The Power of the Press: The Story of Early Canadian Printers and Publishers.


96 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55028-982-4
DDC 071'.109034




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 little history skims over the development of newspapers and job printing (handbills, flyers, etc.) in Canada from 1751 to circa 1900. It concentrates on letterpress technology with brief mentions of later developments such as linotype and cylinder presses. It touches on the political influences on the printers, the various technical skills required by the early printer-entrepreneurs, and mentions a few of the best-known pioneers in the field, such as William Lyon Mackenzie, Joseph Howe, George Brown, and Mary Ann Shad.


The mechanics of typesetting and printing receive much more attention than does the editorial side of the publishing business. There is mention of the considerable labour strife that characterized the industry in the mid-1800s, and of the controversial introduction of women into the field.


Over 73 professional-quality colour photos staged at reconstructed pioneer village sites add interest and strength to the work, going a long way to prop up the text. There’s a Canada-wide listing of relevant historic sites and museums, including email and website addresses and a note of the types of printing presses on display.


Experienced social history hobbyists will find the generalized approach offers little new to hold their interest; its value rests with the classroom market.


Raible, Chris., “The Power of the Press: The Story of Early Canadian Printers and Publishers.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,