Publishers have been producing books for the commercial market in Saskatchewan since we were still called the Northwest Territories! Below you’ll find an excerpt from Bernadette Wagner’s 2002 report “Saskatchewan’s Book Publishing History”, commissioned by the Saskatchewan Publishers Group (SaskBooks):
- At Battleford in 1878 P. G. Laurie published Ordinances of the North-West Territories Passed in the Years 1878 and 1879.
- In 1886 The Prairie Print and Publishing Co., Ltd. published An Old Woman’s Story, a book of poems by Lizzie Rowe. Nicholas Flood Davin and a group of gentlemen created Prairie Print in 1883 in Regina to provide newspapers and gazettes, books and bookbinding.
- In Saskatoon, the University of Saskatchewan Extension Department produced fact sheets and bulletins to help farmers improve their production practices as early as 1907. In 1916 the Department published 54 agricultural bulletins.
- By 1916 St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster established St Peter’s Press, publishing German Schools in the Humboldt District by Fr. Bruno Doerfler.
- In 1927 the Association Catholique Franco-Canadienne de la Saskatchewan in Prince Albert produced French language surveys and reports such as “Quinze Ans De Vie Francaise En Saskatchewan, 1912-1927” and “Travaux Presentes A La Convention Conjointe De L’A.C.F.C. Et De L’A.C.E.F. Tenue A Regina Les 15, 16 Et 17 Mars, 1927”.
- The Canadian Authors Association published Saskatchewan, Her Infinite Variety: The Author’s Association Pays Its Respects To Debutante Province, a collection of CAA members’ work in 1925. The Saskatchewan Poetry Society produced a Saskatchewan Poetry Book of members’ work as early as 1937 and has continued for each year following except for 1961-62.
- In 1928 Western Extension College Educational Publishers published Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: A Manual For Teachers And Students and Shakespeare’s The Tempest: A Manual For Teachers And Students by Claude E. Lewis. In 1935 the company published Solomon Cleaver’s Jean Val Jean.
- Beginning in the 1940s, the School Aids and Text Book Publishing Company published books for the public market: history books, textbooks, tractor repair books and French-language books. Two 1942 titles included Wild Flowers Of The Prairie Provinces, by Elizabeth Burnett Flock and The Stone Age On The Prairies by William John Orchard.
- In 1954 The Western Producer, published by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and printed by Modern Press in Saskatoon, moved into book publishing. To Find the Daily Bread by Gerhard Fast originated as a serialized story in the newspaper. Western Producer Prairie Books focused its publishing program on non-fiction books that preserved and promoted Saskatchewan history and culture. In 1991, with sales of over one million dollars per annum, and, as the largest trade publisher in the province, the assets were sold to Douglas & McIntyre.
- The Centre for Community Studies, established in 1957 as a joint University-Government program in Saskatoon with a publishing mandate to study “a means of helping all Saskatchewan communities adjust to a changing world.”1 In 1958 the Centre publised Developing Saskatchewan’s Community Resources: a technical program sponsored jointly by the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan by Vernon Wallace Larsen. By 1966 it re-incorporated as the Canadian Centre for Community Studies and moved to Ottawa.
- In 1961 Meredith Black Banting started publishing local histories, his own poetry and other texts. By 1971 Banting Press published a homecoming anthology, Homespun Stories And Rhymes, By Saskatchewan Authors.
- In 1972 the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre began to strengthen and support the overall education and cultural awareness of First Nations people with the publication of A Study of Alcohol Consumption and Alcoholism among Saskatchewan Indians: Social and Cultural Viewpoints.
- The Canadian Plains Research Centre, established in Regina in 1973 with a mandate to initiate, undertake, encourage and support research and scholarly work on all aspects of prairie life, including its history, resources, land and people, published books occasionally, and eventually, several titles in a year.
- The Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, created in 1969, fostered the development of a publishing industry in Saskatchewan. Writers themselves recognized the need for Saskatchewan stories to be told. Andrew Suknaski, a poet from the Wood River district, created several small presses, including Deodar Shadow Press, Anak Press and Sundog Press. Mick Burrs set up Waking Image Press in Regina. Glen and Sonia Sorestad and Neil and Susan Wagner formed Thistledown Press in Saskatoon in 1975. At the same time, Barbara Sapergia, Geoffrey Ursell, Robert Currie and Gary Hyland established the Thundercreek Publishing Co-operative (Coteau Books) in Moose Jaw. The Moose Jaw initiative was the first instance of a publishing co-operative in Canada.
- Francophone publishers’ commitment to promote francophone history and culture and develop the fransaskois community remains constant. La Commission culturelle fransaskois and La Société Historique de la Saskatchewan together with Les Editions Louis Riel and other fransaskois organizations published more than 30 French language books. Les Editions de la Nouvelle Plume continues to publish French language stories, novels, poetry, and teaching materials.
- In 1974 the Gabriel Dumont Institute began promoting the renewal and development of Métis culture through research, materials development, collections and the distribution of them. The development and delivery of Métis-specific educational programs and services also began. Gabriel Dumont Institute Press now produces several books a year focusing on Métis culture, history, and language.
- In the mid-1970s, the Native Law Centre began publishing books that promote the development of the law and legal system in Canada in ways that would better accommodate native communities in Canadian society. They provide an avenue for the publication of scholarly research on Aboriginal issues.
- The late Caroline Heath founded Fifth House Publishers in 1982 to publish high-quality books with a strong emphasis on western Canadian non-fiction. Fifth House moved to Alberta in 1991.
- Also moved to Alberta at the same time is Weigl Educational Publishers, established in Saskatchewan in 1979 to publish student books, teacher guides, and multimedia supplementary material.
- The Prairie Lily Co-operative, founded in the fall of 1986, identified a need to publish works that reflect the Saskatchewan way of life and has since folded.
- The range of publishing in Saskatchewan is diverse and includes or has included the Mendel and MacKenzie art galleries in Saskatoon and Regina, as well as tourism publishers, Parkland Publishing, Purich Publishing, who produced scholarly titles, Centax Books, providers of cookbooks and community-related publications, and numerous other publishers.
- Originally established as the Prairie Publishers Association and encompassing publishers in all three prairie provinces, the Saskatchewan Publishers Group established itself as a voice for Saskatchewan publishers. They maintain a database of information on more than 14 000 books that have been recorded as written work published by Saskatchewan writers and publishers.
As of 2020, there are more than 45 publishers operating their businesses in Saskatchewan, producing everything from children’s picture books to scholarly books, poetry, fiction and literary non-fiction, tourism books, memoir, mystery, science fiction and fantasy, juvenile and young adult books, cookbooks, self-help titles, and everything you can imagine in between. Saskatchewan publishers produce books in English, French, Michif, Cree, Ojibway, German, and other First Nations languages and dialects. We have books for every age and reading level, many of which have been evaluated for use in the Saskatchewan educational curriculum.
For more information about Saskatchewan’s publishing industry, our books, or the incredibly talented pool of people working as editors, designers, indexers, publicists, and more, please get in touch with us at [email protected] We love talking about our industry, our publishers, and our books!