It's a nice bookstore. I've also visited the premises only twice in the near-decade I've been in Toronto.
As in many good bookstores (though not as many as there used to be in Toronto), at Nicholas Hoare you can curl up on a couch for hours undisturbed, walk out with an armful of new discoveries or just make mental note of an art book that is way, way more than you can hope to afford. Most distinctively, Nicholas Hoare is the single best example of the tremendous and increasingly rare service provided by intelligent, imaginative book buyers. A store’s fingerprint is the particular mix of books that go on its shelves, and Nicholas Hoare’s are the most interesting in Toronto.
Like every good bookshop, there are also some quirky details. When you arrive a sign asks you to leave your things at the front cash, at which point whoever is working at the desk will pull out a pair of faded playing cards: one for you as a kind of parcel check ticket, and one that gets clothespinned to your stuff. And though that might sound all too precious, it isn’t—just a homey way to let people explore.
But the lease is up, and the 70-year-old Hoare has decided to mark that occasion “with an orderly run-off, the sale of his trademark fixtures, and a full-time move to his 350-acre estate in Nova Scotia.” He doesn’t intend to slow down, however. Once he’s made the move “Plans include a fledgling vineyard; revamping the garden; and pure book porn: the construction of an 18,000-volume library from scratch.” They also include his book review blog, which Hoare intends to keep updated. The farewell note continues: “On behalf of our entire staff, therefore, a 12-gun salute to our many customers, old and new. It’s been a privilege to serve you; we’re profoundly grateful; and we wish you and your reading well.”