Carnegie Library - Town of Gravenhurst

Carnegie

Carnegie Library

Between 1886 and 1919, Scottish born philanthropist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie established a foundation which funded the building of public libraries in communities across North America. A library association was begun in 1883 and came under Town jurisdiction in 1895. Gravenhurst first sought funding from this foundation and was granted $7,000 USD on March 24, 1906. Subsequently, the Town Council felt it could not meet the foundation's requirements to underwrite ongoing operational costs and the project was dropped. However, in 1922 Gravenhurst reapplied and was granted special dispensation since it had first applied when grants were still being disbursed. The library was completed in 1923 by contractor Andrew Ferguson. The Gravenhurst library is the last in Ontario to have been funded by the foundation and it is one of only 90 "Carnegies" left in the province.

The patron of these libraries stands out in the history of philanthropy. Carnegie was exceptional in part because of the scale of his contributions. He gave away $350 million, nearly 90 percent of the fortune he accumulated through the railroad and steel industries.

In 1975 an addition designed by Howard Walker was constructed. It was designated a heritage structure by the Town in 1983 and a plaque was unveiled in 2014. Although it has not served a Gravenhurst's Public Library since 2000 , it is open to the public and sees thousands of visitors every year.

A statue of Norman Bethune just outside the Carnegie Library, in Heritage Square, was unveiled by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in 2000.