Born in Britain to a banking family with four centuries of history and a strong offshoot in books, Nicholas spent his early years in Canada and his formative years in England, alternating between Stowe School, with its gardens by “Capability” Brown, and a handsome, 15th-century Elizabethan house in Suffolk even older than the family bank (q.v. Messrs. Hoare, Bankers, reviewed under “History”). Built of ships’ timbers, lathe and plaster around 1450, this remarkable home fostered a lifelong passion for books, plants, music and art.
Setting up in Canada as a bookseller, specialising in British titles largely untapped at the time, he opened his first store in Montreal while still in his twenties, expanding to Westmount, Ottawa and Toronto thereafter.
Now ostensibly retired, he alternates between Montreal and a landmark 21-room stone house in Nova Scotia, which he is steadily restoring. Produced by his long-suffering partner, Margot Stevenson (who has wisely eschewed his surname), he is ruled by two cats and an indulgent Collie; maintains strong ties to the U.K.; and remains the only member of his colourful clan to settle in the Colonies.