A library sitting on what was known as Rooster Town is dedicated to Winnipeg's 39th mayor and his wife.
Bill and Helen Norrie are the namesakes of the new, 14,000 square foot library. The new space replaces the River Heights Libary which was located at 1520 Corydon Avenue.
“The new Bill and Helen Norrie Library is an exciting addition to our city’s community services facilities,” Sherri Rollins, Chairperson of the Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks, says in a statement. “From its innovative design and accessibility to the acknowledgment of Rooster town, this library will be a gathering place for many years to come.”
Costing $9.3 million, the new library has a 24/7 book return chute, study and leisure areas which will likely be often used by students from the high school across the street, tutorial and programming rooms, and a fully accessible multi-use public space.
Using community feedback, the library also boasts an outdoor reading deck and programming area, double-sided gas fireplace, children’s area with three reading nook playhouses and a Family Literacy playground, and a non-gendered universal washroom.
The single-floor layout has two moss feature walls.
“It is an honour to officially open the Bill and Helen Norrie Library in recognition of the Norrie family who have been championing Winnipeg for decades,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Especially with their commitment to libraries, I’m pleased to honour the Norrie family with this incredible new library that will serve our community for decades to come.”
Helen was a teacher and librarian in Winnipeg before retiring.
The new construction began in the fall of 2019. The large library lining perpendicular to Grant Avenue sits on the land where Rooster Town was. This was a Metis settlement of low-income residents on City of Winnipeg land until the city took the land back in the 1950s to develop the area into the suburban Grant Park neighbourhood.
“Being able to honour those who lived in Rooster Town as well as recognize Bill and Helen’s long-time commitment to Winnipeggers with this new accessible, state-of-the-art space in our ward means so much to me. I know it's destined to become just as beloved and full of memories as its previous location,” John Orlikow, Councillor for River Heights-Fort Garry says.
To honour the history, a pitched roof, wood panelling and earth tones were used in the library design. Saskatoon berry designs are etched onto glass walls. The city says the library features Rooster Town imagery, interpretive panels, artifacts, and books. The city says they worked with families of people who lived in Rooster Town to respect and honour its history.