sherlock holmes room reference library toronto

The Sherlock Holmes room is the Toronto Library's best kept secret

Perhaps the most iconic sleuth of all time (sorry Inspector Gadget), the detective Sherlock Holmes has long fascinated generations of readers with his wit and style. 

While many recognize the Holmes brand, few are very familiar with the character's author, Arthur Conan Doyle — a prolific writer who dabbled in plenty of other literary genres aside from fictional crime. 

sherlock holmes room reference libraryThe British author was so prolific, in fact, that his legacy has warranted its own collection and showroom in the Toronto Reference Library. Located on the fifth floor, it can be accessed through the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre. 

According to a library source (shh) the collection was sold at a very cheap price to the library by a collector of Doyle's works — so many that the Reference Library decided to provide the books their own section, accessible anytime during library hours. 

sherlock holmes room reference libraryNo bags or water are permitted in this area, even in the corner of the Centre's rotunda, just outside the glass-fronted room. Here you'll find two walls with books from ceiling to floor, plus a round table with a useable Sherlock Holmes-themed chess set.

sherlock holmes room reference libraryWithin the glass-fronted room (which is known in the library as Room 221B) is a Victorian-styled home truly reminiscent of what you'd expect from a Sherlock Holmes scene, replete with a fireplace, pipe, and plenty of busts. 

sherlock holmes room reference libraryFollowing renovations to the library in 2014, the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection now includes editions of the author's books as well as secondary material like biographies, criticisms, and books inspired by Doyle's work in languages like Japanese. 
sherlock holmes room reference libraryYou'll find all types of Doylean publications in this room, from his classic Holmes tales to his books on history, true crime, spirituality, and current affairs.

The best part about this display is that it's not all see-see no touch: any works that catch your fancy can be taken out of the room and brought to the table outside for, ahem, further inspection. 

Photos by

Tanya Mok


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