Composite image - Carnegie building in early 1900s, 1970's and 2000's

Library timeline

Learn a little more about the history of the Grimsby Public Library. A special thank you to the Town of Grimsby's Doors Open team for collecting the information below with the support of the Grimsby Historical Society and Archives.

Mabey House, also known known as the Dressmakers Cottage (or Seamstress Cottage) and was built by Robert Nelles c. 1800 for his wife's seamstress using leftover stone from the Nelles Manor.1871 to 1900

The first library in Grimsby was located in the home of village councilor Sam Mabey at 99 Main Street West. This library opened in April 1871 and was a Mechanics Institute Library and funded by the federal government.

A fire at a nearby basket factory damaged the Mabey house and so the collection of 1,000 books moved to the space above the old fire hall. People paid $1 for a yearly subscription to a catalogue from which they would choose books and then submit their requests to a librarian through a wicket.

Early 1900's

March 15, 1911 Newspaper clipping regarding $8000 grant for new library building

On February 7th, 1900 town council approved a recommendation that from that point on the use of the library would be free to any tax payer in the village of Grimsby, as well as hiring a new librarian who would be paid $10 a month.

In 1902 at an annual meeting it was decided that a committee be formed to contact the Andrew Carnegie foundation to request a grant for $10,000 to build a new public library. When the committee did not hear back from Carnegie many members lost interest. However, their secretary Mr. Aitchison took matters into his own hands by sending Grimsby post cards to Carnegie on a regular basis.

These efforts paid off when the town finally received a grant of $8,000 to build a free public library building in Grimsby. In 1911 the new Grimsby Public Library opened to the public and remained in this typical Carnegie building for almost 100 years.

News clipping of Toronto artist Merton Chambers delivering his clay book mural

The 1970's

Building work began during the 1970's to expand the library. The expansion was built to include the brand new Grimsby Public Art Gallery which was officially established in 1975. The grand re-opening took place on Sunday, April 20 of that year. Further renovations in 1977 included the installation of a wheelchair ramp entrance, a new gift shop, and a temperature controlled exhibition and storage space for the new gallery.

The Grimsby Public Library and Art Gallery procured two artworks to be installed on the premises. Toronto artist Merton Chambers was commissioned to create a large mural of clay books depicting local historical events for the front entrance of the new building, and it was installed in August of 1977. In 1978, the Klosso Eloul sculpture ‘Double is One' (the two tipped cubes) was installed and remains outside on the grounds to this day. The library and art gallery happily operated out of this building for the next 30 years.

Composite image - library doors, opening ceremony with Chief Librarian Gladys Western (2nd from left), cube sculpture

2002 to present

In the early 2000's as Grimsby's population began to grow, it became clear that the Grimsby Public Library and Art Gallery had to grow with it. Town Council approved the construction of a new building and the whole community chimed in on how, where, when it should be built. It was an expensive undertaking, and in 2002 the Grimsby Author Series was born as a fundraiser to support it. The Series proved to be very popular, hosting critically acclaimed authors and national bestsellers, and continues to this day as one of the main fundraisers for the library. Ground broke on the building site in 2003, and after demolishing the 1970's Art Gallery addition, the new building was constructed directly next door to the old one. The Carnegie building then became home to the Grimsby Historical Society

In 2004 the new state of the art facility, commissioned to architects Shore, Tilbe, Irwin and Partners and Reich and Petch, was opened. It is where the library and art gallery now continues serving the residents of Grimsby. The iconic Klosso Eloul sculpture was painted blue and moved to the corner lawn of Adelaide and Ontario Street, and the clay book mural by Merton Chambers was stored and later installed inside the new building in the non-fiction section where it can be seen today.

Looking out the windows of our new modern facility to the classic architecture of the old one, you really get a sense the history that has been made over the last hundred years.

Composite image - New library building and clay book display

 

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