Toronto Through My Lens

The Griffins at Lillian H. Smith, Toronto Public Library

Several of you will instantly recognize this very familiar site! Today we take a look at the Griffins (or Gryphons) guarding the main entrance of the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library at 239 College Street.

The figures were designed and constructed by architect Philip H. Carter and sculptor Ludzer Vandermolen. The griffins took their permanent place beside the entrance when the branch opened in 1995.

Edgar and Judith

Each griffin weighs 3 tonnes or 3000 kilograms and took about 1.5 years to make. Small clay models were approved by the Library Board, then enlarged and cast in fibreglass and wax before being sent to the foundry. Since they are so big, they were cast in different sections – about 12 parts for each statue. The bronze finisher was Vince Graham.1

The griffins have their own identity and heritage: the lion is Edgar (east side of door) and the eagle is named Judith. If you study the griffins for a while you will soon see various little animals embedded into each main figure.


Judith resides on the west side of the library’s main door. It is named for the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy.


Edgar guards the east side of the library’s main door. He is named after the benefactor of the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books.

Near the griffins, but not part of them, is this owl. Prior to taking up residence at Lillian H. Smith branch it was situated at the entrance of the old Boys and Girls House library on St. George Street.

If you’d like to read about the history of Lillian H. Smith and the Toronto Public Library in general, here are a couple of interesting articles:


  1. David

    I have walked by this library many times and never noticed the detail. The next time I will stop and take a closer look .
    Thanks Marv for pointing this out

  2. Michal Calder

    Yes, & I worked there on 3 separate occasions from 2006 – 2019 & never noticed the little embedded creatures! Thanks for this post.

    • Marvin Job

      The little critters are kind of easy to miss unless you’re up very close to the Griffins. Very cute, though.

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