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

Move over Moleskine

Congratulations to Canadian stationer Papterie Nota Bene for being prominently featured on two pages of today’s National Post.

By Nathalie Atkinson, Move over Moleskine is a richly illustrated leisurely look at the fine notebooks and writing implements that many of us enjoy.

What the online article doesn’t show are the photos and prominence that the print edition gives to the article.

The front page of the “Weekend Post” is covered with seven photos and the caption, “Never too cool for school”. Shown are a Roots saddle bag, Hermès Ulysses notebook, Field Notes notebooks and pencils, Erinzam notebooks, Rite-in-the-Rain notebook (with Ticonderoga pencil), Faber-Castell Textliners, and Whitelines notepads. I was certainly surprised and delighted by the prominence given to pencils.

The fourth page of the section has a near full page article, and shows some more photos of stationery items: A Kikkerland Endangered Species eraser, Globus pencil sharpener, Rhodia pad, Very Best mechanical pencil, and Reused News colour pencils. Pencils clearly rule!

The article is a tour of today’s stationery trends, guided by an interview with Russell Hemsworth of Papterie Nota Bene. I’ve never been to his store, but I’ve spoken with Russell on the phone and via email, and can personally vouch for his great service.

We get the scoop: Moleskine has officially jumped the shark, with Field Notes being the new hipster favorite. Longstanding brands like Canteo, Rite-in-the-Rain and Rhodia are also in high demand. And pencils, pencils, pencils!

Thanks to the Post for the article and congratulations to Russell.