Toronto Women’s Bookstore


The Toronto Women’s Bookstore started in the early 1970s as a “few shelves of books and pamphlets” at The Women’s Place in Toronto. The goal was to provide access to and promote the few books by and about women that were available at that time. After Women’s Place closed, the Bookstore moved first to Kensington Market, then to Harbord Street.

As feminist activism exploded over the 1970s and 1980s, more about women and feminism was being written and published. The Toronto Women’s Bookstore was able to expand its inventory to include an ever-growing and wide range of non-fiction, fiction, and non-sexist children’s books, as well as a growing number of feminist magazines. The bookstore was also able to develop a relationship with local feminist academics and scholars to bring in textbooks and other materials for their women’s studies and other courses.

A fire in July 1983 that was directed against the Morgentaler Abortion Clinic located above the bookstore caused serious damage and was a major setback, but Toronto Women’s Bookstore was able to rebuild with the help of feminist supporters and others in the community.

Towards the late 1980s, Sharon Fernandez and Mona Oikawa developed a Women of Colour bibliography which paved the way for Toronto Women’s bookstore to put increased emphasis on Black, Indigenous and Women of Colour writers and materials. A welcoming environment and regular events, including readings and book launches, strengthened the bookstore’s role in building a wider and more diverse network and community.

Over the decades, Toronto Women’s Bookstore weathered a number of challenges and setbacks to emerge as both a feminist, anti-oppression bookshop and a community hub. However, in the 2000s, a rapidly changing book market and increased competition from online sales and big chain stores put increasing financial pressure on many independent bookstores who found it hard to compete. This included Toronto Women’s Bookstore which was forced to close its doors in 2012 after 39 years.

Women Unite Interview: Toronto Women’s Bookstore: Becoming Intersectional and Anti-racist