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.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sidney, British Columbia is Canada's Booktown

Sharon and I are spending an extra long weekend on Vancouver Island. Yesterday we made a trip out to Sidney, about 25 km, from Victoria. Sidney is unique in Canada as it is our nation's only booktown.

It is a beautiful weekend on the island with the tulips and fruit trees in blossom. Sidney's downtown has planters filled with flowers. Coming from Saskatchewan where last weekend it had reached -16C it was a lovely welcome to the Island.

Beacon Street is the main shopping street stretching from the highway to the ocean. In a 5 block stretch are 6 bookstores. It is remarkable to find 6 bookstores in a community of 11,500 people. During the day I stopped at all of the bookstores.

The first was Beacon Street Books. On the Sidney Booktown
website it is described as: 

 A general bookstore of secondhand books – 4,000 sq.ft. – thousands of good used books covering categories the Arts,
Classics & Literature, General Fiction, Nature, Travel, Nautical, Music, Reference, 
    Canadiana, Self-Help, and the Sciences. Browse in our Modern First
    Editions and Authors Signed editions, and look through our
    collectable, rare, and antiquarian books.

I looked through the general mystery section of current books. There was a nice selection but I restrained myself.

My next stop down the street was at the Military and History Bookshop. The store had the largest collection of military books I have seen since I was at a comparable bookstore in the other booktown I have visited, Stillwater, Minnesota.

As you enter the store there are a pair of mannequins in Canadian uniforms. In the hand of the female mannequin in a naval uniform is a copy of the book She Went to War - The Rhonda Cornum Story by Rhonda Cornum.

I spent quite awhile browsing in the sections dedicated to World War II and left with two books.

The first, Seduced by Hitler by Adam LeBor and Roger Boyes is about the choices made by people who lived under Nazi rule in and outside Germany during WW II. The decisions made by ordinary Europeans during the war have long fascinated me.

The second, How Papa Won The War by Gordon Wagner, is an autobiography of a veteran who grew up in rural Saskatchewan and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the war. He spent time on duty in Canada, England and India.

In addition to the beautiful flowers Sidney has lifesize statues of people sitting on benches along Beacon Street.

Next to Tanner Books is a statue of an older woman reading a book. A town putting up statues with a reading theme is impressive.

After my tour Sharon and I finished the day in Sidney with a Pier Platter (smoked trout, citrus prawns, smoked salmon, crusted tuna, pickled salad, olives, almonds and flatbread) and fresh salmon main course at Haro's Restaurant.

My next post will cover the remaining four bookstores in Sidney.

(I took the photos for this post with my trusty IPhone Plus.)


  1. What a wonderful trip you're having, Bill! And Sidney sounds like such a terrific place. Who wouldn't want to get lost in a booktown like that? So glad you had good weather for it, too.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I think you would have a great day in Sidney if your travels take you north abit.

  2. Glad to see that you and mom are enjoying your trip. Your post reminded me of when we used to dive into books for hours at the Sleuth of Baker Street in TO.

    1. Jonathan: Thanks for the comment. We have had some good times in bookstores. The fireplace and the cat and a big armchair and a room full of mysteries made Sleuth so inviting especially in the winter. You were so content you could have spent days there.

  3. An entire town known for books! That's fascinating, Bill. Thanks for taking me through what is no doubt a wonderful place. I look forward to reading your review of "Seduced by Hitler," as well as the book someday. It'd be interesting to know how ordinary German citizens lived with fear and out of choice under Nazi rule.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. Books and ocean combined in one town. The book looks to cover the actions of a lot of people in Germany and Occupied Europe.

  4. I love this town and the bookstores.
    And that statue is amazing, would love statues of people reading on New York benches. Maybe that would encourage more reading and attention to the libraries.

  5. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. Sidney is an inviting community. It would be exciting if more cities put up statues of readers. We have enough statues of heroic warriors and statesmen.