The history of the Ignace Public Library is a tribute to the determination and spirit of our community. Many people do not realize the dedication required to have a library in Ignace. But this has been the case for over eighty years.
In 1921, the Great War Veterans Association formed the beginnings of the Library. The Women’s Institute canvassed the community for books, catalogued them and put them into circulation. Mr. Bill Weaver was appointed to be the first librarian. On January 22, 1922, Council appointed a Library Committee. Reeve Butt and A. Read were appointed to head the committee with permission to expand. This was the birth of the Ignace Public Library Board.
During World War II (1939-1945), the Library was located in the basement of the Public School and was also the Township Clerk’s Office. In 1958, after the completion of the new War Memorial School, the old school building became a library and recreation centre. Two young teachers, Miss Barbara Flayer and Miss Killen volunteered to open the Library and update the books. They did this from 1957 to 1959. During this time, they contacted the Northwestern Regional Library System for assistance. Every three months, Mr. G. Kouhi and Mr. Frank Obljubek would arrive to exchange 75 books.
In 1959, Mrs. Roberta Wren took over from the teachers and became the Librarian.
In February 1961, a fire destroyed the library and recreation centre. Over 500 books were lost. Determined to make a fresh start, Mrs. Wren canvassed door-to-door collecting books. She stored them in her living room and turned it into a temporary library.
In 1962, a new Municipal Office was built on Front Street and the Library was given part of the basement. With help from the Northwestern Regional Library System, Mrs. Wren created a solid library base for Ignace. By 1970, the Library had over 6,000 books. The Library remained in the basement until 1975, when a flood destroyed many books and forced the Library to seek a new location.
In May 1975, the Library was presented with one-half of the old curling club. This building was a metal quonset hut that had contained two sheets of natural ice. The Library remained at this location for 17 years.
Mrs. Wren retired from the Library in 1980.
Mrs. Charlotte Ferguson was the Librarian from 1980 to 1983. In September 1983, Ms. Catherine Penney became the Librarian.
Winter 1988 vividly illustrated the need for a new library building as staff and patrons had to cope with frozen water and sewer lines, leaking roof, cracked foundation and growing electrical problems.
Meetings were held in early 1989 with the Library Board, Council and consultants from the Ministry of Culture and Communications and the Ontario Library Service – North to develop an action plan for a new library building.
In May 1989, a user survey conducted by the library staff helped determine what services the public wanted from their library. The results showed that the curling club location was sadly lacking for space.
Mr. Keith MacFarlane, an architect from the Prairie Partnership was hired to develop possible designs for a new library based on community needs. At an open house help September 1989, citizens of Ignace chose to have their new library be Phase II of the community’s new Tourist Information Centre.
During 1990 and 1991, Coucil and the Library Board worked very hard to secure provincial and federal financial support. The Library Board and staff undertook a major fund raising campaign that included garage sales, raffles, book sales, etc. By April 1991 all necessary funding was in place, due in large part to the financial support of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
In May 1981, Kelsey Construction was hired to construct the new facility. Premier Bob Rae officially turned to sod for the project.
The Library complex was completed in 1992. The library staff and volunteers moved into the building in May and the Official Grand Opening was held July 1992.
The library consists of three sections: a 4,600 square foot library, a 500 square foot Multi-Purpose Room and a 500 square foot Heritage Centre.
The building is constructed on one level and is completely wheel chair accessible.
Today Ignace Public Library has a collection of over 12,000 items in a variety of formats such as books, audio books, DVD’s, magazines, e-books, 7 public computers, an early literacy station and educational tablets for children. It offers seasonal programs for children, library tours for school groups and has 2 incredible spaces for children to learn, create and play.
The Ignace Heritage Centre is a compact exhibit adjoining the Ignace Public Library.
Nine themes depict the life of Ignace from the earliest times to present day:
- Early Peoples
- Fur Trade & Settlement
- The Town
- Road & Air Transportation
The themes are represented by artifacts, photographs, dioramas, models, maps, and written descriptions. Highlights of themese include locally collected artifacts such as stone tools dating back 10,000 years, Fur Trade goods, an early 20th century outboard motor, a model of the Ignace CPR Train Station, a diorama of an underground miner at work and an Alligator. Yes, an Alligator! … (An Alligator, or Steam Warping Tug, was a flat bottomed boat used to pull booms of logs across area lakes. It had the capablility to pull itself over portages from lake to lake) Listening stations tell stores of Ignace’s past in the words of our pioneers.
- 4 weeks for books & magazines
- 1 week for DVD’s
To avoid fines, return all materials on time. Materials can be returned by placing them in the book drop located on the front eastern corner of the library building.
Most library materials can be renewed twice if not overdue or on hold. You may also phone in, during regular library hours, to renew your materials.
You may place items on hold (reserve) if you can’t find them on the shelves. Ask a staff member to reserve the items for you. You will be contacted when the item is available
Library Board Members
Chair: Cindy Stark
Vice Chair: Timothy Barker
Council Representative: Greg Waldock
CEO/Librarian: Susan Gagne
Secretary: Jennie Fuller
Trustee: Terri Andrews
Trustee: Al Graver