On December 8, 1921, the first library in Courtenay was opened on Fifth Street near Duncan Avenue. With Mrs. S.H. Hopkins as librarian, the collection included a limited selection of fiction, biographies, and travel books. The cost for an adult to join was $2 and for a child, $1. Patrons were allowed to take out 2 fiction and 2 non-fiction books at a time.

In its early years, the Courtenay Library was often on the move. In and out of spaces at City Hall, a room in Dr. Millard’s house, the Courtenay Florist Shop and even the Credit Union building. Two locations in more recent memory were 267 Sixth Street (today’s Ski Tak Hut) from 1964 to 1985 and 410 Cliffe Avenue (formerly the Comox District Free Press office and today’s Jubilee Square parking lot) from 1985 to 2001.

Public interest and continual growth lead to the final move to date. In 2001 the library moved into its present home on Sixth Street, a spacious building which at that time had an expanded collection of 63,000 books, computers, and a roaring fireplace… quite a change from Mrs. Hopkins’s modest library, one hundred years ago!


Photo: CDM Stubbs Collection

Bertha L. Smith, Courtenay librarian 1922-1947. Local historian Isabelle Stubbs noted in her book All About Us that Mrs. Smith “monitored our habits by penciling out all off-color, suggestive, immoral, obscene, immodest words or phrases before placing new library books on the shelves…”.