The River Trading Company is dedicated to the memory of S. Andrew McGowan (1914 – 2009), whose love of books and reading he fondly imparted to his children and grandchildren.

What you will find here:

Used Books

Walls lined with used books, the centre floor crowded by book cases, and two back rooms filled with even more books to explore and get lost in. You have a diverse collection to browse:
  • Sci-Fi and Fantasy
  • General and Historical Fiction
  • Poetry, Photography, Art and Music
  • History, Science, Philosophy and Spirituality
  • Self-Help, Cook Books, How-to’s, DIY
  • And More…
  • But NO Romance!


Lost treasures that we’ve stumble across and thought of you. Anything from toys and figurines, to old illustrations from books published 100 years ago.

Music & Movies

Find old albums for your record player. Flip through the CDs of worldly, classic, and stylish music. Scan the DVDs for favourite films and full season box-sets.

What we'll pay for your books:

You get 20% of the price we sell it for (not the price printed on the cover).

Bring your unwanted books to us. You’re not going to pay rent with the cash we give you, but it’s a good way to clear your shelves. Or you can take a store credit and it becomes an exchange, your books for ours. Mind you, we won’t take Romance and anything with dog ears or a cracked spine.

Who you will meet here:

David McGowan

David opened the book store for a couple of reasons: his life long passion for books, and he is an avid collector. Ultimately, David needed something that would help him stay out of the corporate world.

Mary McGowan

Without his sister, Mary, David would be lost in The River. Mary has programmed entire databases and ran NPOs, but her love for literature and language brighten the book store each day.
If you see a cat or a poodle trot through the book cases, it’s perfectly normal. The River is home to rescued pets as well as rescued books and treasures.

Our story:

The River Trading Company started in Toronto on July 31, 2010. We were far from ready. Not all the shelves were set up and our debit maching wasn’t installed. But after 4 years, the store transformed into a treasure cove of used books and collectibles.

We came to Hamilton on June 6th, 2015. This used bookstore used to be a cafe, but when we got our hands on it, nobody had been in the building for 8 years. Turning the old eatery into an archive has brought a curious community to our doorstep.

Where we got our name:

Lloyd Alexander wrote a series of books for adolescents called The Chronicles of Prydain. The 4th of the series, Taran Wanderer, finds the hero searching for his lineage, confident that he is meant for greater honours than his title of Assistant Pig-Keeper.

He comes across one strange, eccentric man living in a ramshackle house built of bits and pieces. The man has a net out in the river that runs by his front door, catching the flotsam of the stream. What he needs he takes. What he doesn’t need he throws back. His thinking is that “sooner or later whatever you wish for comes floating along the river.”

It’s a philosophy that appeals to us. There is so much “stuff” out there; the river is in flood.

The River Trading Company is an eddy. We have a net out which catches the books and a few other items that we find interesting. We hold them for others to find. It is also a pool where you can throw what you don’t want or need, so it can drift into someone else’s keeping.