After attending Mount Allison University and Pennsylvania State University, George Parker received his Ph.D from the University of Toronto (1969). As a professor at The Royal Military College of Canada (1967-97) and in retirement in Halifax, NS, he has authored numerous publications on Canadian publishing history, copyright, and Canadian literary history. He is currently working on a history of Toronto publishing between 1900 and 1970.
George L. Parker
George L. Parker
Personal Statement About Topic:
My supervisor at the University of Toronto, Gordon Roper, suggested I investigate McClelland and Stewart’s publication of Canadian authors as a dissertation project. Roper’s colleague, Malcolm Ross, then General Editor of the New Canadian Library, arranged for me to meet Jack McClelland, Hugh Kane and other members of M&S. Their offices were at 25 Hollinger Road in East York, which was quite a trek from midtown Toronto. Through 1966 and much of 1967 I would lay out the house’s records in the executive office when it was not in use. Those were the days when Pierre Berton and other M&S authors were having unprecedented sales, but occasionally I rushed away from my pile of old sales books to announce that Ralph Connor and others around the First World War also had sales in the tens of thousands. These facts were totally unknown to most staff members. Meanwhile, the elderly John McClelland was whittling down (i.e, destroying) the firm’s early correspondence with authors and editors. My protests were unavailing; after all, these materials were his archives. When I told him I was writing a history of M&S, he questioned why I was writing about publishers when I should be writing about authors. I was so awed by his forceful manner that I sputtered. Later that day he shared some memories of Carman and Montgomery with me, and gave me a lift in his chauffeured limousine back to my modest apartment. While I was documenting the story of M&S and the Toronto publishing industry of the earlier twentieth century, M&S and the industry were heading in the late 1960s for a financial crisis about which I was oblivious! It was an exciting decade for our authors and publishers, and this new and unknown field of research in CanLit studies has never ceased to intrigue me.