You may have noticed that some of the coolest buildings in Toronto are Public Libraries. They have always fascinated me, so I decided to explore a few of Toronto’s 98 branches to learn a little bit more about these magnificent buildings.

A little about how the Public Library came to be in the city. In 1831, The York Mechanics’ institute was formed “for the mutual improvement of its members in useful scientific knowledge … A library of reference and circulation will be formed.” This first library was in the house of one of the forming members on King St. It was then moved to the 2nd floor of a Fire Hall located around Church St and King St (pictured below).

As the years passed, more and more locations were opened throughout the city. There are too many interesting library buildings in the city to highlight in this post, here are a choice few. These have interested me so much that I continually point them out to my friends and clients:

Queen and Saulter, 765 Queen Street East
Year Opened: 1962
Remark: This building was originally a Post Office (Stn. G). It was designed in 1913 by Toronto architect E.J. Lennox, who also designed Old City Hall (at Bay/Queen).

Beaches, 2161 Queen Street East
Year Built: 1916
Remark: One of three identical libraries built. Others located in High Park and Wychwood. The West wing of library was added during renovations in 2005. It was made to look similar to the fourplexes you see on neighbouring streets.

Beaches Library Today:

Beaches Library Then:

Runnymede, 2178 Bloor Street
Year Opened: 1930
Remark: Nationally recognized for its distinctively Canadian style, designed by John M. Lyle. The library features several aboriginal motifs, including totem poles at the main entrance and arrowheads in the iron railing above. Carvings of native plants and animals also embellish the building. The library was also featured on a Canadian stamp (pictured below).

One parting comment – Let’s support keeping our libraries open!


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