Ryerson Press

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Ryerson Press was a Canadian book publishing company, active from 1919 to 1970.[1] First established by the Methodist Book Room, a division of the Methodist Church of Canada,[2] and operated by the United Church Publishing House after the Methodist Church's merger into the United Church of Canada in 1925,[1] the imprint specialized in historical, educational and literary titles.

In 1970, the United Church Publishing House sold its trade publishing arm to McGraw Hill, whose Canadian division was renamed McGraw-Hill Ryerson.[1] The UCPH still publishes religious titles under its own name, and McGraw-Hill Ryerson is still in operation as McGraw Hill's Canadian subsidiary.

History[edit]

The Methodist Church first established its publishing operations in 1829,[3] with the launch of the weekly newspaper The Christian Guardian.[4] The paper's first editor was Egerton Ryerson.[4] One month later, the church published its first book, starting at first with religious works and later branching out into educational and literary titles.[4]

Prior to 1919, however, its general interest books were published under the name imprint of the individual person who held the position of book steward with the company at the time the book was published; the best known such imprint was William Briggs.[1] Writers published in the William Briggs era included Robert W. Service, Charles G.D. Roberts, Wilfred Campbell and Catharine Parr Traill.[2]

Shortly after succeeding Briggs as steward in 1919, Samuel W. Fallis decided to create a standard, consistent brand for the company, and chose to honour Ryerson for his founding role.[1] Fallis selected Lorne Pierce as chief editor of the company, a role Pierce held until 1960.[1]

Under Pierce's editorship, the company was a prominent publisher of educational textbooks, using the profits from this line of business to publish literary work by many of Canada's most important writers of the era, including Frederick Philip Grove, E.J. Pratt, A.J.M. Smith, A. M. Klein, P.K. Page, Dorothy Livesay, Earle Birney, Louis Dudek, Hugh Hood and Marjorie Pickthall.[2] The company also created the Ryerson Fiction Award, an award program for emerging writers which was active from 1942 to 1960.[5]

The company's sale to McGraw Hill in 1970 prompted an outcry from many writers and cultural critics, who believed Canadian ownership of its own book publishing industry to be essential in maintaining Canadian cultural identity.[2] The sale resulted in the creation of a royal commission to review government rules around foreign ownership in the publishing industry.[1] The company continued to publish Canadian literature for a number of years, including several early works by Alice Munro, although it now concentrates exclusively on educational and business non-fiction titles.

The company's headquarters, located at 299 Queen Street West in Toronto, were purchased in 1985 by CHUM Limited, becoming the home of the company's television broadcasters such as Citytv and MuchMusic. As of 2013, it remains the home of many of Bell Media's television operations in Toronto.

Further reading[edit]

  • Campbell, Sandra. "Nationalism, Morality and Gender: Lorne Pierce and the Canadian Literary Canon, 1920-1960". Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada 32:2 (Fall 1994): 135-60.
  • Campbell, Sandra. Both Hands: A Life of Lorne Pierce of Ryerson Press. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013. ISBN 9780773541160.
  • Fee, Margery. "Lorne Pierce, The Ryerson Press, and The Makers of Canadian Literature Series". Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada 24 (1985): 51-69.
  • Friskney, Janet B. "The Years before Union: Samuel Fallis, Lorne Pierce, and The Ryerson Press, 1919-1926". Epilogue: Canadian Bulletin for the History of Books, Libraries and Archives 13 (1998-2003): 69-96.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Janet B. Friskney, "The Birth of The Ryerson Press Imprint". Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing.
  2. ^ a b c d Ryerson Press at The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  3. ^ Janet B. Friskney, "From Methodist Literary Culture to Canadian Literary Culture: The United Church Publishing House / The Ryerson Press, 1829-1970". Literary Cultures and the Material Book, ed. Simon Eliot, Andrew Nash, and Ian Willison, 379-85. London: The British Library, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c "Business and History - The Ryerson Press". Canadian Manufacturers Association reprinted at Western Libraries.
  5. ^ Brian Busby, "Anyone Care About the Ryerson Fiction Award?". The Dusty Bookcase, January 7, 2013.