History of the Book in Canada, Vol. 3: 1918–1980.


638 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-8020-9047-8
DDC 002'0971




Edited by Carole Gerson and Jacques Michon
Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



This is the concluding volume in the massive history of Canadian print culture that began in the early 1990s. The period covered is noted for the rise of multiculturalism, changing demographics, rapidly developing technology, and increasing globalism—a time of changing political and social environments. During these modern but pre-digital decades, Canadian publishing was affected by the Great Depression, World War II, and other international conflicts. Key influences included the development of the Canada Council, the National Library, and the CBC, the renaissance of Aboriginal literary activity, Marshall McLuhan, the alternative press movement, and recognition of “Two Solitudes.”


The work looks at print culture from concept to final product and end user—the writers, agents, associations, copyright, publishers, marketers, distributors, retailers, and readers. It covers fiction, non-fiction, and children’s works, in anglophone, francophone, and allophone Canada. As well as the traditional hard cover and paperback products of commercial publishers, the survey recognizes community-published cookbooks and local histories, art books, scholarly monographs, serials, text books, and publications from the institutions of government, church, and science. Also included are works for non-print media (radio, film, television), “pulp” fiction, legal and medical publishing, even sports writing. Changes in printing technology and the complexities of book marketing and distribution are covered in considerable detail.


The work illustrates and documents the slow acceptance of book publishing as a cultural industry and the recognition that it was key to the promotion of a unique Canadian identity and an important line of defence against Americanization.


Together the three volumes constitute the definitive history of the book in Canada and its role in defining, transmitting and promoting our national culture. It is a carefully researched, highly credible product, with meticulous citation and sources, index, bibliography, and chronology. The volume is the work of over 100 contributors—there’s a brief biographical note on each—yet careful editing has resulted in a smooth, consistent style. A few illustrations and 30 case studies further ease access for the general reader.


“History of the Book in Canada, Vol. 3: 1918–1980.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/26741.