Browse Case Studies (alphabetical by title)


Hockey is Canada’s official winter sport. The game gained popularity in the 1870s and 1880s when clubs and professional leagues were established. Oddly enough, few Canadian books were published on this subject prior to 1950. But in the next decade the floodgates were opened, and suddenly, the public, young and old, displayed a voracious appetite for hockey literature. This article explores this extraordinary publishing phenomenon.


In the epigraph to her notoriously cryptic novel The Double Hook (McClelland & Stewart, 1959), Sheila Watson wrote “that when you fish for the glory you catch the darkness too. That if you hook twice the glory you hook twice the fear.” From the ambivalent responses of publishers in the 1950s, the same could be said of the manuscript itself. Before being celebrated as Canada’s first “modern” novel and a staple in Can-lit course syllabi from the 1960s to the present, publishers saw it as either an instant classic or an unsalable risk.


As one of very few Canadian writers able to live solely off the income of their writing between the 1940s and 1970s, Hugh Garner experienced the rise and decline of short story publishing in Canadian magazines, the creation of radio and television markets, and the influence of American culture on the Canadian publishing market. His thorough documentation of the correspondence between himself and his various publishers and editors is a unique record of aspects of copyright, promotion, royalties, and personality politics in Canadian, European, and American book publishing. This study includes a 1971 audio interview in which Garner discusses his career.


Hugh Kane (1911-84) is regarded as one of Canada’s foremost publishers, having held senior positions at both McClelland & Stewart and Macmillan of Canada, two of the country’s most important firms. During a career that spanned some 50 years, he helped lead the companies through difficult financial times, and won the respect of colleagues and authors with business acumen, an even temper, and good humour.


George Woodcock—the prolific literary critic, poet, radio dramatist, historian, and social theorist—developed distinct literary reputations in Canada and abroad. His many works were issued by a great variety of Canadian and foreign publishers.


The documents pertaining to Isabella Valancy Crawford’s short life and publishing career are incomplete, cryptic, and discordant, at best: some of her manuscripts were barely salvaged from use as fire kindling. Like many poets of her time, Crawford struggled to publish in Canada. Following her death, correspondence between advocates and editors of her work illuminate the cost and ambiguity of copyright at the turn of the century.


J. Macdonald Oxley was one of the best known Canadian authors of his time, but few people today have heard of Bert Lloyd’s Boyhood. In his diary we learn that it was reviewed in 15 periodicals and newspapers upon its publication in 1889, and that he was paid $175 for it by his American publisher.


As editor of Grip magazine, J.W. Bengough made a lasting contribution to Canadian publishing. A pioneer of the editorial cartoon, he demonstrated that such images could be serious while simultaneously exuding playfulness, irony, and satiric charm.


Penning a tribute to publisher Jack McClelland, Leonard Cohen wrote: “You were the real Prime Minister of Canada.” His words were not merely poetic: he knew, as did hundreds of other Canadian writers, that McClelland had nurtured, cajoled, soothed, and at times infuriated them, in order to bring their books to readers across the country and around the world, at times taking great financial risks to do so. In a career that spanned over forty years, McClelland’s author roster crossed boundaries of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, political writing, and textbooks, and included Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Austin Clarke, Matt Cohen, Marian Engel, Basil Johnston, Irving Layton, Margaret Laurence, Farley Mowat, Peter Newman, Mordecai Richler, and Gabrielle Roy. As biographer James King noted. “He is our Prospero, the man who shared his love of books with his fellow countrymen.”


Like many nineteenth- and early twentieth-century newspapers, the Collingwood Bulletin played a major role in its community, providing information to residents, advertising commercial enterprises and social events, and weathering challenges from competitors. Its significance is documented within the pages of the newspaper itself, as well as in articles and notices in the trade journal Canadian Printer and Publisher, and in a unique scrapbook filled with examples of the job printing that emanated from the presses of the Bulletin. Stationery, concert programs, handbills, church announcements, and other intriguing items tell their own tales of a bustling Ontario town and reveal much about the technological capabilities of the newspaper’s print shop.