Toronto loses a sparkling gem—the Nicolas Hoare Book Shop


The Nicolas Hoare Book Shop at 45 Front Street is due to close on April 1, 2013. It is sad that this independent book seller, which specialized in British books, will disappear forever from the retail scene. The first  Nicolas Hoare shop opened in Montreal in 1971, but soon had a shops in Ottawa and Toronto. The store on Front Street was located within a commercial building that was erected in 1872. This historic block of shops, designed by the architect W. S. Strickland, was constructed when the city was emerging from the recession years of the 1870s. Its richly ornamented facade is of cast iron, and it reflects the optimism and financial confidence that was developing in Toronto in this decade. Today, the building is an officially designated Heritage Property. It is a pity that the book shop cannot be similarly designated and protected from disappearing. 

Two years ago I visited a book shop in Porto, Portugal. It was reputed to be the oldest book shop in Europe. It is a tourist attraction, visited by people from all over the world. Its array of books, displayed on hand-carved wooden shelves, are contained in a heritage building, the shop considered a valuable part of the city’s history. It is a pity that Toronto does not similarly value its book stores.  Stores that are part of a large chain of shops do not possess the the same mood and friendly atmosphere as those that are  independent. 

If you are in the vicinity of Front and Jarvis Streets, and have never visited the Nicolas Hoare Book Store, take a few moments to step inside. It is akin to entering a shop such as those that our parents knew and loved. The staff are extremely helpful in assisting you to find a book that you may wish to purchase.


The shop is warm and inviting. The brick walls, attractive shelves, and natural wood floor adding to the splendour of the interior. 

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             The paintings on the walls add to the home-like atmosphere.


  One of the canvases is by Edwin Holgate, a member of the Group of Seven.


It is difficult to imagine a cosier place to browse through a book to decide if one wishes to purchase it.


                    Sadly, some of the shelves are now empty.


This is the view when gazing out the window of the Nicolas Hoare Book Shop at the Gooderham Building, located at the corner of Front, Church, and Wellington Streets


The wonderful cast iron facade of the 1872 commercial building that contains the Nicolas Hoare Book Shop


               Sign in the entrance to the book shop, March 22, 2013.

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To view other posts about Toronto’s past and its historic buildings:

The historic 1885 bank building at Yonge and Front Streets, a short distance from the Nicolas Hoare Book Shop

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

A study of Osgoode Hall

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West at York Street

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

Toronto’s Old City Hall at Bay and Queen Streets

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