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6 Safe Havens for Bookworms in Ottawa’s Original Downtown 

November 3, 2023

Let’s face it – we all have our limits when it comes to the fast-approaching winter weather here in our Nation’s Capital! While it’s true that there will be plenty to do in Ottawa’s Original Downtown when the snow and ice hits this year, like taking in a Winter City Tour on one of Cobblestone Tours’ vintage busses or having a skate on the historic Rideau Canal, there are times when many of us would rather stay inside and keep warm. And what better way to complement the act of retiring to one’s winter refuge than by curling up with a good book, perhaps while enjoying a hot beverage from Happy Goat or Equator

Whether you consider yourself a casual reader or a devoted literature enthusiast, the many bookstores and libraries along and around Rideau Street carry written works from countries and cultures across the globe. Fans of all genres are certain to find something to their liking while shopping for their next read in Ottawa’s Original Downtown. Read on and discover all there is to learn about Rideau’s safe havens for bookworms! 

All Books 

Starting off this list is one of the quaintest little stores along the Rideau strip! Located right next to the ByTowne Cinema, All Books has their inventory stacked from floor to ceiling – and that’s not an exaggeration! If you pay them a visit, you’ll be blown away by the sheer quantity of books kept in such a small establishment. Don’t feel overwhelmed, though; the staff at All Books are always ready and able to help you find exactly what you’re looking for whether it be a children’s book to read at bedtime or something for yourself. 

📍 327 Rideau Street 

Sunday – Saturday: 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm 

📞 (613) 789-9544 

Despite its small size, All Books carries an extensive inventory of literature spanning numerous genres. 

Patrick McGahern Books 

Fancy yourself a history buff? Visit Patrick McGahern and his son Liam at their bookstore on Murray Street! Patrick has been building his collection of rare and antique texts for over 50 years, and his collection consists not just of books, but also maps, prints, photographs and even paintings. Their inventory specializes in a variety of subjects, including the Arctic, military history and various aspects of local and national history. This is the perfect place for lovers and collectors of antiques to spend an afternoon! 

📍 11 Murray Street 

⏰ Sunday – Thursday: CLOSED 

⏰ Friday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm 

📞 (613) 230-2275 

🖱️ mcgahernbooks.ca 

Patrick and Liam McGahern have amassed a breathtaking collection of historical texts over the 50 years they’ve been in business.
(Image: Patrick McGahern Books)

Indigo 

What better place to shop for books than Canada’s most celebrated bookstore? Indigo is the nation’s first choice for new releases from all genres, including “Heather’s Picks,” hand-picked by Indigo’s CEO herself! Pick up the latest memoirs from your favorite celebrities, novels from best-selling writers or even some games for your next board game night! Be sure to visit Indigo to take part in their in-store special events like door crasher sales, book signings featuring celebrated authors and Kids’ Storytime! 

📍 CF Rideau Centre, 1st and 2nd floors 

⏰ Sunday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm 

📞 (613) 690-8549 

🖱️ indigo.ca 

Indigo’s extensive selection of books, games, toys, furniture and other items occupies two floors of the Rideau Centre and is sure to make you lose track of time while you browse! 

Librairie du soleil 

Pour la population francophone a Le Centre-Ville Original d’Ottawa, il faut absolument jetez un coup d’œil à Librairie du soleil! Cette entreprise offre aux clients un sélection de plus que 50 000 livres en français, incluant les bandes desinées, les essais sur des sujets academiques et toute manière des ouvrages de fiction et littérature non romanesque. Les étudiants sont capables de profiter de leur service à commander les livres scolaires aussi ; entrez simplement votre établissement scolaire, votre année et cliquez « OK! » 

📍 33 rue George 

⏰ lundi à mercredi: 10h à 18h 

⏰ jeudi à vendredi: 10h à 19h 

⏰ samedi: 10h à 18h 

⏰ dimanche: 12h à 17h 

📞 (613) 241-6999 

🖱️ librairiedusoleil.ca 

Avec la sélection vaste de livres de la Librairie du Soleil, les clients de tous les goûts pourront trouver quelque chose qu’ils vont apprécier!
(Image : Librairie de soleil)

Sankofa Book Store 

Rideau is proud to host one of the only Afrocentric bookstores in all of Canada! Sankofa Book Store is devoted to helping clients learn more about the lived experiences of Black individuals throughout history. Step back in time and learn about the famed exploits of celebrated historical figures like Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X through Sankofa’s extensive selection of Afrocentric literature. They also carry an assortment of children’s books for customers looking to make a purchase for their little ones. 

📍 430 Rideau Street 

⏰ Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm 

⏰ Sunday: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm 

📞 (613) 667-9161 

🖱️ Sankofa’s Facebook 

For those looking to learn more about the lived experiences of Black individuals, Sankofa’s selection of books has something to suit both children as well as more advanced levels of reading.
(Image: Faridath Glawdis Yessoufou)

Ottawa Public Library – Rideau 

Lastly, there’s no need to carve out some space in your monthly budget to purchase a new copy of a book when you can always rent one at your local library! OPL’s Rideau branch is housed in a heritage building that has maintained a presence on Rideau Street since it was first opened by former Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden in 1934. Don’t be fooled, however – the library still sports all of the amenities one would expect from a modern library, including features like Chromebooks for rent, free parking and battery recycling. Be sure to also check out some of the unique art exhibits on display in the Rideau branch, including works from Blair Sharpe, Adrian Göllner and others. 

📍 377 Rideau Street 

⏰ Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 8:30 pm 

⏰ Friday: 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm 

⏰ Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm 

⏰ Sunday: CLOSED 

📞 (613) 580-2940 

🖱️ biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/branch/rideau 

The Rideau branch of the Ottawa Public Library has everything you would expect in a modern library, all housed in a beautiful historic building.
(Image: Ottawa Public Library – Rideau) 

Worried about where you are going to park? Click here for a handy tool to find all the parking options and rates in the downtown! 

Click here to check out other blogs we’ve written about businesses in Ottawa’s Original Downtown!