Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories: Toronto Public Library-Queen/Saulter Branch

In this feature of the ‘Riverside 40 Years, 40 Stories’ series, Branch Head, Judy Leung, walks us through the incredible journey of the Queen/Saulter Library Branch, located at 765 Queen Street East. Come with us on this story from its early days, to how it came to be a staple in the community, as we welcome the Branch back with its re-opening after a long hiatus through this pandemic.

Special thanks to Judy Leung for contributing this story:

When I started at the Queen/Saulter Library ten years ago, it came full circle as I remember coming here growing up, when my parents owned a restaurant/convenience store further east along Queen Street East toward Greenwood. 

Shortly after I began, I came across a folder of community support letters that was collected in 2001 when this branch was considered for closure.  The community support for Queen/Saulter was very much apparent in those letters.  One letter from a child summed up the sentiments of many: “I use this library all the time because I love this library with all my heart.”

Those letters told a story about how the community had to fight to have a library in this neighbourhood, and then fight to keep it open.


South Riverdale residents had long felt neglected by the city due to the few services available in the neighbourhood at the time.  The community was also concerned about the lack of library service on Queen Street East.

In 1977, the then historic post office building at 765 Queen Street East was acquired by the City of Toronto for conversion into a multi-service community centre. 

The Queen/Saulter Library opened December 11th, 1979 at a temporary storefront location at 761 Queen Street East (where the Riverside BIA had their offices from 2012-2016).  In 1980, the branch relocated to its present site in former Postal Station G., built in 1913, and designed by E.J. Lennox, the eminent architect who also designed Old City Hall, Casa Loma and the King Edward Hotel.

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Picture on right, temporary storefront location at 761 Queen Street East.
Picture on left, permanent location at 765 Queen Street East.

Then in 2001, the Queen/Saulter Library was considered for closure but the community organized to keep it open.  The community support was so strong that instead of closing, it was refurbished in 2002.  It shows how a little library like Queen/Saulter can touch so many people and be a part of something so much bigger through community support and partnerships.

Strong partnerships help bring library programs and services out into the Riverside community, some of the many examples are below:

Inside and Outback Walk with authors Shawn Micallef (Stroll, Spacing Magazine) and Ron Fletcher (Over the Don) presented with the Riverside BIA as part of the Riverside Walks Festival (2012).

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Shawn Micallef addressing the crowd inside the Queen/Saulter Library

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Ron Fletcher addressing the crowd outside the Royal Canadian Curling Club

Danette Steele presented with the Riverside BIA as part of the Jane’s Walk festival (2015).

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Annual HOWL-O-WEEN Party for children and families presented with the Ralph Thornton Community Centre and the South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre (2019).


Celebrating the holidays with festive cards given to community members.  The cards feature Queen/Saulter librarians and were created by talented staffers Alison Wright (card on top) and Kayla Preston-Lord (card on bottom).

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Queen/Saulter Library – Winner of the inaugural Riverside BIA’s Customer Service Superstar Award (2013).

Over March 2020 to August 2021, Queen/Saulter Library has been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and staff have been relocated to nearby libraries.  Many Riverside community members have visited staff at these locations to express how much they miss the Queen/Saulter Library and their eagerness for its reopening.  We also miss everyone, and it is heartening to feel all the love and support.  It serves as a reminder of how rewarding it is to be part of the Riverside community and the library’s importance in making the community stronger.

We couldn’t be happier and more excited for our long-awaited re-opening on September 14, 2021!

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The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.