Lifescapes Memoir Writing

Lifescapes is a memoir writing program designed to help aspiring writers think and write about their life experiences. It was inspired in 2007 by a senior's writing project out of the University of Nevada, and quickly found a home at the Brantford Public Library. 

Participation in Lifescapes

The 2021-2022 Lifescapes writing program launched on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021. Workshop topics are listed below. 

Currently all workshops are being conducted as Zoom meetings, and we look forward to transitioning back to in-person workshops in 2022, or as soon as it is safe(r) to do so. Please contact Robin at if you are interested in participating in Lifescapes or have any questions.

Scroll down for links to past anthologies, or visit the Brantford Public Library to read them in print!

2021-2022 Presentation and Workshop Schedule 

Note: all workshops are on Tuesday afternoons, starting at 2:30 pm.

Oct 5 & 19 - Getting Started with Joan O'Callaghan 

Nov 2 & 16 - Developing Ideas with Margo Karolyi 

Nov 30 & Dec 14 - Becoming A Better Writer with Melodie Campbell 

Dec 28 & Jan 11 - Harnessing Nostalgia with Joan O'Callaghan

Jan 25 & Feb 8 - The Mechanics of Writing with Margo Karolyi 

Feb 22 -  The Final Draft with Margo Karolyi 

Mar 8 & 22 - Editing and Revision with Cheryl Freedman

Apr 5 & 19 -  Preparing Your Draft for Submission/Publication with Melodie Campbell 

May 3 & 17 - TBD 

Resources for Participants

Here is where we’ll post helpful resources, writing exercises, and share past presentation materials (as available). Please check back periodically for new additions, and contact Robin at with suggestions for topics.

Lifescapes Workbook 

This booklet was created to help you reconnect with events from your life. As you fill it out, make note of any stories that come to mind.

What comes to mind might be a family legend, a childhood adventure, or something completely unrelated -- but if it was notable enough to remember, it might also be the basis for your next writing project! 

Don’t worry if you end up with blank spaces. Just do your best to answer the prompts carefully and honestly. (And if there is something you can't answer, ask yourself if there isn't a story in the explanation why.) 

Download the PDF booklet, or download a Word version that you can fill out using Microsoft Word. 

 Getting Started
Watch a Getting Started video, or read this Getting Started document, created for the 2020 group. Don’t forget to download the worksheet first.
 Developing Writing Ideas

Facing that dreaded blank page? Try these writing exercises to help transform your ideas into a story!  

The writing exercises are downloadable as a PDF document or as a fillable Microsoft Word file

 Using Narrative Language

We use narrative language to tell a story in a way that flows well and keeps your reader’s attention.

Watch an introductory video on narrative language created for the 2020 group and download a PDF version of the slides.

 Descriptive Language

We use descriptive language to portray people, places, and things in such a way that readers can visualize and immerse themselves in the writer’s experience.

Watch an introductory video on descriptive language created for the 2020 group and download a PDF version of the slides.

 Ethics in Memoir Writing

Memoirs are all about you … except they’re also about other people.

Created for the 2020 writing group, first is a downloadable PDF document developed to highlight some important considerations for writing ethically and without sacrificing your integrity (or someone else's peace of mind).

Added April 2021, here is another downloadable PDF document on the subject of Ethics in Memoir Writing as presented by guest presenter Mark Leslie Lefevbre.

Techniques for Self-Editing and Revision
Are you nervous about preparing your work for others to read? Download this PDF presentation by Mark Leslie Lefebvre on understanding what to look for when editing your work, and some tools that may help you create your best work possible. For quick reference, download a PDF summary of the main points. 
Genealogy and Local History Resources
Genealogy Research and Reference Tools

Download a PDF version of a presentation on Genealogy Reference Tools, featuring an overview of key terms, calculators, relationship charts, forms, maps, etc.

New to genealogy? Download this Word version of Doing Genealogy Research at the Brantford Public Library (updated May 8, 2020) for places to start, including Vital Statistics, Cemetery Records, local Census and City Directories, our Birth/Marriage/Death Index for the Brantford Expositor, and more!   

 Canadian Archives
Download a PDF version of our introductory presentation on the Canadian Archives, including tips on researching ancestors at Library and Archives Canada, Archives of Ontario, and Archives Canada. 
 Canadian Census Facts

Census records are useful in tracking down an ancestor’s location at a specific time, listing information such as name, age, occupation, place of birth, and religion.

Check out this PDF version of a presentation on Canadian Census Facts document for our favourite tips, suggestions, and little known facts about the Canadian Census.  

 City Directories
This PDF version of an introductory presentation about City Directories shows how city directories can be invaluable when researching past generations. The presentation includes some suggested starting points and helpful hints for understanding the information provided.  
 Finding Death Information
No story of an ancestor's life is complete without knowing when (and sometimes how or where) they died. Our introductory PDF presentation on Finding Death Information highlights some useful sources for determining the particulars of an ancestor’s death, including vital statistics, newspaper notices, cemetery tombstones, and church records. 
 Your History - Online library resources
The Your History section of the Brantford Public Library website can assist you in your local history and genealogy research. Resources include links to Genealogy Websites, the Birth, Marriage, Death Index (Brantford Expositor), Historical Maps, War Memorial Search, and the library’s own Digital Archives.
 Digitizing Your Personal Historical Items at the Library
Introductory Instructional Guides
The Brantford Public Library offers various technologies to help you digitize your photos, videos, and fragile text documents. Note: in ordinary circumstances these technologies are available on a drop-in basis or by appointment. Please call the library to confirm whether the technology you want to use is currently available for access to the public.

In the meantime, familiarize yourself with these resources by downloading these instructional materials:

Introduction to Digital Archiving

How to Scan Your Photos

Using the Café Scanner

Using the Wolverine Slide Converter

Converting Your VHS Tapes to DVD 

Video Excerpts
New! Selections from 2020 Lifescapes anthology, A Sentimental Journey

Filmed by Jeff Sterne for the Brantford Public Library. Copyright 2020.

Margo (Excerpt from The Night the Sky Turned Orange)

Brenda (Excerpt from A Remembrance Day Poem)

Brian (Excerpt from How the Fresh Start Effect Saved My Life)

Wayne (Excerpt from Vignettes: Glimpses of My Life)

Past Collections

2021 Memories In Time 
2020 A Sentimental Journey
2019 Living Legacies 
2018 Shared Memories
2017 The Moments That Shaped Us
2016 Keepsakes of Our Past
2015 Like Sands Through the Hourglass
2014 Remember When
2013 Footprints in Time
2012 Memorable Times
2011 Roads We've Travelled
2010 A Walk Down Memory Lane
2009 Shades of the Past
2008 The Recollection Collection