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8331 - 104 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T6E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/02/16

Strathcona Public Library Provincial Historic Resource (Fall 2004); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2004
West facade
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Other Name(s)

Strathcona Library

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/09/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Strathcona Public Library is a two-storey brick structure in a simplified Classical Revival style, located on three city lots in the historic community of Old Strathcona.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Strathcona Public Library lies in its use as a cultural facility in the community of Old Strathcona since its completion in 1913. It is the oldest surviving public library in Edmonton and one of the oldest in the province. It is also an excellent example of one of the classical revival styles that characterized Alberta's public buildings in the era of rapid economic growth before World War One.

By the time of Strathcona's incorporation as a city in 1907, the bulk of rail and industrial activity had shifted across the North Saskatchewan River to Edmonton. Strathcona became a primarily residential district, home to a new provincial university (1909). In 1910 the new Strathcona Library Board entered into negotiations with the Carnegie Foundation for funds to construct a public library. The Foundation, the project of American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, funded the construction of university buildings and libraries across North America, including the first public library in Edmonton.

However, the Foundation's proffered grant totaled only $15,000 with the expectation of a small building on a standardized plan. The Strathcona Library Board - caught up in the optimistic "booster" spirit of the pre-World War One years - felt that the city's rapid growth merited a larger library and turned down the grant. Instead, the Strathcona Public Library was built and paid for by the newly amalgamated city of Edmonton-Strathcona in 1913 at a cost of $27,000. The building thus represents an important period in the evolution of Edmonton as an urban centre.

The exterior of the Strathcona Public Library retains a high degree of integrity and is a good example of early twentieth-century educational buildings in western Canada. The classical elements were intended to give the building a sense of gravity and dignity suitable to a place of learning. The interior included space for an auditorium and meeting rooms as well as books, and in 1948 the basement was converted to a children's library, making it a valuable centre for community life. It is a rare example of a library building of such size dating from Alberta's early years as a province.

The Strathcona Public Library is an important contributing element, in style and function, to one of Alberta's significant historic urban districts.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 204).

Character-Defining Elements

The heritage value of the Strathcona Public Library lies in such character-defining elements as:
- form, scale and massing, including recessed front entryway;
- classical revival details;
- facade of orange brick, and brick exterior staircase on front (west) elevation, with sandstone detailing in the six string courses and sill courses, wide cornice, sills and lintels;
- classical door surround, including engaged stone Ionic columns, curved pediment, and stone lintel with carved inscription "Public Library";
- fenestration pattern including oculus on west elevation;
- parapet gable roof with stone parapets;
- chimneys north and south;
- adjoining park space;
- four interior arches on the first floor;
- interior staircase;
- interior beam brackets;
- extant authentic trim;
- two first floor fireplace openings.




Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 204)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

View of front and side


The Strathcona Public Library is a two-storey brick building with stone detailing and a projecting front entrance. It occupies three city lots in the Old Strathcona Heritage…


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