A former garrison town for British soldiers defending Upper Canada during the war of 1812, Drummondville rose to prominence when the river that traverses the town was harnessed in the 1920s to power a nascent steel industry. One of the byproducts of steel production was a type of pale blue, milky slag that was once so abundant it was used as fill material for roads.
When designing the new Drummondville public library that opened in 2017, architecture firm Chevalier Morales in consortium with DMA Architectes drew inspiration from the town’s industrial history, deriving its curving shapes from the blades of hydroelectric turbines and the colour of its walls from the once omnipresent blue slag glass.
In 2019, the project received the Grand prix d’Excellence de l’Ordre des Architectes du Québec, recognizing the quality of the library’s design and its integration within the site.
Named after former mayor Francine Ruest Jutras, the new building is the 5th location for the Drummondville public library since its foundation in 1951. The institution took the move as an opportunity to rethink its services, notably removing the subscription fee it charged until 2017. This move led to an 230% increase in the number of registered users, who can now freely access over 135,000 documents. Opening hours were also extended.
One of the two patios that bring natural light to the building’s core doubles as an outdoor reading space. The kinetic sculpture featured in this “garden” is Pierre Tessier’s “La vie comme une danse”, which was once located at the heart of the previous Drummondville library and thus establishes continuity between the two locations.
The rounded corners of the building are also reminiscent of ice hockey rinks, of which the town boasts the largest number per inhabitant in the province. One such rink immediately adjacent to the library was in fact an integral part of the project, its dimensions matching one of the library’s facade. The seating area on the second floor is also rumoured to be a prime viewing spot for hockey games in winter, further drawing the two programmes together.
A pair of sculptures by Marc-Antoine Côté are featured in the park that surrounds the library. Their shape and material recall that of iron ore and a bloc of steel. Together with a baby blue hydroelectric turbine donated by Hydro Québec, these objects are another nod to Drummondville’s industrial heritage.
The images shown here were taken during a visit to the library with a class of Cégep students in May 2023.
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!