The Norma and Miller Alloway
Phone: 705-765-5650 / 705-765-6477
69 Joseph St. (beside Home Hardware)
Port Carling, ON
Cathy Duck , CEO/Chief Librarian CDuck@pclib.ca
It was on the 19th of August in 1887 that a public meeting was called for the purpose of forming a Mechanics Institute (the predecessor of the modern library) in Port Carling. The meeting was held in the Victoria Hall, a building on the main street owned by Mrs. Wm. Hanna, and ten gentlemen of the village attended. Officers were elected, directors were appointed, and Mr. George Sutton was made the first Librarian. The membership fee was set at one dollar a year, and fifty cents additional for each member of a family using books. In 1891 Mr. Sutton resigned as Librarian and Mr. William Bailey was appointed to take the position and held the office for five years to be succeeded by Mr. Fred Hanna who served for ten years. At this time the salary was thirty dollars a year.
In May 1895 the name was changed from Mechanics Institute to Port Carling Public Library, and in accordance with government regulations, one hundred members had to be secured. The fee was lowered to thirty cents for adults and twenty cents for children. For a few years there seemed to be difficulty in keeping a Librarian. Messrs. Stephen Cope, Rod Wallis, and John Cope held the position about a year each. At this time, the library was having financial troubles. Concerts were quite frequently given to raise funds with the Debating Society usually setting up the program. Mr. F. D. Stubbs succeeded Mr. Penson, and agreed to combine the offices of librarian, secretary and treasurer for fifty-five dollars a year.
In 1905 the new Town Hall was built and the Library was moved to a room at the back of it which also served as a dressing room and sometimes a kitchen when concerts and plays were put on -- much to the disgust of the Librarian! In this same year (1905) the Library was taken over by the municipality thus putting it on the tax roll where it has remained ever since. It was now in a position of an assured income, the Act setting apart the amount it was entitled to draw from the tax payers, namely, one mill.
On February 8, 1918, something heretofore unheard of happened when a woman, (Mrs. John Matheson) was appointed a member of the Library Board! For a short time Mrs. Arthur Nott took over the duties of Librarian when Mr. Stubbs withdrew due to illness. Next came Mr. Fred Andrew who was appointed and held the office until his death in 1934. Although handicapped by deafness Mr. Andrew carried on faithfully for sixteen years. Mr. Orlando Stubbs succeeded Mr. Andrew and carried on with the help of his sisters until 1940 when he moved to British Columbia. During his term, the new Dewey System of cataloguing was started and membership cards were reduced to ten cents.
Mrs. Leila Cope, was appointed librarian in October 1940 and held the office until 1959. In May 1951 upon the completion of the new Port Carling Memorial Community Centre, the Library was moved to the room at the front of the building and the membership doubled. The library remained in this location with a variety of librarians. Whereas the initial group of librarians were men, the remainder of the librarians have since been women. Betty Amey, Kitty Tassie, Joan Young, and Elizabeth Glen have held the position in turn. Mrs. Elizabeth Glen started in 1980 and continued until June 2010 as not only the head librarian, but the CEO of the library in Port Carling as well as the branch libraries in the Township of Muskoka Lakes which include Bala, Milford Bay, and Walkers Point. Many of the great successes of the library in Port Carling over the past thirty years can be directly attributed to Elizabeth Glen’s influence and dedication.
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.
During demolition of the old and construction of the new, the Library was housed in the building directly opposite. There it remained until the new building was ready for operation. It was a proud day for the Township, the Library Board, and the community of Port Carling, and especially Library/CEO Elizabeth Glen when on Saturday, August 18, 2001 the ribbon was cut for the official grand opening of the new 8,000-square-foot Norma and Miller Alloway Muskoka Lakes Library, named to honour and recognize the generous donation made by the Alloway family. Many dignitaries of the day were in attendance including Mayor Susan Pryke, MP Andy Mitchell, MPP Norm Miller, and the Alloway Family.
The library continued in the old ways of ink and stamp pad for check out and hardcopy card catalogue until the launching of the automated system on December 1, 2004. After many, many months of inputting book and patron data the staff was ready to put away the stamps and stamp pads and move into the era of automation and patrons were issued with plastic credit-card-sized library cards that are in use today. After hours on February 12, 2005 a very special event took place within the library. Lindsay MacFarlane, granddaughter of Elizabeth Glen, married Nigel Wilson. The couple professed their vows to each other as the sun set through the windows over the fireplace lounge.
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 until 2014.
Cathy Duck commenced CEO responsibilities in the summer of 2014.
Miller Alloway began a lifelong involvement with printing and publishing while working at the Oshawa Times, which was owned by his father. He then went on to build a name for himself in the world of printing, publishing and graphic arts throughout North America.
Norma Alloway was an author, as well as a contributor to many newspapers and magazines. She was also a member of the antique and Classic Boat Society, the Muskoka Lakes Golf and Country Club and a board member of the Port Carling Pioneer Museum.
Both Norma and Miller dedicated much of their time and energy to numerous Christian causes. They also felt very passionately about education and learning.
“It is in recognition of my parents' Christian philanthropic heritage that we have gladly contributed to the funding of the library,” said son Graham Alloway.