Carnegie Libraries: Yorkville

Welcome to our fourth Ontario Carnegie Library: the Toronto Public Library’s Yorkville branch. The Toronto Public Library’s (TPL) oldest branch moved into its new Yorkville home in 1907 when it was re-located from rented space in a building nearby1. The Village of Yorkville only became part of the city of Toronto in 1883, but within a year, the Toronto Public Library had opened its first branch, and it was located in Yorkville.1

Toronto Public Library’s Yorkville Branch

As noted in previous Carnegie Library posts, this branch also features several Carnegie characteristics, such as imposing columns and wide front stairs to a single-level structure. It opened to the public on June 13, 1907, and according to the TPL1, cost a whopping $27,328.65

The last Carnegie branches that were built for the TPL (1916) omitted those well-known telltale features, but the Yorkville branch remains a classic example of the earlier Carnegie architectural style.

“TPL’s oldest branches were built when the concept of free public libraries was still new, fought for by the Public Library Movement that saw access to education as an essential antidote to the vices of the city. As a result, these first libraries (Yorkville, Annette Street) were built to imbue confidence in a newly enshrined municipal service – and are well-protected from the vices of the street by stone staircases and Doric columns.”2

Detail of the main entrance

Ten years after the Yorkville branch opened, Carnegie libraries would display “an entirely new style of one-room institutions with vaulted ceilings” that would “better serve a library’s function and better meet the needs of its patrons,” thanks to a much stronger influence of the city’s chief librarian, George H. Locke3.

In 1973 this building made it onto the Toronto Historical Board’s list of Heritage Properties, and while 1994 saw a reduction in service hours, 2010 brought about an increase, and this branch continues to serve the local community for 62 hours every week4 (pandemics notwithstanding).

For more Yorkville history, and some great photos of the branch in its early years, visit the Yorkville Library’s webpage via the TPL. Thank you again for stopping by! 💜

Sources:
1. https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/about-the-library/library-history/carnegie-yorkville.jsp
2. Rotsztain, Daniel. Globe & Mail May 22, 2015 https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/then-there-were-100-why-the-toronto-public-librarys-newest-branch-is-the-perfect-modern-library/article24572738/
3. Plummer, Kevin. Torontoist.com, Oct. 25, 2008 https://torontoist.com/2008/10/historicist_andrew_carnegies_toronto_legacy
4. https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/yorkville/
http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/libraries/carnegie.shtml

Kafka on the Shore

And now for something completely different. Every so often I do pick up a book that isn’t a murder mystery, and most recently that was Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I saw a post about this author on Instagram, and was drawn to the synopsis of this particular story. Any book that features talking cats and raining fish is worth investigating, I thought. And I’m glad I did!

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

I’m almost 20 years late to this party, as Kafka on the Shore was written in 2002, but better late than never. (It was translated into English in 2005, so I guess I’m only 15 years late.) On the front cover of my edition, The New Yorker claims this story is “an insistently metaphysical mind-bender,” but I don’t know that I would completely agree with that statement. There are some moments where one does wonder what on earth is going on, and the bulk of the story is built around the belief in ghosts who are capable of all sorts of things. But, why not? Live a little, I say. And aside from these two areas of flexible rationality, the story is not so metaphysically mind-bending as to be beyond the comprehension of the average person. I’m not one for much philosophizing, and I quite enjoyed this story.

There were some moments in this book that could safely be labelled as ‘explicit sexuality’ and ‘graphic violence and cruelty,’ yet it was not a violent or overly graphic tale. And I quickly found it impossible to put down! I think I would even go so far as to say that this book was a breath of fresh air, so different was it from what I usually read. And different again from the majority of books one finds in the average bookstore. It was gripping, intriguing, interesting, and even funny. I chuckled right out loud many times.

Without going into too much detail, here are a few details to pique your interest: A 15-year old rich boy runs away from home. A truly bizarre event happened in the countryside during World War II that was hushed up. A grown man on social assistance can talk to cats. The runaway boy finds himself covered in blood but with no sign of a victim. A private library and a remote mountain cabin provide solace, and a delightfully quirky young truck driver comes to the rescue.

Murakami is described as one of the world’s best fiction writers, and I’m inclined to agree. If you are looking for something different to sink your teeth into, look no further!