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.)
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.
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.
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