In the company of Dickens, Twain

Talk about a fitting location for a library — just down the street from Twain, around the corner from Dickens and Shakespeare and a short hike from Wordsworth.

The Westwood Library, a rather small, unassuming building on Allard Avenue, is within walking distance of several streets named after some of the legends of the literary world.

Kirsten Wurmann, who’s been head librarian at Westwood since September, wasn’t even aware when she started the branch was surrounded by streets named after great authors and poets like mark Twain, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, John Keats, William Wordsworth and Robert Browning.

That is, until she went for a walk during one of her lunch hours.

“As a librarian, I see these names (and) it makes me feel connected,” said Wurmann. “It feels sort of right that this library is in this neighbourhood.”

Now, she’s planning on enlightening others by offering a walking tour of the area.

“I think it’s definitely something that the library should take advantage of that we are living in this literary street map,” said Wurmann, one of 12 staff members at the Westwood Library.

While none of these literary greats actually put pen to paper in Westwood, the City of Winnipeg couldn’t say why the cluster of streets share their names.

But residents say the uniqueness of the street names has really generated a sense of pride in the neighbourhood.

“I don’t know if they planned it that way, or it was a fluke of nature, but I think it works being so close to the library,” said Brooke Rawlings, 34, who lives on Twain Drive. “It was probably four months before I realized that the street was named after mark Twain, and that’s when I found out, oh, there’s all these authors further down.”

Rawlings hasn’t read any of Twain’s works, but the new mom said she’ll probably head to the Westwood Library soon and pick up a copy for the first time.

A few blocks away, 21-year-old Morgan Heartfiel said she’s proud to tell friends she lives on Shakespeare Bay.

“It’s a good choice for the community, because we have lots of young people growing up around here. and (there’s) older people around the area that grew up reading that type of stuff,” said Heartfiel.

Wurmann said about 300 people use the library every day, primarily students from nearby Westwood Collegiate and Sansome Elementary School.

She said some kids still gravitate to the classics, particularly Shakespeare.

Dropping In is a ‘random act of journalism’ that starts with a thumbtack on a city map and ends with a story from the street

In the company of Dickens, Twain

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