a clean well-lit place

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    Munro's Books now occupies a landmark location in the heart of Victoria's Old Town, but its origins are much more modest. In 1963, Jim Munro and his first wife, Alice - yes, that Alice Munro - set up shop in a long, narrow space on Yates Street, near Victoria's movie theatres. The store's stock consisted almost entirely of paperbacks, at a time when many traditional booksellers considered anything other than hardback books to be beyond the pale, bordering on beneath contempt.

    Actually, bookstores were few and far between in Victoria; Jim Munro's main competition in those days came from the book departments of The Bay and Eaton's. But the location was convenient for younger, movie-going customers, and the staff's interest in new trends in writing and other art forms built a loyal clientele.

    The store relocated to larger premises on Fort Street in 1979 and then to its current location in 1984.

    The Mucha prints and psychedelic posters are long gone, but Munro's is still Victoria's prime source for the latest trends in writing.

    Munro's fine neo-classical building was designed, for the Royal Bank of Canada, in 1909 by Thomas Hooper, the architect of many of B.C.'s finest commercial and public buildings.

    The beautiful coffered 24ft. ceiling closely resembles the ceiling of the porch of the great library of Ephesus built by the Romans in ancient times. The building has since received two heritage awards.

    Part of Munro's refurbishment of the building was the commissioning and hanging of eight large fabric banners by Carole Sabiston depicting The Four Seasons. These were added to a collection of her other fabric works inspired by ten classic works of literature, which used to hang in the store's previous locations.

    from Munro's web site

    neilbruder, pcrossman, Elinesca, and 1 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. pcrossman 99 months ago | reply

      Thanx for all this data !
      really interesting
      it makes me figure out the movie with Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan "you've got a mail", the story of a small bookshop fighting against great stores...

    2. Vida Morkunas (seawallrunner) 99 months ago | reply

      Canada has a very large chain of bookstores called Chapters/Indigo. There's at least one Chapters in each large Canadian city.

      I was wondering whether there was a Chapters in Victoria - and if so, where it is located. There's a largish branch on another main street of Victoria - Blanshard Street - several blocks away from Munro's.

      So not quite the "You've Got Mail" situation where the big store is just around the corner, but there is a big store in the neighborhood within a mile or two, yes.

    3. ianmccarthy 98 months ago | reply

      One of my first bosses in the IMF told me that "a gentleman would never have paperbacks in his library". I responded that this demonstrated that he was more interested in the outside than the contents. Things went downhill after that.

    4. Newleaf 98 months ago | reply

      The information you have doesn't mention that Carole Sabiston, an internationally acclaimed fabric artist, is also Jim Munro's second wife. Boy, he sure knows how to pick talented women, doesn't he?

    5. seandodson 74 months ago | reply

      Hey, Beautiful shot. I'm an admin for a group called The world's most beautiful bookstores, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group. Please come and join us.

      best wishes,


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