Nicholas Hoare Books: RIP

Rest In Peace Nicholas Hoare Books, purveyor of British literature in Ottawa.

Located in the heart of downtown Ottawa on swanky Sussex Avenue, Nicholas Hoare faced two big adversaries: skyrocketing rent increases and a large chain bookstore only a few blocks away.

So, it seemed inevitable that this small, independent (and dare I say “quirky”) bookstore would one day be forced to close its doors.

That day came on April 20th, 2012. And it was a sad day for many Ottawa book lovers. Mourners came out in droves to pay their respects at the store, on Twitter, Facebook and in interviews with the local media. One long-time customer commented that it was not his job, but rather this bookstore that kept him in Ottawa.

I too will miss this lovely shop. It had a unique selection of books and music, and a wonderful old-world atmosphere. I loved them for taking chances: not just a place to find best-sellers, they offered up strange and pretty little books by British publishers, books you could find no where else. Books that begged to be touched, admired and read out loud to whoever was within earshot. To top it all off, their selection of children’s books was inspiring, unusual and beautiful (the way it should be, but sadly is not).

And, located across the street from the National Gallery of Canada, it was a match made in heaven for anyone wanting to spend a happy afternoon amongst art and books.

To see what I’m talking about, here’s a look inside the bookstore in happier days:

Source: Nicholas Hoare Books

I’m hard-pressed to name another bookseller who provides this level of literary expertise or experience in Ottawa. Their absence leaves a blot on this city’s cultural and retail landscape for residents and tourists alike.

I went to say my “goodbye” last weekend. Looking in at the empty bookshelves, I wondered what will fill this space next? Another soulless gift shop, restaurant or high-end clothing store?

Sadly, I doubt it will be another bookstore. For in the words of Robert Graves:

“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”

You can still enjoy the beautiful books of Nicholas Hoare at their Toronto store and at their website (where Mr. Hoare himself shares his favourite selections in engaging video reviews).

Toronto, here I come…

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