The Birth of Free Libraries and the Mechanics' Institute in Toronto

March 5, 2024 | Pamela

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This year, Toronto Public Library celebrates 140 years. However, lending libraries have been part of the city for more than two centuries. We preserve rare items in our archives that showcase the history of these 19th-century libraries in what is now downtown Toronto. A big piece of this history is...

Ernest Hemingway's Toronto Ties

September 20, 2023 | Pamela

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Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) was an American novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Nobel Prize in Literature. He's known for titles such as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea. What you may not know is that Hemingway had a...

King Charles III in Canada: Photos from the 1970s

September 11, 2023 | lfeesey

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King Charles III was crowned on May 6, 2023 at the age of 74. As a constitutional monarchy, Canada recognized this historic date — the first coronation in 70 years for Commonwealth nations. In an earlier blog post, we highlighted six rarities from our archives that document past coronation celebrations...

100th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act

June 28, 2023 | TPL Staff

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On July 1, 1923, the Canadian government passed a new Chinese Immigration Act — commonly known as the Chinese Exclusion Act — to restrict Chinese immigration. For its 100th anniversary, let's revisit this important part of Canadian history through precious records in our community-built Chinese Canadian Archive. Brief history of...

History of the Music Library at Toronto Public Library (1959–1977)

June 21, 2023 | Pamela

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Did you know that we once had a branch devoted just to music? The Music Library opened its doors in 1959 and operated for nearly two decades. It offered thousands of records, books and scores to borrow or use on the spot. Here's a look back at this largely-forgotten location...

Coronation Celebrations in Canada: Six Rarities from Our Archives

May 3, 2023 | David

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As a constitutional monarchy, Canada has held huge celebrations for past coronations of British monarchs. The crowning of King Charles III on May 6, 2023 marks the first coronation in 70 years for Commonwealth nations. Below is a quick overview of this age-old ceremony and six pieces of history tying...

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Inspiring Trip to Bala, Ontario in 1922

February 21, 2023 | Pamela

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In 1922, Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery and her family vacationed two weeks in the small town of Bala in Muskoka, Ontario. She took the proof of her novel Emily of New Moon to edit. But this trip would inspire The Blue Castle, one of her only two books for...

Carnegie Libraries in Ontario: Vintage Postcards

January 4, 2023 | Fiona

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"A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert." – Andrew Carnegie During the early 20th century, 125 libraries in Canada were built with grants from the Carnegie Foundation. Of those, 111 were built in...

The Red Triangle Club: A Refuge in Toronto for First World War Soldiers

November 9, 2022 | Pamela

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The Young Men's Christian Association, now known simply as the YMCA, has a long history in Canada. Its first North American location opened in Montreal in 1851. Early services extended to Canada's military, including support for men recruited during the First World War. In Toronto in 1917, the Y.M.C.A. opened...

What Makes You Feel At Home? Visitors Respond to 5 Questions in Our Exhibit On Migration, Life and Change in Toronto

October 20, 2022 | Nicole

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Block by Block weaves together stories from 100 newcomer, immigrant, racialized and Indigenous community members from Agincourt, Parkdale, Regent Park and Victoria Park. Led by Toronto Ward Museum, the free exhibition is on display in the TD Gallery at Toronto Reference Library until November 20, 2022. There are many powerful,...