Sunday, June 5, 2016
Letters Bookshop in Thunder Bay
Letters Bookshop is hidden away inside a nondescript, boarded up building on Simpson Street in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The owner, Nick Drumbolis, has spent a lifetime acquiring and carefully curating a massive collection of literature — from classics to curiosities.
He estimates he has roughly 50,000 titles filling multiple rooms — everything from Canadian literature, to obscure medical texts, to rare editions and hand-printed books by little-known authors. But the greatest emphasis is on "esoteric" literature, and poetry.
"This is the greatest concentration of poetry in Canadian history, certainly in terms of the book trade," said Drumbolis.
Drumbolis opened Letters Bookshop in Toronto in 1982, with the intention of selling rare books, while nurturing the poetry scene. "I was trying to make the rare books pay for the poetry," he said.
He ran the store in Toronto for several decades, until rising rents pushed him out. So he packed up his thousands of books, loaded a truck to the brim, and returned to his hometown of Thunder Bay, where he was able to find an affordable space large enough to house his collection. He wears a black Basque beret with Euskal Herria (Basque Country) embroidered on the side.