Papeterie Nota Bene

Here is a truly notable Canadian stationery store. In the McGill University district of downtown Montreal, Nota Bene features an art gallery, a small stationery museum, and an enormous array of stationery, both practical and fanciful.

It was a pleasure to meet Russell, the store’s proprietor. Russell is a great host, and a stationery (and pencil) connoisseur of the first rank.

Papeterie Nota Bene

A couple of views of the store windows. Unfortunately other photos that I took were lost.

Papeterie Nota Bene

The depth of the paper product lineup is amazing. They have large runs of dozens of North American, European, and Asian brands. As with my trip to Vancouver, suitcase limits prevented me from going too far overboard – but I do want to return just for stationery shopping. As well as the less well known, the store has an amazing array of Clairefontaine brand products, well beyond the typically imported top sellers.

Something else – you can of course buy pens, but the writing implement display cases are dominated by pencils! Non-drafting lead holders to be specific – beauties from David Hayward and Koh-I-Noor, and super-specialties like leadholders made of unconventional materials like cement.

There is as well something about this store’s vibe that I really liked. Paper-ya in Vancouver and Laywine’s in Toronto are not unlike boutique wine shops in their appearance, and seem to attract a prosperous clientele – and I am very glad that these stores are doing well. But Nota Bene seemed to be full of people (mostly young people) arriving on foot with a genuine need for good paper for their work or studies. I gather many of them may have affiliations with the McGill architecture school, which is on the same block.

What did I buy? I bought a number of Midori “Kraft Envelope” and related products, some interesting “seven day” organizer paper tablets, double ended carpenter pencils, and a clutch lead holder. Nota Bene kindly gave me an M+R sharpener!

Papeterie Nota Bene

Papeterie Nota Bene

5 Replies to “Papeterie Nota Bene”

  1. Thanks for the photos — do you happen to know if they plan on getting back to online sales? They were my main source for a variety of Clairefontaine products.

  2. We discussed the former mail order business. As I understood it, Russell ceased online sales after realizing that Canada Post rates and service levels are not acceptable to his customers and just don’t allow competition with other online retailers. Sending a package across town in Canada costs more than many postal authorities charge for international delivery. Most of his online customers were in the U.S., and sending a lightweight tracked package starts at $16 and change.

  3. I have been in Montreal twice in recent years, and wasn’t aware of this store. I would have tried to stop by if I’d heard about it. I’m sure I could spend quite a while in there.

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