Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Keep your hands off Lillian

Wouldn't you want your books protected by bronze Gryphons?

I bopped along College Street, always ready for something new to catch my eye...and this goofy checkerboard pattern up at roof level did just that. Wasn't sure if I was looking an inspired upgrade (the Tudor arch garage door caught my eye) or something brand new...
Amusing checkerboard 'castle' built 1995 I rounded the corner and discovered that it's a library, named after the formidable Lillian H. Smith, the first trained children's librarian in the British Empire. This branch houses a significant children's collection along with serious multimedia, and multi-ethnic collections and services, sitting as it does on the Kensington/Chinatown cusp.
Children's Reading Room, Boys' and Girls' House c.1929

Boys' and Girls' House, 40 St. George Street - the library's predecessor
The library was built in 1995 after 14 years in the conceiving, on the site of the former Boys' and Girls' House, an early children's library.

Thanks to the folks at Toronto Archives for the photos. Perhaps they'll forgive me if I attach a link to their virtual gallery exhibit "Playing by the Rules" at:  /b_and_g.htm

courtesy Toronto Public libraries
...and in these library-challenged days, perhaps it might be wise to say "Mr. Ford, keep your hands off Lillian!"

The building is designed like a medieval castle, with two towers, and a circular stairway that peers down through five open floors (boiling oil, anyone?)


  1. A little-known fact about Toronto? Or is it just me who didn't know anything about this library? You DO provide the most interesting glimpses of places!

  2. Brand new place to me too! Just want walkabout and discovered Lillian's library. Among scores of other great spots. Uh-uh, couldn't live there, but what fun to look around!