Ryerson University receives historic McGraw-Hill Ryerson press collection
Published April 21, 2017
Gift of remarkable resource from Canada’s oldest English-language publisher.
TORONTO, April 17, 2017 – Ryerson University is pleased to announce that publisher McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, part of McGraw-Hill Education, has made the largest single donation of books ever received by the university library’s Archives and Special Collections. The McGraw-Hill Ryerson Press Collection is valued at nearly $1 million, and contains works by such seminal Canadian authors as Alice Munro, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Norval Morrisseau, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Archibald Lampman, Milton Acorn and Al Purdy.
In all, the McGraw-Hill Ryerson Press Collection includes almost 3,000 book titles—many of which are first editions and date back as far as 1862—and more than 2,000 archival materials, including catalogues, author contracts and related documentation. It is a rich collection which many in the industry had thought lost.
Madeleine Lefebvre, chief librarian, Ryerson Library and Archives, says, “we are proud to welcome the McGraw-Hill Ryerson Press Collection to its new home in the Ryerson Library's Special Collections unit. The press made an enormous contribution to Canadian literature before it was known as such, and now offers a rich resource of academic research potential.”
“We are immensely pleased that this collection will now be part of Ryerson University,” said Aaron Yaverski, Managing Director of the Americas for McGraw-Hill Education. “These materials belong in the hands of scholars and we are delighted they have found such a wonderful home.”
The Ryerson Press began operation in Toronto in 1829 when Egerton Ryerson (for whom the Ryerson Institute of Technology, now Ryerson University, was named in 1948) obtained the licence for a printing press. The sale of the press to the American company McGraw-Hill in 1970 was controversial at the time, many considering it an issue of Canadian cultural identity. It prompted a Royal Commission on Canadian Publishing, legislation on foreign ownership, and sparked activism among Canada’s literary community that would eventually take shape in the founding of the Writers Union of Canada in 1973. The generous gift from McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited repatriates a wealth of the nation’s cultural and publishing history.
Among many other treasures, the collection includes Alice Munro’s first book, Dance of the Happy Shades, published by Ryerson Press in 1968, as well as her author’s contract for that volume. Munro has since gone on to win many literary awards, including the Man Booker International Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature.
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This press release first appeared on April 17, 2017 on the Ryerson University website and can be viewed here.