Cafes and Bookshops – Two of My Favourite Things


Drawing by Keith McKellar, Reproduced with permission.

Paper Hound (344 W Pender) books is located on the site of what was for several decades a cafe in Vancouver’s ‘book row’. Most recently (ca 1989-2002), it was White Rose Cafe (evocatively shown in the drawing above by Keith McKellar). Before that, it was Dixon’s Cafe (ca 1941-87), and before that, very briefly, Pender Lunch (ca 1939-40) and Three Sisters Lunch (ca 1938-39).¹

The number of open secondhand book shops (versus closed shops where books are sold out of the homes of sellers and aren’t open to browsing customers) have thinned out considerably in the digital age. In 1989-90, for example, Joyce Williams Antique Prints and Maps was at 346 Pender (next door to White Rose), and on the north side of Pender in the same block were Stephen Lunsford (341) and Ainsworth (321); two blocks up Pender was the Anglican Bookshop (167) – which had been in the Joyce Williams site at 346 W Pender in the ’60s and ’70s – and Brendan M. Moss (101). On the north side of W Pender in the other direction (west) was the bookstore that has become an institution, MacLeod’s; Michael Thompson (434 W Pender) and Albion were about a block away. And Bond’s (500 block Dunsmuir; later, 319 W. Hastings), Colophon (407 W Cordova), William Hoffer (58/60 Powell), and Reginald Lissel (434 Homer) were within easy walking distance.

Joyce Williams would ultimately move to Yaletown, where it is today. Lunsford would settle into a closed shop in the Dominion Building, until quite recently; Ainsworth remained at its Pender location until finally packing it in circa the mid-’90s; the Anglican Bookshop seems to have called it quits shortly after 1989. Moss moved to his longtime site on Water Street in the basement of Le Magasin until finally closing his shop sometime in the mid-2000s, I believe. The bookshops of Bond’s, Colophon, Lissel, and Hoffer, are but memories. Michael Thompson is a memory of Vancouver bookstore lovers like me who miss his great eye and who can’t readily get to his current shop on Hornby Island.

What remains today of ‘Pender Book Row’ (i.e. of general open bookshops in the vicinity of West Pender)? The way I figure it, as of early February, 2017, just three remain:

Criterion Books (434 W Pender; across Pender from MacLeod’s on the second floor) was formerly an open secondhand shop, but according to signage at its entry, it is no longer an open shop.

I’m pleased to report that scientists so far haven’t found a way to digitize coffee or the purveyors thereof. At least one of my favourite things isn’t under threat of extinction!


¹In its very earliest years (following construction of the Victoria Block, of which it is part), 346 W Pender was occupied by realtors: in the 1910s by Herbert F. Maskill (ca1882-1928); and during the ’20s by Hugh S. Banbury (1886-1963) & Co.

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2 Responses to Cafes and Bookshops – Two of My Favourite Things

  1. KR says:

    Enjoyed your item about bookshops. The old photo of McLeod’s can almost certainly be dated to the late sixties or early seventies. The white car in the foreground is a Volkswagen 1600 Squareback, which first arrived in North America in 1966, and the blue and green stripes on the trolley buses were repainted yellow and orange by the Barrett government of 1972-1975 (not without controversy since they were also the Socred and NDP colours, respectively).

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