Muskoka Lakes Public Library

Muskoka Lakes Public Library
The Township of Muskoka Lakes Libraries are committed to enhancing the development of vibrant communities through the promotion of literacy and lifelong learning.  There are two locations for this library - Port Carling and Bala.

Norma and Miller Alloway Muskoka Lakes Library, Port Carling
Located at 69 Joseph St. (beside Home Hardware), Box 189, Port Carling, ON, P0B 1J0.

A 49-year-old history came to an end on Saturday, August 19, 2000 when the last book was borrowed and stamped and the doors of the Library housed in the Port Carling Memorial Centre closed for the last time. The Township of Muskoka lakes had agreed to provide the funds to erect a new Library building. However, the fundraising for the outfitting of the interior was the responsibility of the Library Board, and with the help of the community and the Friends of the Muskoka Lakes Library group, the fundraising goals were met. However, along the way, as construction costs went over budget, certain elements of the original design had to be cut from the plans. It was at this time that a generous financial contribution from Graham and Kara Alloway, in honour of Graham's parents Norma and Miller Alloway, made it possible to re-include the axed elements. The funds contributed by the Alloway family furnished, decorated, landscaped, automated, and signed the new library. The Alloway gift also contributed to the aesthetics of the building which had been removed from the original plans due to lack of funds.

Many changes had occurred over the history of the library in Port Carling since its inception. .After thirty years of dedicated service to the library and hence the community, Elizabeth Glen retired on June 15, 2010.  Many of the patrons of the library were only children or teenagers when Elizabeth started her career at the library returning year after year with children, and in some cases grandchildren, of their own. Many of those patrons and friends came on Thursday, June 10 to congratulate Elizabeth, or Betty as she is known to many, on a very successful career and wish her a happy and long retirement. Some past and present staff during Betty’s tenure were on hand including Liz Jamieson, Patty Horrick, Cathy Duck, Barb Neibert, and Lorna MacFarlane. On June 19, 2010 a ceremony was held in the library to rename the Muskoka Heritage Room to the Elizabeth H. Glen Heritage Room in honour of her many years of devoted service to the libraries in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.
Sheila Durand, previously of North Perth Library, took over the position of CEO and Chief Librarian of the Township of Muskoka Lakes Libraries in June of 2010.

Bala Library
Located at 1008 Maple St. (in the community centre), Box 762, Bala ON, P0C 1A0.

Information is scarce as to when the first library started in Bala. It is known that many of the early settlers brought a collection of books with them. E.B. Sutton brought his own personal library to Bala when he emigrated in 1882. Apart from building the Bala Bay Inn in 1912, he was a prolific writer and historian until his death in 1917.
Thomas Burgess who started the first school, the first church, the first general store and a sawmill, no doubt contributed to the literacy in the community of which he was afounder.
It is known that the Women's Institute did tremendous work in the community and shared their books with anyone interested. Initially the books were kept in private homes, particularly in the home of the Gowland family which is where Tom Edwards Real Estate is today.
In those early days great credit must be given to Edna Templeton and Ruth Stainer Orchard for their endless work and enthusiasm in establishing a small library in the Bala Public School under the direction of Jess Johnston. This is home to the Bala Legion today. Through the 1950's the library flourished until the school moved to Glen Orchard. Once again the Women's Institute were responsible for finding space in the United Church building.
Finally the library moved to the Community Center in 1970 and continued to be well supported by the Women's Institute. The space was very limited however and far from ideal. In 1994 an addition was built to the Community Center and this is where the library stands today with Mrs. Mari Carson as librarian. This branch has a wonderful selection of current adult fiction, a large children's selection, and an internet connected computer with internet access and scanner available for public use. Our selection of books continues to grow as we receive support from the community and an annual generous financial donation from the Cranberry Festival.

Click here to access the website for the Muskoka Lakes Public Library.