Celebrating our 110th Birthday: Let’s take a walk down memory lane!

Red Deer Public Library was one of the first four libraries to be established under the Libraries Act of Alberta. On April 23, 1914, By-Law No 363 brought the Red Deer Public Library into being. Later that year, on September 1, 1914, the Library was created. Its first home was in the Board of Trade Building in what was then City Hall, pictured here.

Red Deer Public Library's first librarian, Ina Greene, was hired in 1914 at the age of 17. The first Board of Directors consisted of J.F. Boyce, H.H. Gaetz, F.C. Whitehouse, and Alderman J.T. Watson, and their first meeting took place on Saturday, May 2, 1914, with Red Deer Mayor S.N. Carscallen also in attendance.

The Library had a number of other homes in the first half of the century, but a new Library became an election issue in the mid-1960s.

After some controversy, a new one-story library was built to celebrate Canada's Centennial in 1967, which is now the main floor (Level 2) of the adult portion of today's Downtown Branch. This new facility was made possible thanks to the generosity and vision of long-time trustee Charlie Snell and his wife, Librarian Mabel Snell.

A second storey was added to the building in 1979, thanks in part to a contribution from the Bower Family. Below is a snapshot of the construction in progress.

If you’ve ever visited the Downtown Branch, you know that the facility expands beyond the Centennial Building to the east, and this side of the library has a very interesting history! Going back in time once again, the Red Deer Armoury was built in 1914 to muster troops for WWI.

In 1961, the building was converted into Fire Hall No. 1, and continued to be used as a firehall until 1991, when RDPL purchased the building.

The old Armoury/Firehall became RDPL’s new Children’s Department! Named the Firehall Fun Factory, it opened to the public in late 1994. Soon after, many renovations were made to the existing library, including the addition of the ‘Kinsmen Link,’ which connected the Children’s library with the renovated Adult spaces in the Centennial building, as well as the addition of the new Snell Auditorium, where many library programs take place today!

And that’s just the beginning! With more renovations Downtown since then, and the addition of the Dawe, Timberlands, and Collicutt Branches, RDPL is rich with history and also constantly adapting to meet the needs of our community!

We can’t wait to see where the next 110 years takes us!