Hannelore Headley Old and Fine Books

June 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

For the first two years that I lived in Canada, I was in St. Catharines, Ontario. St. Catharines is the sort of town with a great future behind it. The big industry is GM, but when that plant eventually closes that will be in. You can see the town decaying just by driving on its streets.

But I digress. 

I bought my first copy of Marx there. A copy of the Communist Manifesto from Coles in the Penn Centre. It felt very special reading it, although I’ve no doubt I didn’t understand much of it then (I hope I do now).

Some time after that, I made a trip downtown to visit a used bookstore a friend had mentioned. Hannelore Headley’s used bookstore on Queen Street was, well, something to be experienced. Crammed into a relatively small space, with what seemed to be almost no order within the sections were thousands and thousands of books. From floor to ceiling in precarious piles and old bookcases. Every inch of the store was filled with books. Over the years as I returned to the store more books filled it, but the level of chaos seemed about the same.

I left that day with a copy of Marx’s critique of Proudhon The poverty of Philosophy   and Lenin’s The Alliance of the Working Class and Peasantry. I later bought more Marx and Lenin, Alexander Berkman, Mao Tse-Tung (a Lin Biao edition of the Red book), Crane Brinton, and countless more. Science fiction, poetry, drama, history etc.

Eventually a second location was opened on St. Paul street a few blocks away. Despite the bigger premises, the new store followed the same organizational pattern. It was the archetype used bookstore. No best sellers, but if you were lucky, you might find that book you’d been searching for.

I got an email this morning from my mum telling that Hannelore had passed away last weekend. I never spoke more than a few words to her whenever I bought stuff, and I hadn’t been in the store for years, but that store was an important resource for me in St. Catharines. I’ll miss her and that time. 

Here’s the notice from the local paper.



  1. Laurie Richards said,

    My husband and I just purchased the store! Business as USUAL!! We’ll look forward to meeting you! Laurie Richards

    • fischerzed said,

      Excellent. I’ll likely be in St.Catharines in the next few weeks and will have to stop in.

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