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a clean well-lit place

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

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Taken on March 2, 2006