CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Monday, June 6, 2011

What Else Did Mum Do ?: Library

Mum did more than run a household and raise children . Those jobs alone could fill a book with the list of tasks , chores and tricks for survival . She was also active in as many ways possible in her community .

Library: In her early days (1948/9) , newly arrived as a war bride , one place Mum looked for immediately , was a public library. When she found none , she thought it would be good idea to start one . She approached the Town Office with a plan to start a lending library with donated and used books . Townsfolk and people along the rail line would surely benefit from a library .

 The clerk and Mayor were a little taken aback . " Well , you'll have to approach the Town Fathers ," they responded . Of course , Mum was prepared to put the case before the Town Council so she asked when the next meeting would take place . " Oh, there is no meeting . Just go to the church and ask them if it is alright to start a library ." Needless to say Mum was puzzled that permission would come from the Church and not the town .

 Off she went to the RC Church to get permission . The priest was surprised that she would even ask . After a moment's thought , he told her that she could start the library if she became a Catholic and all books were approved by the Fathers .  This stunned Mum !  She had no experience with a predominantly  French speaking , Roman Catholic town in Northern Ontario . Nothing major occurred without the Church's permission .

" Oh , that is unfortunate ! I was hoping to have more than one book in the Library ," she responded . For the duration of her first stay in Mattawa , before moving to McKerrow , Mum lent her own books from her parlour to anyone and everyone who desired . It was run as a 'trade and and exchange' underground operation .

Mattawa still didn't have a library when our family moved back after Larchwood . Books were important to Mum as a child in England and in the isolated places she had lived in Ontario and Quebec . This time around , she got onto the Town Recreation Council , a newly formed group , of mostly Protestants and foreigners who voted for the library idea .

A small storage room on the third floor of the Town Hall was transformed into a library using donated books ( no pornography accepted) from private homes around town . With the small budget , children's books were purchased , in English and French for the shelves . Within a short period of time , it was in full use .

Over the years , other's became actively involved and the Library developed into a well stocked space used by all , by choice . Sadly , a few years ago due to budgetary cutbacks , the books quietly disappeared into the landfill . Mum never lived to see this . The Library was one thing of which she had been a proud participant .

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