Clive and Christine Tanner stand in the midst of some of the 50,000 volumes they had to move when the Military and history bookstore was forced to close its doors. (Tim Collins/New staff)

Clive and Christine Tanner stand in the midst of some of the 50,000 volumes they had to move when the Military and history bookstore was forced to close its doors. (Tim Collins/New staff)

Moving Sidney’s Military Bookstore a Herculean task

It was the year that man first set foot on the moon, Led Zeppelin released their first album and Richard Nixon became President. 1969 was also the year that Clive and Christine Tanner opened their first bookstore.

“I’d gone up to the Yukon on a sales trip and my wife, Christine, who has always been an avid reader, told me we should become booksellers. We bought a bookstore and stayed there for about 12 years before coming to Sidney. We’d come here on a visit and thought it was quite nice, you see,” explained Tanner.

After coming to Sidney the Tanners proceeded to open a bookstore on Beacon Avenue that still bears their name. They sold that shop but, over the years they have opened and operated a series of other bookshops. Sidney eventually became known as Booktown.

Perhaps the most fascinating of those bookstores, and one Clive took particular pride in operating, was the Military and History Bookshop on Fourth Street.

Now that shop has been forced to close as development along Fourth (Street) resulted in the loss of the lease for the property.

“History is important. If more people read and understood history we might not have some of the political thrashing about that we see today,” observed Tanner.

He said that the focus of his bookstore was particularly relevant to Sidney given the large number of military veterans living in the community. It made closing the shop even more disheartening, but Tanner stresses the material in that shop will continue to be available.

“I was sad to have to close the doors, but we’ve moved the entire inventory and will be operating out of this shop instead,” explained Tanner, gesturing at the multitude of shelves in the back of Beacon Books on Beacon Avenue, one of the other Sidney bookstores owed by the couple.

“We only had about 900 square feet in the old shop (Military and History Bookshop) so I didn’t think it would be too hard to move it here, but I keep forgetting that books are heavy,” laughed Tanner, who at 84 years of age still carries himself with an air that leads one to believe he is more than capable of carrying his share of books.

“It turns out we had to move about 40 to 50 thousand books. That’s a lot of work,” said Tanner, adding that they first moved the inventory to a garage where they are sorting the books before bringing them to Beacon Books.

Christine Tanner smiled as she surveyed the new additions to the shop she manages.

“We love books, obviously, but as a bookseller you don’t often have enough time to read. Used and antique books are a difficult business. You have to have a good foundation in books and be able to recognize their value as first editions, signed volumes … it’s almost like being an art dealer,” said Christine.

She added that another challenge facing booksellers is rooted in technology.

“A lot of the sales of books, particularly used books, occurs online. We list all of our best volumes and do a lot of business there.”

Clive pointed out that the couple has been involved with online sales since the beginning and used the Vancouver Island tech firm of ABEBooks long before that firm was purchased by the giant, Amazon.

“It doesn’t matter to me how we sell our books, only that people read, and learn and have their lives enriched. It’s why we’re in this business,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $10.25 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $8.65 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
The five most expensive homes for sale in Greater Victoria

A roundup of luxury estates currently on the market

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely first in B.C. for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Jimmy Fallon joked that a woman’s 4.5-star review of a Langford jail is “the most Canadian thing you could do” in The Tonight Show Jan. 21. (Screenshot/YouTube)
VIDEO: Jimmy Fallon jokes Canadian jails are basically hotels following woman’s 4.5-star review

Woman gave handwritten card to police following stay in Langford cells

Sidney's Beacon Wharf
Pontoon company piqued at prospect of public-private partnership around Sidney wharf

Seagate approached to submit proposeal for public-private partnership

Following a cease work order from the District of Highlands in October, the BC Supreme Court ruled Jan. 20. that bylaws won’t apply to O.K. Industries’ work until its quarrying activity is complete. (Courtesy of District of Highlands)
BC Supreme Court rules Highlands quarry work can continue

District bylaws won’t apply until quarrying activities are complete

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read