Susie Atkinson: Founder of the St. Albert Library

As St. Albert residents, the St. Albert Library is a familiar and comforting place. We rely on the library for books, movies, music, a place to study, a place to relax, and a place for our children. The library feels like such a strong pillar of our community, we may take it for granted. For our beloved library did not always reside in a building, but actually started in a car.

In the 1930s, a woman named Susie Atkinson began borrowing books from the University of Alberta Library, packing them in apple boxes, and driving them back to St. Albert in her Essex car. For three years, Atkinson lent out library books from her own home. 

Her efforts didn’t stop there. With friend Sadie Ross, the two worked to form a branch of the Women’s Institution in St. Albert. The Women’s Institute, founded in 1897 by Mrs. Hoodless in Stony Creek, Ontario, was an educational institution working towards the improvement of rural women’s lives and social conditions. In 1949 Atkinson was the first chapter president of the St. Albert Women’s Institution, rallying its members to create a permanent library. 

After moving locations a few times, the library finally settled in St. Albert Place in 1983. A portrait of Susie Atkinson is featured in the library, with the plaque “Mrs. Ted Atkinson: Founder of the St. Albert Library.” Even with all her accomplishments, her time viewed her as an extension of her husband. 

Atkinson is a hero to our community. She was dedicated to bettering and serving the community, working alongside other women in the Women’s Institute and Red Cross. The next time you visit the St. Albert Library, think of Susie and her love and dedication to community.