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The History of the Book in Canada: Ontario


Although Ontario’s founding lieutenant governor John Graves Simcoe considered a printer ‘indispensably necessary’ to his new administration in 1791, the study of print in Ontario has been indispensable to only a few researchers until quite recently. This survey of the literature of the book in Ontario does not identify a large corpus but it shows a range of work which is exemplary in both senses of the word: worthy of imitation and useful as a model, particularly for the identification and exploitation of primary sources.

The regional pattern adopted for a preliminary investigation of book history in Canada is not ideal since each region takes a share in national history and, just as Ontario’s printing history begins in Quebec, publishers in Ontario have served the authors and readers of other parts of Canada. The location in Ontario of institutions such as the National Library, the National Archives, and the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions must also be noted in any discussion of sources and library history.

In the working paper which follows we have not cited every published work on the history of the book in Ontario but have tried instead to select work which builds on past scholarship and which contributes to the development of interdisciplinary book history in Canada. This has allowed us space to comment on research collections, identify work in progress, and propose topics for investigation. Sandra Alston has written about magazines; Jennifer Connor about medical publishing, libraries, and professionalization; Patricia Fleming about demography, production, and some genres. George Parker contributed the section on book publishing and Julie Stabile the newspapers; Ashely Thomson provided citations for Northern Ontario materials while Mary Williamson wrote about the graphic arts and Joan Winearls about maps. Alston and Fleming put the pieces together.

1. Aboriginal Texts. Manuscript Circulation. Relation Orality/Literacy. Missionary Texts

Apart from two bibliographies of native language books in the National Library (Banks) and in Anglican Church collections (Evans) book historians have not studied aboriginal texts in Ontario. The work of a religious translator such as Peter Jones is widely recognized although James Evans is known a missionary and linguist among the Cree rather than for his early Ojibwa syllabary. A recent issue of Facsimile about the Native Studies Collection of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions includes an evaluation of that collection as a research source. Contemporary aboriginal publishing is featured in the December 1995 Quill & Quire.

2. Demography, Urbanization, Schooling and Literacy

Text books have dominated book history writing on education with Donald Wilson’s survey of texts prior to 1845, several studies by Bruce Curtis on the period to 1850, Viola Parvin’s Authorization of Text - Books for the Schools of Ontario, 1846-1950, and Linda Wilson Corman’s article on the relationship between the publisher James Campbell and Egerton Ryerson, Chief Superintendent of Public Instruction.

On the broader topics of demography, urbanization, and schooling the best source is Schooling and Scholars in Nineteenth-Century Ontario by Susan Houston and Alison Prentice. Built on a foundation of sustained scholarship by both authors this text includes an extraordinarily rich 60 pages of notes but no bibliography. Literacy in Ontario has been the domain of Harvey Graff, especially in The Literacy Myth: Literacy and Social Structure in the Nineteenth-Century City. John Abbott’s work on children in Northern Ontario extends into the twentieth century.

3.I. Production of the Printed Word

a) Printers and Print Shops

Two recent theses demonstrate a new interest in working printers and women in the trade: Christina Burr’s ‘Class and Gender in the Toronto Printing Trades, 1870 - 1914’ and Mary Bissell’s ‘Women Workers in the Toronto Printing Trades, 1880-1900’. Burr’s work is now more widely available in a series of articles. Sally Zerker’s The Rise and Fall of the Toronto Typographical Union, 1832-1972 is another study based on a doctoral thesis. Labour historians Wayne Roberts and Gregory Kealey have also turned their attention to printers as workers in the late nineteenth century. Patricia Fleming’s brief article on apprenticeship and Elizabeth Hulse’s edition of a young printer’s letters home provide a glimpse of daily life in the early decades of that century.

The best known Ontario printer is certainly William Lyon Mackenzie, hero again in 1997. His entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography IX includes an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources to 1971. Two linked articles by Patricia Fleming and Chris Raible with Nancy Luno deal specifically with Mackenzie and his print shop. Chris Raible is also the author of Muddy York Mud, a popular account of the attack on Mackenzie’s shop and the trial and execution of Charles French, one of his printers. Like Mackenzie, French is included in the DCB but both entries are among the members of the Ontario book trades whose DCB entries are missing from The History of the Book in Canada: A Bibliography; others are Francis Collins, Thomas Dalton, Bartemas Ferguson, Charles Fothergill, Stephen Miles, Robert Stanton, Hugh C. Thomson, and Gideon and Silvester Tiffany.

A model of book trade biography and documentation is Elizabeth Hulse’s A Dictionary of Toronto Printers, Publishers, Booksellers and the Allied Trades, 1798-1900. Both in the extensive bibliography and in an article about the work-in-progress she offers guidance to essential sources for Canadian book history. Jennifer Connor’s current work on the personal estate records of those in the trade may uncover new information about business relationships and material culture.

b) Paper: Import and Manufacture

Given the importance of the pulp and paper industry to Ontario and Canada it is surprising to find only one study dealing with paper evidence (Fleming); Upper Canadian Imprints, 1801-1841 by the same author provides basic identification of the paper used in some 1600 imprints. The standard national history is George Carruthers’ Paper Making; Ontario paper is the subject of two articles in Ontario History (Edwards and Blyth). Census data, industry statistics, and company reports could be used to fill out the record, together with information about paper supplies from the records of printers and publishers.

c) Technologies of Print

The outstanding work is Bryan Dewalt’s Technology and Canadian Printing: A History from Lead Type to Lasers which is a comprehensive, illustrated study of print in a social context. Dewalt’s colleague at the National Museum of Science and Technology, Geoffrey Rider, published a study of Westman and Baker, makers of presses and cutters, in The Devil’s Artisan in 1983; Grant Karcich followed with an investigation of Hall presses. Hanna Aach’s history of government printing in Ottawa records technological change in a well- financed office.

In ‘An Early Canadian Type Specimen Book’ Elizabeth Hulse highlights the role of catalogues and specimens in documenting both the manufacture and use of type in Canada. The recent Cooper & Beatty exhibition which celebrates their collection in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library introduces a major new source for the study of typography in modern printing.

Carl Dair’s ‘Cartier’, Canada’s own typeface, is the subject of Douglas Poff’s article in the Toronto Typographic Association collection Sticks and Stones. Poff’s research is based on the Dair Papers at Massey College and Dair’s own published work which includes the notable Design with Type. In ‘Cartier Revisited’ Rod McDonald speculates about the future of Cartier in digital composition, a subject also discussed at ‘Who is Carl Dair’, the 1994 colloquium of the Mackenzie Heritage Printing Museum at Queenston. This day of unpublished papers and discussion by Dair’s colleagues is a reminder of how much history of the book in Canada is still in the memories of those who made it. Oral history or systematic interviews should be considered as part of ongoing research into the recent past.

d) Graphic Arts in Books and Magazines

The area of graphic arts in relation to books and magazines encompasses not only illustration, but also artists’ books; livres d’artistes or limited edition art books which normally contain original prints; photographic illustrations and published portfolios of photographs; architectural model books; exhibition catalogues; and art books per se. The critical literature up to 1981 has been addressed in Loren Lerner and Mary Williamson’s Art and Architecture in Canada. In her Art and Work, a volume that is replete with footnotes and a substantial bibliography, Angela Davis follows the development of the Canadian graphic arts industry to the 1940s, and the changing world of work for engravers and illustrators.

With regard to illustration and this includes the special genre of childrens’ book illustration almost all the studies to date have focused on a single artist or group of artists. A two-part article on "Some Canadian Illustrators", written in 1919 by St. George Burgoyne, has

not been superseded as a source on the many illustrators, most of them from southern Ontario, whose work found its way at that time into American and English publications. However, in their monographs and exhibition catalogues devoted to Canadian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most authors have tended to focus on fine" art output, ignoring work in commercial art. The artists themselves put considerable value on the work that provided them with a living, such as designs for promotional literature, brochures, lettering and bookplates as well as illustration. Sybille Pantazzi, in her brief but seminal article: "Book Illustration and Design by Canadian Artists 1890-1940," led the way towards rectifying this imbalance. Her work has been carried on and amplified in a recently published, major study by Robert Stacey and Hunter Bishop: J.E.H. MacDonald: Designer, about the little known graphic work of an important Canadian artist. The journal DA (formerly The Devil’s Artisan) regularly features articles on Ontario illustrators, and Canadian Children’s Literature has offered occasional articles on the better-known picture book artists, together with special issues devoted to children’s illustration. Other authors have turned their attention to magazine illustration in the 19th century (Williamson), and 20th century (Murray, Pantazzi 1979). Many of the artist illustrators who were responsible for the obligatory pictorial content of the many popular early 20th century magazines and books are publicly unknown today, but a group of scholars in Toronto is examining the possibilities for a dictionary of Canadian illustrators in electronic form and a collection of essays. A major issue is the retention and preservation of the artists’ own archival collections which are invaluable resources for illustration research.

While Canadian ex-libris designers have been the subjects of books and articles for over one hundred years, Robert Stacey’s just-published Canadian Bookplates is the only comprehensive survey of this specialized book-related art form.

e) Bookbinding and Design

Although there is only one published study of Ontario binding (Fleming) descriptions of binding, together with identification of type, paper, and illustrations, are usually included in catalogues of private press books, analytical bibliographies (Brady, Fleming, Mitham, Morley, Stone, Whiteman), and studies of individual works (Hjartarson, Neill). As well as the usual sources for a study of binding in Ontario (trade journals, census, directories) there are the Hunter Rose Papers at the University of Toronto, the Department of Education text book records at the Archives of Ontario, and the records of a Guelph bindery at the National Archives.

Book design which overlaps private press printing, illustration, and graphic design is largely uncharted, particularly the design of trade books. Randall Speller’s research on Frank Newfeld is a welcome example of work in progress.

3.II Genres of Print

a) Music

Helmut Kallmann and Maria Calderisi Bryce of the National Library have been active not just in the collection of Canadian music but also in writing about Canadian music publishing. As well, there are specific studies of tunebooks and hymnals (Beckwith, McMillan) and entries for genres and publishers in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

b) Children’s Books

Bibliographical control of Canadian children’s books is extensive (Ingles 1306-99) and rightly so given the success of that sector of the industry but book history studies are not yet common. Sheila Egoff has provided introductory essays for the Ontario Royal Commission and her own The New Republic of Childhood. Recent issues of the journal Canadian Children’s Literature include a study of Canadian juvenile periodicals, 1847 to 1990 (Weller) and R.G. Moyles’ index to Canadian materials in British and American periodicals, as well as an analysis of the translation of children’s book in Canada by André Gagnon. There have been theme issues on research and censorship and articles dealing with diaries (Powell) and books read by young people in rural Ontario (Goodall). ‘The Art of Illustration’ currently on display at the National Library introduces a range of research materials.

c) Popular Reading

Another success story in Canadian publishing is Harlequin, the subject of two delightfully titled histories: Love’s $weet Return by Margaret Ann Jensen and The Merchants of Venus by Paul Grescoe. Grescoe’s business history is more recent but Jensen’s work, based on doctoral research, is better documented. As well as a strong collection of Harlequins the National Library has recently acquired the John Bell Canadian Comic Books Collection, featured in his 1992 exhibition Guardians of the North, and a collection pre 1950 pulp magazines with examples of cover art and manuscripts. ‘Out of this World: Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy’ produced by NL in conjunction with the Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection is now available in an electronic version.

d) Ethnic Publishing

Here again the bibliographical infrastructure is available for research (Ingles 4125-4298). For newspapers there is Duncan McLaren’s useful Ontario Ethno-Cultural Newspapers, 1835-1972 and a full issue of Polyphony on the role of the ethnic press. An earlier number of that same journal dealt with ‘literature of the commerce of migration’.

e) Maps

A major bibliography in this field documents the making and publication of maps of Ontario from 1780- 1867 (Winearls, 1991). The book includes a comprehensive bibliography of sources a few of which are related to the history of map publishing. In addition Winearls (Winearls,1993) has also published a good overview of the printing and publishing of maps in the province derived from the bibliography. The few other studies have looked at the work of Ontario s first printer of maps, Samuel Oliver Tazewell (Gundy), one of the prominent map publishing ‘families’ at mid-century, W.C. Chewett & Co., (McLeod) and the bibliographical nightmare of one publishing venture by W.H. Smith much of which was sorted out from the various maps included in each issue (Stone). Most ‘map printers/publishers’ are and were often better known for their book and letterpress work and (Hulse) is useful for understanding roles of various firms and publishing lineages to 1900. Much work remains to be done on the nature of map publishing, printing and selling from 1867 on, the use of maps as illustrations, the role of governments vs. commercial ventures in publishing and printing and the influence of new cartographic and printing techniques.

f) Medical Publishing

The only comprehensive study to examine medical publishing in all its facets, Jennifer Connor’s doctoral thesis, is national, but because the trade was most active in central Canada, it includes extensive references to Ontario. A few recent articles discuss a specific genre, medical or health pamphlets, including their manufacture and publication context. Brief studies of another main genre medical journals are dated but provide introductions to the subject in Ontario, and the standard bibliography by Charles Roland and Paul Potter, Annotated Bibliography of Canadian Medical Periodicals, 1826-1975, provides capsule information about editors, their medical orientation, etc. The bibliography serves as a useful guide to the journals themselves and was prepared in conjunction with the microfiche publication of all Ontario medical journals to 1910 by the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine in Toronto. These fiche are currently being reissued and catalogued by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions to join other medical titles in their collection.

g) Magazines

"Much of what is in print in regard to the periodicals of Upper Canada is based on hearsay or guesswork, and is deplorably unreliable and defective". So wrote W.S. Wallace in his article in the Canadian Historical Review for March 1931. That statement is still true today. Very little scholarly examination of the periodical press specifically in Ontario has been done, but because of the prominence of the publishing industry in Ontario many studies of the Canadian industry devote a large amount of interest to the province. The most recent and up-to-date is Merrill Distad’s chapter on Canada in Periodicals of Queen Victoria’s Empire: An Exploration which covers both newspaper and magazine publishing. Other secondary source material is slight. Noel Barbour’s Those Amazing People: The Story of the Canadian Magazine Industry 1778-1967 is not written for the scholarly reader, and has a fair amount of factual error. Fraser Sutherland’s The Monthly Epic: A History of Canadian Magazines, 1789-1989 is more useful. Sound bibliographical evidence of titles, extent of runs, information on editors, and printing and publishing history is still lacking, particularly for the pre-Confederation period.

Existing bibliographies are few and are not particularly comprehensive. Sandra Alston, of the University of Toronto, is at present working on an annotated bibliography of pre-Confederation magazines. Linda Jones prepared for the Canadian Institute of Historical Microreproductions a Preliminary Checklist of Pre-1901 Canadian Serials. Much of the twentieth century has still to be examined.

More articles like H. Pearson Gundy’s "Publishing and Bookselling in Kingston since 1810" would be very useful, as would articles on individual periodicals following the model of Carl Spadoni’s on Grip and its publishers, or Gordon Roper’s on The Canadian Bibliographer and Library Record. Subject coverage is limited to a very few fields such as McKenzie and Williamson’s The Art and Periodical Press in Canada, Robert McDougall’s thesis "A Study of Canadian Periodical Literature of the Nineteenth Century" which examines five literary magazines, and Roland and Potter’s An Annotated Bibliography of Canadian Medical Periodicals, 1826-1975.

h) Newspapers

The history of newspapers in Ontario overlaps with other aspects of book history. Since the book trade in the British North American colonies was an outcome of the first newspaper offices, there are several surveys which chronicle the introduction of this important medium in the colonies comprising Canada, including Ontario. These include the works by Aegidius Fauteux, Marie Tremaine, and Pearson Gundy cited in sections 4 and 8, and also Bertha Bassam’s The First Newspapers and Printers in Canada . In addition, two excellent histories review the development of the press from its earliest period to the modern time: W.H. Kesterton’s A History of Journalism in Canada and Douglas Fetherling’s The Rise of the Canadian Newspaper.

Other works with a national scope examine only one aspect of the newspaper. Peter Goheen has produced a series of articles in which he analyzes the origins of non-local economic news in the leading papers in order to understand the communication patterns among the major cities of mid-nineteenth century Canada. The financial arrangements between newspapers and political parties are discussed by Robert Hill in his article "A Note on Newspaper Patronage in Canada during the late 1850’s and early 1860’s." Minko Sotiron explores how competition in the industry encouraged concentration and monopoly in his article based on his doctoral work, "Concentration and Collusion in the Canadian Newspaper Industry, 1895-1920’. The practice of auxiliary publishing in the late nineteenth century is considered by Elizabeth Hulse in "Newspapers Printed on the Co- Operative Plan". And Paul Rutherford’s article "The People’s Press: The Emergence of the New Journalism" traces the evolution of the cheaper papers to arrive, along with the more traditional conservative journals, at a common definition of the newspaper as a medium of information and opinion.

Among these national studies there exists one major work which examines the newspaper in its totality. Paul Rutherford’s A Victorian Authority: The Daily Press in Late Nineteenth Century Canada, in which he explores the role of the daily newspaper in shaping Victorian society, exemplifies excellent methodology for an in depth analysis of a newspaper enterprise. With regards to the newspaper in the modern era, the reports of two royal commissions, the Davey Commission on the mass media in 1970, and the Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers in 1981 (with eight separate issues on specific topics), and Andrew Osler’s News: The Evolution of Journalism in Canada, address the operation and the role of this medium in contemporary society. Finally, Sotiron’s bibliography, which includes a section on Ontario, documents works on daily newspapers.

The research specifically on Ontario newspapers has concentrated on the printers/editors/ publishers, such as the research previously mentioned on one of the most famous early printers, William Lyon Mackenzie. The scholarship in this area is quite extensive and starts with the earliest printers of The Upper Canada Gazette, and extends to publishers of large dailies. For the early Upper Canadian printers/editors the research includes Brian Tobin’s The Upper Canada Gazette and its Printers, E.B. Sissons’ two volume work, Egerton Ryerson: His Life and Letters, Fetherling’s "E.J. Baker and the British Whig," the two volumes of J.M.S. Careless, Brown of the Globe, and Jane Rhodes’ "Breaking the Editorial Ice: Mary Ann Shadd Carey and the Provincial Freeman". Works considering printers/publishers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century include: Ron Poulton’s The Paper Tyrant:John Ross Robertson of the Telegram, A.H.U. Colquhoun’s Press, Politics and People: The Life and Times of Sir John Willison, Ross Harkness’ J.E.Atkinson of the Star, and Charles Bruce s News and the Southams.

Scholarship on Ontario newspapers which is not focused on the printer/publisher, is rather sparse. Several research articles address the relationship between newspapers and government: Carl Benn’s article "The Upper Canadian Press, 1793-1815", Pearson Gundy’s "Liberty and Licence of the Press in Upper Canada’, and Brian Beaven’s "Partisanship, Patronage, and the Press in Ontario, 1880-1914: Myths and Realities." In addition, Talman’s "Newspaper Press of Canada West, 1850-1860" contributes an overview of the newspaper business in Ontario at mid-century; whereas Jason Silverman’s "‘We Shall Be Heard!’ The Development of the Fugitive Slave Press in Canada" addresses one particular type of newspaper at this time. Finally Thomas Walkom’s dissertation. "The Daily Newspaper Industry in Ontario’s Developing Capitalistic Economy: Toronto and Ottawa, 1871-1911" delineates the economics of the newspapers of Toronto and Ottawa at the turn of the century, along with some of the ideologies presented by these newspapers and the readers they attracted.

There are several sources for bibliographic control of Ontario newspapers. For the early period Patricia Fleming’s Upper Canadian Imprints 1801-1841 offers an account of the newspapers along with their publication data and history. Talman’s "Newspaper Press of Canada West, 1850-1860" supplies a simple checklist of the newspapers at mid-nineteenth century. The catalogue Canadian Newspapers on Microfilm contains a section on Ontario, and although it is not exhaustive, it is useful for information on editorial bias and/or policy. Of special interest to scholars of the newspapers in the smaller Ontario communities are the three volume appendices to the Archives of Ontario newspaper inventory, which contain brief histories of these newspapers from their beginnings in the nineteenth century to the relatively modern period. Of course, it is in Gilchrist’s Inventory of Ontario Newspapers 1793-1986 that one finds the listing of the newspapers for the entire period of Ontario’s history and valuable information on extant issues and repositories. Les journaux de l’Ontario français, 1858-1983 by Paul-François Sylvestre and Macgillivray’s history of papers in Fort William and Port Arthur are both useful. Finally, for Toronto there is Edith Firth’s excellent catalogue Early Toronto Newspapers, 1793-1867.

i) Job Printing

Ephemeral no more this genre provided steady employment for printers and was a form of print read daily by ordinary people. Handbills, notices, and broadsides also allowed a printer to show off ornamental types, borders, and cuts. A Century of Ontario Broadsides, 1793-1893 records an early exhibition from the outstanding collection at the Metropolitan Toronto Library. The Port Hope Guide collection, recently added to the Archives of Ontario, is the work of one shop as is the Cooper & Beatty collection cited earlier. Broadsides are included in the Upper Canada bibliography (Fleming) and two studies of Canadian posters by Theo Dimson and Robert Stacey.

4. Publishing

I. Introduction

Although this background paper concerns book publishing in Ontario, its focus is Toronto as the trade publishing and wholesale distribution centre of English-speaking Canada. Other Ontario cities among them Ottawa, Kingston, Hamilton, and London have been or still are regional publishing centres, but they cannot claim Toronto’s pre-eminent role, especially in the twentieth century. Indeed, other cities across the country, from Halifax and Saint John to Vancouver and Victoria, have been home to little presses and publishers that also have had a significant impact on the national book scene. Their stories are of course part of the larger history of the book in Canada. Through most of the nineteenth century Montreal held first place for both English-language and French-language book production and distribution, but as early as the 1880s a shift had begun, due to Toronto’s advantageous location as a metropolitan centre with good railway links to American cities, central Ontario, and the developing Western provinces.

Another reason for Toronto’s pre-eminence has been its connection with the agency publishing system that dominated the market for trade books throughout the twentieth century. Toronto became the corporate headquarters for the importers and wholesalers who flourished as agency, or branch-plant, or subsidiary publishers. The origins of the agency system around 1900, its expansion, and its gradual transformation (disappearance is not quite accurate) are intimately bound up with Canada’s industrial development; for the world’s English-language markets have been dominated by London and New York, where arrangements between authors and publishers, printers, distributors, and copyright lobbyists have been negotiated in the interests of British and American cultural industries. While the Canadian market "protected" itself through the agency system, it was severely restricted by that same system.

Toronto is the centre for other categories of publishing, namely:

  • Government publishing;
  • Newspaper publishing;
  • Periodical publishing;
  • Educational publishing;
  • Religious publishing;
  • Science publishing;
  • Legal publishing; and
  • Other categories (music publishing, etc.).

II. What Has Been Done

a) General Studies

Given Toronto’s importance, then, it is surprising to find that scholarly attention has been directed more at the city’s early years than at the twentieth century, a period of dramatic and intense activity. This holds true for other Ontario cities, with the exception of monographs on little presses of the late twentieth century. Surveys range from bird’s-eye articles in trade periodicals to monographs and book chapters. Among the former is Arthur Conrad’s August 1905 article in Bookseller and Stationer, "Book Publishing in Canada." Among the latter are several works titles by H. Pearson Gundy, Early Printers and Printing in the Canadas (1964), Book Publishing and Publishers in Canada (1965), Canada: The Spread of Printing (1973), and his chapter "The Development of Trade Book Publishing in Canada" in the 1972 Ontario Royal Commission on Publishing Background Papers. A more detailed narrative is found in George L. Parker’s The Beginnings of the Book Trade in Canada (1985), which only carries the story to 1900. See also George L. Parker, "Canadian Publishing in the 1960s" Times Literary Supplement, 4 Sept. 1969), and Ernst & Ernst Management Consulting Services, The Book Publishing and Manufacturing Industry in Canada: A Statistical and Economic Analysis (1970). The Toronto scene has frequently been the subject of conferences and theme issues of periodicals.

b) Trade Personnel and Individual Firms

Firms have been reluctant to open their records to scholars or to place them in repositories. Many house records, particularly for the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, were destroyed, but a surprising number have been located in the past thirty years. Bookseller and Stationer and Quill & Quire have carried brief house histories. In 1966-67, for example, Industrial Canada ran a series on firms that had existed for at least one hundred years. Book-length histories are even rarer, confined chiefly to the Ryerson Press and Harlequin. Occasionally, firms issue anniversary booklets: among them are George J. McLeod, W.J. Gage, and Clarke, Irwin. McClelland and Stewart and Graphic have been the subjects of dissertations. One way of preparing a house history is to assemble a checklist of annual imprints, and to date only McClelland and Stewart, Macmillan of Canada, Ryerson, and Graphic Publishers have had their imprints published in checklists.

A handful of nineteenth-century publishers have been accorded full-length biographies: newspaper editors like William Lyon MacKenzie, Egerton Ryerson, George Brown, and John Ross Robertson had important public roles that brought them to the notice of social and political historians. Two contemporary publishers, John Morgan Gray in Fun Tomorrow and Marsh Jeanneret in God and Mammon, have left accounts of their careers in the book world. One starting point for biographies are obituaries, trade periodicals, biographical dictionaries, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, and Elizabeth Hulse’s A Dictionary of Toronto Printers, Publishers and the Allied Trades: 1798-1900 (1982). Jack McClelland, almost as famous as his writers, has been profiled in Maclean’s and Saturday Night. Biographies of authors contain glimpses of publishers.

c) The Process of Publishing and the Structure of the Trade

There are a handful of studies to begin with, such as Sally Zerker’s The Rise and Fall of the Toronto Typographical Union, 1832-1972 and Bryan Dewalt’s Technology and Canadian Printing: A History from Lead Type to Lasers. Various modes of DISTRIBUTION, such as subscription publishing, wholesaling and importing, and retail bookselling are important subjects that have rarely been examined except in trade magazines or in popular magazine when crises in the book trade attract public attention, as in the mid-1890s and the early 1970s. Season-by-season information is available in Books and Notions, Bookseller and Stationer, and Quill & Quire. The trade magazines have carried items about the following subjects concerned with the health and survival of the market for books: promotions such as book weeks, book fairs, festivals, and literary prizes; the role of trade organizations (printers, wholesalers, publishers, little presses, booksellers, authors, copyright lobbyists); royal commissions on books and/or culture; women in the printing and book trades; conditions during a particular time frame such as the world wars or the Great Depression; and government intervention and influence (the National Policy, reciprocity, free trade, postal and customs charges). Topics related to print culture include reading and literacy, public libraries, and censorship. There are far more government statistics and related data available to researchers than is generally assumed. Since the 1870s the Trade and Navigation statistics have included import and export totals, as well as the annual value of the printing and allied trades (often classified by province and city). Although these figures have been compiled by different federal departments, such as Trade and Commerce, through the twentieth century, they have become very detailed since the 1960s. They indicate, for example, the economic links between Canada and its trading partners, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, and distinguish between the volume of business by Canadian-owned firms from that of foreign subsidiaries operating in Canada.

d) The COPYRIGHT and other legal aspects (local and international) have been examined by Samuel Edward Dawson, Copyright in Books: An Inquiry into its origin, and an Account of the Present State of the Law in Canada (1882), and by H.G. Fox, The Canadian Law of Copyright (1944). See also Canada. Royal Commission on Patents, Trade Marks and Industrial Designs, Report on Copyright (1957), and Economic Council of Canada, Report on Intellectual and Industrial Property, January 1971 (1971).

III. What Needs to be Done

A study of the book-publishing trade in Toronto should deal with the following topics (their arrangement is a random one):

  • general surveys of trade conditions, possibly as a combination of decade-by-decade narrative with analysis of specific problems;
  • the marketing of books over half a continent;
  • competition in the marketplace: department stores, discount bookstores, foreign retail-distributing outlets, American mega-bookstores chains;
  • the successes and defects of the agency system;
  • relations with foreign copyright holders (publishers, authors, literary agents, jobbers, etc.);
  • the literary agent;
  • cultural policies and royal commissions;
  • multi-national corporate ownership;
  • education departments;
  • links to other media magazines, movies, radio, television, computers;
  • computerized and other modes of electronic production and distribution;
  • the 1950s paperback revolution; and
  • the allied trades.

The writings of Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan have encouraged cultural historians in recent decades to place literature and cultural industries within a theoretical framework, often from a political or economic viewpoint. Theoretical approaches may be illuminating in dealing with such topics as:

  • the links between literacy and the evolution of the Canadian society;
  • the control of communications by multi-national corporations;
  • the role of educational systems in fostering the values of the establishment; and
  • publishers’ agendas in promoting Canadian books.

IV. How it is to be Done: Methodology, &c:

There are four major sources of information on the Toronto/Ontario book publishing trade. The researcher will find that these will open other paths of investigation.

a) Trade Periodicals

The obvious starting point is the trade periodicals that report on the seasonal, even monthly, activities all across the trade in Canada. As early as the mid-1860s, the Toronto Board of Trade issued an annual survey of the wholesale and retail trades. In the 1870s there were intermittent surveys in Canada Bookseller, and since 1884 there has been an unbroken record of these activities, particularly in Books and Notions, and its successor Bookseller and Stationer (the title varies), until its demise in 1960. In the 1890s its rival was The Canadian Bibliographer and Library Record (1889-1898), which was merged into the Canada Bookseller and Stationer (-1898). Since 1935 Quill & Quire has been the chief trade periodical. Other periodicals such as The Canadian Printer and Publisher, The Canadian Bookman, Scholarly Publishing, the British periodicals, Publishers’ Circular (1837-) and The Bookseller, and the American periodical Publishers’ Weekly (1872-), contain reports about the Canadian scene.

b) Bibliographical Sources

Quill & Quire is available on microfilm and issues its own indexes. Reader’s Guide, Humanities Index, the Canadian Periodical Index, and Canadian Literature identify articles and monographs that appear in popular and scholarly periodicals such as Saturday Night, Macleans, Queen’s Quarterly, the University of Toronto Quarterly, or the Journal of Canadian Studies. There are a number of excellent bibliographies of imprints covering the regions of Canada, as well as Ontario and Toronto.

Two new bibliographies deal with all aspects of the book in Canada. The History of the book in Canada: A Bibliography (1993) by Mark C. Bartlett, and Fiona A. Black, and Bertrum H. MacDonald is an index of approximately 2,000 items that covers both English- and French-language book publishing and related areas. It cross-indexes many subject areas. George L. Parker is compiling an INMAGIC database known as the Canadian Book Trade. It shares many entries with the MacDonald bibliography, and both include many items sourced in Parker’s The Beginnings of the Book Trade in Canada and previous bibliographies. Parker’s database contained about 5,000 items in late 1996, including books, monographs, government documents, periodical articles, items about Canada in the Times of London and the New York Times, and many newspaper clippings (chiefly from the Toronto newspapers). Parker plans to make this database available to other researchers.

c) Government Documents

Since the 1840s provincial and federal governments have been keeping records of the book trade, many in printed records, others in unpublished sources. Some of these records include:

  • Trade and Navigation statistics;
  • Sessional papers and debates contain information on copyright and publishing;
  • Copyright lists (sometimes printed in the annual reports of the Library of Parliament as well as in handwritten entries); copyright has been handled by various departments, including Agriculture and Communications;
  • Statistics since the 1960s: Trade and Commerce and other departments have annual compilations on all aspects of the book market;
  • Royal Commission Reports: the earliest one in appeared in 1843, and recent ones include the Massey Report (1951), the Ontario Royal Commission on Book Publishing (1973), and the Quebec Royal Commission on Books (title) (1973).

d) Materials in Archives

In the last thirty years a tremendous amount of materials has come to light and has been deposited in archives in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. These include production and sales records, correspondence with authors, the records of professional organizations of publishers, authors, and copyright lobbyists. Mention was made above about government documents; many memorandums, departmental business, and correspondence is available in the federal government’s records in the National Archives. The chief sources of archival materials relating to the publishing trade of Toronto are found in the National Archives, Queen’s University, the University of Toronto, McMaster University, the University of Calgary, and the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University. At the latter place Professors Carole Gerson and Ann Cowan have compiled the Canadian Publishers Records Database that lists more than 1,000 archival records across Canada. Publishers and professional organizations maintain records that are not in the public domain.

Similar materials exist in foreign archives, both public and private. The records of Macmillan, Routledge, Doubleday Doran, Little, Brown, and Nelson’s, to name only several that had close links with Toronto firms or Canadian authors, should prove useful. Collections at the New York Public Library, the British Library, and the National Library of Scotland contain materials relating to book publishing in Canada.

V. Conclusion

This very brief survey of one topic is, I trust, convincing evidence of the broad range of research and other materials available for the compilation of a history of the book in Canada. What we need to do in the coming months is to assemble a detailed outline of the procedures for editors and researchers, in order to explain and analyze the impressive contribution that Canadians have made to print culture.

5. Distribution of the Printed Word

Despite a wealth of primary material in advertisements, trade literature, society reports, and government and business records little has been written about distribution in Ontario other than John Wiseman’s important articles ‘Silent Companions: The Dissemination of Books and Periodicals in Nineteenth-Century Ontario’ and ‘Bible and Tract: Disseminating Missionary Literature in Nineteenth-Century Ontario’.

6. Reception of the Printed Word

a) Libraries

As both Peter McNally and The History of the Book in Canada: A Bibliography indicate, library history in Ontario remains heavily skewed toward studies of public libraries and their antecedents. Most of the studies are descriptive rather than analytical, with articles on particular public libraries generally commemorating anniversaries or describing special collections within them. A few works take a broader view of the public library movement dating from mechanics’ institutes, notably two monographs: John Wiseman’s Ph.D. thesis, "Temples of Democracy," and Lorne Bruce’s Free Books for All.

Of all historical studies in Ontario, three important libraries have received frequent attention: Toronto Public Library; National Library of Canada; Library of Parliament. In addition to articles listed in The History of the Book in Canada are two published later in the Encyclopedia of Library History. Other institutional libraries have generally been ignored. Despite a monograph on the largest academic library at the University of Toronto, Robert Blackburn’s Evolution of the Heart, little study has been made of academic libraries, either individually or collectively. With respect to special libraries (apart from mechanics’ institutes), a few items, not identified in The History of the Book in Canada, describe the library of the Academy of Medicine in Toronto, and Jennifer Connor discusses the patients’ library of a tuberculosis sanatorium in London. Otherwise, we have no information about the existence, number or nature of church, society, school, hotel, transportation, or other special libraries. Sources for more research include newspapers, the collection of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions, and records of mechanics’ institutes housed at the Archives of Ontario, Metro Toronto Library, and at the University of Western Ontario (at the Regional Library History Collection, GSLIS Archives).

Personal libraries similarly have received short shift historically. However, two notable reconstructions exist: one for perhaps the earliest in Ontario, the library of missionary Robert Addison, which was brought to Niagara in 1792; another for a nineteenth-century physician in Richmond Hill. An article by Bertrum MacDonald outlines the methodology for reconstructing a personal collection by using medically-trained geologist Robert Bell’s library in Ottawa as an example. The surviving libraries of two other nineteenth-century physicians, one ordinary, the other a renowned alienist (psychiatrist/philosopher Richard Maurice Bucke), have also been discussed and catalogued. More comprehensive work by Jennifer Connor offers collective analysis of many physicians’ libraries in both an article on Ontario estate records and her Ph.D. thesis on medical publishing in Canada. Research is badly needed on the personal libraries of other occupational groups in Ontario, however, or of other groups classified by gender, class, race, religion, ethnicity, place of residence, etc. Sources for this kind of work include auction catalogues in the collection of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions, personal estate records at the Archives of Ontario, War Loss Claims records at the National Archives, and personal papers at various archives in Ontario.

b) Readers

On reading and reception in general, work appears to be in-progress such as Heather Murray’s study of women in the nineteenth century and Catherine Ross’s current ethnography of reading for pleasure.

7. Professionalization of the World of the Printed Word

A few studies of librarianship exist, with focus on education and associations; these have been identified by Peter McNally, but in addition two articles in his recent collection should be noted: Elizabeth Hanson’s essay on early library education, and Peter McNally’s on graduate education. Bibliographical studies of Ontario librarians are practically non-existent, with a notable exception being Stephen Cummings’ Ph.D. thesis on Angus Mowat. Studies of critics, other than W.A.C. Deacon, are equally uncommon.

8. Ontario Bibliography

The first attempt at a record of Ontario printing was William Kingsford’s 1892 bibliography. Marie Tremaine and Patricia Fleming have extended coverage to 1841; for the rest of the nineteenth century CIHM’s collection can be searched by place of publication. Among the published bibliographies of works about Ontario (Ingles 402-493) the most comprehensive are Olga Bishop’s Bibliography of Ontario History, 1867-1976, its sequel to 1986 by Gervais, Hallsworth, and Thomson, and The Bibliography of Northern Ontario/La bibliographie du nord de l’Ontario, 1966-1991. In a series of three studies Olga Bishop has identified Ontario government publications from 1791 to 1900, a chronology carried forward by Hazel MacTaggart.

Sandra Alston
Jennifer Connor
Patricia Fleming
George Parker
Julie Stabile
Ashley Thomson
Mary Williamson
Joan Winearls