Courtenay Public Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library, Courtenay Branch
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Courtenay Public Library is a contemporary, one-storey, wooden-clad building prominently located at the intersection of 6th Street and Duncan Avenue in the heart of Courtenay’s historic downtown district. The building is used as a public library, and features surrounding landscaping including several trees planted in the front of the building’s entrance.
The Courtenay Public Library is valued for its historic and aesthetic significance, particularly for its association with Courtenay’s early agricultural economy, and its modern Arts and Crafts-inspired architecture.
The Courtenay Public Library’s value lies in its association with the Comox Valley Co-operative Creamery Association Building, which originally occupied the historic site from 1901 to 1968. The Creamery was a prominent landmark in the City, and played a central role in Courtenay’s early economic and social development. The Creamery Association was formed by local dairy farmers in 1901 with the specific intent to produce and market local butter. After a decade, Comox Creamery Butter was renowned throughout the Province for its high quality, thanks to the work of butter-maker William Carroll. The social significance of the Creamery was vested in the Creamery whistle which served as the unofficial timekeeper for Courtenay’s downtown businesses and residents for more than half a century.
The Courtenay Public Library’s has aesthetic values relating to its architecture, extensive use of wood throughout the exterior and interior of the building, and the building’s prominent setting. Constructed in 2001, the building is a unique example of a modern interpretation of the Arts and Crafts style in Courtenay, which is demonstrated by a high quality of craftsmanship featuring warm and inviting interior open spaces, massive timber frame and use of rustic wooden accents throughout the building. It is also significant that the building was specifically designed to recollect the character of the Comox Co-operative Creamery Building, seen in the use of wood shingles and clerestory windows. Wood cladding over the entire building exterior serves as a fitting reminder of the forestry sector, which has played a pivotal role in the social and economic development of the City of Courtenay. The situation of the library in the heart of Courtenay’s downtown core makes the building a significant landmark in the community.
Source: City of Courtenay Planning Department
Key elements which define the heritage character of the Courtenay Public Library include its:
Site and Setting
- the elevated position of the building, which adds to the prominence of the building
- prominent location in Courtenay’s historic downtown
- setback position of the library facilitates an open courtyard and accompanying landscaping
- horizontal form, rectangular scale and massing, expressed by its modest one storey height
- elements that reflect the building’s contemporary interpretation of the Arts and Crafts style, including open and inviting interior spaces, substantial interior timber frame, exposed rafters, and use of subtle wood accents throughout the building
- extensive use of wood throughout the exterior and interior of the building, including cedar shingled siding and roofing, wooden louvres, and timber frame
- extensive fenestration, including multi-paned windows with wooden casements
- elements of the building which are sympathetic to the ‘Creamery’ building which occupied the historic site including wood shingles and clerestory windows
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Learning and the Arts
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Courtenay Planning Department
Cross-Reference to Collection