For the past 18 months I have been involved in a challenging and rewarding project — cataloguing a collection of publications from The Ryerson Press.
This collection has been maintained for the past 45 years under the careful supervision of the editorial managers of McGraw-Hill Ryerson following the sale of The Ryerson Press to McGraw-Hill in 1970.
The purpose of my involvement in this project was to create a formal record of these books. In addition, I was to find a suitable home for the 3000 titles, many of which are first editions dating back as far as 1862.
The Ryerson Press began operation in Toronto in 1829 when Egerton Ryerson, a Methodist Preacher, obtained a license to obtain a printing press. He set about publishing sermons along with his political views in a publication that later became known as the Christian Guardian, the forerunner of the United Church Observer.
Egerton Ryerson became known in political circles and was well respected for his views on public education. By the 1840s Ryerson had established Victoria College (now part of University of Toronto) and was soon to become Superintendent of Education for Upper Canada in 1844. His views of public education became the standard for the rest of Canada.
He established the Toronto Normal School at St. James Square in Toronto where teacher training could take place. This establishment also became known as a cultural centre with the creation of the Museum of Natural History and Fine Art (know today as the ROM) and the Toronto School of Art (now OCAD). The Toronto Normal School also promoted experiments in botany and horticulture which led to the formation of the Ontario Agriculture School and University of Guelph.
In 1948, the need for a technical institution was met with the founding of Ryerson Institute of Technology.
Egerton Ryerson died in 1882 but his legacy lives on. The Ryerson Press took on his name in 1920. It is hoped that a suitable location will soon be found for the 3000 publications of McGraw-Hill Education’s Ryerson Collection.