June 26, 1947 – August 13, 2011
Glenn Goluska, one of Canada’s great typographers, died in Montreal on Saturday after a brief battle with cancer.
Glenn grew up in Chicago and came to Canada as a student at the University of Toronto. After graduation, Glenn worked briefly in the United States before landing (on a whim, while on vacation, his then-wife Anne waiting in the car) a job as a typesetter at Coach House Press in Toronto. The work Glenn did at Coach House Press constitutes one of the most important bodies of book design in modern Canadian publishing, on par with the accomplishments of Tim Inkster, Frank Newfeld or Allan Fleming.
Glenn left Coach House to pursue letterpress printing full-time, producing many influential books and broadsides and completing commissions for people like Margaret Atwood and the Bronfman family in Montreal. His imprints were Imprimerie Dromadaire and Nightshade Press.
Later in his career, Glenn relocated to Montreal, where he worked for the Canadian Centre for Architecture and then as a freelancer for McGill-Queens Press.
Glenn was diagnosed with lung cancer last fall. I was able to travel to Montreal twice this spring while he was still relatively healthy, including in May when he was awarded the Robert Reid lifetime achievement medal by the Alucin Society of Canada, recognizing his considerable contribution to Canadian design. Glenn is survived by two brothers, his first wife, Anne, and his second wife, Bernadette.
Bernadette, Glenn and Stan Bevington in Montreal this past May
A number of tributes to Glenn’s life are being discussed by his friends and colleagues, including an exhibition and some sort of publication (a catalogue or a book). One tribute is more immediate: Glenn’s long-time friend Rod McDonald has designed a typeface named Goluska, which will have its first public showing in the forthcoming issue (No. 21) of Parenthesis, which I am producing for the Fine Press Book Association in my shop this very week. This issue contains a spread of reproductions of some of Glenn’s design work and a short tribute by Chester Gryski. When I was designing the jacket, which I printed letterpress on my vandercook, I was aware that Glenn’s life was winding down; its somber tones are a quiet tribute to the passing of a friend.
Glenn had a strong bond with Gaspereau, and was a frequent attendee to our wayzgoose and open house. There was a kinship in the swagger of our design styles and our love of fine typography; admiration that was mutual. I was surprised and honoured a number of years ago when Glenn asked me if I would take on his letterpress shop once he died and move it to Gaspereau Press. At the time, Glenn’s death was a distant, abstract idea to both of us, but now it is as bold and black and real as oversized wooden type inked and slammed into a piece of dampened paper. We’ll sort out the logistics of that move in the coming months and think about how we will keep his memory alive by using the machinery and type that he loved to make beautiful things.
This is a short and incomplete tribute, and I will write more of Glenn and his work as I have time to reflect. For now, I think I’ll just find a little Scott Joplin to play and raise a glass to my great brother in letters.
ANDREW STEEVES ¶ PRINTER & PUBLISHER