The Westmount Children’s Library opened its doors on January 13th, 1911. It took the Chief Librarian, Mary Saxe, ten years to persuade the council that the children needed their own library, complete with their own entrance, their own hours and their own children’s librarian. With this addition Mary Saxe felt that Westmount would have a model building. Notes from the City of Westmount’s 2011 Annual Report indicate that this was "the greatest event in the Library’s history since it was established”.
The Children’s Library was designed by local architect Robert Findlay who had designed the original Westmount Public Library to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1899.
By the end of 1911, 400 children had joined the library. Some of the titles that were part of the original collection can still be found in the Children’s Historical Collection of the Library, including Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Mary and Charles Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and a great number of stories from G. A. Henty.
The original Children’s Library is now called the Westmount Room, but many of the original architectural features remain, including the fireplace with Alice in Wonderland tiles and the leaded bay windows featuring the names of famous children’s authors.
In January of this year, the Children’s Library staff dressed in period costumes to host an old fashioned tea party in the original room. The children and parents were treated to cucumber sandwiches, strawberries, lemonade and a special anniversary cake. We also invited Peter Rabbit and storyteller Stéphanie Bénéteau to help us celebrate. To see the photos of the event as well as the history of the Westmount Children’s Library, please check out our web page celebrating this historic event: