Manuscript Collection MS COLL 00574 - Martin Ahvenus Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Martin Ahvenus Papers


  • [192-]-2006 (Creation)

Level of description

Manuscript Collection

Extent and medium

31 boxes (4.5 metres)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Martin (aka Marty) Ahvenus, born in Toronto in 1928, was for over 30 years the proprietor of Village Books, which he first opened on Toronto’s Gerrard Street in June 1961. At the time, Gerrard St. was akin to New York’s Greenwich Village, and Ahvenus’ shop became a favoured place for young writers and poets, including Al Purdy, bp Nichol (who used the store as his mailing address), Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Milton Acorn, Joe Rosenblatt and Gwendolyn MacEwen, among many others. Ahvenus was an early champion of contemporary Canadian poetry, and was one of only a handful of booksellers that stocked it in a serious way, including many small press imprints.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection of papers from the famed Toronto bookseller includes administrative records from his shop Village Books, including invoices, correspondence, book lists, as well as individual files related to the running of the store and the publishing arm of Village Books. It also contains material related to Ahvenus’ work as an appraiser, correspondence with various Canadian authors, a travel diary from 1993-94, and books, many of them signed and inscribed by the authors.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form:

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

Rules and/or conventions used




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places