A hope beyond the shadow of a dream ...

John Keats, Endymion

 

The Pas Regional Library is housed in a building of unique design: a town landmark for over eighty years.

This choice for the library's home gave new life to a building whose history parallels the history of The

Pas itself.

Until the late 1950's, the present-day library building was occupied by the town's power house, weigh

station, water plant and fire-hall.  The power house, the first for our town, was a wood-frame structure 

built in 1913. 

It housed a diesel unit which provided power to the town from six in the morning to midnight. At midnight,

the main power switch

was turned off,causing the lights around town to flicker and signaling the town residents to either go to

bed or light up their oil lamps. As The Pas grew, it became obvious to town officials that this power

ystem would have to be replaced. A new power house, the brick and concrete structure that houses the

library today, was designed by Underwood and McClelland and built in 1928.

 

In 1959, the rights to distribute power to The Pas were purchasedby the Manitoba Power Commission

and the power house, per se, became obsolete. However, the building was given new life in 1966

when it was renovated to serve as the Municipal Offices. At this time, the engineering department,

council chambers and a welfare office occupied the top floor of the building while the main floor

contained the town administration, general office and a vault.  The rear of the building housed the

Regional Works department. In 1973, a new town office was built and in 1974, the Regional Works

department took over the entire power house building. On January 7, 1975, The Pas Library Board

agreed to locate the proposed library in the old power house. 

 

By agreeing to use this structure, the Board felt they would be providing The Pas residents with a

convenient and accessible library in the downtown area and making good use of a historic building. 

As well, due to the nature of the building, the Board had the opportunity to design a library that would be

unique to The Pas.

 

Large-scale renovations to the power house began in 1975 and were financed in part by a Department

of Regional Economic Expansion (DREE) grant and in part by the Manitoba Department of Northern

Affairs.

 

The overall cost of $300, 000 included furnishings, special equipment and audio-visual materials, as

well as a comparatively large book budget. GBR Associates (Architects and Engineers) and Graham

Construction Ltd. (General Contractors) were responsible for all renovations necessary to create an

appealing, functional library for The Pas. The library opened its doors to the public on December 13,

1975.

 

In 1980, further renovations by local contractor Simon Arsenault saw the completion of the rear portion

of the building: the Annex. 

 

Funding for this stage of the power house renovations which included a multi-purpose room, board

room, staff room,

archives room and supply room was provided by the Town of The Pas and by the Library (Rural) Capital

Grant Program sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Historical Resources.

 

With renovations complete, the library was in full operation.  It was our intention that renovations to the

interior of the building would result in a warm, cheerful atmosphere for library users:a contrast to the

somber appearance of the building's exterior. In designing the interior, the combination of indoor plants

with a clever color scheme of warm bright colors (yellows, oranges, reds) and alternating arrangements

of library furnishings created a cozy and spacious feeling.

 

Rather than hide the evidence of history in this older building, the ductwork was instead painted in bright

colors to complement the rest of the interior. To ensure access for all, ramps were installed to provide

for a gradual transition from the ground floor to the mezzanine.  with numerous places along the way

to stop and browse or relax. At present, the library has an inventory of approximately 34,000 books.

 

Our library is a well-used facility. Over 72% of the town's population are members of the library,and that

number increases every year. There are also a large number of non-resident members. The

administration and staff of The Pas Regional Library welcome all visitors and are happy to offer

assistance, answer questions, & provide tours of the facility.

 

 

See you soon at the library.