Category Archives: History

Outlaw marriages: the hidden histories of fifteen extraordinary same-sex couples. — Rodger Streitmatter


Here is the latest addition to our library collection, a collection of biographies of fifteen men and women in American society prominent in art, music, journalism, literature, film and social reform who lived and loved in long term same-sex relationships long before same-sex marriage was recognized in law in the United States. It was published in 2012 by Beacon Press. The author, Rodger Streitmatter, serves on the faculty of the School of Communication at American University. He resides in Washington, D.C. with his husband, Tom Grooms. Mika found this recently on one of his book hunting expeditions.

The book offers the reader a view into the lives of the fifteen same-sex couples, gay and lesbian people who embraced the conventions of marriage and marital privacy at a time when it was neither accepted nor tolerated by the wider society. It comes as no surprise that married life for the same-sex couples documented in this book were not always happy and successful. Just as married life between heterosexual couples can be the best of times and the worst of times, so it is for same-sex couples. As Streitmatter observes in the prologue:

That the couples were willing to bend the marital rules doesn’t mean they all succeeded in creating relationships that were made in heaven–far from it. A regrettable scenario that plays out in several chapters begins with the lesser-known partner being absolutely essential to the better-known partner’s rise to success, but then … the high-achieving partner getting what might be called the “twenty-year itch.”

The publication of this book was timely in that it shows that gay and lesbian people were embracing the conventions of marriage and marital privacy long before same-sex marriage became the heated and divisive issue it is in American society in the present. In addition, it shows that same-sex marriages are subject to the very same joys and sorrows that confront heterosexual married couples. On that basis, it is an interesting read for those who enjoy biographies and are interested in the history of the movement for same-sex marriage rights in American society.

Posted by Geoffrey

Christian Wives: women behind the Evangelists reveal their faith in modern marriage. — James Schaffer and Colleen Todd


Modern marriage is a hot button topic in the United States as the Supreme Court of the United States is expected to hand down its latest ruling concerning the legality of same-sex marriage any day now. The redefinition of modern marriage in American society to allow for same-sex couples is a contentious issue, notably for conservative Christians who are steadfast in their belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman who go on to have a family. Browsing through our library collection I came across this gem, published in 1987 by Doubleday & Company.  The 1980s was the heyday for the Evangelists, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Rex Humbard, Oral Roberts, Robert Schuller and Jimmy Swaggart, each of whom had thriving television ministries. The wives of these Evangelists, Tammy Fae Bakker, Macel Falwell, Ruth Graham, Maude Aimee Humbard, Evelyn Roberts, Arvella Schuller and Frances Swaggart, discuss their childhoods, how they met their respective husbands and their role in supporting their husbands in their careers as Evangelists. Their testimonies are offered as an example for Christian women to follow. Ruth Graham commented on the place of women in modern marriage for the Christian women observing:

I am a strong believer in women’s lib, to this extent: I think women should be liberated from civic responsibility, from having to work for a living, and unless it’s absolutely necessary, from all extracurricular affairs. They need to be liberated from them so they can devote themselves to their homes. (Christian Wives, p. 63)

The tone of each chapter is like that you find in any celebrity gossip magazine. You get a sugar coated view of the married life of these Christian wives who were celebrities in their own right at the time. This comes as no surprise as the authors, James Schaffer and Colleen Todd, came from the same religious background. James Schaffer is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and Colleen Todd worked as a copy editor and writer on prime time television specials for Oral Roberts. Unfortunately for the authors, however, the same time their book was published, the marriage of Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker was rocked by scandal when it was revealed in 1987 that $279,000 was paid to Jessica Hahn, a church secretary with whom Jim Bakker had an affair. This led to the dismissal of Jim Bakker as a minister from the Assemblies of God and the dissolution of their marriage. Similarly, scandal struck in the marriage of Jimmy and Frances Swaggart when in 1988 and in 1991, Jimmy was caught in the company of prostitutes. Jimmy Swaggart was dismissed from the Assemblies of God, but he and Frances remain husband and wife.

I like this book as it offers a view into the cult of celebrity in American culture as it was in the 1980s from a different and interesting point of view.

Posted by Geoffrey

The Art of Shooting. — Charles Edward Chapel


This is the latest acquisition to our library collection, something Mika found while browsing in  the Ottawa Public Library used book shop. The Art of Shooting was published in New York by A. S. Barnes and Company and in London by Thomas Yoseloff Ltd. in 1960. The author, Charles Edward Chapel, published a number of books on firearms including Field, Skeet and Trap Shooting, Forensic Ballistics, Gun Care and Repair–A Manual of Gunsmithing, Gun Collecting, The Gun Collector’s Handbook of Values and Guns of the Old West. In The Art of Shooting Chapel takes on the subject of rifle and pistol shooting. The book is well illustrated with line drawing by Sanford Strother. Chapel covers the history of the development of the rifle and the pistol in two parts: part one opens with the history of the rifle, touching on the early hand cannons of the fifteenth century, moving on to the match lock, wheellock and flintlock (muskets), then to the modern rifle (the M1 Garand rifle in this case). In part two he details the development of the pistol in the same manner, starting with the hand cannons of the fifteenth century and moving on to the match lock, wheellock and flintlock to the modern revolver and semi-automatic pistols.

The Art of Shooting goes into great detail in every aspect of owning and using a rifle and pistol, with detailed instructions on how to load, aim and fire properly, how the rifle and pistol operates, how to properly clean and maintain rifles and pistols and crucially, how to use them safely.The book includes a chapter entitled What the N.R.A. can do for you. Yes, the debate between gun owners and prohibitionists was raging as far back as the 1950s. Regarding the NRA, Chapel notes “it is not affiliated with organizations of arms and ammunition manufacturers, receives no subsidies from the arms trade, and serves as the governing body for the shooting activities in much the same capacity as the Amateur Athletic Union and the National Amateur Athletic Federation serve other sportsmen. All rifle and pistol shooters who engage in official competitions, and several thousand local shooting clubs, support the  N.R.A.” This may have been the case in the 1950s, but currently, the NRA accepts donations from fun manufacturers. See the Ruger 1 Million Gun Challenge, for example, and frankly, why not.

He concludes The Art of Shooting with a chapter entitled The truth about firearms registration laws. Interestingly, and hardly coincidentally, here are the assertions put forward by prohibitionists in the 1950s in favour of gun registration:

(1) registration of weapons reduces crime by making it more difficult for undesirable persons to obtain weapons, (2) solving crimes would be easier because the weapons used in the commission of crime could be traced through the registration records, (3) it would be possible to arrest all persons found possessing possessing unregistered weapons, thereby making it easier for the police to apprehend criminals wanted on more serious charges, (4) gun registration keeps guns out of the hands of children, mental defectives, habitual drunkards, drug addicts, and other persons who should not have firearms, and (5) stolen guns can be returned to their owners more easily.

Chapel easily refutes these assertions, pointing to the tired comparison between automobile registration and gun registration, noting the familiar refrain of since you do not object to registering your automobile, why do you object to registering your guns? The difference between the two, he points out and as we know all to well in the present, is “the registration of an automobile is automatic. When a license is granted, no one questions a person’s right to own an automobile. If the tax is paid, the license tag is issued without question… The essential feature of firearm registration is the power of law enforcement authorities to say who may own a gun. The difference between automobile and firearm registration is obvious and vital under our constitutional form of government.”

The book is 424 pages in total and includes an extensive bibliography and an index, making it a useful reference source. While some of the information is dated, on the whole The Art of Shooting remains a good read and a nice view of the gun culture and shooting sports as they existed in the United States in the mid-twentieth century.

Posted by Geoffrey


Deer Hunting Hints. — C-I-L (Canadian Industries Limited)


Some of you may remember C-I-L as the manufacturer of ammunition and sporting guns commonly found for sale at Canadian Tire and other retailers of hunting and shooting supplies. Imperial and Canuck were the brand names for the shotgun shells I recall seeing and using on occasion when I was a boy. C-I-L also manufactured rifle cartridges under the Imperial brand name. Together with the ammunition C-I-L manufactured the company published a series of booklets packed with useful information for hunters, and,  of course, advertisements for its line of sporting guns and ammunition. I remember my father had some of these booklets, which, unfortunately, are lost to history, but I keep an eye out for these booklets when I browse at used and antiquarian book shops. Deer Hunting Hints was published in 1950, though there is no date on the copy in our library collection; it may be a reprinted edition. Still, in its 37 pages, it packs a lot of useful information for the hunter interested in the pursuit of deer.

The opening chapter introduces the reader to the three species of deer, white-tailed, mule and black-tailed, their ranges and provides illustrations on how to identify them. The second chapter takes on the subject of firearms, offering hints as to what kind of rifle and ammunition the hunter should use in deer hunting and showing the C-I-L line of rifles and shotguns and ammunition, how very clever of them.


The remaining chapters cover topics such as cleaning and maintaining your deer rifle, sighting it in, clothing and equipment for deer hunting, deer hunting techniques and how to dress and butcher a deer once it is on the ground and crucially, the Ten Commandments of Hunting Safety, in this publication called the Basic Rules for Hunting Safely. I remember in each of these C-I-L publications these safety rules were included.


In keeping copies of these publications I enjoy learning about the hunting culture in Canada as it was in the past, before I was born. I find that it is really not so different in the present as this quote from the introduction of Deer Hunting Hints shows: “The first consideration, of course, is sportsmanship; the good sportsman respects his quarry as well as the rights of others. In the actual hunting of game, the first concern of the novice should be to perfect his marksmanship. He must be able to place his shots where he wishes them to go. This is his prime objective and it is not achieved without constant practice.” Publications such as Deer Hunting Hints preserve a record of our hunting and sport shooting heritage, that it has always been about sportsmanship and safety and is well worth defending for succeeding generations of hunters and sport shooters in Canada.

Posted by Geoffrey

Hunter’s Guide. — Revised by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (Originally published by the National Rifle Association of America)


The Hunter’s Guide was revised by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources with permission from the National Rifle Association of America and the Alberta Department of Energy and Natural Resources. The National Rifle Association holds the copyright to the material used in this publication. It was first published in 1982. The Hunter’s guide was printed and distributed in Ontario by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and served as the text book for the Hunter Education Program prospective hunters are required to complete before being issued their first hunting license. In its 301 pages, it is a comprehensive guide to hunting, hunting regulations, wildlife management, hunter safety, proper and safe gun use and the science of wildlife management. Of those 301 pages, there is one page (shown above) which demonstrates how to use handguns safely. These were included as the safety test one was required to pass before being granted their Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC), the precursor to the current Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) included handling of handguns, whether you intended to acquire handguns or not. This was a provision mandated by the passage of Bill C-17 in 1991 by then Minister of Justice Kim Campbell in the government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

The fact that the NRA had a hand in the publication of the Hunter’s Guide did not go unnoticed by prohibitionists. In 2000 controversy erupted when the OFAH donated copies of the Hunter’s Guide to Ontario School Boards for addition to school library collections. Gail Nyberg, Chair of the Toronto School Board in 2000, objected to the donation and ordered the books returned to the OFAH. Her complaint was “it sends a message that it’s okay to me. That our government, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and a legitimate group, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters think it’s okay to have handguns. Well I don’t think it is okay to have handguns. We’ve had to deal with school violence. The possibility of guns and weapons are all over North America. I just think it’s highly insensitive.” (as cited in CBC News)

I remember when this story broke. As a librarian myself, I made a point of contacting the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and bringing to their attention the Canadian Library Association Statement on Intellectual Freedom. I pointed out that somehow these principles were lost on the the Toronto School Board in 2000.

All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation’s Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly. This right to intellectual freedom, under the law, is essential to the health and development of Canadian society.

Libraries have a basic responsibility for the development and maintenance of intellectual freedom.

It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, libraries shall acquire and make available the widest variety of materials.

It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee the right of free expression by making available all the library’s public facilities and services to all individuals and groups who need them.

Libraries should resist all efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups.

Both employees and employers in libraries have a duty, in addition to their institutional responsibilities, to uphold these principles.

Though the Hunter’s Guide is no longer in use as the textbook for the Hunter Education Program in Ontario, it remains a very useful source of information for new hunters and a good read.

Posted by Geoffrey


Automatic and Repeating Shotguns. — Richard Arnold


The latest selection from the shelves of our library is this volume, Automatic and Repeating Shotguns, by Richard Arnold, originally published in 1958 in London, UK by Nicholas Kaye and reprinted in 1960 and 1962 in New York by the A. S. Barnes and Company. By repeating shotguns, Arnold refers to autoloading, slide or pump action and bolt action, noting “the modern repeating semi-automatic shotgun is essentially an American invention which was introduced more than fifty years ago by John Moses Browning. Today the repeating shotgun in semi-automatic, in slide action, and in bolt-action form is a formidable competitor to the conventional double-barreled weapon.” As it happens, the development of the repeating shotgun has an interesting history. Continue reading

The Shotgun Book. — Jack O’Connor


I spend most of my time in fields, marshes and the uplands in pursuit of game birds so shotgunning is something with which I am very well acquainted. My first shotgun was a hammerless Savage break action single shot with a 28 inch barrel, and full choke. It belonged to my father. I have a fleeting memory of the day he purchased it in 1965, in Maryland, when I was four years old. We were living in Laurel at the time. My father was serving in the Canadian Army and had been posted to work in Washington, DC. Ten years later he offered it to me and I happily accepted the offer. I shot my first grouse with this gun, on the wing no less. It was a snap shot, just like I read in a booklet published by Canadian Industries Limited (C-I-L) on upland gunning. The bird flushed and I caught sight of it between two cedar trees. I mounted the gun and fired. I walked up to the gap between the cedar trees and there on the ground was my grouse. I sure was excited. I remember calling out “Dad, I got a grouse!”

As it happens, The Shotgun Book was published in 1965 by Alfred A. Knopf. The author, Jack O’Connor (1902-1978) was the arms and ammunition editor for Outdoor Life magazine for 31 years. The book is a comprehensive guide to the varieties of shotgun most commonly in use: double barrelled, pump action, autoloading and the less common bolt-action. O’Connor opens the book with a chapter on a brief history of the shotgun. Shotguns, their forebears at least, were first manufactured in the 18th century. The book is well illustrated, with plates and diagrams, showing the inner workings of shotgun actions, models of shotguns, cartridges, chokes, shot and, interestingly, the earliest models of variable choke in use, the Poly-Choke, shown in the illustration below.


While some of the information found in The Shotgun Book is dated–it was published before the ban on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting went into effect–it is still a good read. It brings back memories for me of the old copies of Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream my father had accumulated over the years. I pored over these magazines in the years leading up to my 15th birthday when I would be old enough to get my first hunting license. I searched through the magazines, looking up every article on shotgunning, learning about gauge, shot sizes, choke, patterns, the basics of wing shooting, all the while dreaming of getting into the field in pursuit of upland game birds and waterfowl. The Shotgun Book compiles all this information very masterfully and includes an index which makes for quick reference. For anyone interested in seeing the hunting culture in North America, as it existed in the mid-twentieth century, The Shotgun Book is well worth reading.

Posted by Geoffrey

The Bolt Action: a Design Analysis. — Stuart Otteson


The bolt action rifle is of particular significance to me, being a left-handed shooter. Most semi-automatic rifles are designed for right-handed shooters, as are most bolt action rifles. The difference between the two is I can easily use a bolt action rifle designed for a right handed shooter. As it happens, I am the proud owner of a Browning X-Bolt Medallion bolt action 30:06 Springfield calibre rifle in left-hand. I use this rifle for big game hunting and as fate would have it, shot my first deer with it exactly one week after I purchased it just ahead of the rifle season in 2012. Though the bolt action rifle is primarily a tool for hunting in the present, it has an interesting history, having been designed in the 19th century as an assault rifle for armies of the day. The first bolt action rifle was the Dreyse needle-gun was introduced in 1841 and became the main small arm in service in the Prussian infantry in 1848. The Dreyse needle-gun, though single shot, revolutionized warfare with its rate of fire of 10-12 rounds per minute.

The Bolt Action was published by the Winchester Press in 1976. The opening chapter discusses, in detail, the history of the Mauser Model 98 rifle designed by Paul Mauser (1838-1914). The Mauser Model 98 bolt action rifle was adopted by the German Army in 1898. Otteson includes detailed illustrations in the book and describes the design and engineering that went into the development of the bolt action rifle. The book is a comprehensive survey of the bolt action rifle including the Springfield M1903, Arisaka M1905, U.S. Enfield M1917, Remington Model 30, Winchester Model 54, Pre-’64 Winchester Model 70, Remington Model 720, Remington Models 721/722, 725 and 700, Weatherby Mark V/Mark V Varmintmaster, Sako L-461 Vixen, Remington Models 600, 660, and Mohawk-600, Mossberg Model 800, Remington Model 788 (Rimless Versions), Winchester Model 70 (1968 Version), and the Mossberg Model 810.

Otteson’s book is a very good read for those with an interest in the history and the design and mechanics of rifles, the bolt action rifle in this instance. As my hunting buddies can attest, my aptitude for engineering and design is wanting; I simply savour the pleasure of using a finely crafted rifle in the field and on the range. Having a copy of The Bolt Action Rifle in my library collection has given me a better understanding and appreciation of the rifle, its history and how it continues to be manufactured as a sporting arm, having long since become obsolete as the main small arm for use by the infanteer in modern armies.

Posted by Geoffrey

Gun control. — Robert J. Kukla


This title was added to our library collection several years ago when I found a copy in a used book shop here in Ottawa. Gun Control was written by Robert J. Kukla, a lawyer, and published by the National Rifle Association and Stackpole Books in 1973. Kukla draws on testimony given in U.S. Congressional Hearings from 1937 through 1970 concerning gun control legislation in the United States, most notably the Gun Control Act of 1968. He examines the anti-gun movement of the time, its motives, its tactics and its objectives. He includes many illustrations, notably editorial cartoons, that supported the anti-gun movement in the United States. The opening paragraph of Gun Control sets out the objectives of the anti-gun movement, which sounds all too familiar in the current debate over gun ownership in Canada.

A movement exists in our country which, if successfully continued, will serve to eliminate virtually all privately owned firearms in the hands of decent and law-abiding citizens. This abolition of arms would be accomplished by outright prohibition of possession in some cases. In other cases, possession of arms would be limited to an every narrowing category of those who were willing and able (1) to meet requirements of law and regulations imposed on law-abiding people, but not upon criminal or violent people; (2) to become suspect in the eyes of the police and one’s neighbors because one possessed a firearm and not because one had mis-used[sic] it or was even likely to do so.

Posted by Geoffrey