The donation of the 3000-title Ryerson Press Collection dating from 1862 to 1970 to Ryerson University Library Archives and Special Collections was officially recognized on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 in Toronto.
A reception was held in the 4th Floor Student Learning Centre and was attended by members of the Ryerson Library Staff, Ryerson Faculty as well as invited guests. These included retired McGraw-Hill Ryerson executives Theresa Courneyea, Rachel Mansfield and Clive Powell along with current McGraw-Hill Education executives Gary Henn, Alex Dimech, Yolanda Pigden and Rhondda McNabb.
The group was welcomed by Dr. Paul Stenton, Deputy Provost and Vice Provost University Planning. Chief Librarian Madeleine Lefebvre expressed her appreciation on behalf of Ryerson University Library for the incredible gift of 3000 Ryerson Press books along with 7 boxes of author contracts and documents pertaining to the Collection. Rhondda McNabb spoke on behalf of McGraw-Hill Education wishing Ryerson University students and scholars many years of discovery with the rich resource of the Ryerson Press Collection.
The Ryerson Press Collection was obtained by McGraw-Hill following the sale of the Ryerson Press to McGraw-Hill in 1970. The sale of The Ryerson Press, at the time, was viewed by some as the death of Canadian culture. The controversy surrounding the sale spawned the Ontario Royal Commission of Book Publishing in 1972 and government scrutiny of foreign ownership of Canadian companies ensued. The fact that no other Canadian publisher at the time had stepped forward to purchase the company was somehow overlooked. In reality, The McGraw-Hill Book Company had been operating in Canada since 1948 and was fully managed by Canadians publishing books for the Canadian market. McGraw-Hill took over The Ryerson Press outstanding debt, continued to honour outstanding author contracts, employed many Ryerson Press staff and even changed the name of the company to reflect the rich heritage it was inheriting. McGraw-Hill Ryerson also revived several Ryerson Press titles in subsequent years and continued to publish Ryerson Press authors well into the 1990s.
When the 3000 Ryerson Press titles arrived at McGraw-Hill offices following the sale in 1970, they were immediately housed in elegant glassed-in bookcases and put on display in the corporate offices of the newly formed McGraw-Hill Ryerson. The stewardship of this valuable collection remained with McGraw-Hill Ryerson for close to five decades – a testament to the care and concern expressed by the management team of McGraw-Hill Ryerson for the rich heritage that is, and continues to be, The Ryerson Press Collection.
Among the many invited guests at the reception was Earle Toppings, former editor at The Ryerson Press, David Mason of David Mason Books, and Hugh Anson-Cartwright, Antiquarian Bookseller. Their thoughts and reminiscences along with the hopes and aspirations of Ryerson University Library and Faculty for The Ryerson Press Collection are captured in a video by Graeme Powell. You can watch it here.
It has been my distinct and absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to work with The Ryerson Press Collection. I hope to be able to continue to be surprised and amazed at the rich history that this collection represents.