The Importance of Indie Bookshops - theHumm November 2020

The Importance of Indie Bookshops - theHumm November 2020

By — John Pigeau

A friend of mine once told me that in her favourite, most enchanting dream, she’s trapped in a small charming bookstore overnight. So what does she do? After she screams into her hands with sheer joy, she kicks off her shoes and excitedly pokes about, gathering an armload of wonderful books. Then she parks it in a big comfy chair, drapes the owner’s left-behind cardigan over her shoulders, smiles to herself at her absolutely brilliant fortune, and then finally, blissfully, opens the first book to the first page and begins reading. It all feels like pure heaven, she’s assured me. Because there’s coffee too.   

Many booklovers have doubtlessly shared a similar daydream or fantasy. Indie bookshops are often the bright heart in the core of any downtown. We are attracted to them for the books, of course — offering us enthralling entertainment, captivating stories, and endless knowledge, history, creativity and imagination. But there’s much more to these enticing cultural treasures than the written word.  

Independent bookshops foster community.  

Leslie Wallack, owner of Perth’s The Book Nook & Other Treasures, has seen that firsthand pretty much every day since she opened her shop in 2007. “Many locals run into each other,” she says, “and I hear them excitedly catching up. And what I love the most is when we the salespeople and separate customers get into a group conversation, comparing or recommending different reading. It certainly is a sense of community.” 

For instance, she adds, “one book often sparks a great conversation. I often find myself laughing with a new customer, or talking politics with regulars. It all seems to happen naturally, as if we are friends of a feather.” 

Most every indie bookshop — including The Book Nook — hosts book launches, promotes the work of local authors, puts up posters publicizing local events, and contributes prizes for local fundraisers. Indie bookshops give back. Not all of those benefits are tangible.  

This year has been very difficult for many small businesses, including bookshops. It seems a vital time to remember the importance and the benefits of shopping locally at independent stores like Leslie’s shop, Mill Street Books in Almonte, and Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls.  

“Keeping in mind that Perth’s independent stores are owned and staffed by our friends, neighbours and fellow citizens,” Leslie says, “shopping locally keeps our town more than surviving, it keeps Perth thriving! We are a few months away from the natural down time of retail, and count on Christmas sales to carry us through those months. Our stores have been keenly preparing and stocking up to offer more, to make it convenient for locals. We have hope and faith in our town. I’ve heard from many tourists how impressed they are at our stores’ ability to seriously keep up safety protocols yet still provide a personalized service. Local shoppers know us, trust us, and depend on us. When you leave our stores, you know you have that gift on time, in your hands, and you got exactly what you wanted. How does it get any better?” 

It quite likely doesn’t, I would submit. Small shop owners truly appreciate every person who walks through their doors. And not to earn massive profits, no, not like the impersonal online behemoths. But because they care. They enjoy what they do, and they’re passionate about it.

Leslie certainly is. “Simply put,” she says, “I love what I do, I look forward to a work day. I feel blessed that I can earn a living doing something that interests and engages me. And it truly inspires me to see a bookstore inspire so many others. I’ve also been consistently surprised over 13 years by the diversity of customers and what they read. It keeps me on my toes!” 

Like every other small shop owner, Leslie had to adapt when the country went into lockdown in March. “When the shutdown happened, many locals reached out to me,” she says. “They needed boredom-busters.” 

So Leslie took a leap of faith and hired Crummy Media, a local business, to set up a website for The Book Nook. She began offering curbside pickup or local delivery. “I don’t have the entire store online,” she says, “but our website has a great rotating selection to conveniently service the local area.”  

When she re-opened, she switched up her hours a bit, with customer safety and cleaning the store in mind. Now her shop is open Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 4pm, and Sundays from 11am to 3pm. “Sometimes you can catch us on Wednesdays as well,” she adds, “but call to make sure. Wednesday is our deep cleaning and local delivery day.” 

Leslie says folks are pleased with the store’s online presence, too. “Our new website is a big hit. Shop from the comfort of home.” 

Besides selling books, The Book Nook & Other Treasures (“Where imagination and creativity meet!”) offers a variety of arts and crafts, puzzle and games, and other delightful gifts.  

“Thirteen years of listening to locals inspired me to make sure I offer one-stop shopping,” Leslie says. “I carefully chose to add the words “& Other Treasures” to my store name, allowing me to hear the needs of my customers. A good book is entertaining and/or informative, yet it’s also imaginative and creative. This allows me to add other items that fit nicely into these categories. Young and old, we try to engage the full mind with what we offer.” You can see a good sample of those on her website at

Leslie has a few books to recommend for gift-giving this holiday season. “From Jane Austen to George Orwell,” she says, readers are reacquainting themselves with classics. Classics are “trending in a big way,” and she would definitely recommend them as gifts.  

“Cookbooks, old and new, are a great way to keep things fresh,” she says. “Jamie Oliver’s 7 Ways is a new release and easy to follow.” She also recommends Margaret MacMillan’s newest nonfiction release War: How Conflict Shaped Us, and Catherine Bush’s page-turner novel Blaze Island. “Award-winning local author Tim Wynne-Jones has a new release: War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories. There are definitely too many great reads to list!”


Showing the Local Love for the Holidays! - theHumm November 2020

By Kris and Rob Riendeau

Here at theHumm we’re big on local economies. The retail and service businesses in the small towns that we cover play a huge role in the cultural life of those towns. Each store, restaurant, or small enterprise attracts and serves a particular clientele — some inside the community, some from outside. Some businesses host their own special events; others join together with local festivals to make the whole experience more vibrant. Many provide support in cash or in kind to local initiatives. ......


Thanks So Much for Your Support!
And Sorry About the USD Thing…
- theHumm November 2020

By — Sarah Kerr

Wow! We have been blown away by your support for theHumm and the arts & entertainment scene in the Ottawa Valley. Since our letter in the October issue that invited you to help us become reader-supported with our new patronage campaign , we have received so many lovely emails and notes of encouragement. This has been so uplifting, and we are truly grateful for the reminder that you like what we’re doing here at theHumm. T......


Margaret Martin – Coping with Art“The Artist’s Way - theHumm November 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

After many years as an elementary school teacher, Portland artist Margaret Martin is now focusing on her own artistic abilities with beautiful results.

Many of her acrylic paintings reflect her love of nature and landscape. Her paintings are deeply emotional statements about her connection to and gratitude for the natural world. Her waterscapes and landscapes testify to the restorative, healing, and inspirational powers nature bestows on us if we take the time to cont......


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By — Scott Hortop

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As part of my personal attempt to address the climate emergency, I have been learning from the work of a professor in New Mexico how to produce a very special type of compost from leaves. It is called fungal dominant compost and it serves as an inoculant for degraded soil to re-enliven the microbial, biological life of the soil. For more information, check out this California State University websi......


A Century ofWriters Helping Writers - theHumm November 2020

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Authors Association, the National Capital Branch invites all writers to take part in the 34th Annual National Capital Writing Contest. Award recipients will be published in the 2021 Anthology and will be part of the (virtual or live) centenary celebrations.

The Canadian Authors Association (CAA) is a not-for-profit national arts service organization with a local presence dedicated to promoting a flourishing community of wri......


Food Bank Stocking Drive
COVID Won’t Stop Santa Claus — or Sandy Claus!
- theHumm November 2020

By — The Lanark County Food Bank

The Lanark County Food Bank Stocking Drive has already begun. A lot has changed, but the need for the support of the community is stronger than ever during this year of COVID-19. Looking ahead, we know Christmas will also bring special challenges. And that’s why we are already turning our minds to making merry and starting to collect for the LCFB — The Hunger Stop 12th annual Christmas Stocking Drive.

Sandy Schappert is the spirit behind these Christmas Stockings filled with toiletries. Acting upon ......


It’s a Chocolate Party in CP! - theHumm November 2020

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From December 2–6 the Granary will be offering daily gift bags, prizes, samples and great deals on all things chocolate. This year they are focusing on local chocolate including Camino, Hummingbird, Chocosol and Ludwig.

On Saturday, December 5, the Town Singers will be serenading f......


What the Hygge?Finding Cozy Winter Rituals in Westport - theHumm November 2020

By Sarah Kerr

On a beautiful day in October, I spent the day exploring the picturesque village of Westport with my two kids, aged 6 and 2, and hiking Foley Mountain. I wanted to write about finding your hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) — the Scandinavian ritual of seeking coziness and comfort in simple experiences — in Westport. I mean, Westport is the most incredibly cozy village in the hills, perched below Foley Mountain and overlooking Upper Rideau Lake. Just driving into town from Perth will take your breath away. ......


Aid-Brigade at MMYCMusic Program in Honour of Aiden Fotherby-Verk - theHumm November 2020

By — Sarah Bingham

Some people don’t need a whole lot of time here on earth to make their mark, to change their community for the better and leave a lasting impact. Aiden Fotherby-Verk was one of those special souls who made so much of the short amount of time he had. As a part of his lasting legacy, his family has generously donated to the Mississippi Mills Youth Centre to create the “Aid-Brigade Music Program” in Aiden’s honour. Aiden’s music program will be a permanent offering at the youth centre and provi......


Guatemala Stove Project FundraiserVirtual Auction Supports Families in Guatemala - theHumm November 2020

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Unusual, Unconfined… Art Abounds in our Area! - theHumm November 2020

By Miss Cellaneous

Sivarulrasa’s 6th Anniversary Show

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Shedding Some Light on Men’s Sheds - theHumm November 2020

John Peters is an active member of both the Hackberry Men’s Shed (an organization that serves Carleton Place) and the Naismith Men’s Shed (which serves Almonte and area). We asked him how area sheds are trying to keep men engaged, connected and supported.

theHumm: According to , Doug Mackie founded the first Canadian shed after recognizing that many men in his community had both time on their hands and a tendency to......


The Experimental Yard - theHumm November 2020

By David Hinks

I first met Joanne and Rick at a workshop that I was leading on garden pests at the Carp Library three years ago — they were very interested and enthusiastic participants. At the time they were in the process of moving from their home in Orleans to a new home in Carleton Place. I met them again at the Carleton Place Community Garden where they have become volunteers and leaders in this very successful community initiative. In a conversation about gardening, I was invited to tour their home ......


Danah-Lee Set to Release New and Inspiring Music - theHumm November 2020

Ottawa Valley singer-songwriter Danah-Lee is set to release a new and inspiring EP on November 20 titled These Are a Few of My Favourite Hymns. The first EP single, Fall on Me, is coming to all streaming platforms on November 6. Singles will be released each Friday in November. The album is quite remarkable, as all parts have been recorded, mixed and mastered remotely due to the global pandemic.

Danah-Lee has co-produced every arrangement alongside 18-year-old André Mergulhão (a young musi......


The Importance of Indie Bookshops - theHumm November 2020

By — John Pigeau

A friend of mine once told me that in her favourite, most enchanting dream, she’s trapped in a small charming bookstore overnight. So what does she do? After she screams into her hands with sheer joy, she kicks off her shoes and excitedly pokes about, gathering an armload of wonderful books. Then she parks it in a big comfy chair, drapes the owner’s left-behind cardigan over her shoulders, smiles to herself at her absolutely brilliant fortune, and then finally, blissfully, opens the first......


Zoom with Tim Cook! - theHumm November 2020

Renowned historian and author Tim Cook stopped by Mill Street Books to sign copies of The Fight for History: 75 Years of Forgetting, Remembering, and Remaking Canada’s Second World War. His latest book looks at how Canadians have reframed the war experience over time. He states: “If we do not embrace our history, no one else will.” Tim has kindly agreed to participate in a Zoom presentation on Sunday, November 15 at 2pm. Purchase a signed copy and you will be provided a link for th......


MVTM Announces Winners of New Awards - theHumm November 2020

The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum (MVTM) is proud to announce the KDS Fibre and Textile Art Award winners, recognizing excellence in fibre and textile art. The award has been created as a showcase of the most current and versatile approaches to fibre as a medium. In order to profile the breadth of the craft, three award categories are in place to celebrate the work of emerging, mid-career and established women artists aged 50 and over.

The contest was open to all Canadian female artists ove......


The Art of Raking in the Rain - theHumm November 2020

By Glenda Jones

Raking is a fall rite of passage, the gateway to winter, and a good reason to be outside. Sunny days would be lovely, but not so this year — no surprise, eh? Eschew the metal rake, the fancy leaf collector, and for goodness sakes, a power leaf blower if you live in the ’burbs. We’re going old-fashioned!

Get yourself a good plastic or bamboo rake, not too heavy, not too wide. Before you’re done, you’ll appreciate a smaller rake. Get some decent garden gloves, not the old ones you wore out in the sum......


Learning to Love the Carbon Tax - theHumm November 2020

By — Chandler Swain

So we come toward the end of a doozy of a year. We have all faced up to some intense challenges and proved that, when we really need to change our way of doings things to prevent bad stuff from getting worse, we can do it. Along with issues related to the virus, the most profound problem we all face is the Climate Crisis. However, there is a silver lining to our pulling together for this one: we get a prosperous livable world for our kids and grandkids!

One thing that we and the planet can benefit ......


What’s New for November at Your Library - theHumm November 2020

By Erika Heesen

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“Take Me to the Movies”
Adult Learning & Training Centre Fundraiser
- theHumm November 2020

The Adult Learning & Training Centre is a local non-profit that provides free, personalized training to adult learners in Lanark County and Smiths Falls to upgrade their math, reading and computer skills in order to help them gain independence or obtain employment.

They are holding a Zoom fundraiser on November 13 from 7–9pm called “Take me to the Movies”. They will ask movie related questions, the answers are point-based, and at the end the totals are tallied and the people with the most points win great prizes donated from local businesses.

Required is a minimum $10 donation......


Remembrance Day in Carleton Place - theHumm November 2020

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During these unprecedented times, local Legion Branch 192 feels that it is incumbent upon th......


Smiths Falls Makes the Season Merry & Bright - theHumm November 2020

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