11/22/2016 18:48 EST | Updated 11/23/2017 00:12 EST

Founder of iconic Victoria book store Munro's Books dies

VICTORIA — The man behind a beloved bookstore in downtown Victoria has died.

James Munro, the founder of Munro's Books, died at his home in Victoria on Monday.

He was 87 years old.

The store's managing partner, Jessica Walker, says Munro's death was sudden and surprising, but he didn't suffer and was surrounded by family members.

Munro opened the book shop in 1963 with his ex-wife Alice Munro, and Munro's Books switched locations several times before settling into a former bank on Government Street.

James Munro retired in 2014 and gave the store to Walker and three other longtime employees. 

A statement on the shop's website says Munro delighted in discovering new books and promising writers, and his importance in the literary culture was recognized in 2014, when he was named to the Order of Canada.

"His enthusiasm and generous spirit were the hallmarks of the business he lovingly built and tended for more than fifty years. He will be greatly missed," the statement says.

Walker says Munro loved Victoria and he was passionate about its politics, economics, and architecture.

"It's important to say that he loved our customers. I think he would want me to say a big, 'Thank you', from him for their support over the years."

Employees are inviting customers to stop by the book store to sign a book of condolence and share their favourite memory of Munro.

(CFAX, The Canadian Press)