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County of Simcoe Carnegie Libraries

October is Canadian Library Month, and in celebration the Simcoe County Archives is looking at a few of the earlier public libraries to be established in the County; Carnegie Libraries.

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish businessman and philanthropist with a strong interest in and commitment to freely available public education. The Carnegie Foundation provided grants to help communities build public libraries. In Ontario, 111 libraries were built with the aid of Carnegie grants, with an additional 14 libraries built across Canada. Five Carnegie libraries were built in the county of Simcoe; one each in Collingwood, Midland, Penetanguishene, Barrie, and Orillia.

Carnegie Libraries in Simcoe County

Collingwood Public Library
One of the earliest Simcoe County communities to be awarded funding from the Carnegie Foundation was the town of Collingwood. A grant for the construction of a public library was issued on August 16, 1902. The original building for the Collingwood Public Library, pictured below, was designed by W. & W. Stewart. This building was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1963. 

Postcard of Collingwood Public Library ca. 1904-1915

Postcard featuring the Public Library, Collingwood, ON, ca. 1904-1915
Simcoe County Archives. Copyright: Public Domain

Penetanguishene Public Library
The Carnegie Foundation awarded a grant of $13 000 for the construction of a public library in Penetanguishene on December 13, 1907. The building was designed by architect Charles P. Baird. In 1995, an addition to the original Carnegie Library tripled the size of the  Penetanguishene Public Library. The library remains in operation today. 

Postcard featuring Penetanguishene Carnegie Library ca. 1904-1915

Postcard featuring The Carnegie Library, Penetanguishene, ON, ca. 1904-1915
Simcoe County Archives. Copyright: Public Domain.

Orillia Public Library
The City of Orillia received funds to construct their public library on April 10, 1909. The library was designed by a Mr. Crocker.

Midland Public Library
The Carnegie Foundation issued a $12 500 grant to the Town of Midland for the purposes of constructing a public library on March 21, 1910. The library was opened for public use in 1915.

Barrie Public Library

The City of Barrie received funds from the Carnegie Foundation on July 23, 1914. The original Barrie Public Library was built by Chapman & McGuffin and was located at 37 Mulcaster Street in downtown Barrie. The downtown branch of the Barrie Public Library has since relocated to a building on Worsley Street, however the Carnegie building is now home to the MacLaren Art Centre.

 While many of the original Carnegie Library buildings in the County of Simcoe are no longer in use, the public libraries they helped to establish continue to flourish.

Simcoe County hosts multiple library systems across 18 distinct municipalities. In addition, the County of Simcoe Library Cooperative operates to support and enhance public library services within the County.

Works consulted:

Libraries. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/libraries/

Carnegie Libraries. Ontario Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport. http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/libraries/carnegie.shtml

Library History. Midland Public Library. Retrieved from http://www.midlandlibrary.com/library-history/