The O'Deary Story

Published on September 27th, 2013 | by Chloe


Get To Know Your Library

Do you know the history of the O’Deary Library?

The O’Deary Library is Toronto’s oldest privately-owned library. It was founded in 1851 by Devin and Mary O’Deary, who believed that story has the power to make the world a better place.

Mary was an avid reader and collector of books from a young age. Devin was a handsome young man with a sense of adventure along with the wonderful trait of being the sole heir to a vast shipping fortune. Mary fell head over heels and after the couple married, her book collection grew rapidly.

The daring young couple decided to move to the New World. It was said that their books were so heavy they nearly sank their ship. Luckily, the family owned a fleet and were able to provide a second ship.

Even in their new home in Toronto, their collection grew and grew. Mary loved to share her passion for story with others. She would hold readings in the sitting room each evening, reading several chapters aloud to her own daughters, the servants and the neighbours children. She also encouraged friends and neighbours to borrow books whenever they liked.

Go deep into our stacks and find out more about our origin story.

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