Dance of the Happy Shades

Dance of the Happy Shades

Dance of the Happy Shades, The Ryerson Press, 1968

Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro was published by The Ryerson Press in 1968. This was Alice Munro’s first book of stories and “a publishing event that will bring her national (and international) recognition. Her complete honesty, unpretentious and deceptively simple style mark her work as that of a true artist. Alice Munro writes about the everyday happenings in life — occurrences in small towns, on a farm, or the next street over. Her people explore the miracle of self-discovery or the despair that comes from their failure to know themselves.” Dance of The Happy Shades won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1968.

Hugh Garner, in the Foreword to Alice Munro’s first book, says of her work, “Not only do real people, institutions and places become the paint and clay of the artist, they come to life in the hearts and minds of the readers. Among such living people created by Alice Munro are young Patricia and the pitiable retarded Benny in The Time of Death, the little girl who accompanies her father on a casual visit to his old sweetheart in Walker Brothers Cowboy, Mrs. Fullerton and her smug suburban neighbours in The Shining Houses and the despairing cry of young Lois to her evening’s lover in Thanks for the Ride. The writer who has mastered the classic short story is an artist and his work carries with it the mark of literary craftsmanship. Alice Munro is a literary artist. She belongs among the real ones — Morley Callaghan, W.O. Mitchell, Brian Moore, Margaret Laurence, Mordecai Richler, Earnest Buckler….You’ll find at least one member of your family in these stories. But most of all, you’ll notice some of the profound though probably unpalatable truths about yourself.”

Alice Munro went on to publish many more books including Lives of Girls and Women; Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You; Who Do You Think You Are?; The Moons of Jupiter; The Progress of Love; Friends of My Youth; Open Secrets; The Love of a Good Woman; Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage;  Runaway; The View from Castle Rock; Too Much Happiness; Dear Life.

Alice Munro is the winner of many literary awards including the Governor General’s Literary Award for English language fiction, 1968, 1978, 1986; The Canadian Booksellers Award, 1971; The Giller Prize, 1998, 2004; The Man Booker International Prize, 2009; and The Nobel Prize for Literature, 2013. Alice Munro lives in Clinton, Ontario.




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The Canadian Cook Book


Canadian Cook Book, 1923 (11th edition 1939)

The Canadian Cook Book was first published by The Ryerson Press in 1923.

The 1923 list of publications of The Ryerson Press contains an entry under the category of “On Various Themes” for A Canadian Cookery Book by N.L. Pattinson. “We are offering here the only complete book of cookery produced in Canada. It is primarily prepared for use in Technical and Domestic Science School, but is most admirably suited for home use. There will be two editions of this work, a school edition, which will sell for $1.50, and a presentation volume, in white vellum, for gifts to brides and others, which will sell for $2.50.”

In the Preface to the 1923 edition, Ms. Pattinson states that, “This book has been compiled, primarily, to satisfy a demand for a book of recipes conveniently arranged for use of teachers and students in technical schools. It is hoped that it may prove valuable also to all others who are interested in the preparation of food. For this reason, a number of distinctive features characterize the book, as a resume on Foods, in which is given a brief explanation of terms such as are met in many of the popular articles of newspapers and magazines, and following this, practical suggestions as to principles underlying the planning of diets and menus.”

The book was revised and enlarged after the Second World War and in 1947, Ms. Pattinson remarked that, “In the war years we have come to realize the immense importance of food and nutrition in relation to national economy. Naturally, the production of food comes first to public attention, but, with greater knowledge of food values, conservation of nutrients for the health and well-being of each individual is receiving more consideration.

Scientists are at work improving the content and quality of our foods. Their efforts can be defeated, in the home, unless sound principles are applied to their preparation.”

In its 19th edition, The Toronto Star Weekly called it, “A splendid book for both beginners and for experienced cooks.”

CCC 1969 front

Canadian Cook Book, 1969. Cover photograph courtesy of Dominion Stores

Upon the death of Ms. Pattinson a revised edition was commissioned and two graduates of Home Economics of the University of Toronto, Helen P. Wattie and Elinor B. Donaldson took up the charge. Their 1953 edition Preface reads, “Since the Canadian Cook Book was first published thirty years ago, it has had two groups of loyal friends: those who were learning the art of cooking in schools and those who practised this art in their homes. The new authors are proud to be able to carry on the work of the late Miss Pattinson. Its accuracy and dependability have provided a sound foundation on which to build. …To the principal and staff and to the students in Home Economics and Photography at the Ryerson Institute of Technology we express our thanks for their interest, assistance and encouragement.”

The 1969 edition was enlarged by almost 200 pages and completely redesigned with numerous additional recipes, including “a quantity of basic recipes designed to give greater emphasis to fundamental procedures, a fuller selection of supper dishes, a greater assortment of speedy-meal recipes and an enlarged section on menu planning and entertaining.” This edition also featured a dust jacket cover image supplied by Dominion Stores and a lavish basket of fresh vegetables photographed by Peter Croydon. The dust jacket was also “bound in pyroxylin coating which may be wiped clean with a damp cloth.” This edition could be purchased for $5.95.


Canadian Cook Book, 1977. Cover photograph courtesy Ontario Department of Agriculture and Food

The Ryerson Press was sold to The McGraw-Hill Book Company of Canada in 1970 and the Canadian Cook Book continued to be a best seller. The last edition was published in 1977. The authors state that, “Nutrition and economy determined the selection of recipes in this edition. Practical alternatives are given for foods likely to contribute to such problems as obesity; basic nutritional needs may be met, for instance, by using powdered skim milk instead of fresh whole milk wherever feasible as a way to cut down on cost while maintaining optimal food value. Subjects such as home canning and freezing are extensively covered, as is the preparation of mixes for making bread using whole grains for added nutrition. Salt quantities have been reduced in many recipes as personal taste and diets vary. While the book contains recipes for cakes, candies and cookies, as well as for certain foods that may be expensive, there are many more recipes for economical dishes that contribute to a balanced and nutritional diet.”

Nellie Lyle Pattinson (1873-1953) was educated in Bowmanville, Ontario, and became Director of Domestic Science at Central Technical School in Toronto, Ontario.

Helen Wattie (1911-2009) was a graduate of the University of Toronto and a former school principal in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. She joined CUSO and taught for two years at a teachers’ college in Ghana and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in the 1950s. She travelled extensively, gleaning new recipes and exciting ideas about food.

Elinor Donaldson-Whyte graduated from the University of Toronto. She was a nutritionist and worked in the field of community health. She was also a member of the Canadian Dietetic Association and the Canadian Home Economics Association. She taught high school and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.




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The Swamp of Telda

The Canada Book of Prose and Verse 1

The Canada Book of Prose and Verse, Book One, 1928

The short story The Swamp of Telda was written by Lorne Pierce* for inclusion in the The Canada Book of Prose and Verse, Book II, 1928, which he edited along with Dora Whitefield. This series was co-published with The Macmillan Company of Canada as a reading series and was reprinted five times between October, 1928 and July, 1932.

Lorne Pierce was hired by The Ryerson Press in 1920 as a literary critic and literary advisor. He soon became Book Editor and spent the next 40 years shaping the publishing output of The Ryerson Press, turning it into the most prestigious publishing house in Canada.

An elementary reading series was highly regarded by Lorne Pierce, Macmillan’s Hugh Eayrs and  W.J.Gage’s John Saul as a tremendous market for educational publications. The ultimate collaboration of Pierce and Eayrs was seen as a major triumph for both The Ryerson Press and Macmillan in the 1920s and 1930s. Although fraught with contractual issues, the resulting readers were highly successful in their day.

The Swamp of Telda is included in Book II of the series. Telda is a play on words with Pierce’s birthplace of Delta, Ontario, a hamlet just north of Brockville in the county of Leeds and Grenville. Pierce was born in Delta on August 3, 1890 in the family home on Mathew Street. He enjoyed returning to the family home and vacationing in the family cottage on Whiskey Island in Lower Beverley Lake.

The reference to the swamp is possibly Pierce’s own reminiscences of his childhood adventures in and around the town of Delta.

The story opens with a description of the town of “Telda” with “its little shops and homes clustered snugly along Main Street, a most indolent and meandering thoroughfare that crept through Sleepy Hollow.”

But beyond the town there was a swamp that was “certainly haunted’’ where an “ugly-looking old hermit lived in a dilapidated hut at the edge of the swamp. He had an iron hook for a hand and children ran indoors when he came to town.”

One day, some brave boys saw a rainbow and decided to find the foot of the rainbow closest to them – the giant evergreen tree in the middle of the swamp. They claimed “there must be a pot of gold somewhere around”.

“When the boys at last arrived at the great evergreen tree, they found to their surprise, a clearing. It was full of warm sunlight, of green and yellow-fringed orchids, the plaintive note of the wood thrush, the merry call of the Canada bird, the splendid orioles and modest brown thrashers. It seemed like a bowl holding green light and the fragrance of every beautiful thing.”

The story goes on to recount the musings of the three lads as to the nature of rainbows, each boy having a turn at describing the origins of the elusive apparition. One said “the sun just drew the vapour out of the muddy, slimy waters of the swamp, and carried it to the sky. The mist always looked like coloured ribbons when the sun shone through it.”  Another claimed it was about “beautiful Iris, who once was messenger of the Queen of Heaven and also Goddess of the Rainbow. She had wings of many colours, and her robes flashed as many hues to the sun as the proud feathers of the lordly bird. Her Grandfather, Ocean, kept the clouds filled with water.” A third announced that “the rainbow took its colours from the wings of birds and from the flowers where its feet rested.”

The accompanying study notes are meant to encourage the reader to use imagination. “Scientists and poets are more nearly alike than most people suspect. Both possess that rare gift, imagination. Old Gradgrind** had none of it. The scientists saw everything through the imagination. Their explanations of nature were pure poetry, nothing but love dreams and beautiful fancies.

When the scientist exhausts all the known facts his mind takes a daring leap, that is, he makes a bold guess, imagines, if you will. So it was that men discovered America, electricity, radium, insulin.

The poet does the same. His fancy plays upon facts, like golden sunshine upon a stagnant pond, and you have rainbow thoughts, flashing figures of speech. The pond is no longer a pond, but,

                  “And every pool a sapphire is

                  Ribboned around with irises”

*The impact that Lorne Pierce had on The Ryerson Press and on Canadian publishing as a whole is immeasurable. During his 40-year career at the helm of The House, Pierce sought to bring Canadian literature, art and culture to the Canadian public. He dedicated his entire life’s work to this end and succeeded in every aspect. His “Can Lit” influence can be found in the hundreds of titles published by The Ryerson Press between 1920 and 1960 — a legacy that endures within The Ryerson Press Archives.

**Gradgrind is the Dickens character Mr. Thomas Gradgrind,the School Board Superintendent in the novel Hard Times. His name is sometimes used generically to refer to someone who is hard and only concerned with cold facts and numbers.
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William Arthur Deacon

The 4 Jameses cover

The Four Jameses by William Arthur Deacon, 1953, The Ryerson Press

4 James

The four Jameses

This edition of The Four Jameses by William Arthur Deacon was published by The Ryerson Press in 1953. These wise and witty portraits are a satirical look at four poets of the 19th and early 20th centuries – James Gay, James McIntyre, James MacRae and James Gillis— often referred to as the “cheese poets”, they may be among the worst poets ever to be published.







James Gay: Self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Canada, and Master of All Poets,

What is a man, poor sinful man, or any of his race,

Without a greater power to keep him in his place?

We are nothing of ourselves, here we cannot stay;

Then read the noble writing of the Poet James Gay


James McIntyre: The Cheese Poet

From Ode to the Mammoth Cheese

We have seen thee, queen of cheese,

Lying quietly at your ease,

Gently fanned by evening breeze,

The fair form no flies dare seize.


All gaily dressed soon you’ll go

To the great Provincial show,

To be admired by many a beau

In the city of Toronto.

Note: A plaque commemorating “The big cheese 1866” has been erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historical Sites Board at the intersection of Hwys 19 and 401, just outside Ingersoll, Ontario.


James D. Gillis: A Man of Parts

Bonny Birdie

A maid who dwells on yonder hill

Is certain cure for all my ills

And sure, I never loved until

I met my charming Birdie


Her toilet’s in the height of taste

Despite domestic cares and haste;

And O to span the artless waist—

The tempting waist of Birdie.



James MacRae: The Man from Glengarry

On women’s clothing in 1877…

How oft does lay the secret way

In which the game is played:–

A shapeless mass, by name a lass,

Is artfully arrayed,

Is neatly bound with metal round

And trimmings wisely made,

And padded o’er with worthless store

To cover unbetrayed

The sad defects, which one detects

When nature is displayed.


Pens and Pirates 1923

William Arthur Deacon’s Pens and Pirates, 1923, The Ryerson Press

Perhaps a far more interesting work by Deacon is his 1923 publication, Pens and Pirates. This is a compilation of articles, treatments and musings on a variety of subjects and personalities. Deacon goes to great lengths to explain his humour. This 1923 edition is clothbound with goldleaf stamping. It is a publisher’s edition as many pages are untrimmed. The elaborate endpapers feature an illustration by F.H. Varley. Deacon writes his own review of Pens and Pirates, entitled: He Took His Pen In Hand, A Review of Pens and Pirates by The Author: 

“Having read little, and thought less, Mr. Deacon’s sole equipment for writing seems to have been the possession of a pen and a limited quantity of paper. That he had only a small number of sheets at his command may be inferred from the obvious fact that there has been no revision of the first drafts of his manuscripts. It is unthinkable that any sane man, given the opportunity to correct misstatements and to delete absurdities, would not have done so.”

He goes on to say, “Frankly, I do not know who to pity more, the publisher or the public. The book-buyer has no opportunity of examining his purchase until he has paid his money and taken it home, while the publisher doubtless employs a reader and should have known better than to enter upon such a venture….What I would advise each reader of this review to do is to buy a copy of the book, take it home and put it in the furnace, unread. In this way the first edition will be exhausted and I have ascertained that the publisher may be relied upon never to publish another. In no other way can you so effectively show your contempt for Mr. Deacon and his book, and in ridding the book-stores of the volume you will be performing a public-service of national importance.

Pens and Pirates End Papers 1923

Pens and Pirates endpaper illustration by F.H. Varley (the initials F.H.V. are visible below the skull and cross-bones on the chest)

Here a few extracts from Pens and Pirates:

The Dog ( Canus manhattanensis)

If I were going to be a dog in New York I would choose to be, not a high caste animal dressed up in coat and pants and muzzle, fettered by six feet of chain and the usages of good society, but rather an unknown mongrel, ill-mannered and unkempt, but free withal to explore every street and ash can in the city under the blessed guidance of a whimsical but perennial curiosity.

Local Color (A review of a W.J. Phillips Art Exhibition)

Here is part of his review: “I had to be dragged to see Mr. Phillip’s pictures. For I was subject to the great Canadian illusion that first-class painting started with Raphael and ended with G.F. Watts, or maybe Sir Joshua Reynolds; that this art was native to Italy, Holland and, in lesser degree, to France and England; that worth-while pictures could no more be painted on this side of the Atlantic than strawberries could be raised on the Arctic ice-packs. Do not our young men go to learn painting at Paris, while they learn medicine and surveying at Home? The sombre browns of the Dutch school, the protuberant stomachs of the Botticelli women, the winged cherubs flying about in the clouds – all these were foreign relics, musty and meaningless. There was something repelling, also, in the building itself. That huge, gaudy, bottom layer of a wedding cake, might fittingly house some things, but not Beauty – never that.

Then I stood before the pictures, and the prejudices vanished. I was standing on the shore of a Canadian lake, at my feet sand and pebbles, and then the water started, and stretched away, mile after mile, to the far shore. It was very still and quite hot. There was not a bird nor a cloud to be seen; the tall, rank grass beside me was motionless. It was about noon. I suppose I had unconsciously checked the time by the shadows, though I was not interested in anything but the blessed sight of that far shore. Often had I come out on lakes like that and found bodily rest in a long, steady look across quiet water. Smoothwater and Lake Sydney have the same unbroken shoreline opposite. Neither has any outlet to the west. My eye travelled north along the purple line – the old woodsman’s habit – looking for a portage. I saw a piece of yellow wood. It was the frame of the picture and I was back in the Industrial Bureau looking at Mr. Phillips’ Art Exhibition. There was a hum of talk, and I glanced back. There was no canoe, no packs, no partner pulling on his disreputable pipe – only some city people chattering about pictures. But, when I looked back at the wall, prepared to find a vanished lake, lo! there it was, stretching mile after mile, with a slight haze over it. And I could smell the water.”

Arthur Deacon back cover

William Arthur Deacon

William Arthur Deacon (1890-1977) was a Canadian literary critic and editor. Deacon was born in Pembroke, Ontario. He studied law in Winnipeg but eventually became a book review editor. He worked for the Manitoba Free Press, Saturday Night, the Toronto Mail and Empire, later the Globe and Mail. His original publication of The Four Jameses was published in 1927 by Graphic. The Four Jameses was revised in 1953 and published by The Ryerson Press.

Note: Walter Joseph Phillips (1884 – 1963) was an English-born Canadian painter and printmaker. He is credited with popularizing the colour woodcut in Canada.




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The Anne Series


The Anne Series

Anne of the Island, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Chronicles of Avonlea, The Story Girl, First Canadian Editions, 1942-43

The First Canadian Editions of the Anne series were published in 1942, the year Lucy Maud Montgomery died in Toronto, just as they were coming off the presses of The Ryerson Press.

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables, 1942, The Ryerson Press

Mark Twain described Anne of Green Gables as “The sweetest creation of child life yet written”. That was in 1908. By the time the First Canadian Edition was published, Anne of Green Gables had sold over 760 000 copies. It has gone on to sell millions and has been made available in over 38 countries around the globe. The Anne series has been the subject of television adaptations, radio plays, stage plays as well as film and television movies.

She wrote of her Grandparent’s farm in Cavendish, P.E.I. that it was “twelve miles from a railway station, 24 miles from the nearest town, and half a mile from the sea.” It is here that she is buried, not far from where her stories take place.

Chronicles of Avonlea

Chronicles of Avonlea, 1943, The Ryerson Press

The Chronicles of Avonlea, 1943, The Ryerson Press, “consists of stories of Avonlea and the surrounding district – Grafton, Spencerville, Carmody, White Sands, and the beautiful countryside, with which readers of the Anne books are already familiar. This is as delightful as the other books, being packed with heart-warming incidents and amusing situations which arise out of the characters of the different people. The author’s sound psychology and understanding of human nature enable her to portray them convincingly. Over 101 000 copies have been sold to date.” The house where Lucy Maud Montgomery lived with her Grandmother in Cavendish P.E.I. is now a National Park and is visited by tourists from around the world.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, born in 1874, lived and taught school in Cavendish, P.E.I. She met and married Reverend Ewan MacDonald in 1911 and the couple moved to Leaskdale, Ontario and later Norval and then to Toronto, in 1935. She died in April, 1942. She is buried in Cavendish, P.E.I.







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Gordie Howe Number 9

Gordie Howe Number 9

Gordie Howe Number 9, 1968, The Ryerson Press

Gordie Howe Number 9, by renowned Globe and Mail Sportswriter Jim Vipond, was published in 1968 by The Ryerson Press. It remains a fitting tribute to a great hockey player and ambassador of the game Howe loved so much.

Written almost fifty years ago in his twenty-second year as  a professional hockey player, Howe, at the age of 40, had already racked up many awards and had accomplished what most professionals only dream of achieving in an entire career – six-time winner of the Hart Trophy for most valuable player, six-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy for leading scorer, named to the All-Star team nineteen times. Howe won the Stanley Cup with Detroit Red Wings four times.


Howe went on to play a total of 26 seasons with the Red Wings before retiring in 1971. Two years later Howe joined the Houston Aeros of World Hockey Association (WHA) and played a further 6 seasons alongside his sons Marty and Mark. He played one season with the Hartford Whalers before retiring from hockey in 1980 at the age of 52. His record of most games and most seasons played still stands.

Howe as All Star 1967

Howe was named to the NHL All Star team twenty-three times in his career

The Epilogue to Gordie Howe Number 9 reads: “Now we come to the end of a story that has not ended. Our man has not retired, has no thought of retiring. He has said he will retire when the game is no longer fun to play. It is more realistic to suggest he will retire when he finds he can no longer skate with the younger men and can no longer prevent them from climbing all over him.

 That will be a sad day and Howe will be the first to recognize it. It could happen in the middle of a game. He will leave no chance for lingering doubt. His fans will remember him only as a great player. Never will they have the opportunity to become accustomed to saying. ’He’s over the hill. Why doesn’t he quit?’

His fans never did.

In 2008, Gordie Howe, known to many as Mr. Hockey, went on to win the inaugural NHL Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-time contributions to the game of hockey.

Gordie Howe died on June 10, 2016. He was 88.

Jim Vipond, 1916-1989, was a sports columnist for the Globe and Mail from 1938 to 1979 when he retired to become Ontario Athletics Commissioner. Jim Vipond was a member of the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Jim Vipond died in 1989.



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A Scar Is Born


A Scar is Born.jpg

A Scar is Born, 1968

A Scar is Born is Eric Nicol’s hilarious tale of his (mis)adventures in New York from August to October 1967.  The following is taken from the flap copy of A Scar is Born, published by The Ryerson Press in 1968:

“In 1966, a new comedy by Eric Nicol opened to sell-out houses and cheering audiences in Vancouver. Like Father, Like Fun then travelled to Toronto where, despite the slings and arrows of an outraged critic, it played to delighted thousands. Then on to Montreal.

Encouraged by its Canadian success, an optimistic entrepreneur decided to subject Nicol’s farce – complete with a new cast, new director and new title – to the bright lights of Broadway.

On the evening of Friday, October 6th, 1967, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, A Minor Adjustment had its official opening.

On the evening of Saturday, October 7, 1967, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, A Minor Adjustment had its official closing. After three performances. “For the first time in my life, I envied the longevity of 48-hour ‘flu’, writes the author.

They are all here: the play doctors, whose diagnosis revealed that ‘the play could use a new ending, a new beginning – and possibly a new middle…the other parts are firm’; the director, who invited the author to stay away during rehearsals; the patrons of the Algonquin Hotel, who take bows coming out of the elevator; and the inevitable New York publicist named ‘Marty’.

Nicole views them all with the infectious good humour which has won him thousands of faithful fans across Canada, A Scar Is Born will win him thousands more.

Eric Nicol Eric Nicol was born in Kingston, Ontario in 1919. He received his B.A. from the University of British Columbia in 1941. After serving with the Air Force for three years, he returned to university to complete his M.A. He spent one year studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, then moved to London to write for radio and television. In 1951 he returned to Vancouver where he became a columnist for Vancouver’s The Province. Nicol published over 40 books, won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour three times and was appointed Member of the Order of Canada in 2000. Nicol died in 2011 at the age of 91.

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