Browse Case Studies (alphabetical by title)


During a period of nearly fifty years, the beautiful decorations, lettering, illustrations, and designs of Thoreau MacDonald appeared in Canadian books, magazines, and catalogues, in an Arts and Crafts movement style that was imbued with a particularly Canadian sensibility. Revered for these works and for the rural- and nature-inspired publications of his own Woodchuck Press, MacDonald is today considered to have been one of the country’s most important book designers and illustrators.


The 2008 release of Austin Clarke’s novel, More, marked the end of a protracted period of writing, re-writing, and editing that had begun thirty years earlier. During this period, as Clarke’s career flourished and his other books were published and acclaimed, he persevered with the manuscript for More, encouraged by his agent, editors, and friends, finally publishing the novel that has been hailed as possibly “one of the crowning achievements of his career.”


When he published Alligator Pie in 1974, Dennis Lee (1939-) was an established full-time author, following stints as a university professor and publisher, co-founding the House of Anansi in 1967. His Civil Elegies and Other Poems had won the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1972, but Lee’s greatest fame was to come from simple rhymes, written at first for his own children, to give them what Sheila Egoff described as “a sense of their own particular time and space.” Those rhymes were quickly adopted by generations of children across Canada.


Anna Porter is a true survivor of the Canadian publishing trade who achieved success through Jack McClelland’s mentorship, dedication, and hard work, to establish herself as reigning diva of the Canadian publishing industry. Multi-talented and known for her business savvy, Porter was president and publisher of Seal Books, and had a controlling interest in Doubleday Canada. In 1979 she successfully founded Key Porter Books. She has also authored several novels and notable works of non-fiction.


Riding on the nationalistic surge that engulfed post-Second World War Canada, publishers showcased the nation’s literary voices in new ways. McClelland & Stewart’s Indian File Series brought new poetry to Canadians, packaged in visually striking books that took advantage of developments in commercial design and evoked a strong Canadian sensibility.


The period between 1913 (the year of E. Pauline Johnson’s death) and 1960 (roughly when the modern cultural renaissance of Canada's Aboriginal peoples began) is sometimes regarded as having been void of Aboriginal literary production. But some Aboriginal peoples, perhaps for the first time, used print and publishing during this period to communicate with other Aboriginal peoples in Canada and internationally. Works by Edward Ahenakew and Ethel Brant Monture exemplify the continuum of Aboriginal writing in Canada from the early nineteenth century through to contemporary times, as do such widely read Aboriginal authors as Maria Campbell and Basil Johnston (who often signed his letters "Yours Aboriginally").


Since the mid-1960s, Coach House Press has published poetry, literature, and drama and printed memorable ephemera. From its quirky, well-worn buildings in Toronto, it has produced finely-crafted books for some of the country’s most esteemed authors, brought new writers to the Canadian public, and made a name for itself as it moved from hand-presses and photography to the innovative use of computer technology. In 1997 it became the world’s first publisher of full-text online books of poetry and fiction. This study presents a brief history of the press and features a video tour of Coach House by its founder, Stan Bevington.


Nineteenth-century Canada had such small markets that publishers regularly asked authors to sell books by subscription to cover production costs before printing took place. Few detailed records remain from that era, but the subscription book for the first edition of Canadian Wild Flowers and a second one for the third edition have survived. These volumes list the fascinating clientele who signed up for one of the most beautiful and expensive books of the day.


Through his long and prolific publishing career, Al Purdy helped define a “Canadian identity.” The first and only opinion-piece anthology Purdy edited was The New Romans: Candid Canadian Opinions of the United States (1968), a project he worked on with publisher Mel Hurtig. Emerging at a time when Canadian nationalism was a dominant cultural, economic, and political concern, The New Romans was perhaps Purdy’s most overtly political publishing endeavor.


Alan Crawley and Contemporary Verse played an important role in building and sustaining the Canadian poetry community over the 1940s and 1950s. The letters and press clippings housed at Queen's University Archives testify to the strength of Crawley's editorial vision and CV's impact on Canadian poetry.