The Innisfil Public Library, as it currently exists, can trace its roots back to 1898. In October of that year a group of community-minded volunteers met in the office of Dr. W. G. McKay and the result of that meeting was the birth of the Cookstown Branch. The beginnings of the Churchill Branch can be found in a meeting held in June 1902 in the Ancient Order of the United Workmen’s Hall in Lefroy and the origins of the Stroud Branch can be attributed to the initiative of the Stroud’s Women’s Institute in 1912.
All three branches would move from their original locations several times before they could call their current addresses home.
The Cookstown Branch, under the librarianship of Mr. Jas. Dinwoody, who was paid $25.00 per annum, moved from a small frame building at the corner of highways 89 and 27 in the early 1900’s, to the home and shop of Mr. W. A. Findlay. It would be several changes of venue later before the library would take up residence on the main floor of 19 Queen Street in 1995.
The Churchill Branch began in the Lefroy home of Mrs. T. Sproule, its first librarian, who was also paid $25.00 per annum (plus the rent on her home and utilities). In 1903, the library boasted a collection of 307 books. In 1912, the library moved to Churchill where it experimented with several different locations before it finally opened in its current home on the 4th line, as the Innisfil Central Library at Churchill, on December 9, 1974. Mary Sloan was appointed assistant librarian in 1914 and then served as librarian for 62 years from 1916, when Churchill boasted a membership of 55 members and a yearly circulation of 1,583.
The Stroud Branch moved from Chantler’s Store, where it began with a collection of approximately 100 books, to the home of Mrs. Hattie Orchard in 1921. Her death in 1950 precipitated a move of the library collection by wheelbarrow across Highway 11 to the Orange Hall. The library was to be moved several more times before it settled in its current home as part of the Stroud Recreation Complex on December 22, 1975.
The local Women’s Institutes played a vital role in the development of the Innisfil Public Library. In addition to organizing the Stroud Branch, proposed changes in provincial legislation, prompted the Stroud Women’s Institute to vote to maintain the Stroud library on October 20, 1966. The Churchill branch began to function under the Women’s Institute in 1967 and the Cookstown library became known as the Cookstown Women’s Institute Library in January 1966. In 1971, the Stroud Women’s Institute and the Churchill Women’s Institute both turned over all library assets to the newly formed Township of Innisfil Public Library Board and two branch public libraries were born.
In 1991, Cookstown Public Library became the Innisfil Public Library – Cookstown Branch due to the amalgamation of the Village of Cookstown with the Township of Innisfil to create the Town of Innisfil.
It is only fitting that the fourth branch of the Innisfil Public Library, which opened in a new, state-of-the-art facility at 967 Innisfil Beach Road, on September 4th, 2001, should have had a previous home in the Kathe Jans Memorial Library trailer which was located on the site of the ABC Hall in Alcona.
The Innisfil Public Library has continued to grow along with the community, from its modest beginnings in the homes, or adapted work spaces of dedicated, literary minded, community members, into a “home away from home” for all of its residents.