Browse Case Studies (alphabetical by title)


From the banning of Molière in seventeenth-century Quebec to the challenges faced by Margaret Laurence for her novel The Diviners beginning in the 1970s, censorship has been a thorn in the side of Canada’s literary and publishing history. Government officials, customs agents, the church, the religious right, and arbiters of “social correctness” have played a major role in enforcing and influencing regulations regarding censorship. Their actions have led to the establishment, by authors, publishers, librarians, and citizens, of numerous groups and events designed to highlight the democratic rights of Canadians to buy and read books and magazines of their choice


Though there has been recent interest in Chatelaine magazine’s role in second wave feminism in Canada, much work needs to be done on its place in Canadian women’s lives in the early years of its publication.


Founded during the early years of the Depression, Clarke, Irwin & Company was a major publisher for over 50 years. One of the company founders, Irene Irwin Clarke, would become its president and general manager in 1955, earning the title “the first lady of the publishing industry.” The firm focused on quality educational materials for Canadian schools, but also published such authors as Robertson Davies, Marian Engel, Adele Wiseman, and Timothy Findley, several poets, including Alden Nowlan, and the writings of artists Emily Carr and A.Y. Jackson.


As C.P. Snow's "two cultures" pointed out, we are accustomed to thinking of the arts and humanities as being somehow removed from or even opposed to science and technology. But a closer look at actual cases often shows a more complex and friendly relation; nowhere do we find a more interesting case than Coach House Press in Toronto, a tiny literary publisher and fine-art printing house that in the 1970s drove headlong into the digital era, finding the bleeding edge of digital technology, and anticipating by three or four decades the moves that their peers in the book industry are beginning to make only now.


The Copp Clark Company has a distinguished record as one of Canada’s longest surviving publishing companies. Established in 1841, it began as a modest proprietorship and grew into a partnership and subsequently into a corporation. It was a major educational publisher and Canadian agent for American and British publishers. Besides publishing books, the company formed lucrative partnerships in the production and marketing of games and other items.


Copyright law allows authors to benefit from their works but also encourages the spread of both ideas and wealth by allowing others to use them. Because it is defined differently in different countries, problems can arise internationally in this balance of interests. For much of Canada’s history, there was no copyright treaty with the United States, and this absence caused great difficulties for Canadian publishers.


The twenty-one-year span of material in the CURVD H&z collection at McMaster University attests to the intensity and integrity of Canadian small press publishing as an avant-garde venture. CURVD H&z is published by John W. Curry, also known as jwcurry, and dates from his teenage years in Vancouver when experimental poets bpNichol and bill bissett were already well-established in their writing and publishing practice. They introduced curry to the potential of the small press world, but, from the first CURVD H&z publication in 1978, he developed their sense of playful discovery and eccentric eclecticism into a methodical and coherent publishing aesthetic.


Basil H. Johnston is today one of Canada’s most successful and widely read Aboriginal writers. Emerging in the 1970s, during what is now recognised as a time of Aboriginal cultural renaissance in this country, Johnston’s early books were not met with widespread enthusiasm in the publishing world. If not for the professional support of Jack McClelland, Anna Porter, and a handful of other editors, Johnston’s early classics, Ojibway Heritage (1976) and Moose Meat & Wild Rice (1978), may never have been published.


Diane Schoemperlen (b. 1954) is a novelist and short story writer who currently resides in Kingston, Ontario. She is the author of seven short story collections and three novels. Her short story collection, Forms of Devotion, won the Governor General’s Award in 1998. Schoemperlen has been affiliated with a number of Canadian publishers over the course of her 35-year career, including Coach House, Quarry Press, Macmillan of Canada, HarperCollins, Flamingo, and Viking. Her most recent novel, At a Loss for Words: A Post-Romantic Novel, was published by HarperCollins in 2008.


Historian Donald Creighton established his reputation with the publication of his first book in 1937. He confirmed that reputation in his monumental two-volume biography of Sir John A. Macdonald.