or the fact that this is a representation, that it’s an ensemble.

They are interested in the figurative side of it more. I’m interested in context.

I’m up against a tradition of figurative painting. People can look at it and understand what I am doing within a set of readymade standards, and what I think I am doing is actually trying to reframe that and shift that, so that it's put into a context and seen as a kind of contrivance that establishes it as being a portrait rather than a figure painting. People see that I am portrait artist, but they don’t see that I am an installation artist.

What books would you recommend to get a fuller view of painting?

Frank Stella’s Working Space. A phenomenal study about the idea of what space is in a painting, and what pictoriality is, and looking at it from a historical viewpoint. I think it’s a beautiful book for his lucidity and his knowledge as a practicing artist.

Francis Bacon’s interviews with Sylvester were huge for me as student, even more so than his paintings.

Clement Greenberg, always. Even though he can be really prescriptive and problematic.

Ross King’s book on The Group of Seven, Defiant Spirits.