We asked our editors across the country for their picks for the best independent book stores in their cities–places that offer a unique selection of books as well as a comfortable atmosphere.
For young bibliophiles (and the people who love them) Woozles Children’s Bookstore is a must-visit destination in Halifax. In the heart of the downtown on Birmingham Street, it’s Canada’s oldest independent bookstore for children, carrying a wide range of books, from the whimsical to the educational.
In Victoria, the word bookstore is synonymous with Munro’s Books, an institution along historic Government Street for more than four decades. Described by Allan Fotheringham as Canada’s most magnificent bookstore, Munro’s offers a vast selection of titles on virtually every topic. Don’t miss the beautiful wall hangings by fabric artist Carole Sabiston.
Locally owned chain McNally Robinson Booksellers is one of the country’s best independent book sellers. Along with a vast selection of books and magazines, its two Winnipeg locations stock great giftware, host numerous music nights and readings, and house popular restaurant Prairie Ink Cafe.
Pages Books on Kensington is an independent bookshop with two floors of more than 10,000 titles in literature, children’s books, specialty and non-fiction. The staff are avid bookworms themselves, and are helpful with recommendations–they will even assist you in tracking down a book if it is not in the store. The shop also has special visits from authors like Timothy Findley and Rohinton Mistry.
Downtown booklovers find comfort (and much to splurge on) at Ben McNally Books. The upscale shop is a mecca for first-run hardcovers, and if nothing immediately catches your eye, knowledgeable staff (including the store’s namesake owner) are quick to offer recommendations. Type Books is another alternative to chain booksellers in two trendy Toronto neighbourhoods—the cozy literary boutiques offer a well-curated selection of books by Canadian authors, particularly those who make their home in Toronto.
Canmore’s Cafe Books is the Alberta Rockies’ only independent book store that sells new releases. Their wide range of titles includes local guidebooks, fiction, current affairs, plus a large young adult and children’s section. Cafe Books also plays host to monthly author events by local and international writers. Their warm and inviting atmosphere is completed with a selection of jewellery, pottery and artworks by Canadian artists.
At Belgravia Books And Treasures find rare, recent and out-of-print books, antiques and curios, framed paintings and prints. Friendly proprietor Robert Wuetherick loves to guide browsers through an exceptional range of next-to-new and vintage children’s books and educators’ resources as well as literature, popular fiction, special interest books, and a smorgasbord of cookbooks.
Collected Works is an independent bookstore that stocks Canadian, American, and British books with a strong emphasis on literary fiction, poetry, and children’s books. The store is also a venue for exhibitions by local artists, readings by writers, book club discussions, and workshops for aspiring writers.
For guidebooks, fiction titles, magazines, and more, locals and visitors alike flock to Armchair Books, a family-owned and -operated store in the heart of the village.
Budding chefs head to Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks to find cookbooks written by everyone from local luminaries to international superstars. Junior bookworms love the huge selection and family-friendly atmosphere at Kidsbooks. Duthie Books Fourth Avenue sells cookbooks, children’s books, and every other kind of book you can imagine.