History of Black River-Matheson Public Library


Interest in a local library began in 1912. In September of that year, the Council received a letter from the Committee of Temperance and Social Reform drawing the attention of the Council to the need of some place of recreation and entertainment such as a reading room and library. The Council was asked to take the initiative in providing such a place.

In February 1914, the Council accepted the offer of a free library of five hundred and fifty six volumes from Mr. J. B. Phillips and established a Library Board. This library was destroyed in the 1916 fire.

The Matheson Herald of 1921 carried this article “Good News For Matheson To Those Literarily Inclined”. The Government innovated a system for a circulating library by which the inhabitants, young or old, may borrow reading material of a high class character from Mr. Archibald, the schoolmaster.

Dr. Little, MD started a lending library in 1928, but within a few years it was closed due to lack of books.

An Association library was begun about 1954 under the sponsorship of the Home and School Association. This was located in the old Mission Store on Sixth Avenue. Original book supply was donated to the new library. When the present library, formerly known as the “Kathleen B. Potter Memorial Library” was built and given to the town in 1957 by Mr. Robert Potter in memory of his late wife, the Association Library moved from its temporary quarters on Sixth Avenue. Shortly afterwards, at the annual meeting of the Matheson Association Library on January 22, 1958, the following motion was made: “THAT we recommend to the Town Council that they assume the responsibility of the Matheson and District Library Association, and that the present library be transferred into a Public Library”. The following week, the Council passed a bylaw establishing a Public Library in Matheson effective February 1, 1958.

The operation of the library was directed by a Library Board with Mrs. C. Weir as Librarian. With approximately 7,000 volumes of its own and membership in the regional library, the library provided reading material for a membership of over 2,000 adults and children.

The Library addition was built in September 1975 with help from a Federal-Provincial Winter Capital Project. The land was donated by Gary and Mary Jessup.

The first Librarian was Mrs. C. Weir (1958-1965); followed by Mary Audet, Marge Haley and Sadie Harris (1965-1984); Rose Marie Ray (1984-1995); Linda Lougheed (1996-2004), Margaret-Anne Friese (2004-2008); Karen Ukrainetz (2008-2017); Margaret-Anne Friese (2017 to present).


In 1973, while working for the Employment Youth Program, “Operation Jeunesse”, college and university students, Micheline LaSalle, Juliette LaSalle, Denis LaSalle, Gaetan Desjardins, Ghislaine Desjardins, & Andre Robitaille worked hard out of the ONR Station shipping room canvassing Black River-Matheson residents for reading material they would like to donate.

Once the material was collected, the books had to be catalogued and readied for circulation. This was not an easy job, but that is how the Ramore Library got its start.

For the next few years, Mrs. Mae Waters and volunteer helpers worked to keep the library open six hours a week. Mrs. Waters called a meeting of the Ramore volunteers and members of the Matheson Library. From that meeting, the Ramore Library was accepted as a branch of the Matheson Library.

The Ramore Library became a member of the Ontario Library System, which meant a bookmobile would stop at the library several times a year. Books could be chosen from the bookmobile and kept for a period of time until the bookmobile returned several months later. Later, librarians would travel to the Regional Library in Kirkland Lake to choose hundreds of books to bring back to the Ramore Library.

In 1977, Mrs. Lucile Robillard and Denise LaSalle were the first paid librarians, followed by Janet Camirand (2002-2006), Lorraine Boucher (2006), Louise Desjardins (2006), Julie Mauno (2009-2009). Rose Bouchard volunteered to keep the library running. Marielle Bouchard is the current Librarian. Over the years, many volunteers have worked very hard to keep the Ramore Library open.

In April 2006, the library went through major renovations to bring the library up to fire code. In 2016 the library moved to “Le Foyer Du Bonheur” senior’s home in Ramore.