By Elspeth Chalmers –
Nestled in the heart of Toronto, Acadia Books stands as a testament to the enduring charm of physical literature. Owned by Rochelle Joram and business partner, Carlos Galdamez, this shop has been a booklover’s magnet for more than half a century.
Founded as Jack’s Books in the 1930s, the bookstore was purchased in the late 1950s by Rochelle’s father. At the time, the store specialized in comic books, Harlequin romances, and paperback Western novels. However, in the early 1960s Rochelle’s father turned the spotlight towards Canadian history and Arctic exploration.
That focus shifted again under Rochelle, and the store has evolved into a sanctuary for art and antiquarian book enthusiasts.
Rochelle’s connection to Acadia Books runs deep. She has been an integral part of the store for many years since her early twenties. Rochelle’s father continued to work in the store until his nineties, so it’s been about a decade since Rochelle and Galmadez took over the reins.
This handover happened organically. “I always had an interest, but I never planned to work here,” Rochelle said. But as time passed, her appreciation for the store brought her back: the scent of weathered pages, the tactile pleasure of aged bindings.
“Whenever I visited the bookstore, the smell of the old books really hit me,” says Rochelle, “But now I can’t really smell them anymore, I’ve been here so long.”
Acadia Books carries a diverse range of books, including art books, illustrated books, antique books and literature, as well as maps and prints. The store also has books on fairies, fairy tales, mysticism, and an eclectic mix of out-of-print and used books.
Shelves are stocked through a blend of connections and strategic acquisitions. With a longstanding presence in the community, Rochelle notes, “We get people calling us with collections and books they’re clearing out.”
The curated collection speaks to Galdamez’s and Rochelle’s shared passion for books and art. “I always said books were really beautiful pieces of artwork; the old bindings, the illustrations,” she explains.
In an age dominated by digital reading platforms, Acadia Books remains a haven for those who seek the tactile experience of a book. Rochelle has noted a resurgence of interest, and that many of the store’s visitors are young adults. “It’s like the way vinyl has come back, because even the cover art was part of the experience.”
Acadia Books not only offers a treasure trove of literary artifacts but is also home to a pair of locally celebrated feline mascots. Resident cats Pippin and Frodo have even garnered attention on TikTok, drawing visitors.
Nestled in one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, on Queen Street just east of Sherbourne, Acadia Books is a testament to the enduring allure of the printed word. It’s a reminder that the magic of a well-worn book is timeless.
Acadia Books also offers consignment services and hosts Toronto Book Auctions. For information, contact Galdamez at [email protected].