About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Canadian Bookstore Given to Employees

Jim Munro, the owner of Munro’s Books in Victoria, British Columbia is giving his bookstore to four of his long term employees. At 84 years of age Munro has decided to retire and is taking a unique approach to the bookstore he has operated for 51 years.

He has decided to give the store for a token payment to store manager Jessica Walker, senior buyer Carol Mentha, comptroller Sarah Frye and operations manager Ian Cochran. Walker will be majority shareholder.

It is not a gift of a failing business. The bookstore continues to be successful. The gift includes the 30,000 book inventory, computers and furnishings. In a Toronto Star article Munro estimates the value of the gift at $1,000,000. He will retain ownership of the building and rent it to the new owners at a below market price.

It is one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores in its old bank building in downtown Victoria. No book lover can pass its doors without entry. The photos with this post from the store website show the exterior by night and the interior all the time.

I was there four years ago and was entranced. I wish I could go
there every week. The store is so inviting and the staff are very knowledgeable.

The Star story further sets out the reasons for Munro’s decision and the reaction of his professional advisers:

         Lawyers and
         accountants have
         told him he’s nuts.
         Crazy generous.

         Munro sees it differently. “Without them there, the business
         isn’t worth anything.

         They are like an extended family.

 Munro has three daughters with ex-wife Alice Munro, who 
 last year won the Nobel Prize in Literature. “We all totally
 agree that the store should go to the staff, that we hold the
 building and that we want the Munro name to continue,” he
In a story in the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper Walker said about the gift:
Walker said that she, Mentha, Cochran and Frye don’t take the compliment lightly. “The idea of being responsible for making sure the store continues and thrives is a real honour for us and we take it seriously. It’s something daunting, but exciting at the same time,” she said.
The store has survived the opening of a Chapters, one of the bookstores in the Canadian chain, which opened two blocks away a few years ago.
I cannot recall a comparable gifting of a bookstore. It is a remarkable action.
I love the store's unofficial motto - "tactile pleasures of the physical book".


  1. Bill - I like that motto too. And I can see why you would so much love to go there more often. I think that's a wonderful idea. Kudos to Munro.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Such generosity is uncommon in the world.

  2. That's just great, a dream come true as the saying goes.

    What a nice thing Munro did; he knows that his staff loves the store and will take care of it so it will prosper.

    And it is a beautiful building. How I wish it was two blocks from my house. I'd be there every week! And if they had tea, coffee and snacks, a lot more often than that.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. There is no doubt you would be there weekly if you were in Victoria. Munro has created a lasting legacy.

  3. What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing that Bill. I know the bookstore - when we lived in Seattle we used to go up to Victoria every so often, and always visited it: it is indeed one of the nicest bookshops imaginable.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I am glad you have been able to visit Munro's.

  4. Bill, thanks for sharing this wonderful real-life story of generosity and what I think is the ultimate tribute to one's books.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. You have an apt description of the gift as "the ultimate tribute to one's books".

  5. That looks like a wonderful bookstore, wish I could go there. And that is a beautiful story. I am glad you shared it.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. Maybe you will get a chance in the future to go to Victoria. It is a lovely city. Munro's generosity makes all of us think about our lives.