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History of the Library

The McBride Reading Room

In February of 1915 McBride residents opened a Reading Room in the train station. Committee members were elected and anyone who had games, papers or books to spare were encouraged to lend them. Users were charged a subscription fee of 25 cents per month. The Room had a set of rules, including the warning that “Gambling, swearing, loud talking, scuffling, wrestling and throwing books and other articles about will not be tolerated.” In her book The Robson Valley Story, Marilyn Wheeler thought likely the Reading Room may have lasted until the station burned down in 1918.

Formation of the McBride Public Library Association

In 1949, a group of McBride area residents became determined to establish a village library. They didn’t have a building or very much money; nevertheless, the McBride Public Library Association was formed. The sixty chartered members each contributed a dollar. These members were the founders of the library.

Since its inception in 1949, the McBride & District Public Library Association has gone from having no building of its own, to not much more than a shack, to what is now an exceptional Public Library for a town of this size. 

McBride Library Building History

In 1949, the Village purchased a tiny building for the Library Association, and the McBride School Board lent them a piece of land to put it on. Located on Third Avenue, the small building was heated by an old wood stove. In fact, during the winter months the librarian had to go to work early in order to light a fire and warm the books! This tiny building is now located at the back of the Valley Museum & Archives, and is used by the library for storage.

Opening of old McBride Library on Dominion Street.
Opening of old McBride Library on Dominion Street.

In 1967, the community was looking for a Centennial project. The solution came when they decided they should build a new library. With grants, savings, fundraising, and donations of labour, the new Centennial Library became a reality. It was located next to the Public Health Unit on Dominion Street.

Less than 20 years later, in the mid-1980s, the Library again outgrew its space. This time the Expo Legacy Fund came to the rescue. The Library Association and the Valley Museum & Archives Society joined forces, applying for the grant to expand the building. Before the new library building was constructed, costs were increasing faster than the Library Board could keep up with. It was decided after a successful referendum that the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George would provide the operating money through Robson Valley and McBride taxes.

In 2001, the Library purchased the former Regional Health Unit building that was right next door to the Library. This building became known as the Library Annex, and was used for special library programming, including a student study computer lab.

Once again, the Library and museum soon outgrew the buildings on Dominion Street and, after another successful referendum, in 2018 we moved to our current location at 521 Main Street.

McBride Library at 521 Main Street.
McBride Library at 521 Main Street.

Thanks to grants from the Northern Development Initiative Trust, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and Healthy Communities Initiative, in the summer of 2022, we were able to transform the bare plot of land outside the library into an outdoor events/meeting space, fenced children’s area, with gazebo, benches and picnic tables.

McBride Library Community garden space.
McBride Library Community garden space.

Thanks also to sponsorship from community members for the planted trees, and to Scotiabank McBride for the gazebo. We hope this green space is enjoyed by the whole community for years to come.