A History of our Library:

image of the outside of the meaford public library
In 1854 St. Vincent Council (which included Meaford) decided to found a library. Sixty British pounds were spent to buy books and distribute them to five locations throughout the township: Meaford, Griersville, Scotch Mountain, Cape Rich & Leaven's Corner.

The original Meaford library location was D.L. Layton's store and was open two hours per week. In 1869 the township was persuaded by the local newspaper editor to amalgamate the five libraries into one central location at the printing office of The Monitor newspaper in Meaford.

The first public organization to help in funding the library was the Mechanics Institute. It was a group formed by public-minded citizens who added books to the collection, gave lectures and held music concerts. In 1887 the fees for the Mechanics Institute were one dollar per year, or fifty cents for single ladies. 

By 1887, the library of about 1,000 volumes was located in Mr. and Mrs. MacKinnon's book and stationery store.

Through 1891-1900 the library was located in various places in town until it settled above W.W. Stephen's Drug Store. In the early 1900s the town attempted to take over the library and make it a public facility funded by tax dollars. The town lost in this decision by one vote. When the new town hall was built in 1908 the library moved to the north east corner of the town hall.

The library was to remain at the town hall until 1967, when the town acquired the vacated post office building at 15 Trowbridge Street. In 1972 the children's library was opened in an area separate from the adult library, and in 1982 a multi-purpose room was opened in the renovated basement. A new entrance was built and a wheelchair ramp was constructed.

In 2010 the library uses the entire building at 15 Trowbridge. The children's library is in the basement, the adult and reference collections are on the main floor, and administration offices and meeting rooms are upstairs.

A New Library in an Important Location:

Meaford is growing, and as our community evolves so too does our need for a community hub that accommodates the broadening diversity of people and interests here within the municipality. 11 Sykes Street North is now the location of the Meaford Public Library. In 2018, after careful consideration, the Municipality of Meaford Council agreed to renovate the former grocery store at this location to become the new home of the library that opened to serve the public on November 20, 2020.    

outside view of the new library in Meaford

Throughout Meaford’s history, 11 Sykes Street North, has always been an important location, acting as a sort of gateway to downtown, serving as a community hub in several different ways over time. Paul’s Hotel, the Victorian lodging that resided in this location, was a lively downtown destination. Much later, it was transformed into a grocery store, a community centre in its own right. Both former uses were destinations for residents and visitors alike to socialize and achieve a sense of community.

               image of Paul's Hotel circa 1870                      image of the outside of the Foodliner grocery store in the 1960's

Today, the new Meaford Public Library has taken over the role of community hub and continues the rich history of 11 Sykes Street North as a place to gather, to learn, to grow and connect with fellow neighbours and visitors. The updated building and amenities have been carefully designed with accessibility, sustainability and community in mind. It is open to everyone, generously offering their services to all who visit. You can enjoy stellar year round programming, an excellent selection of books and media, and gracious staff. You can even borrow for no charge, fishing rods and snowshoes, allowing anyone interested in enjoying our outdoor activities the ability to do so. 

image of staff at the front desk of the new library

This brand new library facility is beautiful, inside and out, and brings with it a wealth of opportunities for everyone, from greater access to technology, to children’s programming, and more. It is representative of how we will evolve and change as a community in a way that is thoughtful, meets our unique needs, and honours our past. 


Special thanks to the staff at the Meaford Museum for their wonderful support in sourcing the images. This article can also be found in our 2022 What Matters Guide. Print copies were mailed to residents in the spring and you can pick up a copy from the Meaford Public Library, the Meaford Hall and the Municipal Administration Office, located at 21 Trowbridge Street West, Meaford. 

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