Carnegie Library - Western (now Annette Street)

Address: 145 Annette St.
Architect: Ellis & Connery
Opened: 1909, September 1

The Toronto Junction Library Board was awarded a Carnegie grant of $20,000 on April 6, 1908. Ellis & Connery, a local architectural firm, designed the library with features of Edwardian Classicism. Clad with orange-red brick and embellished with Ohio sandstone, the library features Corinthian columns, a projecting entrance block with a parapet, and stone quoins, cornice, band courses and keystones. Before the building was completed, the City of West Toronto was annexed to Toronto. The library opened on September 1, 1909 as Western Branch (now Annette Street) of the Toronto Public Library. The branch was renamed Annette Street in 1962.

Major Alterations

1917 Children's room opened in the basement.
1962 Renovation; reopened 14 April.
1980 Renovation and addition by Sillaste & Nakashima Architects. Reopened 9 June.

Heritage Status

1998 Listed by Heritage Toronto as historical property, 1 October.

Carnegie Library - Western (now Annette Street), 1909

The rotunda at Western (now Annette Street) Branch was described in great detail in Construction magazine, September 1909: "The walls are finished in a brown toned stucco; the pilasters, capitals and cornice in keen white cement; and the ceiling crossed with enriched white plastered beams forming deep recessed panels, the centre of which providing a skylight over the delivery desk."1 Remarkably, this ceiling was covered in 1962, but revealed in the 1980 renovation. Construction also noted that the circulation desk, located in the rotunda opposite the entrance, enabled "the librarian or the clerks to have a commanding view of both reading room[s] and to exercise complete supervision over the entire floor."2

1"West Toronto's new Public Library," Construction, September 1909, 64.

Carnegie Library - Western (now Annette Street), 1910

One condition of a Carnegie library grant was that the community was to provide the building site. In June 1908, the Toronto Junction Library Board paid $2,000 to purchase two and one-half lots for the city’s1 new library. Board chair Allan Berlin Rice enthusiastically described the land in his 22 July 1908 letter to Andrew Carnegie:

The site is centrally located on Annette Street which parallels Dundas Street, our chief Business thoroughfare. Most of the Churches are on Annette Street and one of the finest of these, Victoria Presbyterian Church is on the opposite corner. Immediately west of our site has been bought for a Masonic Temple which will be a fine building. Our site has a frontage of 90 feet on Annette Street by 85 feet on Medland Street. The Citizens are unanimous in the opinion that we have secured the best location for the purpose in the City.2

On 6 October 1908, the library board paid another $675 to acquire an additional 32- x 85- foot lot immediately west of their original purchase. This farsighted purchase provided a site for an addition to the library seven decades later.

1"West Toronto's new Public Library," Construction, September 1909, 64.