travel / travel magazine / sep15

September 2015 issue

10 beautiful Canadian libraries

From cozy refuges to soaring architectural wonders, these 10 libraries could turn anyone into a bibliophile

By Sabrina Doyle

Few community institutions are so revered and romanticized as a library. But the role of a library has evolved over the years, and, perhaps in reaction, the buildings that house them have evolved as well.

From the modern, natural-light-loving façade of Hespeler’s library to Edmonton’s wonky Jasper Place branch, libraries’ architecture and purpose are being re-imagined. Granted, not all libraries are undergoing such novel renovations. Indeed some of our favourites, like the Morrin Centre library, remain the cozy bookish enclaves they were in mid-19th century. Either way, these bibliophilic havens call to mind Walter Savage Landor’s quote: “Nothing is pleasanter than exploring a library.”

Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Ont. (Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)

Vancouver Public Library Central Branch; Vancouver, B.C. (Andrew Raun/Wikimedia Commons)

Halifax Central Library; Halifax, N.S. (Citobun/Wikimedia Commons)

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library; Toronto, Ont. (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library/Wikimedia Commons)

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec; Montreal, Que. (© BAnQ, Bernard Fougères)

Idea Exchange; Hespeler, Ont. (JasonParis/Wikimedia Commons)

Whistler Public Library; Whistler, B.C. (Martin Tessler)

Morrin Centre library; Quebec City, Que. (Sabrina Doyle)

Edmonton Public Library Jasper Place Branch; Edmonton, Alta. (Hubert Kang)

Queen’s University Douglas Library; Kingston, Ont. (Jessica Darmanin)


Comments on this articleView all comments (12) | Leave a comment

I tried to visit Parliament Library, and told i could not enter library. The reason i went to Ottawa, disappointed!!!!

Submitted by Voula on Monday, September 14, 2015

So glad you've featured libraries. They are as relevant today as ever and their beauty only magnifies their value.

Submitted by Tracey on Saturday, August 29, 2015

I would like to add our gorgeous recently renovated Carnegie library in beautiful downtown Fergus to your list. It boasts a bright and cheery kids' section, beautiful heritage room, and spectacular views of the Grand River gorge.

Submitted by Jackie on Friday, August 28, 2015

Our library here is also beautiful we have paintings from a well known Native artist plus beautiful glass windows which are also works of art

Submitted by Cynthia on Thursday, August 27, 2015

Each of your libraries is indeed beautiful. The Runnymede Public Library in Toronto was featured on a Canadian stamp in 1989, part of Canada Post's Canadian Architecture series.

Submitted by J on Thursday, August 27, 2015

All of the material at closed DFO libraries was previously reported as being digitized, meaning all the information is now available online and accessible at‎, and at I appreciate Prime Minister Harper’s commitment to science and easier access to libraries across Canada without the expense of travelling to those libraries for research purposes.

Submitted by Shelley on Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wish you had pictures of the inside of the ones you only show the outside. They all look awesome though.

Submitted by Dorothy on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I'd like to submit a #11 to your top Ten list of Canadian Libraires: The Memphrémagog Public Library in the Town of Magog, which is in a big old Catholic church. The decline of church-going for the last 40 years in the province of Quebec has left many churches to be sold and their new owners to 'reinvent' their use.

Submitted by Catherine on Friday, August 14, 2015

May I suggest you take a look at the Allison Library, Regent College on the campus of the University British of Columbia. Beautiful and unusual?

Submitted by Cindy on Friday, August 14, 2015

Libraries are beautiful and essential for civilisation. The one I used most was the excellent fisheries library in St. John's, in a modern DFO building. Unfortunately Mr Harper has closed DFO fisheries libraries, amongst his many cuts. He probably thinks science is not part of our culture.

Submitted by John on Thursday, August 13, 2015

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