My son did a thorough clean&purge of his bedroom in preparation for his first day back to high school. Result: lots of books, toys and trinkets he has long outgrown and was prepared to part with. Swap boxes are great for such occaisions. Here’s how they work: always streetside, passersby are enticed to open them up. If something in there strikes their fancy they can exchange it with something else.
We were inspired to put up a swap box in front of our place a few years ago after discovering a number of others around town, created by the late street artist Elmaks. Since then many more swap boxes have appeared. Most of them are more specific to the exchange of books, but they work on the same premise. There is even an online group you can register your book swap box called Little Free Libraries. Here’s an article in the Kitchissippi Times on some local little libraries.
So, panniers loaded with swapable stuff, I headed out on a tour of local Swap Boxes. If I’ve missed any others please feel free to send me a note and I’ll include it on the map.
UPDATE – September 23: Added a whole bunch more boxes, and there are still a few more to come that people have told me about. Stay tuned!
First stop – Cambridge St North, just north of the Chinatown Arch. This box even has it’s own Twitter handle .
Cambridge St N Swap Box
Next stop, corner of Primrose & Arthur. Now THIS is a multi-compartmental swap box extravaganza!
Primrose & Arthur Swap Box
Down Nanny Goat Cliff, at the corner of Preston and Elm, there sits the cleverly converted newspaper box Book Exchange. There’s even a bike rack, lest you wish to dwindle while perusing the selection of swappable tomes, or pop in to the Preston Food Market for a Kit Kat.
Preston & Elm book exchange
This next box on Melrose Avenue is a clever take on the ‘A-frame’.
A-Frame Box on Melrose Avenue
Next stop is in the heart of Hintonburg, near the corner of Oxford & Pinehurst BUT it may not be there for long. Someone complained about this bungalow style design to city by-law and the owners have been told to take it down by September 16th. Hopefully there will be a last minute stay of execution.UPDATE September 12: Hintonburg swap box got a reprieve.
Hintonburg Swap Box
Heading west, we discover our next swap box on Garrinson St just west of Carleton Ave. This one is all about books. Gotta admire the use of re-cycled roof shingles to ward off the elements which paperbacks are especially prone to.
A short distance away, just south of Wellington on Mayfair, sits another super sweet Little Free Library. This one is hosted by one of the finest elementary school teachers we’ve had the good fortune to get to know.
Madame Vicky’s Swap Box
Another great Little Library box can be found on Kenora St.
Kenora St. box
The next one is a super sweet little swap box on Cole Avenue.
Cole Avenue Swap Box
The box on Mansfield has a bench to rest on while prusing the shelves, one of which can accept tall books.
Mansfield Avenue Bench & Box
The tour now heads south of the Queensway to our next, most excellent box, on Bowhill Avenue.
Box on Bowhill Ave
(NOTE: tour being updated to include a new – stay tuned!)
The next few boxes to discover are in the Glebe. This one’s on Fourth Avenue, just east of Bronson. (I don’t reccomend riding along busy Bronson. Walk your bike along the side walk for a short block after crossing Bronson at the Madawaska/Fifth Avenue lights).
Little Library on Fourth Avenue
Next swap box is one block over and a bit east on Fifth Ave. This one cleverly recycles hidden Ikea hinges to avoid the door being left ajar.
Little Library on Fifth Avenue
Our next box is just a few blocks south on Broadway Avenue.
Broadway Little Free Library
Up and over the Rideau Canal along the Bronson bike lane brings us to Old Ottawa South. This lovely clear coated box along Hopewell Avenue had a chalkboard leaning up against it onto which a poem by Gwendolyn MacEwen was transcribed. Don’t know if the chalkboard is always there, but it is a nice addition to this discovery of swap boxes.
Box & board along Hopewell Avenue
Next, a short side trip over the Rideau River to visit this robust Little Library on Pleasant Park Road. The most convenenient access to Alta Vista along this route is along the awful narrow Bank Street bridge over the Rideau River. Walking your bike along the sidewalk bridge is usually the safest option.
Box along Pleasant Park Road
Back on the north shore of the Rideau River, our next stop brings us to 146 Sunnyside Avenue. Big footprint shaped concrete pavers invite passersby to peruse the shelves.
Just direct your feet to the Sunnyside of the street
A bit north east on Belgrave Road lives this fine box, cleverly modeled after the house infront of which it sits.
Box on Belgrave Road
Further east on Bower Street we find another fine box.
Bower St box
Close by on Drummond Street there sits this dynamic box-within-a-box.
Box on Drummond Street
Next, back in the Glebe, we find this sweet box located at the corner of Strathcona and Metcalfe.
Library Bibliothèque at the corner of Strathcona and Metcalfe
The next box located on Argyle is a little tricky to get to by bike. I walked on the sidewalk along Metcalfe under the Queensway, and along Argyle half a block to the Box. Access should be much easier once they complete the bi-directional bike lanes along O’Connor. But what a treat of a box it is! There’s a little clock in the gable, and the surrounding landscaping is beautiful. There are also garden chairs to sit on while contemplating a potential swap.
Box on Argyle
Last stop is the Mini Library, corner of Cambridge St N and Christie. This one takes taller books.
Mini Library at Christie & Cambridge St N