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Business and History - The Ryerson Press

The Ryerson Press

This page was reproduced with permission from the Canadian Manufactures Association. The Canadian Manufacturers Association, renamed Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, holds the Copyright for the text and images.

This information came from Industry '67 Centennial Perspective, published by The Canadian Manufacturers' Association in May 1967. The original document is accessible through Western Libraries Shared Catalogue.

In 1829, the Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada decided to establish a church paper to be called "The Christian Guardian" and to be published weekly. The town of York was chosen as its headquarters and the sum of $700.00 was deemed "sufficient to purchase all the apparatus for a printing establishment." Egerton Ryerson was "appointed Agent for procuring a printing Establishment" and the first issue of "The Christian Guardian" (12s. 6d. per annum, if paid in advance) came off Ryerson's new press on November 21, 1829. A month later Ryerson published the first book and the organization now known as The Ryerson Press was on its way. By mid-century the books, either printed and published or imported, filled substantial catalogues with their titles. The Book Room, as the Methodist Book Publishing House had come to be called, was situated on King Street from 1838 to 1889. The growth of the business made necessary a change to larger quarters and in 1889 new and larger premises Were found on Richmond Street. Twenty-five years later these, too, were outgrown and in 1915 the firm moved to its present location at 299 Queen Street West. In 1919, the name The Ryerson Press was adopted.

During this time the publishing program of the House had expanded into other areas of Canadian life and thought and by the turn of the century there were few literary areas it had left untouched. Current events, such as the war in Cuba or the Boxer troubles in China, were the subject of books issued at the time, along with fiction, poetry, history, biography, travel, religion
and textbooks in various fields, including medicine. In 1907 the House published a little collection of verses by an unknown English bank clerk that everyone was soon quoting. The poet was Robert W. Service and the book was "Songs of a Sourdough," still selling well under the
Ryerson imprint.

In 1920 a new young editor, Dr. Lorne Pierce, came to Ryerson and for forty years gave such vigorous leadership to the House that it became what it is today-a publishing operation well known far beyond the borders of Canada.