If you’re like us, then time at the cottage is a perfect opportunity to rediscover the joy of reading—getting lost in a completely different world, turning page after page after page until you look up and realize that it’s suddenly dinner time.
Time at the cottage is also a great chance to visit some of Ontario’s best bookshops—and here are some (just some!) of our favourites.
A fixture in Parry Sound since 1988, Parry Sound Books began life as an addition on the owners’ home, then moved five years later to the William Beatty Building downtown. Book-wise, they really know their stuff—their website is packed with reviews and book-ish news, and the store is chock-full of both bestsellers and more obscure finds.
Chat Noir has a great selection of books, yes, but they’ve also got lots of other stuff to interest cottagers, including a pile of colouring books, puzzles, and an ever-changing collection of board games that are available to rent (yes, you can try before you buy). The store hosts board game nights (we’re sensing a theme here), and, if you’re jonesing for some caffeine after fighting the traffic heading north, they also serve coffee.
Located at the head of Little Tub Harbour, Reader’s Haven in Tobermory is hard to miss. Plus, missing it would be a big mistake—not only do they have great books, they’ve got a beautiful view of the harbour from their cafe windows. If you’ve been hiking the Bruce Trail (or if you’re interested in doing that), they also sell memberships to the Bruce Trail Club, as well as maps, badges, postcards, and other Bruce souvenirs.
Founded in 1973, Allison the Bookman is now run by the third generation of the Allison family, Annette Allison-Vander Waal. Specializing in used books (although with a great selection of new books as well), Allison the Bookman welcomes browsers, readers and, especially, families—you get 20 percent off your purchases on Sundays if you bring your kids. Looking for an old favourite you haven’t read in years? Chances are, you’ll find it here.
Located in downtown Picton in Prince Edward County, Books & Company is a lovely place to while away an afternoon. Browse the books (new, used and antiquarian), pick up a card or a puzzle, and grab a coffee at the attached Miss Lily’s Cafe. (Check out their website for a fun music video advertising the cafe.)
An emphasis on local history and authors plus a great selection of bestsellers makes Manticore a go-to destination in Orillia—once the home of famed Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock. Lots of author events make Manticore a great place to connect with Orillia’s creative community.
Blue Heron Books describes itself as “unpretentious,” “cozy,” and “quaint”—perfect for spending an afternoon browsing through its shelves. Paint night meetups, “books and brunch,” and an ongoing book club are other fun events drawing folks to the store. Your pet pooch will even get a treat from the tin under the counter.
Serving the readers of Arnprior for 21 years, the two-storey Arnprior Book Shop—owned by the exquisitely-named Gwen Storie—features new and used books, as well as a wide selection of children’s products. Can’t find what you’re looking for on the shelf? Special orders are quick and easy.
More from Cottage Life: