Bethany Barclay-Goddard remembers reading Rae Bridgman’s Serpent’s Spell when she was a kid, and “thinking how cool it was that a book was set in Winnipeg with the Cornish Library as one of the settings.”
Ardythe Basham of the Friends of the Cornish Library notes that there are a lot of references to the Cornish Library in Miriam Toews’ The Summer of My Amazing Luck.
She also mentions Catherine Hunter’s In the First Early Days of my Death. In this book, the protagonist, Wendy, has been seriously injured in the first chapter, and as she lies in a coma her spirit floats over the neighbourhood, observing people and places she knows. It’s set in Wolseley, so the library would be the Cornish Library.
At night, while the world of the living slept, I could hear the dead whispering, calling me, coaxing me toward them. At these times, I took shelter in the library. I feared their siren songs, feared my own despair, the great temptation to surrender. And books were the only refuge I had ever known from such strange longings.
I’d always wanted to be all alone in the library at night, and now I could be. During the bustle of the day, surrounded by books that I didn’t have time to read, I’d often imagined sneaking in after hours, stealing the luxury of time. I had time now, in abundance.
The dark rows of shelves were beautiful under the dim night lighting, as I’d always imagined they would be, tall monuments, like rows of gravestones in a cemetery. I’d always thought that if I could get in at night, I’d finally have a chance to explore the library thoroughly, to browse through history, biography, cookbooks, atlases. But now that I was here, I found myself drawn back to the children’s section, to the bulletin board that should have been changed last week, to my own desk, my unfinished paperwork.
I saw all the tasks that needed to be done. The unshelved volumes in the back room, where no child could ever find them. A box of shiny new animal books that hadn’t yet been catalogued. A forgotten stack of paperbacks about the weather, left over from the display we’d made in spring, when we studied the wind and made those kites.
I wandered into the fiction section. My favourite shelf was the one with the Children’s Classics, the hardcover collection. The broad spines of the books were blue, green, deep chocolate brown, and ruby red, the titles stamped in golden, Gothic script: Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Peter Pan.
Peter Pan! I would have given anything to open that volume and look at the watercolour illustrations, read that story again. To get past the covers to those thick, creamy pages, those letters, words. Sometimes I thought this was the very worst part of it all. The saddest. The least bearable.”
From In the First Early Days of My Death, by Catherine Hunter