LaRea Moody

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LaRea Moody, 31 January 2018

LaRea Moody (8 July 1925 - 4 July 2021) was the courthouse librarian from about 1973 to 2004 for Thunder Bay. During those years she lived at 89 South Hill Street, Thunder Bay, with her husband and large German Shepherd dog.

As of 2018 she lived in Barrie, Ontario. She passed away on 4 July 2021.

Early life

LaRea Moody was born 8 July 1925. She may have been from New York City, according to Nancy Greenwald. She was apprently given an unusual, African name by her parents, which contains an internal capitalization. [1] On the other hand, her given name might have Scottish origins, since "Larae as a girl's name [which] has American and Scottish origins. The meaning of Larae is "grace", [and is] related to the name Rae." [2]


From 1973 to 2004 she was the Thunder Bay Law Association librarian, working from the Superior Court of Justice Building, on 277 Camelot Street.

For instance, on 2 December 1993 she attended a General Meeting of the Ontario Association of Library Technicians / Association des Bibliotechniciens de l’Ontario (OALT/ABO) in Thunder Bay. She was billed as a "longtime member of OALT/ABO". [2]

In 2004 she capped her 30+ year career as a law librarian by being named the first lifetime member of the OALT/ABO Thunder Bay Chapter by Donald M. Henderson, President. [3]

Dear LaRea Moody:

On behalf of OALT/ABO Thunder Bay Chapter I would like to:

Thank you for being a pioneer Library Technician student. You studied in the first such program in Ontario right here in Thunder Bay at what has become Lakehead University. It takes courage and tenacity to pursue and unknown goal and set the example.

Thank you for being one of the first of many excellent Library Technicians that worked for the program and helped the students of those early years to bond into professional and social support groups. Your influence shows in the newsletters and photo albums of the time.

Thank you for creating momentum and incorporating the strong viable Lakehead Library Techicians into the provincial association. Seeds germinated by the CLTA members grew into our present OALT/ABO. The process began at a seminar in Sudbury focusing on Library Technicians in 1973.

Thank you for your years of service to OALT/ABO as a member of the executive several times regionally and as Secretary to the provincial body in 1980. This is only what we know about. Even while not on the executive you contined to contribute greatly.

Thank you for spearheading the Annual Award for students in the Lakehead University Library Technician program. In the early days the assoication and the classes were tightly bound and this award was another way to encourage and help those who aspired to enter our profession.

Thank you for the many short (??) speeches at the conferences. Espectially the one you gave when you were honoured for ten years of continuous membership in 1983. Twenty years later and you are still coming out. Your words were always a delight and inspiration to those that were just beginning the long journey that you have so far accomplished.

Thank you for winning the President's Award in 1988. Thunder Bay need not feel left out. So much history of OALT/ABO took place in Thunder Bay because of people like you. One could almost say that the province joined us and you were a huge part of all that.

Thank you for being part of the Degree/Diploma program from 1988 until 2001. You taught many of us, you gave us a place to do practice work, and above all so many stories and tours or classes here in this Law Library that you "owned" for so long. So many of us have been touched by your instruction.

In order to truly thank you LaRea, I move, on behalf of OALT/ABO Thunder Bay Chapter, that LaRea Moody be accepted as our first life member.

— Donald M Henderson, President, Thunder Bay chapter of OALT/ABO, 2004

Running a One-Half Person Library

Moody wrote an article, Running a One-Half Person Library, for a newsletter in 1991, which had been adapted from a previous article she wrote in 1990. Here it is:

On the top floor of a 66-year-old district Court House building [the old courthouse at 277 Camelot Street in Thunder Bay; the Superior Court of Justice Building, built in 1924 and which served as the courthouse until 2014 when it was sold; as of 2017 it is being turned into a boutique hotel], high on a hill overlooking Lake Superior, reposes a sizeable collection of the legal wit and wisdom of the District of Thunder Bay.

The Court House Library occupies three rooms and a hallway, housing a collection of approximately 8,000 volumes. It is one of 47 district Court House Libraries in Ontario, and receives a major portion of funding from the Law Foundation and Law Society of Upper Canada, in addition to the revenues from local members' fees.

Until 1988, the text collection had been catalogued (I use the word loosely) according to an original scheme, i.e. DV-Divorce, LA-Landlord and Tenant, BK-Banking, as well as a number of esoteric combinations. Within those broad categories, the books were assigned numbers in order of their receipt. This, of course, did not enhance ease of access. In addition, these same alpha-numerics were painted on the spine of each title in a brilliant fluorescent orange paint. The rationale was that missing items could easily be spotted when the Library Technician made her rounds of the law firms, seeking out those long overdues.

The greatest improvement in library practice is the present central cataloguing of texts (using KF modified Law of Canada) at the Great Library in Osgoode Hall. As each library receives new title, forms with pertinent bibliographic information are filled out and sent to the Great Library. They generate labels, shelflist cards, along with regularly updated book catalogues (author/title, subject, classified). In this way, as I try to gently wean the balky lawyers away from the previous archaic system, every district court house library in Ontario is shelved in exactly the same manner.

There are 150 practicing lawyers, ten judges and crown counsel, ten or so articling students and affiliate members who use the library regularly. In addition, students from Lakehead University and Confederation College, along with occasional high school students and researchers, use the facilities.

The Library Technician is in attendance 20 hours per week. Members of the local Association have their own keys (issued by the Sheriff's Office), and use the facilities, day, night and weekends. The technician's desk is fair game for anyone looking for pencils, paper clips, and general nosing around.

The textbook collection circulates via book cards, where borrowers sign their names and the exact date the item was taken. Non-circulating materials have REFERENCE ONLY - DO NOT REMOVE FROM LIBRARY stickers prominently displayed, which of course lose their meaning when someone desperately needs a particular book.

By and large, the members of the bar are an agreeable lot, and materials eventually find their way back to the stacks. Once or twice a year, I announce a royal tour and outline the travel route. Armed with my list of 20 or so missing titles, I generally return with at least 50 items I did not even know were missing.

Lakehead University's Department of Library and Information Studies sends students to our library for practice work several times a year, and they work on the kardex, send overdue notices, prepare bibliographies, and if I satisfy myself that they really understand alpha-numerics, let them do the inserts of the releases. The Crown Attorney's Office has been most co-operative in providing occasional assistance when they have students.

Overriding all the usual technical tasks is the assistance to the lawyers in their constant quest for information. This is really the most interesting aspect of the job. The problem with legal research is determining the amount of time to allot to a particular search.

Presently, acquisitions, collection development and general library policies are reviewed by a library committee, consisting of three very keen lawyers and the Library Technician who meet once every two months. This is a very satisfactory arrangement in keeping on top of any impending problems. A budget for the year is in effect, and if the publishers can cut back their double and triple mailings of advertising brochures, perhaps the saving on postage will preclude the rising cost of the books! The library has a minicomputer with two floppy disk drives and a printer (no modem), which is used to keep files of members, monthly financial statements, form letters, etc. It is used primarily as a word processor, and is an invaluable tool. A separate link-up with Osgoode Hall enables the articling students to do their tax and accounting courses. The acquisition of a FAX machine has proved to be the greatest invention since the wheel.

Although the closest cities of comparable size to Thunder Bay (population 120,000) are Minneapolis, 480 km to the south, Winnipeg, 700 km to the west, and Sault Ste. Marie, the same distance east, the fact that we have a university and public library who do online searching, makes our isolation a lessor factor than was previously the case.

Source: [3]


The OALT's Thunder Bay chapter closed in about 2005 after its membership dwindled to 12 following the closure of the Lakehead University library tech program, which had acted as a feeder for many such small-town OALT chapters. [6]

Before this happened, Mrs. Moody had already retired in 2004.

After Mrs. Moody retired, she was succeeded in her role as Thunder Bay Law Society librarian by Catherine Walsh from 2004 to 2012. Catherine had previously worked part-time with Mrs. Moody.

When Walsh retired in 2012, she was succeeded by Helen Heerema, from 2012 to at least 2019. "We [Moody, Walsh, and Heerema] were all involved in OALT/ABO provincially and in our local Thunder Bay branch," said Heerema in 2019.

Helen Heerema, who had worked at the Confederation College Library for 30 years, from about 1982, so for the entire first part of her career she knew Mrs. Moody well. In fact one year Mrs. Moody organized the OALT annual meeting, and the following year, Heerema did. According to Heerema, she had long playfully told Mrs. Moody, "Some day I'm going to take your job," and one day, she did. [6]

As of 2019 the Law Library is located at the Fort William courthouse and employs a full-time law librarian (Helen Heerema, since 2012), and an assistant (Iris Johnson as of 2019), who works one day a week. [6]

Other interests

Mrs. Moody was also active on Magnus Theatre, and the Thunder Bay Symphony.

She and her husband had a large German Shepherd dog as of 1994.


LaRea passed away peacefully at Hospice Simcoe in Barrie on July 4th [2021] after suffering a stroke a week earlier.

Predeceased by her husband Bill (2001), both LaRea and Bill had a strong sense of family and they were especially proud of the accomplishments of their children: Rusty (Linda), Diana, Scott (Ellen) and Doug (Joan). And grandchildren: Bryce Moody, Jeffrey Moody, Alison Jordan (Lance) and Great-Grandchildren: Brooklyn and Hudson Jordan

LaRea was born in Staten Island New York on July 8, 1925, the youngest of five children. Her parents and four Siblings were Russian Jewish Immigrants who had escaped to the States in 1923 to start a new life. Her birth represented new hope and prosperity to her family and that was something she never forgot; and perhaps that is one of the reasons she was so special.

LaRea attended Columbia University and Brooklyn College and earned a B.A. in Political Science in 1948. She worked as a Sales Promotion Director for Pittman Publishing in Manhattan until she met Bill Moody, who persuaded her to get married and move to Dallas Texas as he started his career in Mechanical Engineering.

In 1954, a transfer to Canada (Cambridge, Galt) saw LaRea, Bill, Rusty and Diana take on a new challenge that had a tremendous impact on the rest of their lives. Quickly learning to play golf and bridge, they developed lasting friendships and also added to the family with the arrival of Scott and Doug before leaving Cambridge in 1963. The family saw moves to Burlington (where LaRea supply taught in five area High Schools), Pittsburgh and back to Burlington with an eventual move to Thunder Bay in 1971.

With her usual positive attitude, LaRea embraced this northern Ontario city and immediately enrolled in Lakehead University to further her education; subsequently accepting a teaching position in the University’s School of Library Technology for 10 years. In 1981, she was asked to be the Courthouse Librarian at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice where she worked for 19 years. Upon her retirement, the Thunder Bay Law Association renamed it the “LaRea Moody Law Library.”

In addition to taking on multiple careers, LaRea was actively involved in the cultural scene, serving on the Thunder Bay Symphony & Regional Arts Council Boards, fund raising for Lakehead University and other charities. She also produced (along with Bill) and hosted a TV show “Best Seat in the House” for 10 years that saw her interview a wide range of artists from the performing arts. She produced a special documentary that won the MacLean Hunter Award in recognition of her outstanding public service. LaRea also did special narrations for the CBC; and in 1994, the mayor and members of City Council recognized her cultural achievements noting that her volunteer work ”springs from a sense of the importance of the arts as the soul of a city.” She was also involved in local theatre performing in several plays and recently joked that whenever they were looking for a crabby old lady to play a part, she was considered a natural!

In 2003, LaRea moved to Barrie to be closer to family and continued to be a patron of the Arts in her new community – frequenting the Maclaren Art Centre and attending Concerts and Shows in local theatre which she enjoyed so much with special friends and volunteering on several Committees well into her eighties.

In 2004, LaRea was inducted into the Curtis High School (Staten Island) Hall of Fame as a distinguished graduate honouring her contributions. She was so humbled to be able to go back to her beloved New York to accept this recognition.

The Family would like to thank the staff at the Waterford Retirement Home in Barrie where LaRea resided so comfortably for the past 5 years.

A private family celebration is planned at the family’s cottage on “Mary’s Island” in Pointe au Baril where LaRea will join Bill in her final resting place later this summer.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice Simcoe or RVH Foundation. Messages of condolence may be forwarded to the family through [8]


[1] Facebook [4]

[2] Ontario Association of Library Technicians Newsletter, Volume 18, Number 2, Winter 1994. [5]

[3] Ontario Association of Library Technicians Newsletter, Volume 16, Number 2, 1991. Page 4 of 4. (Edited from an article which appeared in Canadian Law Libraries, Volume 15, Number 4 (October 1990)) [6]

[4] Ontario Association of Library Technicians Newsletter, Volume 27, Number 2, January 2004. Page 10. [7]

[5] Ontario Association of Library Technicians Newsletter, Volume 18, Number 3, Spring 1994. Page 1 - Picture.

[6] Phone call between Michael Currie and Helen Heerema, 13 December 2019.


[8] Obituary in Barrie Today, 7 July 2021.