A Sad Goodbye To One Of Niagara’s Greatest Lovers Of Books

By Doug Draper

(Before you read this story about the late great Hannelore Headley, all NAL to offer a quick update here, and this is good news. Hannelore’s Old Fine Books Store is living on at the same Queen Street St. Catharines, Ontario location (just east of Lake Street and Montebello Park), thanks to two of her friends and fellow book lovers who have purchased it. So please help keep this great old book institution alive by visiting the store and buying some fine books for your home.)

She was one of Niagara, Ontario’s greatest lover of books who offered the gift of fine old books to generations of us who were fortunate enough to discover her wonderful used book store.Hannelore Headley

Hannelore Headley, who left us this June 15, 2013 in her 78th year, was more than the owner of Hannalore Headley’s Old And Fine Books on the Montebello Park end of Queen Street in St. Catharnes, Ontario. For 40 years, she was its heart and soul and although she died while Niagara At Large was away on vacation, I cannot return by paying a little tribute to her. 

I personally have so many fond memories of walking in the front door of that store and seeing her sitting there at her desk with that beautiful smile and saying; “How nice to see you again.” She might then ask you if there was something particular you were looking for,always amazed me was  that you could name just about any book published over the last hundred or more years, and she almost always knew where you could find it  in two storeys of shelves, not to mention the countless thousands of books piled on the floors.hannalore headley sign

If she didn’t happen to have the book at the time, Hannelore would offer to take your name and phone number, and you could always count on a call from her when the book came in. 

I have many books I purchased from her and cannot pick them up without remembering all those visits to her store and her infectious passion.

Hannelore was also a greater lover of her community and always had time to become engaged in issues that affected her community. When newsroom staff at The St. Catharines Standard (myself among them) were out on strike 15 years ago this June, fighting to keep the new corporate owner of the paper from gutting any more resources in the newsroom, I will never forget how supportive she was. For years after that, she often lamented on how far the news side of the paper fell down after the corporate chains purchased it from its local, independent owners, the Burgoynes. 

In an age when book stores – especially independent book stores are struggling to survive  due to the online competition out there – it is particularly said to lose Hannelore. Let’s hope that some out there will work to keep her legacy alive.

(Niagara At Large invites you to join in the conversation by sharing your views on the content of this post below. For reasons of transparency and promoting civil dialogue, NAL only posts comments from individuals who share their first and last name with their views.)

5 responses to “A Sad Goodbye To One Of Niagara’s Greatest Lovers Of Books

  1. Gerry Chamberland

    Here here. I remember Hennalore when she first opened her book store on Duke St. Whatever you were looking for, she found it. I don’t know how she did it but she came through many times for me. I know her father used to own a large book store in Montreal and I believe that is where she got her first start. Always smiling. Loved books with a passion. She will be greatly missed. It saddens me to see all these wonderful people passing on. The region has lost a wonderful human being.


  2. Doug,
    I too remember her smile and greeting… and such a memory for faces and book titles. While I still lived in St. Catharines I was only blocks away from her shop on Queen Street and many books on my shelves came from Hannelore Headley. Some were suprises. I would stop in for a (not so) quick browse, and might mention a book title or subject just in passing and sometimes, months later stop in and Hannelore would say, “Mr. McMaster, that book you mentioned, I think I now have a copy”. She will be missed.


  3. Gail Benjafield

    A gentlewomen, never out of sorts. Over many years, we bought, (and sometimes sold) to Hannah. She loved all aspects of history (not just local )and had a passion for children’s books. The last items I sold to her was in this field, and I was genuinely surprised at her interest. I always gave Hannah first refusal if I wanted to sell something, and she was as honest as can be. I knew, just as in the antiques market, you sell because you no longer want some item, and don’t expect top price. I found some treasures in her shop over the years, just browsing, and if Hannah didn’t have it, she would get it for you. I can recall getting at least one call from her to say she had the book in I had wanted… and I had long forgotten wanting it. But that was Hannah, and my, how she will be missed.


  4. Chris Wojnarowski

    Hannelore will indeed be missed. It is not too many smaller communities that have big-city bookstores managed by KNOWLEDGEABLE people. It reminded me of the off-campus university bookstores I used to troll for treasure in my younger days. It is hoped her bookstore survives her passing.


  5. The dedication for Hannelore’s Park is September 20th there is a facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/523498957750386/


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