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ARCHIVED - Celebrating Women's Achievements

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Freda Farrell Waldon

Photograph of Freda Farrell Waldon


Public Librarian, Administrator


Freda Waldon was born in Winnipeg on August 29,1898. She moved to Hamilton at an early age where her ancestors had been early and prominent settlers. She continued this tradition through her work with the Hamilton Public Library, a variety of local cultural activities and by promoting Hamilton local history.

She was Chief Librarian of the Hamilton Public Library from 1940 to 1963. During this period the Library grew steadily and gained a nation-wide reputation notably for the quality of its reference service. A 1950 survey of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics indicated that among Canadian cities with a population over 100 000, the Hamilton Public Library system ranked second. Freda Waldon's was also committed to improving library service to children and was instrumental in opening branches of the Hamilton Public Library in schools in the city.

Freda Waldon also made significant contributions at the provincial and national levels. She served on or chaired many Ontario Library Association committees and was President of that association in 1941/42. She was also very active in efforts to form a national library and a national organization of librarians and was the first elected President of the Canadian Library Association(CLA) in 1946. She chaired a Committee formed by the CLA and four learned societies that presented a Brief to the Secretary of State in 1947. The work of this committee was instrumental in establishing the National Library of Canada in 1953.

She was also a talented writer, contributing to many professional journals as well as periodicals such as Saturday Night and the Canadian Historical Review. The first gift to the National Library was a copy of the typed sheets of her bibliography of Canadiana Published in Great Britain,1519-1763.

She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by McMaster University in 1954 in recognition of her contributions to library development in Hamilton.


Greenfield, J. Katherine. — Hamilton Public Library 1889-1963 : a celebration of vision and leadership. — Hamilton, Ont. : Hamilton Public Library, 1989. — 139 p.

Mathews, Kathleen R. — "Freda Farrell Waldon,1898-1973". — Ex libris news. — No.10 (Fall 1991). — P. 5-11

Skelly, Isabelle J. — "Freda F Waldon". — Feliciter. — Vol. 19, no.8 (Dec. 1973). — P. 19-20