|Queen-Lisgar library branch, 1909. Toronto Public Library.|
The building’s origins date back to 1903, when philanthropist Andrew Carnegie granted $350,000 to the city to build a new central library and three neighbourhood branches. The grant allowed the Toronto Public Library to own sites rather than rent existing buildings. In the case of Queen-Lisgar, it replaced a 20-year-old branch rented on Ossington Avenue that had inherited the collection of an earlier Parkdale library. The new building was designed in a Beaux-Arts style by City Architect Robert McCallum, whose other surviving projects include the palm house in Allan Gardens. During its official opening on April 30, 1909, Chief Librarian George Herbert Locke assured the audience that the shelves would be fully stocked by the following week. Another speaker noted that the library would include special facilities for mechanics and students, but “the sort of fiction ladies were reputed to be fond of would occupy a secondary place.”
|Ground floor, Queen and Lisgar library branch, 1911. Toronto Public Library.|
The library continued to serve the community until 1964, when its collections were moved to a new branch further west along Queen Street in Parkdale. The building was converted into a Department of Public Health office. It received royal attention in March 1989 when Prince Philip dedicated a plaque to recently deceased actress Beatrice Lillie. The stage legend was actually born nearby at 64 Dovercourt Road, but homeowners Jose and Maria Maciel refused to allow the city to place any memorial marker on their house. According to a Star report, the Maciel family had never heard of Lillie or the prince.
|Toronto Star, March 15, 1989.|
Additional material from A Century of Service: Toronto Public Library 1883-1983 by Margaret Penman (Toronto: Toronto Public Library, 1983), the May 1, 1909 edition of the Globe, and the March 15, 1989 edition of the Toronto Star.