Fraser-Hickson Institute
The Fraser-Hickson Institute, a registered non-profit organization, was established in 1870 according to Hugh Fraser’s will, as a free library, museum and gallery. It opened its doors in 1885 as one of Montreal’s first libraries and for more than 70 years operated out of a building known as Burnside Hall at the corner of University and René-Levesque.


To collect, connect to and deliver stimulating resources for curious minds of every age.


To excel as an open, friendly, innovative library that encourages the spirit of exploration, the joy of reading, and the pursuit of knowledge for all ages and cultures starting with the very young.


Special Free Book Delivery

The Fraser Hickson Library continues to offer its “special delivery” outreach service to the homebound. We offer hard- and soft-cover books in large print and regular print; books on tape and CD; and DVDs.

There is space available for new customers. You could be of great help if you would pass on this message to anyone within the NDG and Montreal West areas who might like this service.

As you know, Fraser Hickson’s continuing focus is to encourage reading and foster literacy.  As a private library, comprising some 130,000 books and related materials, it is in a unique position to develop access to its collections and fulfill its vocation as its Governors best see fit. 

Although no longer occupying a conventional library space, but with our books now safely shelved in secure premises in NDG (since July, 2013), the following recaps our accomplishments to date:

1.  MiniLibraries.  Curated collections of up to 1,000 books apiece, specifically selected for each group of readers involved, have now been installed in a dozen locations (with ten more in the queue) to support programmes for pre-school children, homework support, teens, adults and seniors provided by our various partners.  We help them to “bring the books to life” with information and animation initiatives and to encourage them to lend the books to interested readers.  So far, our partners include four YMCAs, MAB-Mackay Centre, the Montreal Fluency Centre, Boys & Girls Club of LaSalle, HIPPY Quebec, the Quebec Board of Black Educators and the Loyola and Walkley Centres. The latter three use our books in the highly-reputed Aide au Devoirs programme. We have also met with other organisations (e.g. Avenir d’Enfants) and look forward to partnering with them in the near future.  

With our multicultural collections, we plan to expand our activities to include French and English daycares and community centres throughout Montreal as funding becomes available, particularly those serving the less fortunate and the very young.

2.  The First 1000 Days.  Our research resoundingly confirms the significance of effective reading to children, from pre-natal to 3 years of age, on the level of literacy development, first for success in school and subsequently throughout life. The potential for prosperity, both individual and national, is proven to be directly related to literacy levels. We are therefore bringing together an advisory panel of early child literacy development authorities, and are seeking partnerships with organisations and programmes that focus in this regard on the first 1000 days of life (HIPPY is our first). We hope to provide meaningful support to these activities and to the recognition of literacy skill development as an unceasing national priority.

3.  Website ( Although being constantly improved to provide easier access to more information, the Fraser Hickson website already includes a link to our digital catalogue, comprising over 100,000 items.  Anyone wishing to borrow from these collections, and registered with us directly or through a partner, can come to our office (2165 Madison), or have their book delivered via a partner organisation.  In time, the website will include blogs and reviews that stimulate interest in specific titles and encourage reading.  We also intend to add an e-book service to our website in due course.

4.   Global Access to our Antiquarian Collections.  With some 30,000 books published at least a century ago, Fraser Hickson owns a treasure trove of reference material.  Our initial experience of scanning some 150 antiquarian books not already digitized by others, relating to Quebec and Canadian history, and placing them on a globally-accessible website, has resulted in over 3,000 “hits” to date, confirming the value of our goal to render these rare collections widely accessible to researchers interested in our content.  In view of the strong response, we are also investigating ways to accelerate the scanning process and deliver more content to the Web as quickly as possible.  We will soon have our card catalogue of these books digitized and on the Web as well, facilitating awareness of what Fraser Hickson can offer.

5.   Home Delivery to the Mobility-Impaired.  This long-standing Fraser Hickson programme provides books to anyone living within the area serviced by our volunteers, including large-print editions for the visually-impaired.  This involves considerable consultation by phone, resulting in links with subscribers of this free service that are prized by staff and reader alike (one subscriber died recently at 110, regretting during the past year that her eyesight was failing!).

A 2012 TD Bank study for the Conference Board of Canada states, “Higher literacy brings sustainable gains to individuals, businesses, the economy, society and democracy.  It is hard to identify one single issue that can have such a far-ranging impact.  Literacy should be a key public policy initiative.”  What Fraser Hickson seeks to achieve, with its partners, is nothing less than a general awareness of the vital importance of the highest level of literacy skill to increase social and economic prosperity in Canada.

CONTACTS: For more information, phone Isabel at (514) 489-5301  

The minibiblioPLUS project grew from strength to strength, serving 130 partners with 219 programs, impacting about 14,000 participants, bringing more than 10,000 books to children, and delivering around 5000 hours of programming through our volunteers. minibiblioPLUS brings the magic of books to children and provides our partners with access to trained volunteers. Staff facilitates Early Literacy workshops encouraging parents to read to their children from Day One to ensure that they are equipped with essential skills early on. This is critical for their future success.




(514) 484-1471

fax: (514) 484-1687

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