Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Toronto Public Library: Runnymede Branch

Runnymede Branch
2178 Bloor Street West

So I went to a lot of public libraries. A lot. I mean, there are 98 different branches, and by some metrics is the largest library system in the world. So of course in most of the libraries all I did was use the internet. Only 30 minutes allowed on a guest pass? Bah!

I liked these carvings outside the library. And then I discovered that the architecture of this building is famous or something. I had no idea there even was a Canadian style of architecture.

Nationally recognized for its distinctively Canadian style Runnymede Branch was designed by John M. Lyle one of this country's most distinguished 20th-century architects. In the 1920s a surging sense of national pride inspired Lyle to create a uniquely Canadian architecture that blended European styles with Canadian themes and ornamentation. Runnymede Branch was his second attempt at such a design. The building is constructed of variegated red and yellow Credit Valley stone and combines Georgian French and early Quebec styles the latter in its steeply pitched hipped roof. Lyle used Canadian aboriginal motifs for much of the decoration including totem poles at the main entrance and arrowheads in the iron railing above. Carvings of native plants and animals also embellish the building. In 1989 the Runnymede Branch was featured on the first in a series of postage stamps celebrating Canadian architecture. The building was most recently restored and enlarged in 2005.

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