Toronto Public Library Pilgrimage of 100 Branches

Davenport Library (1988): 1246 Shaw Street at Last

When I studied the TPL map before I set out for Davenport Library, I incorrectly assumed that Shaw Street extended as far north as Saint Clair Avenue West, causing me to overshoot the desired streetcar stop. In fact, three unnecessary stops passed me by before I realized I’d gone too far.

Deciding to try my luck on foot, I hopped off into the rain, walked down Dufferin to Davenport Road and then proceeded east on a prayer that Shaw would appear soon.

Stencil art on the wall above the checkout desk, Davenport Library
Stencil art on the wall above the checkout desk, Davenport Library. Photo taken in 2013.

I was getting tired and cold, so when I saw the small building on the corner of quietly residential Davenport and Shaw, my spirits lifted. On that dark afternoon, the library’s lights looked especially welcoming to this sojourner.


The door made a chunky clink when I opened it, but none of the three patrons inside looked up. Glad to rest my feet, I sat down at a table and let the lime walls of the narrow room soothe me.


The floor’s blue and green tiles complemented the walls, and I liked the way the shelving had been adapted to fit into a space that resembled a railroad apartment. Davenport’s tall shelves lined the west wall, each a three-sided entity unto itself. A book-seeker facing west could contemplate titles in front of her and then find more on the left or the right.

Tucked into the southeast corner of the library was the children’s section. Above some cheerful red shelves, miniature kids were enjoying hot air balloon rides with their friends.


Although it took only a few minutes to cover the library’s 3,604 square feet, I lingered for more than an hour at a table in the northwest corner marking papers. I felt the gratitude of a traveller who has found shelter after being cold and lost. How lucky I was to spend a rainy afternoon in this secluded boxcar of a branch!


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