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History of the Atwood Branch

North Perth Public Library

In the original minute book of the Library Board, it was noted that on November 11, 1892, a meeting was held in the Foresters Hall, Atwood, for the purpose of organizing a Mechanics Institute. The Ontario Legislature changed the name Mechanics Institute to Public Library in 1895.

The first library in Atwood was opened in early January 1893 and was located on the top floor of Mr. J. L. Mader's store. Mr. Mader was the first librarian and the library was open only on Saturday afternoon and evening. He received a salary of $24 per year, which also included the rental of the building. The membership fees were set at $1 per year and an annual membership of 50 people had to be maintained for the library to be eligible for government grants.

The original board members were all male and included businessmen, several ministers and a doctor. It was not until 1921 that the first women were appointed to the board. During the early years of operation, finances were often a problem, so board members would sign bank notes to cover expenses until the government grants were received. The Ways and Means Committee organized Membership drives and fundraisers to keep the library open. Local service groups also assisted the library through donations of books and finances.

Over the years, the library has been housed in several different locations. In 1990, the library moved from the basement of the municipal building to its current location at 218A Main Street. When this building was purchased by Elma Township, it was in need of extensive renovations to make it serviceable as a library. The Atwood Lion's Club undertook the building renovations and dedicated library patrons volunteered their time to organize and set up the new, larger location. The Atwood Library had its official opening ceremony on September 20, 1990.

History of the Listowel Branch

North Perth Public Library


The Listowel Public Library was built in 1907 with a grant of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie. It was designed by local architect W.E. Binning, who also designed several other Ontario libraries. The stone walls and stained-glass windows have witnessed many changes over the years.

Before opening as a children's department in 1972, the basement had been home to the Women's Patriotic League, Town Council, Division Court and St. John's Ambulance. It has been a temporary shelter for men on the road during the depression, a workshop, and a place to play checkers. At one time, plans included the installation of police holding cells in the basement, but the Library Association threatened to cut off grant support if such plans proceeded.

In 1982, a boardroom/archives was added to the upstairs quarters. Then on May 27, 2000, the long awaited official opening of the restored and expanded Carnegie Library was held. The 1.2 million dollar project received one third of the needed financial support from the Canada Millennium Partnership Program and the remaining funding came from community and area organizations. A huge thank you is owed to the large number of committed volunteers who spent thousands of hours to realize a finished library building that is an integration of the old and new, drawn together by the beautiful Rotary Club Park.

The Carnegie section of the library houses the CEO's office, a programming room, and a reading room furnished in memory of David Hay, who was a past mayor of Listowel.

History of the Monkton Branch

North Perth Public Library

The North Perth Public Library and the Stratford-Perth Archives are looking for help from the local community to document the early history of the community of Monkton. Help document Monkton history.

Monkton's first library was organized through the initiative of Dr. A.F. McKenzie in 1899, who donated $25 to library start-up. Legend has it that James Kelly, a carriage maker in Monkton, sold tickets for a light carriage, won by Dr. McKenzie. Dr. McKenzie, who did not need another carriage, auctioned off the buggy that same night. The proceeds of the sale went towards the beginning of a new library housed in Hord's store on the corner of Madison and Winstanley St., with William Hord, appointed as librarian.

A total of $50 dollars in books was initially purchased, and later that month, an additional $150 was spent on books. The membership fee was set at 25 cents per year and within the first few weeks of opening, over a hundred members had joined.

As the library grew, it was moved several times along Winstanley St. The Monkton Women's Institute was the main support for the library until grant systems came into effect. They started a building fund in 1926 and in 1951, they purchased a new library building. Card parties and bake sales provided money towards the purchase of new books.

In 1990, Elma and Logan Townships jointly purchased the Post Office building and with renovations it became the Monkton Library Branch at the Winstanley St. location for 20 years. 

In 2020, the Monkton Branch moved to a new location at 200 Nelson St, Monkton as part of the Elma Logan Recreation Complex. The new location is fully accessible featuring large windows, a dedicated children's space, work areas, computers, and a joint community room with the North Perth EarlyON Center.

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