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
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
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! 💜
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