Stained Glass Windows

Weston library, west wall, interior

A detail of the west wall of the Weston branch of the Toronto Public Library, showing the stained glass windows for Longfellow, Tennyson and Browning.

In 1914, Robert McCausland Limited created 24 stained glass windows for the four exterior walls of the new Weston Public Library. Each window was decorated with a crest and a banner. Twenty-three of the banners were inscribed with the name of a prominent author of the time, while one banner was left mysteriously blank. The firm was paid $715 for its work.

Born in Toronto in 1856, Robert McCausland was the eldest son of Joseph McCausland (1828-1905), a painter, a decorator, a designer and a manufacturer of stained-glass windows, who had started as a practicing artisan at age 11.

Robert became a partner in his father’s firm in 1881. Occupying four buildings on King Street West, Joseph McCausland and Son had from 70 to 100 employees. Its work in Toronto includes windows in many churches and residences, in the Ontario Legislative Buildings as well as the opulent skylight at the Bank of Montreal (now the Hockey Hall of Fame).

The stained-glass department of the McCausland firm was made a separate company under Robert in 1897. The first commission to come to him on his own (and the best-known McCausland work) was the large window on the stairs opposite the entrance in Toronto’s third City Hall.

Robert McCausland died in 1923, but his firm continues to operate, claiming in 2014 that “Robert McCausland Limited is the oldest stained glass company in the Western Hemisphere … also the longest, continuously-owned family company in Canada.”

“Stained glass was used in several of the early Carnegie libraries to add an air of quality to the appearance;” claim the authors of The Best Gift, a record of the Carnegie libraries in Ontario, “the libraries at Guelph, Chatham, and Ottawa, for example, were enriched in this way.”

Authors' names were inscribed on a few other Carnegie-funded libraries in Ontario, they also note. “The Brantford window heads with display of authors' names were matched in the Fort William Library, where the busts of similar authors were depicted in the stained glass window heads on three sides of the building.”

To see a pictures of each window and to learn more about the authors shown on them, select a Stained Glass Window location from the menu at right.

Stained Glass Windows