November 5, 2016 - January 22, 2017

TD Gallery, Main Level, Toronto Reference Library

Explore items from the exhibit in our Digital Archive.

About the Exhibit

Toronto Public Library is pleased to present Once Upon a Time, an enchanting exhibit celebrating our best-loved folk and fairy tales.

A little girl wanders from the safe path on a trip through the woods. A boy sells the family cow for some magic beans. A mistreated girl yearns to go to the ball. A youngest son inherits a talking cat. These simple, yet powerful tales are among our best-known and best-loved stories.

Fairy tales are stories of spells, journeys, tests, riddles, dangers and (usually) happy endings. They speak to our innermost hopes, dreams and fears. Endlessly re-imagined in literature, film, television, and performance, fairy tales continue to have a profound influence on our culture.

This exhibit explores classic fairy tales and traditional stories from around the world through a surprising array of books, toys, games and art held at the library's Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books.

Fairy Tale blocks
Illustrated by Richard André, 1834-1907. New York: McLoughlin Brothers, ca. 1889

The Violet Fairy Book
Edited by Andrew Lang, 1844-1912
Illustrated by Henry Justice Ford, 1860-1941
London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1901

Fairy tale plate
Scotland: B.P. [Britannia Pottery] Co.
ca. 1920 - 1935

Guided Tours

Every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Meet inside the TD Gallery. Drop in. No registration required.

To organize group tours or class visits, please contact:

Related Programming

Fairy Tale Storytimes

Every Tuesday at 10 a.m. Meet inside the TD Gallery.

Lands of Enchantment: A History of Fairy Tales

Wednesday, December 7, 6:30 p.m.
Hinton Learning Theatre, Toronto Reference Library

Fairy Tales on Film

Beauty and the Beast - Not Rated, 1946, 93 min.
Thursday, November 17, 6:30 p.m.
Hinton Learning Theatre, Toronto Reference Library

Mirror, Mirror - PG, 2012, 106 min.
Thursday, December 29, 2 p.m.
Beeton Hall, Toronto Reference Library

Puppetmonger's Cinderella in Muddy York

Free tickets will become available here four weeks before the event.

Thursday, January 5, 2 p.m.
Beeton Hall, Toronto Reference Library

Exploring Fairy Tales through Ballet Workshop

Dance educators with The National Ballet of Canada will introduce students to ballet terminology and basic concepts of dance through fun and exciting activities.

For Grade 3 and Grade 4 classes. Registration required.

Please contact for more information.

Thursday, November 10, 10 a.m.
Beeton Hall, Toronto Reference Library

Thursday, December 22, 1 p.m.
Beeton Hall, Toronto Reference Library

Reprinted with the permission of Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, from CINDERELLA by Marcia Brown. Copyright © 1954 Marcia Brown; copyright renewed © 1982 Marcia Brown. All rights reserved.

Related Exhibits and Displays

Costumes from The National Ballet of Canada's The Sleeping Beauty

The National Ballet of Canada presents a display of costumes from the 1972 production of The Sleeping Beauty, designed by Nicholas Georgiadis.

November 2016 - January 2017
Browsery (Main floor), Toronto Reference Library

The Snow Queen's Palace: Amazing Stories by Hans Christian Andersen

Enjoy magical tales by beloved Danish storyteller Hans Andersen in this exhibit of illustrated books and original art held at the Toronto Public Library's Osborne Collection.

December 10, 2016 - March 4, 2017
Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, Lillian H. Smith Branch

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