The meandering river that connects Lake Huron to Lake Erie via the smaller Lake St. Clair leads to a quirk of geography where, for a few kilometres of the border, Canada is lying to the south of the United States. On the north shore of that eponymous river lies the city of Detroit; to the south is Windsor, Ontario.
There, the Jesuit Society founded Assumption College in 1857. Initially a theological college, the institution gradually expanded its curriculum and affiliated with other colleges in the region before becoming an affiliated college of the University of Western Ontario in 1919. Rising costs and a dwindling Roman Catholic population led the college to reconsider its status and become a public institution. After receiving university status and severing its previous affiliation in 1953, the college became the Assumption University of Windsor in 1956. In 1963, its transition from a Jesuit institution to a publicly funded, non-denominational university was complete. The newly founded University of Windsor took over most of the disciplines and facilities of its predecessor while Assumption University continued its existence as an affiliated college of theology.
Early library services at Assumption College were limited. A space was designed as the library inside the original building, but its shelves were mostly empty due to lack of funds. Collections eventually grew and a portion of the building now known as Dillon Hall served as university library until a provincial grant provided funds to build a standalone library. Designed by Windsor architects James C. Pennington and William J. Carter, the resolutely modern new library opened on September 11, 1958.
The library was designed after concerted research by the architects and the head librarian, who visited 26 libraries throughout North America in preparation for the project. The new building was organized with most of the shelving at its core, leaving the areas closer to the generous windows for study rooms clad in Italian marble and mahogany panels. Movable steel partitions allowed for a flexible use of space.
Enrolment grew following the establishment of the public University of Windsor and the demand for new facilities was growing. In 1970-71, the library was greatly expanded through a new building dwarfing the original library. Designed by the Montreal firm formed by John Bland, Roy LeMoyne, Anthony Shine and Michel Lacroix, the new structure achieved stylistic consistency with the original building through its use of brick, although its more complex massing is a departure from the pure modernist lines of its predecessor. Its masonry work was recognized by the Design Canada Award of Excellence in 1972. Henceforth, the new library wing became known as the Main Building, while the original library is known as the West Building.
In 1977, the library was renamed in honour of Dr. John Francis Leddy, former president of the University of Windsor.
The images shown here date from my short visit in April 2018.
- Assumption University (Windsor). (1958). New Library 1958. SWODA: University of Windsor Publications.
- Ball, K., & Soutter, J. (n.d.). History of the Leddy Library. Leddy Library. Retrieved March 6, 2023
- Library, University of Windsor, Ontario. (1973). Canadian Architect, 18(4), pp. 46–51.
- Žantovská Murray, I., & Schoenauer, N. (1991). John Bland at eighty: A tribute. Montreal : McGill University.
- Shine, A. (1997). A Partner’s Perspective. ARQ : La Revue des membres de l’Ordre des Architectes du Québec, 96(Profils d’architectes d’aujourd’hui: John Bland), pp. 10–11.
- University of Windsor. (2023). In Wikipedia.
Library detail pages are primarily a place for me to collect information I gather on the libraries I visit, and are frequently updated. None of this should be considered authoritative, I am not an architect, nor a historian. If you notice something incorrect, please let me know!