Rereading Room: The Vancouver Women’s Bookstore

Rereading Room: The Vancouver Women’s Bookstore


November 10, 2016 – January 14, 2017

The Vancouver Women’s Bookstore opened in the summer of 1973. We’ve been told it set up shop in an old Victorian house somewhere on Richards Street. Rent was cheap—cheap enough that the Bookstore’s owners could afford to make donations to local women’s centres and other projects they cared about. We heard they lent Ferron (do you know her?) a grand to help her record her first album. From the street you could see the store’s bookshelves, then behind that, up a couple of steps, was a raised area where there was a desk and a few couches. There was coffee and a small library. The walls back there were covered in posters, mostly from a women’s collective in Chicago. We’ve been told that the shelves were stained by the same volunteers who would keep the place running for the next twenty-some years. Three break-ins, a firebombing, and two relocations later, the Bookstore closed in 1996. We haven’t seen pictures but we imagine the shelves were a nice colour.

While doing some archival research this June, Alexandra dug up the Vancouver Women’s Bookstore’s inaugural 1973 catalogue. We examined the document as if it were excavated amber. More than just a record of its inventory, the warmly typewritten pages captured the spirit of a community formed during a critical period of intellectual production by and for women. The Bookstore was a setting where individual experience could be elaborated, made material, through social life. The books provided a common language; the shelves, a common space for conversation—between generations, continents. So consider this an invitation to its restaging. Rereading Room presents a collection of books, documents, and periodicals selected from the titles offered by the Bookstore in its nascent years. Come by, read, maybe talk over coffee; we have a lot to catch up on.

Vincent Tao, November 2016

Public Programming

Thursday, November 10, 7–10pm
Rereading Room opening
Discussion with founding member Jeannine Mitchell, followed by reception

Friday, November 18, 7–9pm
Hogan’s Alley (1993)
Screening with Cornelia Wyngaarden

Sunday, November 20, 7–9pm
Anahita Jamali Rad, Kyla Jamieson, Danielle LaFrance, and Emma Metcalf Hurst

Tuesday, November 22, 7–9pm
Reading from a 1980s issue of Fireweed and dialogue
Unfastened Collective hosts Rhea Tregebov

Saturday, November 26, 2–4pm
Sex Work 101: Understanding Sex Worker Politics
Education seminar with Vancouver’s PACE Society

Tuesday, November 29, 7–9pm
I’m Like Me (Poems for people who want to grow up equal) by Siv Widerberg
Unfastened Collective hosts dialogue for gender-neutral parenting

Project Support

BC Arts CouncilCanada Council for the ArtsCity of Vancouver