Port Elgin historic Carnegie library celebrates 111 years

Port Elgin Public Library is celebrating its 111th anniversary this year and, on Thursday December 5th, special historic plaques were unveiled from photos provided by the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre Archives.

One of the few Carnegie Libraries in Ontario, it continues to be a centre of community activities.

There was also cake and coffee and Mayor Luke Charbonneau attended the ‘birthday’ celebration.  “The library was, and still is, an important resource for the community,” said the Mayor, who is also Chair of the Bruce County Library Board.

(L) Interim Friends of the Library Chair, Dianne Gowan, Mayor Luke Charbonneau and Kathy Samson Lead Branch Supervisor

One of the most treasured finds was a diagram drawing of the original Library footprint that showed there was once a ‘smoking room’ and a separate ‘ladies’ room’.  “We tried to find a blueprint or drawing through the County,” said Ann Judd of the Friends of the Library, “and finally found one through the Ministry of Education that was in a report dated 1909.”

                            Left is the lower floor and right is the upper reading floor                                                            (for larger view, CLICK on Image)

The original library main floor, according to the drawing, had four book stacks and four tables to sit at for reading.  Today, there are many stacks filled with a wide variety of books and comfortable chairs to sit in to enjoy a quiet moment of reading, while the lower floor is now mainly used for children and events along with computer usage.

The Library today sits on the site of what was once the Royal Hotel that was destroyed by fire.  The owner, Mrs. Hilker, sold the site that became the home of the library that is now opposite the Wismer House (that was once a midwifery).

 In the distance is the Royal Hotel, original site of the Library (for larger view, CLICK on Image)

Also, among the photos is a 1953 image of the Library book mobile and the library is trying to determine who the people in the photo are.  The Friends of the Library believe that some are County councilors and that the woman in the left of the photo may be the Librarian Mrs. Gowanlock.  They Friends are asking anyone who can help with identification to contact the Library.

The newly found photos will be mounted on the staircase wall that leads up to the second storey and the Friends of the Library invites everyone to come in and see how the library began.