The Spaniel’s Tale celebrates Canadian Independent Bookstore Day

Lauren Roulston • Apr 27, 2024

Book lovers gather at The Spaniels Tale on 1131 Wellington St. W for Canadian Independent Bookstore Day (Lauren Roulston/CHUO).


Book lovers in the capital are participating in this year’s run of the Ottawa Indie Bookstore Crawl. From Apr. 26 to 28 shops like Octopus Books, World of Maps, and Mill Street Books are hosting their own events, contests and giveaways.

They’re among eight stores offering stamps to collect for a chance to win $200 to spend at indie bookstores in Ottawa.

The Spaniel’s Tale Bookstore is also on this list, and today they’re celebrating Canadian Independent Bookstore Day (CIBD).

Hintonburg is one of eight independent bookstores participating in Otttawa’s Indie Bookstore Crawl 2024 (Lauren Roulston/CHUO).


“Indie bookstores, they’re more than a place to shop. They really are the heart and hub of their community,” says Cole Davidson, co-founder of The Spaniel’s Tale.

He’s been running the store in Hintonburg with his partner Stephen since 2022.

“It’s been great, the community has been really really supportive and we couldn’t ask for a better neighbourhood,” he says.

When they first opened the store, he says the pair didn’t want to choose a niche, but rather opt for a more general trade. “But we’ve sort of started to fall into the niche of Ottawa’s ‘romantasy’ bookstore, and that’s a direct result of TikTok, I think,” says Davidson.

For instance, the bookstore hosted a midnight release party for Iron Flame at Braumeister Brewing Co. in November. “We had 100 tickets and we sold out on the first day,” says Davidson. “It was just incredible.”

Rows of books at The Spaniel’s Tale in Hintonburg (Lauren Roulston/CHUO).

When it comes to competing with big-box stores and online sellers like Amazon, indie bookstores offer specific selections for their community. “It really does come down to curation because we’re a fraction of the size of these other stores,” says Davidson.

“What makes us unique is that we handpick every single book that’s in our store, so we have more of an intimate knowledge of what we have and we’re also able to pick books specifically that we think our community would be interested in,” he adds.

Davidson highlights that The Spaniel’s Tale embraces the opportunity to promote local, Canadian, and BIPOC authors in this curation process.

“We read a lot of reviews, we talk to a lot of people, we get feedback from customers, publisher reps talk to us about books,” he says. “And from there we just kind of drill it down to what we think our community will want.”

For Davidson and the book lovers filling the store on Canadian Independent Bookstore Day, The Spaniel’s Tale is much more than a place to shop. They offer a space for community gatherings, too.

“Events are a big part of that, whether it’s author events with authors from across the country or North America, like Kyne,” says Davidson.

Earlier this month, the bookstore hosted Canada’s Drag Race star Kyne, who did a reading of her new book Math in Drag followed by signings and a Q&A.

“It’s also the local authors that bring a lot, too.” says Davidson.

He recalls one of their very first events at The Spaniels tale with local author Carolyn Whitzman for her book Clara at the Door with a Revolver.

“It’s about a true crime that happened in Toronto in the 1800s, it was a wonderful book, really really well written,” he says. “And the event was great. We had over 60 people come out and it continues to be one of our largest author events that we’ve ever hosted.”

For Davidson, these events continue to represent a significant aspect of what makes independent bookstores special.

“Just bringing people together for a common reason, for a common cause, for a book they all have in common.” he says. “Something that they wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere else.”

According to the Indie Bookstores site, these stores “are pillars of the communities in which they reside. Their staff are actively involved in the neighbourhood and provide an inclusive space where people can connect.”

“Indie booksellers work hard to serve their customers and communities. CIBD is our opportunity to say thank you,” they conclude.

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