Between the pages at Ginger Press
News Director/Morning Show co-host
When I told Maryann Thomas that I wanted to do a blog on her five favourite local books, I had no idea how excited she would be about this proposal or with how much gusto she would help me.
When I arrived at the Ginger Press in downtown Owen Sound she was equally as excited for my visit, like a puppy with a wagging tail.
She had also gone to the trouble of rounding up some of her ‘regulars’ who come for lunch served daily from 11:30 – 2.
That’s right; its a book store/publishing house/diner.
What? You’ve never heard of that before?
At first I thought I would be intruding on what must be their deep, literary conversations between local authors, activists and former politicians but then one of them let it slip.
They had been hand picked and gathered together to set the ‘ambience’.
I sat down with my coffee feeling, at first, like an intruder and just listened.
I knew a few of the women at the table and was soon included in the lively discussion that started with one room school houses then moved to Syrian refugees then on to the wide diversity of ethnic restaurants in Owen Sound which eventually, and inevitably lead to a discussion about …. UGH …. Donald Trump.
I’ll give him this though; we all had exactly the same view point on that one.
The Ginger Press, to me, is a little gem tucked away on the main street as it has been for more than 30 years publishing small runs of local books that, quite frankly, other publishers likely wouldn’t.
Every community should have one.
However, if you’ve never been inside, you have no idea how much more it is.
The Ginger Press publishes about half a dozen books a year.
Thomas says out of all of the books she sells in her store right now about 75% are local.
She’s shooting for 100%.
But the other really cool thing about this place is that the heart of it appears to be at the back of the store, at the communal dining table and counter where Maryann Thomas, proprietor, serves up food for the soul.
A photo posted by Miranda Miller (@mirandamediaau) on
(She told me not to talk about the food too much because its just lil ‘ol her cooking it and serving it up and she doesn’t want to be overrun. In fact, she turned down a certificate from Trip Advisor because she didn’t want to feed the hipster online masses looking for hidden gems)
It appears to be a community within a community with regular diners/readers having certain days they come for lunch and good conversation.
We met “Jan” who said one of her favourite things is to go to the Ginger Press on ‘snow days’ and play scrabble and just watch the snow come down.
The odd bridge hand has also been dealt at that table while one woman said “I learned to knit socks here”.
Then Bill Hawkes walked in with his jaunty bucket hat barely getting a word in edgewise between the women at the table but when he did, you wanted to hear it.
Bill lives above the Ginger Press and many locals will know him best for signing out their books at the library for more than 20 years.
Bill talked about how he was hired on a handshake by Andrew Armitage after moving to Owen Sound from Boston.
The conversation switches to the previous owner of the store when it was The Games Room and teens from across the city gathered and hung out.
As I sat there eating my delicious lunch (that I’m not supposed to talk too much about) I realized that an hour and a half had passed and we hadn’t even got to Maryann’s five favourite local books yet!
“What about my blog”??
After spending just a short time here I realize every community should have a Ginger Press, where local books are conceived, written, published and discussed; where people can gather and talk about everything from tabouli to Trump and feel part of something unique.
If you haven’t been inside yet you need to visit them soon.
You never know who’s going to be gathered round the table. (just don’t tell her I told you the food is fab)
And so as not to forget my original intention here are a few of Maryann’s favourites.
1. Saints & Sinners
Written by local author Richard Thomas – the story of Owen Sound, Canada’s last dry city
2. Country Midwife – click video
3. Murder, Mystery and Mayhem
Who says nothing ever happens here? Historian and librarian Andrew Armitage has spent over three decades collecting local adventures and misadventures from Grey and Bruce Counties
4. The Tall Tale of Wee Brucie
Long, long ago, so this story goes, the Bruce Peninsula did not exist. Its a unique homespun tale which provides at least one explanation for the existence of the Peninsula.
5. Looping through the Sydenham
25 short walks and hikes along Niagara Escarpment country