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Visiting the Public Library, Woodstock, Ontario: Classical Revival Structure by Chadwick and Beckett, Dating From 1909

Updated on April 22, 2019
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Public Library in Woodstock, Ontario. This library is known as one of the Carnegie Libraries
Public Library in Woodstock, Ontario. This library is known as one of the Carnegie Libraries | Source

Gracious structure, long designated historic

For more than 100 years the graceful, Classical Revival lines of the Public Library have been prominent close to the Downtown area of Woodstock, in Onario's Oxford County.

The building was the responsibility of the architectural partnership of Chadwick and Beckett, of Toronto, Ontario, and dates from 1909. The structure is executed in a combination of red brick and stone.

The crowning stylistic feature of the Public Library is the portico, with its prominent pediment and columns. The interior of the building has a rotunda.

Woodstock's Public Library has an interesting history (1). It has its origins at Old St. Paul's Church in 1835, with the Rev. William Bettridge presiding over a local reading society founded on February 12 of that year, later referred to as a subscription library.

During the 19th century, the library merged successively with a Mechanics Institute and subsequently with Oxford Literary Society.

Much later, the Carnegie Foundation became involved, and was instrumental in funding the existing building by Chadwick and Beckett. This fine structure was built on land granted for the purpose by the City of Woodstock (which received its charter in 1891).

For the past 50 years, the Library has collected a sizeable number of items on the local history of Woodstock. Over 40 years ago the local authorities designated the Public Library as an historic building.

Local support for the Library is enhanced through the Friends of the Woodstock Public Library, founded in 1996. In this year, also, a major program of refurbishment was completed.

Thus it was that in 1909, the 100th anniversary of the Public Library building was commemorated. It is therefore clear both from the care that this historic building has received and from the support for library services that these have been the subject of very considerable civic and public commitment in Woodstock over a very long period.

The Library is within comfortable walking distance of various other historic buildings in this Oxford County town, which I myself have visited several times. It is certainly to be recommended that by foot is indeed a good way to explore this area with many interesting old buildings.

Woodstock Public Library is situated at 445 Hunter Street, at the intersection with Graham Street.

April 22, 2019


(1) See also: (At this link there is a very interesting and detailed timeline regarding the Public Library's history.)

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Also worth seeing

Woodstock itself has various examples of fine ecclesiastical architecture, including Old St. Paul's Church, dating from 1834; other buildings, including the City Hall, the Oxford County Court House, the Old Town Hall, the former County Jail building, the Old Registry Office and the Old Armoury, among others, are also worth seeing.

In London , Ontario (distance: 43.4 kilometres) prominent buildings and visitor attractions include: Eldon House; St. Paul's Cathedral; the Middlesex County Court building; the former Armouries; the Fanshawe Pioneer Village.

Kitchener (distance: 57.7 kilometres); Woodside, former home of long-serving Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King is a National Historic Site of Canada.


How to get there: Air Canada flies to London International Airport, from Toronto Pearson Airport, from where there are wide North American and other connections. Car rental is available at London International Airport. VIA Rail serves Woodstock, connecting with Windsor and Toronto, and other cities. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of Woodstock, Ontario
Map location of Woodstock, Ontario | Source

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