Swap Boxes and Little Free Libraries are a great way to share books and other items amongst neighbours and passersby. Here’s how they work: usually streetside, people are enticed to open them up. If something inside strikes their fancy they can take or exchange the item with something else. I started this route back in 2016, updating the map with boxes over the years as they come and go, or as they have been modified. Everyone who has one loves the joy and sharing that they contribute to the community!
If you are interested in having a box of your own, I will be hosting a ‘Build Your own Swap Box’ workshop at the Ottawa Tool Library on July 13th and 20th. It’s a great chance to create your own individualized box, as well as learn some basic woodworking skills.
We were inspired to put up a swap box in front of our place after discovering a number of others around town that had been created by the late street artist Elmaks. There is also an online group you can register your book swap box called Little Free Libraries. Here’s an article in the Kitchissippi Times on some of those local little libraries.
First stop – Cambridge St North, just north of the Chinatown Arch!
Our next box is Down Nanny Goat Cliff on Rochester St.
One square block south-west there sits the cleverly converted newspaper box Book Exchange at the corner of Preston and Elm.
Next it’s over to this great swap box at 249 Loretta Avenue.
A couple of blocks west at the corner of Beech Street and Bayswater Avenue you can’t miss this colourful Little Free Library/Boîte à livres.
South on Bayswater brings you to this fine box whose design imitates that of the home infront of which it sits.
A few blocks up a hill you will find this very well constructed Little Free Library on Gwynne Ave.
Head over to this clever ‘A-Frame’ box on Melrose.
This beautifully painted box is just a few yards further up Melrose.
Then it’s over to 94 Spadina Ave. where sits this tall red box, another fine imitation of it’s host house.
This generous box on Garland sits comfortably on a wall.
Heading west through Hintonburg brings you to this great big unit at 50 Ladoucer.
A bit further west in Hintonburg you will find a box near the corner of Oxford & Pinehurst. This one has quite a history. In the Fall of 2016 someone complained about it’s original sprawling bungalow styling to city by-law and the owners were told to take it down by September 16th. Fortunately there was a last minute stay of execution and it got a reprieve. They then replaced it with a more compact design, which has since been replaced with the one that is there now.
Across the transitway sit’s this fine tall box on Northwestern Avenue.
A little bit west proudly stands this most excellent Swap Box crafted at the Ottawa Tool Library!
Our next stop is at the Corner of Carleton and Gould streets. A sign in the window proudly states, ‘Made by Quinn‘. Well done Quinn!
Just south of Wellington on Mayfair there is not one, but TWO boxes safely distanced apart.
A few blocks south brings us to this little library at 436 Mayfair.
Our route goes another couple of blocks east to visit this great Little Library on Kenora St.
Next we head over this nice box on Tyndall.
Then it’s under the Queensway over to this colourful box at the edge of St Stephen’s church on Sherwood.
A few blocks south on Hamilton Ave S you will find this fine box.
Right around the corner on Inglewood you will find this friendly offering.
Further west on Ruskin there sits this beautiful cedar shingled little library with a cute little swap box addition. This box has a sad story associated with it: in 2017 someone set fire to it’s original incarnation. Undeterred, the builders got to work and like the legendary Phoenix, this wonderul replacement rose from it’s ashes.
Two boxes are at the corner of Brennan and Iona, one dedicated to kids.
Over to this very beautifuly painted box on Evered Ave.
Over to this one at Edison & Kenwood where locals can grab their mail AND a book!
This box on Melbourne is a very nice design. A paintedlandcape on the front is intersected by the round window.
Over to 571 Roosevelt to visit this fine box.
The next one has a corregated metal roof! Very clever.
The box on Mansfield has a bench to rest on while perusing the shelves. One shelf accepts exceptionally tall books.
A vintage window with mullions serves as the front of this box on Rowanwood Ave making it easier to peruse the selection before without exposing the books to the elements. Very handy in inclement weather!
This big red row boat shaped box can be found on Deschênes St.
Next one is in New Orchard Park.
You can find this book box on Midway Ave near Ancaster. Based on similarites in design with the last box I have a sneaking suspicion they came from the same source.
A slight detour south to the Glabar Park neighbourhood brings you to this double-duty Little Library on Lenester Avenue. The lower box is labelled ‘Young Readers’. The upper box has stained glass windows!
Down Woodland Avenue brings you to this fine box.
Here is a converted sticker decorated newspaper box on Chambers Ave.
The route branches off south-westerly to visit the next three boxes. First stop is at the corner of Ryan and Southwood Drive with a bench to relax and peruse the offerings!
The second is at 30 Harrison St that cleverly uses the JUTIS frosted cabinet door from Ikea.
The third is at 32 Abingdon Dr with a traditional styled hinged door.
Heading back east brings usto this swap box at the corner of Sherman and Navaho Drive which has a little path leading up from the intersection.
Over to Terrebonne Drive to visit this colourful unit.
Over to Caldwell Ave to visit this generous book exchange.
This playful box is located a bit further north at the corner of McBride and Woodward.
This fine box on Laperriere isn’t going anywhere soon, with it’s solid specially poured concrete base!
This sweet box is a bit further east along Laperriere.
The Alexander Community Centre has this fine big box on a stable wooden base.
Next is this box painted all white on Kingston Avenue.
Over to 28 Sutton Place. This box is special as it was built and installed by one of Ottawa’s most passionate cycling advocates, Hans On Bike.
The next most excellent box is on Bowhill Avenue.
Next the tour branches off once again, this time south-east. First stop is this tree mounted slim unit on Hobson Road.
Next, over to this great box on Colman St.
Over to Cahill St.
Next stop is further west along Uplands Drive where you will find this great box called the Oak Tree Free Library.
Last stop on this side loop is this one supported by a re-purposed bbq stand.
The next few boxes to discover are in the Glebe. This one’s on Fourth Avenue, just east of Bronson.
This box is on Fifth Avenue.
A bit further down 5th you will find this fine box.
This next box over on Thornton has great playful proportions!
Half way down the block on the opposite side of Thornton you will discover this great Book Sharing Zone box.
Next two boxes are on Broadway Ave.
Over to Ottawa South where this can be found on Ossignton Avenue.
Next is a short side loop 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.
One block south on Mountbatten Avenue you will find this wonderfully painted box.
A short loop through the Alta Vista neighbourhood first brings us to this beautifully painted box on Featherstone Drive.
Over on Blossom Drive you will find this very welcoming box.
Our next stop on our Alta Vista loop brings us to this sweet one at 1647 Pullen Ave. Tons of TLC has been put into the painting details.
Continuing on our loop through Alta Vista brings us to this cleverly designed mobile unit on Knox Crescent.
Head back on over to the north shore of the Rideau River and follow the path along to the river to Belmont Drive where you will find this super sweet box.
On Riverdale Ave you will find this delicately painted two level unit.
A couple of blocks over you will see this great little library at 146 Sunnyside Avenue. Big footprint shaped concrete pavers invite passersby to peruse the shelves.
This nicely crafted box is located a bit further north on Glencairn Avenue.
Our next great box can be found just around the corner on Riverdale Ave. This one also has a generous concrete bench infront of it.
A bit north east on Belgrave Road lives this fine box, cleverly modeled after the house infront of which it sits.
One and a half blocks north at 75 Marlowe sits Mike’s Tiny Library. Super sweet!
Further east on Bower Street we find another fine box.
Nary a block over is this great box on Mutchmor Road.
Close by on Merritt Ave you will find this great little library.
Up on Drummen St you will find this beauty.
Just a few meters down Drummond Street there sits this dynamic box-within-a-box.
Just a couple of blocks north you can find this fine box on Glanora Street.
Along Echo Drive in front of The Church of the Ascension you will find this fine box.
Ride north along the Rideau Canal pathway then cut through the Ottawa U campus, then head east through the Sandy Hill neighbourhood along Wilbrod which is a one way street with a bike lane. Head one block north on Cobourg St where you will find this great box near the north/east corner of Stewart. It has hi-vs stickers on it’s legs, and a fine stepping stone to allow smaller readers to peruse the titles.
Over to Wurtemburg St to check out this sweet box.
After crossing over the Rideau River this next branch visits three boxes. The first is this box on Mark Ave.
A couple of blocks nouth gets you to one of the same design on Greensway Ave.
Last of the three boxes on this branch is this fine little unit at the corner of Vachon and Dagmar.
After retracing our route and riding along the Rideau River, a quick hop back over the river to visit this box on Marlborough Ave.
There are two fine boxes over in Overbrook. Weave your way along a few residential streets to this fine Little Library on Queen Mary Street.
Just a few blocks north there sits this generous little library on Ontario Street.
Over on the corner of Frontenac & Lacasse you will find this fine box.
Next, over to 770 Claude St
Heading further east for a spell, one finds this robust box at 20 Appleford St in the Cardinal Heights neighbourhood.
Heading back west you will discover this fantastic box on Roanoke Street!
Next, over to Pauline Charron Place. This one has had a bottom unit added since it first appeared.
Back to the bike path along St Laurent, head north then left on the bike path along Hemlock Road which gets you to this fine little library.
Ride over to New Edinburgh where you will find this big colourful box outside the MacKay United Church.
Cross the river over the St Patrick Street bridge towards this bright red box at the end of Old St Patrick St. in Lowertown.
Over to the corner of Rose and Bruyère to visit this jaunty box. It has had a kids box addition installed as well.
A block over is our next box at 260 St Andrew St. nestled in the surrounding greenery.
Further along St Andrew, on the opposite side of King Edward Ave, there sits this elegant little box.
Time to retrace our route back to the Rideau Canal and riding south. This sweet is box located at the corner of Strathcona and Metcalfe.
The next two boxes are neighbours on Argyle which is accessible via the bi-directional bike lanes along O’Connor. The first is this brightly painted number.
The second box on Argyle has beautiful surrounding landscaping. There are also garden chairs to sit on while contemplating a potential swap.
Cut through the Museum of Nature parking to visit this box on McLeod.
This box a bit further west on McLeoad is a converted cast iron stove.
You can find this box on Florence St.
This box is just outside the kids playground in Dundonald Park.
A third box on Mcleod can be found near Bronson.
Another fine Little Library can be found on Arlington a few blocks west of Bronson. There is a solar panel powering a light that turns on once you open the door to the box when it’s dark out. TRÈS cool!
This loving box can be found on Eccles.
Our final stop is this Mini Library, corner of Cambridge St N and Christie. This one takes taller books too!
A final special mention for this super sweet little swap box that was once located on Cole Avenue. It was a favourite so here’s a photo in memory of all the joy it provided.
I’ve been adding new boxes throughout a number of years as they are installed. If I’ve missed any please feel free to send me a note and I’ll include it on the route.
Stay tuned for an updated Swap Box route on the Quebec side of the rover.