Carnegie Library – Beaches

Photograph of Beaches Library c1916 Beaches Branch, c.1916
Photograph: Toronto Public Library TRL X 71-53

Address: 2161 Queen Street East
Grant Date: May 8, 1908 (promised); February 6, 1915 (regranted)
Recipient: Toronto Public Library Board
Architect: Eden Smith & Sons
Opened: 1916, December 6

Beaches Branch was constructed at the northeast corner of Kew Gardens on a site provided by the City of Toronto, despite opposition from local residents and the Parks Committee to having a building on park property. Mayor Tommy Church laid the cornerstone for the new library on October 29, 1915. It replaced a storefront library that the Toronto Public Library Board had opened on Queen Street East at the northeast corner of Hambly Avenue on February 23, 1914.

Beaches was the last of three identical branches (Wychwood and High Park were the other two) that the Toronto Public Library built with a $50,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Chief Librarian George Locke described the design by Eden Smith & Sons "after the fashion of the Collegiate Grammar School of the Seventeenth Century in England," as "a decided revolt in style from the traditional library architecture"1

Building Beaches Branch, 1910-1916 (PDF)

Major Alterations

1980 Renovation and addition by Stinson Montgomery Sisam Architects. Reopened 26 September. Addition demolished 2004.

2004-05 Renovation and addition by Phillip H. Carter and Kingsland + Architects Inc. Closed 17 April 2004. Reopened 20 January 2005; officially reopened 22 January 2005.

One-ton cast bronze owl designed by architect Phillip H. Carter and artisan Ludzer Vandermolen installed at the branch entrance, 7 July 2005.

Heritage Status

1979 Listed on Inventory of Heritage Properties, adopted by Toronto City Council, October 1.

2006 Heritage plaque presented by Heritage Toronto in partnership with Toronto Public Library, September 30. Toronto's Historical Plaques.

1 Toronto Public Library, Annual Report, 1916, 11.