Bike Tour of Swap Boxes and Little Free Libraries

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 annually with boxes 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!

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!

113 Cambridge St N

Our next box is Down Nanny Goat Cliff on Rochester St. Some great flowers are painted on the sides.

41 Rochester St

One square block south-west there sits this converted newspaper box at the corner of Preston and Elm. 

Preston & Elm Book Exchange

Next it’s over to this great swap box at 249 Loretta Avenue. n.b. If any box is full, I suggest not leaving items outside the box, especially on the ground in dog pee zone.

249 Loretta

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.

Corner of Beech and Bayswater

South on Bayswater brings you to this fine box whose design imitates that of the home infront of which it sits.

Bayswater Box

A few blocks up a hill you will find this very well constructed Little Free Library on Gwynne Ave.

38 Gwynne Ave

Head over to this clever ‘A-Frame’ box on Melrose.

64 Melrose Ave

This beautifully painted box is just a few yards further up Melrose.

45 Melrose

Then it’s over to 94 Spadina Ave. where sits this tall red box, another fine imitation of it’s host house.

94 Spadina Ave

This generous box on Garland sits comfortably on a wall.

Garland St box

Heading west through Hintonburg brings you to this big one at 50 Ladoucer. Unfortunately the text that was originally on the front of this unit explaining that it it was a swap box has almost completely faded leaving no indication for those that don’t already know.

50 Ladouceur St

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. It was then replaced it with a more compact design, and has since gradually grown and evolved into the multi-unit that is there now.

Spencer St.

Across the transitway sit’s this fine tall box on Northwestern Avenue.

219 Northwestern Ave

A short distance south on Northwestern you will find this sweet box nesteld amongst the vegetation.

244 Northwestern Ave

A little bit west proudly stands this most excellent Swap Box crafted at the Ottawa Tool Library!

260 Keyworth

This ‘Bibliothèque’ can be found on W Village Private.

126 W Village Private

This ‘Children’s books only’ box on Garrison St sits low to the ground making it easier for young’uns to access.

49 Garrison St

Just south of Wellington on Mayfair there is not one, but TWO boxes safely distanced apart.

Mayfair near Wellington West

A few blocks south brings us to this little library at 436 Mayfair.

Box on Mayfair

Our route goes another couple of blocks east to visit this great Little Library on Kenora St. that has started to lean a bit over time.

Kenora St. box

A block south on Java St it’s pretty hard to miss this extremely well built monster ‘little’ library.

27 Java St

Then it’s under the Queensway over to this colourful box at the edge of St Stephen’s church on Sherwood.

Box outside St. Stephen’s Church on Sherwood

A few blocks south on Hamilton Ave S you will find this fine box.

405 Hamilton Ave S

Right around the corner on Inglewood you will find this friendly offering.

5 Inglewood Pl

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.

125 Ruskin St

Over to Island Park Drive where this super sweet ‘petit bibliotheque’ has mini toad-stools for little ones to rest upon.

675 Island Park Dr

This next box on Clarendon was made and installed by Chris of the Ottawa Outdoor Gear Library.

Clarendon Avenue & Iona Street

Then there’s this fine box at the corner of Mayfair and Iona.

Mayfair and Iona

Two boxes are at the corner of Brennan and Iona, one dedicated to kids.

Corner of Brennan and Iona

Over to this very beautifuly painted box on Evered Ave.

Box on Evered Ave

Over to this one at Edison & Kenwood where locals can grab their mail AND a book! The note infront asks that books not be left outside the box.

Corner of Edison & Kenwood

This box on Melbourne is a very nice design. A paintedlandcape on the front is intersected by the round window.

508 Melbourne Ave

A detour north brings us to this little library on Atlantis Ave.

280 Atlantis Ave

Over to 571 Roosevelt to visit this fine box.

571 Roosevelt Ave

The next one has a corregated metal roof! Very clever.

664 Highland Ave

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 during inclement weather!

569 Rowanwood Ave

This big red row boat shaped box can be found on Deschênes St.

2192 Deschênes St

Next one is in New Orchard Park.

New Orchad 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.

Midway Ave

A slight detour south to the Glabar Park neighbourhood brings you to this double-duty Little Library on Lenester Avenue. The upper box has stained glass windows!

1996 Lenester Ave

Down Woodland Avenue brings you to this fine box.

Woodland Ave

Here is a converted sticker decorated newspaper box on Chambers Ave.

2569 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!

2423 Ryan Dr
2423 Ryan Dr

The second is at 30 Harrison St that uses the JUTIS frosted cabinet door from Ikea and a cord to keep it closed.

30 Harrison St

The third is at 32 Abingdon Dr with a traditional styled hinged door. 

32 Abingdon Dr
32 Abingdon Dr

This box on Charing Road is set a ways back from the curb but the owners kindly put down a series of flagstones to help you get there.

36 Charing Rd

Over on Côte-des-Neiges Rd you will find this elegant box.

69 Côte-des-Neiges Rd

Next box is on Ainsley Drive with a very clever log base.

1754 Ainsley

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. The original clear solid plastic window has been replaced plastic wrap and newspaper so you’ll have to open it up to see what’s inside.

Navaho and Sherman

This bright red box can be found on Marygrove Circle.

1266 Marygrove

Just around the corner on Terrebonne Drive there is this colourful unit with a curved concrete bench to sit on while you peruse your selection.

1266 Terrebone

Over to Caldwell Ave to visit this generous book exchange that unfortunately has lost its doors.

Caldwell Ave

This playful box is located a bit further north at the corner of McBride and Woodward.

Mcbride and Woodward

This fine box on Laperriere isn’t going anywhere soon, with it’s solid specially poured concrete base! It also has a note in the window reminding users that leaving the door ajar lets rain in, thus ruining the books.

1478 Laperriere Ave

This sweet box is a bit further east along Laperriere.

1353 Laperriere Ave

The Alexander Community Centre has this fine big box on a stable wooden base. Unfortunately it has had it’s door ripped off as well, so best to put your books as far back as possible to avoid the elements.

Alexander Community Centre

A few blocks over on Emperor St you will be able to sit on this nice bench while perusing this box’s offerings.

1185 Emperor

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.

28 Sutton Place

The next most excellent box is on Bowhill Avenue.

Box on Bowhill Ave

Head on south to Tennyson St to visit this double box. Note how it’s colours match the home.

2 Tennyson St

Next stop is over the river on Uplands Drive where you will find this great box called the Oak Tree Free Library.

Uplands Drive

Over to Cahill St.  

1035 Cahill St

Next, over to this great box on Colman St.

Next is this tree mounted model on Hobson Road.

2584 Hobson Rd

Next check out this fine unit on Springland Drive.

2712 Springland Dr

Over to this wide unit on Upper Otterson Pla. It has two small solar powered units that I’m guessing are lights. Will have to go back when it’s dark to confirm.

2947 Upper Ottson Place

This one on Revelstoke Drive is supported by a re-purposed bbq stand.

Revelstoke Dr

The next few boxes to discover are in the Glebe. This one’s on Fourth Avenue, just east of Bronson. 

Fourth Avenue

This box is on Fifth Avenue.

Box on Fifth Avenue at Chrysler St.

A bit further down 5th you will find this fine box.

237 5th Ave

A few blocks north on First Ave the Glorious Glebe-St James United Church hosts find this colourful box.

269 First Ave

This next box over on Thornton has great vertical proportions!

27 Thorton

Half way down the block on the opposite side of Thornton you will discover this great Book Sharing Zone.

12 Thornton Ave

A bit further south on Queen Elizabeth Place you will find this Dr Zeuss inspired little library.

376 Queen Elizabeth Place

Next two boxes are on Broadway Ave. First,this Little Prince box.

90 Broadway Ave

Then, this ampersand box.

135 Broadway Ave

Over to Ottawa South where this can be found on Ossignton Avenue.

8 Ossington Ave

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.

Pleasant Park Road

One block south on Mountbatten Avenue you will find this wonderfully painted box.

Mountbatten Ave

Over on Blossom Drive you will find this very welcoming box.

2071 Blossom Dr

A short loop through the Alta Vista neighbourhood first brings us to this beautifully painted box on Featherstone Drive. 

Featherstone Drive

Further west you will find this double-decker unit!

763 Canterbury Ave

Our next stop on our Alta Vista loop brings us to this one at 1647 Pullen Ave. Tons of TLC has been put into the painting details. 

1647 Pullen

Continuing on our loop through Alta Vista brings us to this cleverly designed mobile unit on Knox Crescent.

217 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.

Belmont Ave

On Riverdale Ave you will find this delicately painted two level unit.

390 Riverdale

Walk your bike one block north to our next stop along Riverdale.

350 Riverdale Ave

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.

Just direct your feet to the Sunnyside of the street

This nicely crafted box is located a bit further north on Glencairn Avenue.

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.

Riverdale Ave

A bit north east on Belgrave Road lives this fine box, cleverly modeled after the house infront of which it sits.

Belgrave Road

A similar design approach is taken at our next box on Clegg St where the box imitates the house infront of which it stands. It even has a piece of the stone panelling left over from the contruction of the house incorporated into the base of the box.

131 Clegg St

Over on Mason Terrace there’s this nice blue box.

Mason Terrace

Close by on Bower Street we find another fine box.

Bower St box

Nary a block over is this great box on Mutchmor Road.

Box on Mutchmor (can’t ask for Mutchmor than that!)

Close by on Merritt Ave you will find this great little library.

86 Merritt Ave

Up on Drummen St you will find this beauty.

163 Drummond St

Just a few meters down Drummond Street there sits this box-within-a-box.

155 Drummond Street

Just a couple of blocks north you can find this box on Glanora Street.

Glanora St

On Evelyn Ave you will find this glorious tower of a library.

56 Evelyn Ave

Along Echo Drive in front of The Church of the Ascension you will find this fine box.

Echo Drive

Ride north along the Rideau Canal pathway then cut through the Ottawa U campus. Once you cross King Edward, push your bike a short distance along the east sidewalk to this forlorn box, bravely located on one of the craziest streets in the city.

695 King Edward

Head back to ther lights and continue east along Somerset E through the Sandy Hill neighbourhood. At the corner of Templeton and Chapel Streets sits this big blue box.

501 Chapel St

Next there’s this box on Marlborough Ave.

125 Marlborough Ave

You will find this Book Library near the north/east corner of Stewart. It has a stepping stone to allow smaller readers to peruse the titles.

Stewart St near Cobourg St

Over to Wurtemburg St to check out this sweet box.

227 Wurtemburg

After crossing over the Rideau River this next branch visits three boxes. The first is this box on Mark Ave.

69 Mark Ave

A couple of blocks nouth gets you to one of the same design on Greensway Ave.

235 Greensway Ave

Last of the three boxes on this branch is this fine little unit at the corner of Vachon and Dagmar with some paving stones to keep your shoes clean while you peruse.

Vachon & Dagmar

This great box can be found on Shakespeare St.

263 Shakespeare

There are two fine boxes back over in Overbrook.  Weave your way along a few residential streets to this fine Little Library on Queen Mary Street.

45 Queen Mary St

Just a few blocks north there sits this generous little library on Ontario Street.

80 Ontario Street

Over on the corner of Frontenac & Lacasse you will find this fine box.

309 Frontenac

Next, over to 770 Claude St

770 Claude St

Heading further east for a spell, one finds this robust box at 20 Appleford St in the Cardinal Heights neighbourhood.

20 Appleford St

Heading back west you will discover this fantastic box on Roanoke Street!

705 Roanoke Street

Next, over to Pauline Charron Place. This one has had a bottom unit added since it first appeared.

355 Pauline Charron Pl.

Back to the bike path along St Laurent, head north a touch and turn right onto Meadow Park Place where you will discover this fine specimen.

87 Meadow Park Pl

A bit further north you will happen upon this next box on Braemer.

19 Braemer

Next, ride towards and along Hemlock Road that’ll get you to this fine little library.

725 Henlock Rd

Ride over to New Edinburgh where you will find this big colourful box outside the MacKay United Church.

MackKay 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.

Bright red box on Old St Patrick St

Over to the corner of Rose and Bruyère to visit this jaunty box. It has had a kids box addition installed as well.

Corner of Rose & Bruyère

A block over is our next box at 260 St Andrew St. nestled in the surrounding greenery.

260 St Andrew St

Further along St Andrew, on the opposite side of King Edward Ave, there sits this elegant little box.

176 St Andrew

Time to retrace our route back to the Rideau Canal and ride south. On Fourth Ave there’s this very clever box with clear acrylic panes on the front and back, allowing the residents on whose property it sits to be able to see if it is full from the comforts of their home.

38 Fourth Ave

This sweet little library is located on O’Connor Street near Patterson Creek.

554 R. O’Connor St

Heading north you will find this Library/bibliothèque at the corner of Strathcona and Metcalfe.

Library Bibliothèque 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.

Box on Argyle

The second box on Argyle has beautiful landscaping. 

Box on Argyle

Cut through the Museum of Nature parking to visit this box on McLeod.

263 McLeod

This box a bit further west on McLeoad is a converted cast iron stove.

385 McLeod

You can find this box on Florence St.

176 Florence

This box is just outside the kids playground in Dundonald Park.

Dundonald Park

A third box on Mcleod can be found near Bronson.

577 McLeod
577 McLeod

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!

Box at 430 Arlington during the day….and at night!

This loving box can be found on Eccles.

Eccles St

Our final stop is this Mini Library, corner of Cambridge St N and Christie. This one takes taller books too!

Mini Library at Christie & Cambridge St N
Mini Library at Christie & Cambridge St N

Et voila!

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.

Cole swap box.jpg
Cole Avenue Swap Box

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.

Happy riding!

Author: ottawavelo


8 thoughts on “Bike Tour of Swap Boxes and Little Free Libraries”

  1. Bravo! What a great resource you’ve compiled here! I didn’t see a photo of the one you have listed on island park drive, but I actually just discovered it yesterday and snapped a pic, let me know if there’s a way to send it to you! Cheers

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