About Libs Today | Digital docs | Ontario history | Photo gallery | Blog  

James Bain, Jr., Toronto chief librarian, 1883-1908

James Bain, Jr., was born in London, England, on 2 August 1842. He came to Canada in his youth and was educated in Toronto. He worked in the book trade on both sides of the Atlantic until he applied for the position of chief librarian of the Toronto Public Library, a post he held for twenty-five years after his appointment in June 1883. He worked ceaselessly to develop TPL's Canadiana collection and to extend its branch system: Western and Northern branches opened in 1884, Eastern in 1888, Dundas in 1889, and College in 1900. During Bain's tenure of office, in 1903, $350,000 was promised by Andrew Carnegie for a central reference library and branches. Planning for these new facilities consumed much energy in his later years at TPL.

Bain was an active participant in many organizations: he was president of the Canadian Institute in 1900-02; the first president of the Ontario Library Assocation in 1901/02; and a long-time member of the American Library Association. He died in Toronto on 22 May 1908.

Photo caption: James Bain, Jr., no date
Photo source: Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, T-13648
Page created on 1 June 1997
Last modified on



Created February 1996 | Book requests or comments to: Libraries Today | top of this page |