On the fifth floor of the intimidatingly large Toronto Reference Library, there lies a space of relaxation and calm, ironically made possible by the dark and criminal. “What abode could this be?” you ask with baited breath. Why, none other than the hidden gem that is the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.
Sherlock Holmes is one of those extraordinary characters with the power to live in the public consciousness for centuries after his last line was spoken. Why has this detective, out of all other literary persons, had the pleasure of fame and limelight? I believe the reason lies in his fully developed and utterly unique character. He is logical, intuitive, quick, clever, rude, and sly. He’s dependent on precious few things: himself, his trusty sidekick Mr. Watson, and a certain illegal substance. In short, Holmes isn’t your classic hero, and it’s because of his flaws and deviations from the norm that he has so captured the public’s interest for over a hundred years.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the man responsible for the character of Mr Holmes. He wrote four novellas and dozens of short stories featuring the detective and other memorable characters such as Mr. Watson, Mycroft Holmes, Professor Moriarty, and Irene Adler. This is, of course, not to mention the many adaptations of the crew into various television series and theatrical films.
The Toronto Reference Library pays homage to the legacy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s finest creation with a specially created room. Sherlock’s special mantle in literary culture is represented in the form of a nicely sized room filled with various memorabilia and artifacts. Books, films, prints…even a violin and a Sherlock-inspired chess set grace the area. But what really sets the display apart from other collections across the Public Library is the atmosphere. Decorated in an early twentieth century decor style and evoking a truly Sherlock-ian feel, the room is a breath of fresh air. It transports you out of modern existence as you sink into an armchair and crack open a volume of the sleuth’s adventures. The story takes you in for an experience of Victorian London in downtown Toronto.
The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection is yours to experience at the Toronto Reference Library, located near Bay-Yorkville subway station, and open from 2-4PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.