Victoria

Gate Night Mischief at Hibben’s

When I grew up in Winnipeg, the night before Hallowe’en was customarily known as “gate night,” when bands of teenagers too old for trick-or-treating went around egging houses, streaming rolls of toilet paper through trees, putting all sorts of disgusting things in mail boxes, and in general behaving in ways that were sure to charm… Continue reading Gate Night Mischief at Hibben’s

Victoria

Going Inside T.N. Hibben & Co.

Picking up from my last post about the fantastic photo of Vancouver’s Clarke & Stuart, here’s one that takes us inside a 19th-century bookstore: T.N. Hibben & Co. of Victoria. Here we can see all the wonderful books lining the walls (floor to ceiling, at least on the right) and displayed down the middle. I feel like I… Continue reading Going Inside T.N. Hibben & Co.

Victoria

Victoria Bookseller James Carswell and the Mythical Connection with Toronto’s Carswell Legal Publishing

I was recently contacted by someone who is writing a biography of Robert Carswell, founder of the legal-publishing firm Carswell Company in Toronto in the mid-1860s. She wondered, just as I once did, if there was any connection between her subject and my Victoria bookseller James Carswell, a partner in Hibben & Carswell from 1858 to… Continue reading Victoria Bookseller James Carswell and the Mythical Connection with Toronto’s Carswell Legal Publishing

Victoria

Christmas at the Nineteenth-Century Bookstore

In Book of Small, her memoir about her childhood in Victoria, Emily Carr recalls the red cardboard sign that Thomas Napier Hibben hung in his bookstore’s window each December, its “Merry Christmas” message written with cotton wool. In nineteenth-century Victoria (as now, judging by the lineup at my local bookstore the other day), Christmas shoppers flocked to… Continue reading Christmas at the Nineteenth-Century Bookstore

Books for Sale · Victoria

At the Bookstore, 1887: Bestsellers for Sixty Cents

While researching John Bowerman Ferguson and the BC Stationery and Printing Company, I came across this ad, which illuminates (albeit fuzzily) what readers could find on the shelves of BC bookstores in 1887: For sixty cents per volume, readers could walk away with now-classic works by Charles Dickens, Johnathan Swift, Victor Hugo, and Sir Walter… Continue reading At the Bookstore, 1887: Bestsellers for Sixty Cents

New Westminster · Vancouver · Victoria

British Columbia Stationery and Printing Company

Now that I’ve introduced John Bowerman Ferguson, Thomas Robson Pearson, and David Robson, three of the founding partners in the British Columbia Stationery and Printing Company (J.A. Hart was the fourth), let’s continue the story about this firm. A Promising Start… Beginning in May 1886 with Pearson’s and Ferguson’s existing book and stationery stores in New… Continue reading British Columbia Stationery and Printing Company

Vancouver · Victoria

John Bowerman Ferguson: BC Bookseller with a Winnipeg Connection

I was in Winnipeg (my hometown) for a few weeks this summer, and that got me thinking about a BC bookseller with a Winnipeg connection: John Bowerman Ferguson. Part of the BC bookselling scene from 1885 to 1889 in Victoria and Vancouver, Ferguson was originally from Ontario. But before establishing himself in BC, he spent… Continue reading John Bowerman Ferguson: BC Bookseller with a Winnipeg Connection

Libraries · Victoria

Mary Stewart: “Knew More about Books than Anyone Else in Victoria”

In the 1890s, T.N. Hibben & Co. was the place to meet in Victoria. “On a Saturday afternoon, or in the evenings, when the stores were open, you were sure to meet just about everyone you knew waiting for somebody else in Hibben’s store, poking among the books and passing the time of day with other people who… Continue reading Mary Stewart: “Knew More about Books than Anyone Else in Victoria”

Books for Sale · Victoria

At the Bookstore, 1888: Zola’s La Terre

One of the books for sale at BC bookstores in 1888 caused a great deal of hand-wringing and finger-wagging among members of the book trade—and, no doubt, a large number of discrete purchases by curious and more adventurous readers. The book was Émile Zola’s The Soil, the English translation of his La Terre, first published in France… Continue reading At the Bookstore, 1888: Zola’s La Terre