|Parent company||United Church Publishing House|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|Key people||Lorne Pierce|
|Publication types||Books, Journals, Sheet music|
The Ryerson Press was the secular and trade imprint of the Methodist Book and Publishing House (later the United Church Publishing House) based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The imprint had a long history and a record of supporting Canadian authors.
The Methodist Book and Publishing House (MBPH) was the first publishing company in Canada. It began in 1829 as the Methodist Book Room, a publishing company founded by the Methodist Church to issue mainly denominational publications. The first editor of the firm was Egerton Ryerson, editor of the Methodist newspaper, The Christian Guardian. In its early days, "the MBPH's primary concern in terms of original publishing had been denominational in focus, with an emphasis on periodical rather than book production."
William Briggs, who became book steward (general manager) of the firm in 1879, initiated a policy of using the revenue from foreign trade books to publish Canadian authors like William Wilfred Campbell, Sir Charles G.D. Roberts, and Catharine Parr Traill. Briggs held the position of book steward for over 40 years. Since its founding it had been MBPH policy to use the book steward's name as the publisher of its secular works. In consequence Briggs's name appears on many Canadian books of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The name was changed to Ryerson Press in 1919. Samuel Farris, who succeeded Briggs as book steward in 1919, broke with tradition, deciding to put an imprint on the secular line. "Ryerson's name presented itself to Fallis and the church book committee to whom he reported as an appropriate choice for the house's new trade book imprint. Indeed, it was an inspired one.... In self-consciously adopting such a distinctive trade imprint, Fallis exhibited more interest in the MBPH's trade book arm from the outset of his tenure than any of the book stewards who had preceded him."
In 1920 Farris hired Rev. Lorne Pierce, asking him to develop a "live publishing programme." Pierce joined the firm as a literary adviser in 1920, then became its editor-in-chief in 1922. "During the next several years, Pierce firmly established the new policy, issuing Canadian literary, historical, and educational books by the likes of Frederick Philip Grove, Katherine Hale, Tom MacInnes, E.J. Pratt, and Isabel Skelton, as well as launching two significant series: the Makers of Canadian Literature and the Canadian History Readers."
The Canadian Encyclopedia says that Pierce "typified the enthusiastic nationalism of English Canada in the 1920's: he launched the important Ryerson Chapbook poetry series, the pioneering Makers of Canadian Literature volumes of criticism, and the textbook series, The Ryerson Books of Prose and Verse."
By the 1960's, the "United Church now owned the publishing house and was wondering if it belonged in the publishing trade, competing with privately owned firms. Throughout the sixties, many attempts were made to reorganize the house. But by the end of the decade it was decided that the Ryerson Press would be offered to sale to a company that would keep the name and the list alive."
Ryerson Press became a symbol of concerns over issues of Canadian nationalism in the book publishing industry in 1970, when the United Church Publishing House sold the imprint to U.S. firm McGraw-Hill. The sale "was one of the main events to prompt the establishment of the Ontario government's Royal Commission on Book Publishing in 1970."
After the sale, McGraw Hill adopted the imprint McGraw-Hill-Ryerson. The firm operates in Whitby, Ontario.
In the 2000s, Ronald P. Frye & Co. began re-issuing the Ryerson Poetry Chapbook Series in batches of 25 titles from the series. As with the originals, each volume was limited to a run size of 250 copies (hand numbered for authenticity). Each volume had specially commissioned cover art by a young Canadian artist.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Janet Friskney, "The Birth of The Ryerson Press Imprint," Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing, McMaster University. Web, June 19, 2011.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "History," McGraw-Hill Ryerson, McGrawHill.ca, Web, July 12, 2011.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 James Marsh, "Ryerson Press, The", Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 1905. Print.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Sandra Campbell, "Pierce, Lorne Albert," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 1677. Print.
- ↑ "Ryerson Poetry Chapbooks," Ronald P. Frye & Co., Web, June 19, 2011.
- Ryerson Press in the Canadian Encyclopedia.
- Janet Friskney, "The Birth of The Ryerson Press Imprint" at Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing.
- McGraw Hill-Ryerson Official website.
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