Gone . . . But Not Forgotten: Used/Antiquarian Bookshops (1970-2020) – UPDATED

Updated October 25, 2022

This post pays tribute to used and antiquarian bookshops (and their booksellers) which existed between 1970 and 2020 and are no longer operating in Vancouver. It will not include existing shops such as The Paper Hound, MacLeod’s, Albion, People’s Co-op, Lawrence, Stillman’s, Spartacus, Antiquarius, Michael Thompson, Wilkinson’s Automobilia*, etc. In order to qualify for inclusion in this post, the shops listed need to be out of business and to have been located within Vancouver’s city limits (and to have sold principally English-language books).

Each listing shows the shop’s name, the approximate dates it was in business (in decades), the shop’s proprietor (if known) and its address(es).**


A-Aabaca Book Bin (1970s-1980s) – Proprietor: Lloyd Cartwright. 1247 Granville. By 1988, it was purchased by Skip Mabee. See: Fraser Book Bin and ABC Book & Comic Emporium.

Albert Eddy, Nan Vie photo.

Aardvark Books (1970s-1980s) – Founder proprietor: Albert Eddy. Started in business ca 1971 at 4185 Main. By 1979, it was at 4331 Main. By 1982, ownership had changed to Fred Miller. By 1989, the name of the shop had changed slightly to Aardvark Books & Comics. There were several video machines in Aardvark by Miller’s time.


ABC Book & Comic Emporium (1990-2010s) Louis “Skip” Mabee, proprietor. 1247 Granville. It was bought by Mabee in 1988 after it was sold a couple of times after Ted Fraser sold it. By ca2000, the shop had a date with re-developers and it was moved over to the east side of Granville (1200 block). Within a short time, it was moved yet again by Mabee to Broadway just west of Granville, where it remained until 2012. See: Fraser Book Bin.

Abraxas Books (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. 3210 Dunbar.

Cartwright of A-Aabaca
Book Bin.

Acorn Books (1980s-1990s) Don Stewart, proprietor. (Catriona Strang managed it for Stewart for about a year and then Renee Rodin took over). 321 W. Pender. Acorn was a low-end version of Stewart’s main shop, MacLeod’s Books.

Ahrens’ BooksJohn Ahrens (1960s-1980s), proprietor. The shop was located at 756 Davie. It had a reputation as a chaotic (book-wise) meeting place of book people.

Ahren’s Books on Davie Street at Howe, 1981.. CVA 779 W03.24.

Ainsworth Books (1930s-1990s)A. J. Ainsworth established his shop at 321 W. Pender in 1939. He was the third generation of his family to be in the book business; he had learned the business from his father in England. A.J.A. died in 1950 at age 75. One of his daughters, Doreen Crombie, took over the business. Crombie sold the shop to Russ Cunningham in the 1980s. The shop continued under the Ainsworth name and at the same location until ca1995, when it apparently folded.

Arcanum Books (1990s-2000s)Kevin Dale McKeown, proprietor. Was open in Vancouver from 1998-2006. Location: 317A Cambie Street (one of the retail spaces beneath the rooms of Danny’s Inn). Arcanum was originally opened in Burnaby in 1969 with Everett Foley, proprietor. It had several locations just east of Boundary on Hastings, the last being where Brown’s Books is today until McKeown bought the business and moved it to Vancouver. Specialties: Religion, philosophy, metaphysics, miscellaneous conspiracy theories and inexplicable phenomena.

Ashley’s Books (1990s-2000s)Ashley Offill, proprietor. 3754 W 10th. Specialties: history, art, literature, psychology, eastern religion. See: Baehr Books.

Baehr Books (2000s) – Scot Baehr, proprietor. 3754 W 10th. Specialties: history, literature, art, psychology, science fiction.

Beland’s Bookshop (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. 3315 Kingsway (at Joyce). Specialties: pocket books, magazines, comics.

Belly Button Books and Novel Cafe (1980s-1990s) – Collectively owned, but according to his obituary, James C. Campbell was “very involved” in the business. He died of AIDS in 1994 and, from what I can tell, the bookshop didn’t outlive him by long. 109 W. Cordova. Generalist shop.

Better Buy Books (1960s-1990s)Ron Webber, proprietor. 4393 W. 10th. A UBC-area source of used books. I recall finding many supplementary, out-of-print books there when I was working on my M.A. at UBC in the early 1990s.

Bidwell Books (1980s-1990s)Dalia Sinius (later Dalia Dargis), proprietor. 824 Bidwell. This wee shop felt to me very much like a West End neighbourhood bookstore (at a time when the West End was more truly a neighbourhood). Specialties: architecture, boating, cooking, philosophy.

The Blue Heron (1980s-90s) Alma McIntyre, proprietor (Stephen McIntyre‘s wife). At 8321 Oak St. in 1990. By 1992, at 3516-A Main. Specialty: books about antiques/collectibles. Not sure how long this shop lasted, but it hasn’t been in business for at least a decade. Alma McIntyre died in 2005.

Black Sheep Books (1990s)Trent & Denise Highnell, (later, George Kroller), proprietors. 2742 W. 4th Ave. When Renee Rodin decided in 1994 to sell R2B2 Books Books, the Highnell’s bought it and renamed it Black Sheep Books. It was operated by them for 4 years, after which George Kroller bought it and ran it for another 3 years under the same name. Black Sheep’s specialties: alternative literature, poetry, drama.

Bond’s Bookshop (1930s-1990s) – A generalist shop run by Francis Carradice (originally) and later by Ed R. Bowes. In the 1930s, it was located at 575 Dunsmuir. Gordon Bowes bought the Dunsmuir shop and put his son, Ed (Ned) Bowes, in charge; he was then 20. By 1969, it had moved to 523 Dunsmuir. In the late ’70s, it had moved to 579 Richards. By the 1980s, it had moved to 319 W. Hastings. It was in business there until the early 1990s, I believe. Ed Bowes died on January 21, 2021; he was working as a book scout at the time of his death.

The Book Basket (1960s-1970s) Ted Fraser. 1070 Robson.

The Bookends (1970s-90s) – Proprietors: Gwenne and Earle Huston. 937 Davie.

The Bookends at Davie location.

The Book Mantel (1990s) and Coffee Bar Bonnie Murray, proprietor (1990); Cynthia Brooke (1994). At 1444 Kingsway (1990); 1002 Commercial Dr. (1994). Specialities: feminist lit, poetry, philosophy.

In Almadene?!

The Book Mantel (1980s-1990s) – Was co-owned by Frank Davis, who also owned Frank’s Records next door. The Mantel had two locations: one at 2551 Alma (near 10th Ave., approximately where Buntain Insurance is today); the other in Kerrisdale at 2065 West 41st. The shop seems to have closed ca1990. Davis died in 2017. Specialties: Classics, art, music, theatre, poetry, philosophy, natural history and science.

Busy ‘B’ (1920s-1970s)George Biswanger, proprietor. The shop started in 1926 at 706 Seymour and advertised itself as selling “2nd hand goods”; books were not specified. It moved by 1927 to 540 W. Pender. By 1955, it had expanded to become two shops, both called “Busy B Book and [postage, presumbaly] Stamp” store at 445 W. Pender and 508 Richards. Biswanger died in 1966 (after which Don Duggan seemed to be proprietor, at least for awhile). Busy ‘B’ carried on through the mid-1970s; it seems finally to have folded by ca1975.

Carillon Books (1990s)George Carroll, proprietor. 1926 W. 4th Ave. (1994). 822 Howe St. (1996). In 1998, the shop moved across the inlet to North Vancouver. I patronized Carroll’s Howe shop. I remember being on a Tchaikovsky kick in the late ‘80s and purchasing from his shop the full orchestral score of one of T’s piano concertos.

Cat & Fiddle Bookshop (1970s) – (Murray Schoolbraid), proprietor. The Point Grey shop was at 4529 W. 10th Ave. New and used books for and about children. It closed in August 1979.


Chef Bell – the Cookbook Man (1980s) Lionel J. Bell, proprietor. The shop was located at 335 W. Pender in 1982. In 1983, he moved his “2000 cookbooks” to 434 W. Pender. He custom-built bookshelves for this space which I’m certain are the ones still in Criterion Books, the succeeding shop in that space (which is now also defunct). Bell died in 1989.

Coho BooksMichael Baker, proprietor. 3211 Dunbar. General stock.

Shows Chef Bell’s Coookbooks entrance (to the 2nd floor) at 434 W. Pender. This is the space most recently occupied by Criterion Books. CVA 790-1852.

Collectors’ Books and Records (1980s-1990s)David Grannis, proprietor (later, Andy Stone). 648 Kingsway. (For more details, see Gordon Watson’s comment below – 07/03/2021).


Colophon Books (1980s-1990s) James F. McIntosh, proprietor. This shop was located at 407 W. Cordova. It was an excellent general shop. I remember with fondness browsing through the stacks in his second-floor shop. McIntosh died in 2019.

Colophon Books (upstairs) on Water Street. CVA 790-2118.

Connoisseur Art Books (1980s-1990s) – Proprietor, Charles Anderson. 5957 W. Boulevard. Specialties: art, collectables.

Criterion Books (1990s-2000s) Lance McCaughran, proprietor. 434 W. Pender. I suspect that the custom bookshelves in this shop were the same ones constructed by Lionel Bell when he owned Chef Bell Cookbooks at this location in the 1980s. McCaughran retired ca2015 and sold most of his general stock to Don Stewart (of MacLeod’s Books). Stewart took over the space as one of his book storage locations.

DeJong Books. 7 – 980 Denman Street. General stock.

EP Books (1990s)Ed Peasgood, proprietor. 4495 Dunbar. Specialties: mystery, children’s, Christian studies/spirituality.

Fahrenheit 451 Books (1980s) – Linda Stackhouse, proprietor. Specialties: Literature, Sci-Fi.

Evelyn’s Book Shelf (1950s-1970s) – 3075 W. Broadway. This was the self-proclaimed “largest bookshop in Kitsilano“ during its time. That claim was probably quite exaggerated. See comment below from Gordon Watson. I have had Gordon’s general impressions confirmed (privately) by someone else.

A. H. Falstaff Books (1970s) – Co-owned by William Hoffer and Van Andruss. 4529 W. 10th Ave. The shop opened in 1972 and closed after a year.

The Fiction Co. (1990s) Gordon McRae, proprietor. 425 Abbott. Generalist shop.

Fraser Book Bin (1940s-1970s) Ted Fraser, proprietor. 6184 Fraser; also at 1247 Granville. The 1247 Granville location first became Fraser’s in 1946. In 1963, Fraser and his manager were charged with “possession of obscene material for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation.” Fraser appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, but was ultimately convicted and fined $3,400. Skip Mabee took over the 1247 Granville site in 1988 and changed the name from A-Aabaca Book Bin (the interim name of the shop between Fraser’s and Mabee’s proprietorships) to the ABC Book & Comic Emporium.

Fraser Book Bin (No. 2) (1990s)Brian Wright & Gerri Ironsides, proprietors. 4750 Main. By 1996, the name of the shop had changed to Fraser Books.

Funston’s Christian Book Centre (1970s-2000s) – William T. Funston, founder (died 1992); Dave Powell was the manager of the Cambie outlet. 8146 Cambie Street. Their stock was divided about equally between new and used Christian literature.

Margaret Gabriel, Bookseller (1990s) – 3036 W. Broadway. Gabriel ‘packed it in’ with a closing out sale in 1995. Specialties: religions of the world, children’s, and 12-step books.

Hermit Books (1990s-2000s) Sharon & Eileen Hansen, proprietors. 2509 W. Broadway. Specialties: poetry, eastern and western religion/philosophy, fine arts, women’s studies.

Hoffer, here, in his Granville Street shop. From Harrison & Dobson’s First Vancouver Catalogue. 1978. Photo credit: Chris Bickford/Jurgen Vogt.

William Hoffer Books (1960s-1990s)Hoffer (1944-1997) had his first bookshop on Water Street in Gastown in 1969 while he was an SFU student (Province 25 Oct 1969). Hoffer had a shop at 3293 Dunbar, briefly, in the early ’70s. In the mid-1970s, he opened a shop with Van Andruss called Falstaff Books, at 4529 W. 10th Ave. His fourth location was on the second floor (#104) of 570 Granville (in retail space directly above The Love Shop). His final bookselling location was at 58/60 Powell St. Hoffer had a reputation as a ‘difficult’ person. But he could be charming and generous as well. He left Vancouver and his book selling business for Russia. He married Marsha there (his first wife was Pat; they parted company in the early 1970s). Hoffer died on Vancouver Island from lung cancer. There is an amusing Hoffer quote that pertains to his Dunbar shop: “It was an unnerving experience, trying to operate a bookshop in a largely working class neighbourhood in a short terrace of shops. Across the street there was a small cafe, the owner of which had a son who had been aboard an alien space craft. Very few people came into the shop, but occasionally I would notice faces pressed like snails’ feet against the plate glass windows.” (From Hoffer’s book catalogue, STIGMA #80).

Below are the full text of three of Hoffer’s less readily available articles written in the mid-1980s for the Alcuin Society in their Amphoras 56, 58, and 59 and titled “Letter from a Bookseller” in which he reflects upon his early years in bookselling. Many thanks are due to Richard Hopkins for supplying these seemingly scarce issues of Amphora:

CVA. William Hoffer’s shop on Powell Street.

Hummingbird Books (1970s) – Proprietor: Albert Eddy (the same person who founded Aardvark Books ca1971). 337 W. Pender (second floor) starting in ca1978.

Kirkwood’s Fine Used Books (1990s-2000s)Carol Kirkwood, proprietor. Was established in Marpole in about 1994 at 8662 Granville. By 2000, it became Characters Fine Books and Coffee Bar and moved to the west side of Granville at 8419 Granville.. The shop ultimately was the victim of high rent charged by the landlord and they called it quits ca2008. I lived in Marpole when Carol Kirkwood started Kirkwood’s Books and I faithfully returned to the neighbourhood shop after it became Characters (and we’d moved to Burnaby).

Kitsilano Bookstore (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. 2887 and 3075 West Broadway. Their tag line was “Books for all of the family.”

CVA 800-0182 – 2800 Block of West Broadway. 1978. Alan J. Ingram photo. The bookstore on the north side of the street appears to be Kitsilano Books.

Reginald Lissel, Bookseller (1990s) – 434 Homer. Specialties: science fiction and literature.

Stephen C. Lunsford – 341 W. Pender. #711 – 207 W. Hastings. Specialties: Western Canadiana/Americana.

McIntyre. Bill Cunningham photo

Stephen McIntyre Books (1940s-1980s) – Was involved in the used/antiquarian book trade from the 1930s until his death from lung cancer in 1984. Initially, he was a book scout, but by the 1940s, he was a book dealer. The first of his shops of which I am aware was at 340-B Cambie; where the 340 Pub is today. In the 1970s, he was at 833 Davie. Later, he moved to a shop at 319 W. Pender. He traded in the occult and science fiction, but was best known as a generalist.

Makara Books (1990s)Barbara Draskoy, proprietor (later Barbara Stefan). 2868 W. 4th. Specialties: metaphysical and oriental philosophy. It closed in 1992.

CVA 786-7.17 – The Elcho Apt and commercial space showing the building from an oblique angle that shows a vacant space which used to be a book business. Thanks to Gordon Watson (in comments at VAIW’s ‘The Elcho’ post, December 2023), we can now identify this space as having been let to Stephen McIntyre in the 1970s. 1978.

William Matthews, Bookseller (1980s) – His shop was at 434 W. Pender in the early ’80s, presumably before Lionel Bell took over the space in 1983. Bill was Terry Rutherford‘s business partner in the 1970s. He has been on Vancouver Island for several years. He recently bought The Haunted Bookshop in Sidney.

Mei Lei Holdings (1970s) – 33 W. Broadway. Used and new (English language) paperbacks.

Brendan M. Moss, Esq. (1980s-2000s)Moss was formerly an auctioneer. He had an antique map and print shop. In 1986, his shop was at 402 W. Pender (#804). In the late 1980s, the shop was at 101 W. Pender. By 1990, the shop had moved to a basement unit at 332 Water Street (formerly, Cloth Hall; today known better as (Le Magasin). I am not certain when his Water Street shop closed, but was probably ca2005.

Murray’s Books (1950s-1980s)Murray Hughson, proprietor. 856 Granville (1954-1974). Hughson died in 1971. The shop carried on for about a decade after his death under the management of Peter C. Lawrence. The shop moved to 942 Granville in 1974 due to high rent. It closed in late 1980.


The Mystery Merchant Bookstore (1990s) – Proprietor: Christa Pritchard. 1952 W. 4th Ave. Specialties: Mystery, true crime, detective, espionage fiction (used and new).

Narnia Books (1990s) David & Joanne Anderson. 5585 Dunbar. A small generalist shop with a specialty in Christian literature. I recall my wife finding a couple of unusual John Buchan-related items for me at Narnia.

Norris Books (1980s) – T. I. B. Norris. 420 W. Pender; later, Norris apparently moved to W. 4th Ave. at Alma. General Stock.

Octopus Books (1970s-1980s)P. R. Brown (“Brownie) and Juils Comeault, proprietors. The two proprietors bought Octopus Books on the 2200 block of West 4th from Bill Fletcher in 1977. 2705 W. 4th Ave. Specialties: literature, journals. Comeault died in 1983 and shortly after that, Brownie sold West to Renee Rodin and poet Billy Little. The new owners changed the name of the shop (at the same address as West was at) to R&B Books.

Octopus Books East (1980s-1990s) – P. R. Brown (“Brownie) and Juils Comeault, proprietors. Brownie and Comeault bought this second store in 1980. Both East and West stores were popular literary and social centres. Comeault died in 1983 and Brownie decided to focus on Octopus East. It traded in used and new books and magazines and was a regular site of readings and workshops. Finally, after 17 years of running East, 11 years on her own, Brownie closed the shop in 1994. 1146 Commercial Drive. Regular poetry readings were held at Octopus Books. CVA has an hour-plus-long recording of one such reading in August 1987 at East; it is good way to get a flavor of the place.

Paul’s Books (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. Denman and Robson. Became the Sunset Book Exchange in mid-70s.

Richard Pender Books (1970s)Van Andruss, proprietor. 445 W. Pender (1974); 438 Richards (1975-76). It appears to have closed ca1976.

Peregrine Books (1980s) – Proprietor unknown. 2932 West Broadway. Specialties: Feminist literature, children’s books.

Octopus Books on West 4th. CVA 790-1428.

Proprioception Books (1980s-1990s) Ralph Maud started the store in the early 1980s (1956 W. Broadway) as a sort of replica of the library of poet, Charles Olson. Lisa Robertson (one of the poets featured on a CVA recording of a 1987 Octopus East bookshop poetry reading) bought the shop in 1988 and moved it to 432 Homer (1993). She closed the store in 1994 after the rent at her Homer location tripled in two years (this is a not-uncommon but disturbing theme among used bookshops and among small businesses generally in Vancouver). The term “proprioception” was a favourite of avant-garde poet, Charles Olsen, thus the name of the shop.

R&B Books; later R2B2 Books Books (1980s; 1990s)Renee Rodin (and, for a year, with Billy Little), proprietor. Rodin and Little bought the former Octopus West store at 2250 W. 4th Ave. in 1985 and named it R&B Books. There was a bad fire at R&B at around Christmas of that year; the building was destroyed. The shop moved to a small space at 2742 W. 4th Ave. and changed the shop’s name to R2B2 Books Books to convey that it was R&B Books, ’round two’. Little left the store within the year and Rodin carried on until 1994. She sold the shop to Denise and Trent Highnell who renamed it Black Sheep Books. R2B2’s specialties: Art, poetry, literature. (See: https://bcbooklook.com/2008/03/13/bookselling-remembering-r2b2-a-na-f-s-story/)

Rostan’s Books (1970s) – 1029 Commercial Dr. General stock.

Rutherford. Rick Loughran photo.

Terry Rutherford (1990s) – She had her first Vancouver shop with Bill Matthews at the former location of Falstaff Books: 4529 W. 10th. This shop specialized in science fiction. Later, Rutherford worked at Star Treader Books. She later opened a mystery/detective shop at 432 Homer. She then moved to 415 W. Pender before leaving Vancouver for Port Moody where she took on a book and paper restoration business. She later moved to Eastern Canada where she continued her restoration business. Rutherford has recently moved back to B.C.

Shows Richard Pender Books for the brief period (1974) when it was located next door to the Niagra Hotel (today, the Ramada) at 445 W. Pender. Today, Richard Pender is part of MacLeod’s shop which also includes the space in this image where the Luggage shop was. CVA 778-270.

Secondo Music Store (1990s) Chris Held, proprietor. 2744 W. 4th Ave. Used and out-of-print classical music and books on music.

Star Treader Books (1970s-1980s) – Was located in the mid-1970s at 4325 W. 10th. It was gone from there by ca1982, moving to 434 W. Pender. Its second location was taken over in ’83 by the shop run by Lionel Bell. Specialties: fantasy/science fiction.

Sunset Book Exchange (1970s) – One shop at 1795 Robson. Another at 1993 E. 41st Ave. Used paperbacks.

Terminal City Books (1990s)Judy Fraser, proprietor. 231 Main. Specialties: science, trades and mechanical books.

Charles H. Tupper (1980s) – 2868 West 4th Ave. Specialties: Fine arts, Canadiana, history, travel. This seems to have lasted from about 1987-1990.

We Call With Cash (1950s-1970s) – Proprietor unknown. The shop first appeared in 1955 Vancouver directory and continued at least until 1977. 3621 W. 4th Ave.

West Coast Books (1980s) George Carroll, proprietor. Carroll crossed Burrard Inlet to open WCB and later Carillon Books in Vancouver. He had owned and operated Pacific Books in North Vancouver. WCB was at 1130 Granville, when it first opened in September 1980. Gordon Watson, a WCB employee remarks that “In order to start with a good selection, George had bought a large stock of books from the renowned Peter Howard of Serendipity Books in Berkeley, CA…and many of them were snapped up [on the opening] night” — not least by Bill Hoffer, at the dealer-only, by-invitation affair. “The best stock we would ever have was on that opening night.” Locating WCB at 1130 Granville was ill-advised; it was (and is) a rough neighbourhood. By early 1983, WCB moved to 3209 W. Broadway until it finally folded ca1986. A generalist shop.

Joyce Williams (originally Bishop-Williams with Lois Bishop as JW’s partner) Antique Prints and Maps (1980s-2000s) – From 1984 and into the 1990s Williams had her shop at 346 W. Pender. Her shop later moved to Yaletown for a number of years before closing.

West Coast Books at its Granville Street downtown location. CVA 790-1803.

Y’s Books (2010s-2020) – Pam Townsend and David Gagne, proprietors. 4307 Main Street. Y’s opened 2013 on Main at 27th and seems to have succumbed to COVID in Spring 2020, closing its Vancouver space “indefinitely”. The shop was small, but it appears not to have had any specialties; it was a general shop. Shop closed February, 2020.

Yoga Vedanta Metaphsyical Bookstore (1960s-1970s)Ursula Sylvia Hellmann (founder) and (later) William Balderstone, proprietors. The shop was apparently initially on Robson (opening sometime after 1957) and moved later to Georgia just east of Granville. Balderstone apparently did psychic readings on CFUN radio. Not sure what year it closed.

Zona Arq (or Arc) (1980s) – Proprietor unknown. Was located at Broadway & Alma. It lasted for 1-2 years in the 1980s.


*Wilkinson’s Automobilia (specializing in automotive-related books, magazines and shop manuals) has closed their Main St. warehouse, recently, given the COVID-19 pandemic. They have an online presence, however: https://www.eautomobilia.com/.

**Principal sources for the information in this post are various editions of Guide to the Secondhand & Antiquarian Bookstores of Greater Vancouver, The Province, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver News-Herald, and of course the City of Vancouver Archives photo database. I am appreciative of details provided by Kim Koch, Rod Clarke, Neil Whaley, Jason Vanderhill, Catriona Strang, Renee Rodin, Don Stewart, Kevin Dale McKeown, Angus McIntyre, Erwin Wodarczak, Peter Findlay, Joscelyn Barnard, Doug Sarti, Gary Sim, Bill Reimer, William V. Lee, and Don Young (who kindly gave me access to his stash of 1980s editions of the Guide to Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookstores as well as numerous pertinent newspaper clippings).

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45 Responses to Gone . . . But Not Forgotten: Used/Antiquarian Bookshops (1970-2020) – UPDATED

  1. Peter Findlay says:

    Thanks for some good memories here. I’d suggest that Evelyn’s Bookshelf may have been the biggest in Kitsilano rather than Kerrisdale. And I wonder if it could have been Evelyn Atkinson, wife of Lorne Atkinson of Ace Cycles (just down the street) and longtime Kits Showbook supporter? She was the face of Kitsilano for many years.

    • mdm says:

      Glad you enjoyed this post, Peter. You certainly are correct regarding the neighbourhood. That was my mistake — it ought to be Kits. But I haven’t been able to confirm that “Evelyn” of the Book Shelf is Evelyn Atkinson. It doesn’t look likely, at this point. But I’ll keep you updated as I continue to work on this.

  2. Kevin Dale McKeown says:

    If you update this list you could add Arcanum Books, at 317A Cambie Street, which was open from 1998 to 2006. I was the proprietor and the store specialized in “religion, philosophy, metaphysics, miscellaneous conspiracy theories and inexplicable phenomena”. The Arcanum was originally opened in Burnaby by Everett Foley in 1969 and had several locations just east of Boundary on Hastings, the last being where Brown’s Books is today until I bought the business and moved it to Gastown.

  3. Kevin Dale McKeown says:

    … and very sorry to read that Ed Bowes has passed. He was a dedicated book scout to the very end.

    • Joscelyn Barnard, Galleon Books and Antiwues says:

      I’d like to add some information regarding Bonds…Francis Carradice was the original proprietor. He is listed in the 1933 Wrigley Directory as such. Thank you to the creators of this blog for curating this information.

  4. Endre E Nemeth says:

    Great article! My lifelong love of books began early, accompanying my older brother on numerous visits to Ted Fraser’s Book Bin on Granville in the late sixties/early seventies. Good memories. Now, if you feel like doing some more research: how about a piece on Vancouver’s old record stores and their owners (anyone remember Melissa’s Records on Robson?).

    • mdm says:

      I’m glad you liked it! I’m not sure I have enough intrinsic interest in record shops for me to do something similar on them. But thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Joseph Jones says:

    Many old haunts, and a valiant attempt. You seem to have missed the bookstore located at or very close to 1333 Kingsway, operating for some years circa 1990. A specialty was old children’s books. My mind refuses dredge up the proprietor, who I think continued to sell without a storefront (a name that floats up into my mists is Terry). A further research suggestion is to track down and compile from the various editions of the free handout pamphlet guide to area antiquarian bookstores.

    • mdm says:

      Thanks for the affirmation, Joe. I think you are referring to Stillman’s Books which was at 1321 Kingsway ca1990. It is still in operation at a strip mall in White Rock (see link in first paragraph) and so it doesn’t meet my criteria for inclusion in this post. I did refer to the various editions of the free pamphlet you refer to.

  6. Kevin Dale McKeown says:

    Thank you again for bringing back all these memories! And thanks for remembering Dalia’s Bidwell Books. I used to sit in for her once a week so she could have a day off. Ransacking my own fading memory cells I also recall three other stores that one might be able to dig up some details on:

    In the late 60s and early 70s there was a metaphysical bookstore on Georgia, just east of Granville. I think the proprietor’s name was William Balderstone (he used to do psychic readings on CFUN). I believe that Kolin Lymworth worked there before he started Banyen Books.

    There was also, in the 70s, a short-lived occult bookstore in the building at the corner of Robson and the alley west of Granville. Upstairs.

    Finally, there was a bookstore on Denman, near Davie, that was still there in the early 70s when I first moved downtown. It was owned by a woman, and I think the name of the store was her first name. Darned if I can remember!

    Do these fragments ring any bells for anyone else?

    • mdm says:

      Not ringing any bells with me, I’m afraid. If it is for anyone else, and you have additional info, please pass it along!

      • Kevin Dale McKeown says:

        The name of the bookstore on West Georgia just came to me. It was the Yoga Vedanta Metaphysical Bookstore and it was run by William Balderstone. I think that Kolin Lymworth, who founded and still owns Banyen, started at Yoga Vedanta as a clerk.

      • Yes I remember Melissa’s Records very fondly. It was on the south side of Robson between Bute and Thurlow. I still own several LP’s purchased from there – including “Gong” by Yusef Lateef a two-fer on Savoy. The mustachioded owner watched me like a hawk even though I bought records all the time and conversed with Rachel L. his adorably knowledgable staffer.

    • The bookstore on Denman Street was probably Pauline’s Books at 1105 Denman – “Open every evening until 9:00”. New book only, I think. Closed ca.1977 estimate.
      For many years The Sunset Book Exchange did business on the NE corner of Denman and Robson (1795 Denman). They specialized in pornography, in book and magazine form and second hand pulp. They moved more than once and may have migrated at some point from the seedier end of Granville Street. Closed sometime in the early 2000’s I think.
      The Yoga Vedanta Metaphysical Bookstore was founded by Sivinanda Radha (Ursula Sylvia Hellmann, 1911-1995) sometime after 1957. The original bookstore was on Robson and later moved to West Georgia. Not sure when it closed, probably early 70’s.
      (In 1963 the ashram moved to it’s present location as Yasodhara Ashram on Kootenay Lake)

    • Gordon Watson says:

      William Balderstone was referred to in the Yoga Vedanta’s store literature as the “Seer of Buntzen”. Curious honorific. I took it to mean that he lived in or near Belcarra. He was a rather mysterious figure; there was a large b&w photo of him on the wall of the store, apparently gazing into the aether, but I never saw him in there (not in body, anyway).

  7. Angus McIntyre says:

    I remember going into the Fraser Book Bin on Granville about fifty years ago and spending what I thought at the time was a lot of money for a 1935 Vancouver Telephone Directory. $5.00. It is in good condition to this day, and has been a valuable reference. There is a hole through the top left corner with an original piece of string attached. Under “Books” in the Yellow Pages there is a listing for: BUSY “B” SECOND HAND DEALER 508 Richards . . . .Seymour-4022. A stone’s throw from MacLeod’s.

    • mdm says:

      Thanks much, but if this bookstore was no longer in operation by 1970, then it isn’t a candidate for inclusion in this post.

    • Bill Lee says:

      Not really “phone books”, those issued by BC TELEPHOINE etc, but City Directories by various companies from 1890s to 1955 have been digitized by the Vancouver Public Library and Archives at http://www.vpl.ca/bccd
      You can read online, or download PDF (or TIFF, the best, clearest format, but large) from the site by year, in 2 types, 1) Names of Persons and Companies, 2) Streets and roads and avenues.
      These might fulfill your research needs more than the 1935 phone book.
      You can see the various cities (South Vancouver, Point Grey, Burnaby, New Westminster) amalgamate to Vancouver, and populations change (Japanese names and businesses disappear in 1943, etc. etc.

      • mdm says:

        Thanks much, Bill. I am aware of VPL’s directory services online and use it regularly. I have found it to be of limited use for this post, however, since most used bookshops in Vancouver that were around even as late as the ‘50s were gone by the 1970s and later.

      • Angus McIntyre says:

        Thank you Bill for the mention of the VPL online City Directories. I have used it since it started, but i wasn’t aware of being able to make a TIFF download. I have had a strong interest in telephones since childhood, and I have a number of phone books covering various decades. One resource I like are the Yellow Pages, with great artwork and graphics. By looking in my 1977 Yellow Pages under “Books – Second Hand” I found several stores that were new additions to this list. I first discovered Busy “B” Books in the 1935 phone book, and I used the online City Directory to track its history. I think we are all looking forward to online City Directories after 1955.

  8. Carty, Roland Kenneth says:


    R. Kenneth Carty
    Professor Emeritus of Political Science
    The University of British Columbia

  9. Angus McIntyre says:

    I did some more research, and discovered Busy B Books was started as a second hand goods store on Seymour Street in 1926 by a Geo Biswanger. He soon moved to 540 West Pender and in 1935 was at 508 Richards. In 1955 Geo Biswanger was running Busy B Stamps at 445 West Pender, and a Ralph Biswanger was at Busy B Books at 508 Richards. By 1958 both businesses had moved to 517 West Pender. Busy B Books is in the 1972 Yellow Pages Directory at 146 West Hastings, with an advertisement: OPPOSITE WOODWARD’S. Libraries – Collections & Volumes Appraised. We Specialize in Scholastic Books. COME IN AND BROWSE. Open 6 Days A Week. By 1976 Busy B Books had moved to 748 East Broadway, and by 1977 were no longer listed in the telephone directory.

    • Kevin Dale McKeown says:

      Thank you Angus! I was wracking my brain trying to remember the name of that shop, which I remember from when it relocated to East Broadway (just a block east of Fraser) ’cause the then owner was also an active member of the gay community, which I chronicled in the Georgia Straight in those days. But the best I could come up with was “Bumble Bee Books” and that of course led nowhere!

    • mdm says:

      Thanks for this, Angus. I will wait several days before updating the post.

  10. UBC Archives says:

    Three stores to add:
    Granville Book Company (850 Granville), previously the Mall Book Bazaar (???). Closed in 2005. The same space is now a comic and memorabilia store, which may be why it was missed?
    Zona Arq (or Arc) (Broadway & Alma). Existed for 1-2 years in the 1980s.
    The Book Mantel (Alma & 10th Avenue, where the Buntain’s Insurance office is today). *Not* the one in East Van. Co-owned by Frank Davis (obituary: https://www.yatesmemorial.ca/obituary/Frank-DAVIS), who also owned Frank’s Records (next-door, where Grounds for Coffee is now). Closed some time around 1990.

    • Endre E Nemeth says:

      Frank’s Records!!! Didn’t they just sell 78 rpm shellac discs? I remember stumbling in to the store back in the day and being mesmerized by all those 10 inch discs. Man, we had some cool stores back in the day.

    • mdm says:

      Sorry for my tardiness in replying. I’ve confirmed with Rod Clarke (a former employee at the Granville Book Co./Mall Bazaar) that these shops didn’t trade in used/antiquarian books. The other two did, however, as you pointed out….and I’ve included them above. Thanks!

  11. mdm says:

    Thanks for this. I want to confirm that that the GBC and GMBB were both significant traders in used books, before updating the post.

  12. Angus McIntyre says:

    From the 1977 Vancouver Yellow Pages. Books-Second-Hand.

    WE CALL WITH CASH – USED BOOKS BOUGHT AND SOLD – DEALING IN FINE POCKET BOOKS & HARD BACKS 3621 West 4th Avenue. This store first shows up in the 1955 City Directory.


    KITSILANO BOOK STORE: 2887 West Broadway.

    ABRAXAS BOOKS: Quality Books Bought & Sold. 3210 Dunbar. 1970s.

    • Gordon Watson says:

      I remember the Kitsilano Book Store, though it was not worth remembering. It was on the north side of Broadway, east of Bayswater. It was owned, or at least managed, by a blowzy middle-aged woman who looked like she had a drinking problem. It was a large store that mostly dealt in mass-market paperbacks but also carried trade paperbacks as well. Very little of serious interest. The kind of store where you became increasingly anxious to find something worth buying because otherwise you’ve just wasted ten or fifteen minutes of your lifespan. My most vivid memory of the place is that each time I went in there (I frequently shopped in the neighbourhood), there would be a card table set up at the back of the store with the remains of someone’s breakfast on it– dirty plates with remnants of eggs and toast, half-full coffee cups, open creamers, a melting hunk of butter, and an overflowing ashtray. It was pretty disgusting, actually. I assumed that the owner must have been living in the back. It did not enhance my appreciation of the store. Clean up after yourself, for God’s sake.

  13. Doug S. says:

    I love, love, love this post – so many places listed here where I spent a lot of time. Many places I’d completely forgotten about, too! I do have one addition, though – The Bookends, at 937 Davie Street. It was there from 1978/79 to 1992/93. I worked there from 1982-1989 while I was in high school and college. It was owned by a couple named Gwenne and Earle Huston.
    Our big competition at the time was the AABACA Book Bin, which had previously been the Ted Fraser Book Bin. A guy named Lloyd (I forget his last name) had bought out Ted Fraser and changed the name to AABACA so he could be the first listing in the phone book.
    In one of the earlier replies, Kevin Dale McKeown asked about a bookstore near Denman and Davie owned by a lady – it was called Pauline’s Books, but it sold new books. It was there from as early as I can remember until the mid-’70s. At the same time, there was a used bookstore at Denman and Robson called Paul’s Books, which became the Sunset Book Exchange in the mid-’70s.
    Thanks for bringing up all these great memories! I have a (grainy) photo of The Bookends if you’d like to use it.

    • mdm says:

      Thanks for your enthusiasm for the bookstore post, Doug. I will update it with the info you supplied re: The Bookends (probably sometime next week). I will be in contact with you by email regarding your offer of your photo. Thanks again!

    • Murielle Cassidy says:

      @Doug S. and Rodney Clarke DO you happen to remember the name of the owner of Pauline’s Books on Denman? Many thanks!

  14. Janet Nicol says:

    There were also women’s bookstores – one off Water Street in the 1970s/80s and another near 4th and Alma for a time. And Duthie’s cellar of paperbacks on Robson. And Oscar’s art books on Broadway.

    • mdm says:

      Thanks for commenting. This post is dedicated to used/antiquarian booksellers. Duthies traded in new stock; Oscar’s in remainders; don’t know about the women’s book shops you mention, but it seems unlikely that they traded in used stock.

  15. Gary Sim says:

    I briefly worked at Phoenix Books in early 70s, east side of Thurlowe between Robson and Haro, run by two fellows, one Bill Kiewit I think. Can’t remember what they sold though!

  16. Joseph Jones says:

    After an unusual hard day of physical labor, I took an uncharacteristic rest after supper. In a weird fugue state, for whatever reason, the name I could not will forth popped into my head. That name got me straight to a web site that provides these details: “Hi! I am Terry Stillman and I closed my retail storefront bookstore at 1321 Kingsway, Vancouver, B.C. in June, 2002. In all, I have been buying and selling books for over forty years. Children’s & Illustrated Books has been a constant specialty.” So, add Terry Stillman to the list!

    • mdm says:

      Please see my reply to your earlier comment on Stillman’s (above). I note that since he is still in business in White Rock, his shop doesn’t meet my criteria for inclusion in this post.

      • Gordon Watson says:

        After Terry closed his Kingsway location, he had a store in Port Moody for several years before moving his operation to White Rock. I wish he was closer to Vancouver; he always had a wonderful selection of books. There’s never been anyone in the Vancouver area with a better selection of used and rare children’s materials.

  17. Gordon Watson says:

    I have been searching in the dusty recesses of my memory for a secondhand bookstore that was located on the northeast corner of Pender & Homer (across Pender from the original MacLeod’s location) in the late 60s. All I can recall is that the owner was slight of stature, middle-aged, balding, wore glasses and was rather taciturn. And that I bought a copy of Paul Reps’ “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones” there in, I think, 1968. The owner later moved the store –probably around 1970– to a much larger, upstairs location in a building on the northeast corner of Dunsmuir and Beatty (across from the old bus depot), which is where things really get confusing, because in the late 60s that building was the location of the Big Mother rock club, and later a theatre/cultural space where I once saw Pia Shandel in a production of James Reaney’s “Colours in the Dark” and, in 1974, attended a reading by William Burroughs. Don’t know if this was the same space that the bookstore once occupied. I’m really unclear where the bookstore fits into this timeline. As I (barely) recall, it was a store of quality but did not deal in rare books, and did not last very long in its new location. Does any of this sound familiar to anyone?

  18. Gordon Watson says:

    Collector’s Books, owned for many years by David Grannis, was originally located (in the early 70s) on the south side of the 2600-block West 4th Avenue. Collector’s Books stocked secondhand books but was primarily a comic-book specialty store, Vancouver’s first; the store carried a stock of new comics and also bought and sold collectible comics and related materials. Two of Grannis’s employees back then were Ken Witcher and the late Ron Norton, who would soon leave to co-found the Comic Shop, Vancouver’s premiere comic shop for decades (along with Golden Age) and which only folded two or three years ago; the two stores quickly captured the lions’ share of the local comic-book market and Grannis was never able to compete with them. In, I think, the mid-70s he moved Collector’s to a small location on 16th Avenue just up from Dunbar, and expanded his stock to include sports cards and other collectibles. The store was very popular with neighbourhood kids. Grannis remained on 16th for many years until his eventual move to Kingsway.

  19. ajax quinby says:

    I am now almost 80 and when I was young, myself and my boyfriend hung around with a family that had a .book store on I think robson or maybe davie. His name was Doug Kaye and I forget his wifes name… they lived in Kits and had a family. He had been in the merchant marine in the pacific and I especially remember him telling us about watching the chinese nationalists drowning tiawanese people when they were taking over taiwan… we played a lot of bridge together…

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