Born in Britain to a banking family with 300 years of history and a strong offshoot in books, Nicholas alternated in his youth between Stowe, with its gardens by Capability Brown, and a haunted, 15th-century Elizabethan house in Suffolk even older than the family bank.
Built of ships’ timbers, lathe and plaster, and surrounded by books, plants and music, this remarkable home fostered a lifelong passion for food and wine, architecture, gardening and the arts.
Setting up in Canada, and specialising in British books that were largely untapped at the time, he opened his first branch in Montreal while still in his twenties, catering mainly to libraries, before opening two stores there and expanding to Toronto and Ottawa thereafter.
C. Hoare & Co. at the Sign of the Golden Bottle is a subject in itself (q.v. “Messrs Hoare Bankers”, reviewed under “History”). Suffice to say that that venerable bank’s benevolent, panelled influence is perhaps visible in our manicured stores, each of which was built, to our own design and exacting standards, by a family firm of cabinetmakers who still supply us 40 years later.
Ruled by two cats and an indulgent Collie, Nicholas alternates between Montreal and Annapolis Royal; maintains strong ties to the U.K.; and remains the only member of his colourful clan to settle in the Colonies.