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

The Gemstone Affair by Ken Turner

It’s summertime again, but beaches and restaurants are closed or have restricted access, and we have been cooped up at home for months. Our attention spans are dwindling, but we still need something to occupy our minds. What’s the solution? The Gemstone Affair by Ken Turner. At 110 pages, this novella (or, ‘noirvella’) is the perfect summer read.

The Gemstone Affair – A Max Goodbrand noirvella

Turner chose the 1940s for the setting of this work. The protagonist is a scotch-drinking gumshoe who is down on his luck, when a mysterious woman appears with a job for him, and a wad of cash he can’t resist. Her request seems straight-forward: to retrieve four gemstones that are rightfully hers, which were smuggled out of Germany in the war.

The situation escalates quickly, and we learn that things are not what they seem. Max awakens to shots through his window, bodies start piling up around him, and the person we know as ‘Mrs. Smith’ makes some startling revelations.

The author stays true to the Dick Tracy-esque tone throughout the story, using words like ‘fellas’ and ‘swindlers,’ and phrases like, “you’ve been double-crossed, doll.” While references to Coca-Cola bottle caps, an Underwood typewriter, and a Walther PPK sidearm are effective ways of transporting us back in time without slowing the pace of the story through lengthy descriptions. Nods to pop culture of the day keep us rooted in the past, as well: Errol Flynn, Lindbergh’s flight to Paris, and the 1932 movie The Mummy, to name a few.

I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s action-packed and atmospheric, full of surprises and witty dialogue, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages. Be sure to read the Afterword for some insights into the inspiration for Max Goodbrand, and a note about the author’s love for this golden age that has captured so many hearts and imaginations. The Gemstone Affair is available from Amazon.ca here, and if you’re ready to kick-start your summer reading, there’s no better way to do it. Enjoy!