Urban Landscape

The Double Hook Book Shop
25th Anniversary

Painting of the Double Hook Book Shop by M. Gross done in 1977 on the cover of the Montreal Star's "Montreal Scene" TV listings (February 1978).

There was a time, if you wanted to read a book by a Canadian author, you had to special order it if you couldn't find it on the store's "Canadiana" shelf. In 1974 Hélène Holden, Joan Blake, and Judy Mappin changed all that when they opened the Double Hook Book Shop. In 1976 the store moved from Ste-Catherine Street to its present Greene Avenue address where it has continued to be a beacon for Canadian writers, publishers, and readers. On a typical day, Judy Mappin and her welcoming staff (she is now the only active partner in the business) are organizing a book launching, greeting an out-of-town writer, or filling one of their many international orders.

"Our greatest strength is the people who work here. We have loyal customers and staff, It's very important that they care."

--Judy Mappin quoted by Janet Coutts, Westmount Examiner.

Joan Blake, Judy Mappin and Hélène Holden
Judy Mappin behind the cash.


Whether it be listening to Anne Szumigalski in a blizzard or Audrey Thomas in a rainstorm, I've always found readings at The Double Hook to be among the most memorable in this whole city. There's something unique about the ambience of that cluttered basement full of children's picture books, just as there's something unique (or, at least, all too rare) about the range of poetry and other works of grown-up literature available upstairs. Thank you, Judy, for your vision and your graceful persistence. I wish I could be sure that we deserve you.

What comfort to know that there's still a place where Canadian books are lovingly hand-sold, and where, amid the Christmas rush, you'll hear a staff member ask an elderly lady, "Tell me more about your nephew--how old is he, what are his interests?" Now that I've changed coasts and countries, I revisit the shop often, though mostly in heart and mind. Long may the hinged sign hang on Greene Avenue. Long may the lit windows act as beacons on snowy afternoons. Long may readers climb those grey stairs, and revel in what they find.

Some will say this great little shop is unique because of the books: they will be right. Personally, I think this great little shop is unique because this perfect choice of Canadian books attracts people with unique stories to tell about those books

As a rep, the Double Hook is one of the best accounts to deal with. As they order everything Canadian, a typical appointment can last over four hours. But Judy, Mary and the Joans have always been gracious and patient with me. We never just talk books; I feel very at home here. They're always interested in hearing the goings on in my life, apart from the publishing business, and there's always tea and cookies waiting. All independent bookstores should be like this. Congratulations on twenty-five wonderful years and best wishes for many successful years to come!

Bookstores are a basic need for me, like food and drink. Those that truly and pleasurably nourish are rare and need to be celebrated and shared with others who have similar appetites. Of all the bookstores I know, the Double Hook comes closest to meeting what I could call my minimum daily requirements.

First and foremost, the Double Hook sells books. Only books. Oh, there are magazines (literary and Canadian) at a respectful distance from the shelves of volumes carefully and alphabetically organized by subject, and I think I’ve bought a calendar or two. But we go to the little shop on Greene Avenue, which I’ve been patronizing since it began as a little shop on St. Catherine Street West some 25 years ago, not to have a fashionably named coffee, not to trip over somebody's cat, but to look for, to find, to smell, to feel, to browse in and, usually, to buy books. Canadian books.

When the Double Hook was founded, most stores that paid any attention to the fact that Canadians did write and publish books confined them to a kind of pen or reservation labeled "Canadiana." Worthy company for Mountie dolls and fake Inuit sculpture and tins of maple syrup… Three valiant and passionate women, Judy Mappin, Hélène Holden and Joan Blake, decided to translate their own love of books into making them widely and easily available. Judy Mappin and her staff continue that fine tradition, offering Canadian books recent and older, offering information and advice to the perplexed, offering support to Canadian writers and publishers - and not just to the household names.

On this its 25th anniversary, I salute the Double Hook – and I thank Judy Mappin for making sure that the books are there and for matching them up with their readers.

Simon Dardick, Lucie King-Edwards, and Erin Mouré, 1983
Roch Carrier and Sheila Fischman, 1974

Double Hook has served the Montreal literary community splendidly, providing current and hard-to-obtain poetry titles and small-press books, and generously hosting launches and readings regularly. A gem of a store for the poetry-lovers of this town.

As an independent publisher from the West Coast, Double Hook has always stood out in my mind as THE place for our books in Montreal. In the early days of sub-TERRAIN Magazine (before we had a distributor), Double Hook was one of the only stores willing to stock our mag, and we always received supportive and encouraging feedback. Bravo on 25 years!


Judy, Judy, Judy. It's a really tall order to come up with the words that express how much of a contribution Double Hook has made in the Canadian book publishing scene, and to Montreal in particular. The warmth of the welcome, the selection of Canadian books, and the longevity of the staff, all so ably led by the grand dame of bookselling, "our" Judy Mappin. I so well recall the 20th party and the cake cutting in the back room. I can hardly believe another five years have slipped by. You've all been tremendously supportive of Tundra. Thanks to each and everyone for all the hand selling, the events, and the windows!

Situated in one of the last traditional houses on Greene Avenue, the Double Hook represents everything a bookstore should be: welcoming, stimulating, interesting. In no small measure the rooms reflect the founder, Judy Mappin, to whom every Canadian author is indebted, as her bookstore has, for decades, promoted only Canadian books. Triple cheers for the Double Hook, and perhaps a few for Judy herself.

When my first novel The Descent of Andrew McPherson came out in 1976, my daughter was a baby, the Double Hook was a great place to have a book launch, and Judy Mappin made it a special occasion. Nineteen years later when my second novel Endangered Species was published the Double Hook was still a great place for a launch, my daughter and her string quartet played, and once again Judy made the launch special. That adds up to a young lifetime of support for Canadian readers and writers. Vive le Double Hook, Judy Mappin et le livre libre!

The Double Hook as it looks today.

| Downtown Montreal Guide | Old Montreal Guide | Guide to Eating Out | Walking Tours |
| Urban Landscape | Guide to Literary Montreal | Montreal Vintage Photos |
| Montreal Links | Montreal Jazz |

© Véhicule Press, All Rights Reserved