Designated in 1988
When American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie retired from active business in 1901, he devoted the rest of his years to philanthropy. In his lifetime, he donated $56 million to build 2,509 libraries throughout the world. Of the 125 Carnegie libraries built in Canada, 111 were built in Ontario. Kingsville was offered funding and a library by-law was voted upon during the 1911 Municipal Election, which passed 235-34. By-law No. 222 authorized the purchase of a library site (not to exceed $800) and annual maintenance of “an amount equal to ten per cent of the cost of erection thereof,” in order to qualify for the $5,000 Carnegie Library grant. Windsor architects Crane & Pennington designed the library, and Kingsville Council had to approve an additional $2,000 to add to Carnegie’s donation to cover the building costs. The Woodiwiss Brothers were masons for the project and the Oxley Brothers the contractors.
Established first in England during the 1820s, Mechanics’ Institutes began as voluntary associations of working men seeking self-improvement through education. The community-based institutes offered evening lectures, lending libraries and periodical reading rooms. Members were supposed to learn the underlying scientific principles of their work as well as the general value of “rational information.” The concept spread quickly elsewhere, including British N America where the Montreal Mechanics’ Institute opened in 1828 and the York Mechanics’ Institute in 1830. Other institutes followed, especially in Ontario but also in NS and BC. In 1895 Ontario included 311 institutes with a total of 31,195 members.
There has been an Act passed at the last sitting of the Legislature regarding the changing of Mechanic’s institutes into Free Libraries, and making it possible to maintain such by direct taxation. This would increase the usefulness of the institute and the cost of sustaining it would be much greater. The matter will be presented to the council at their next meeting.
The government grant towards pub. libtaries (sic) is $250, of which $150 is to be spent in books, $50 in papers and magazines, and $50 towards maintenance of library.
The Kingsville Reporter, May 3, 1895 p.8
The Mechanics’ Institute people have labored hard to make a public library to give to this town some of the intellectual privileges that only the more wealthy can afford. The town council have decided not to take over the institute this year. The managers in consequence have decided to give a local entertainment in the town hall. Musical and literary upstairs and ice cream and cake downstairs. All the friends are asked to help the funds up a little by attending this fine entertainment. Admission only 10 cents. June 25th is the date set.
The Kingsville Reporter, June 14, 1895 p.4
[. . .] Dr. Wigle and the other directors of the Mechanic’s Institute petitioned the council asking them to take over the Institute and make a public library of it and appoint a board of directors of their own. The petition was accepted and the Institute taken over, and the following board of directors appointed: F.A. Wigle, Howard Scratch, Owen Harris, C.J. Ballard, and the present council board.
The Kingsville Reporter, September 11, 1896 p.1
The public library is open and free to everybody in Kingsville and South Gosfield. All that is necessary in order to get books is to register by name. Applicants must be fourteen years of age or over.
The Kingsville Reporter, October 23, 1896 p.5
Applications for the position of Librarian for Kingsville Public Library may be made to the secretary, Fred. Forster, until Saturday, April 26th. Salary, $1.50 per week. Hours, from 1.30 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m.
By order of the Board. Dr. Allworth. Chairman.
The Kingsville Reporter, April 18, 1902 p.5