30 May 2012

Help Tim Bowling win the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award

One of the best books we’ve ever published – at least one of my personal favourites – is Tim Bowling’s In the Suicide’s Library. The book is presently up for the Edmonton Public Library Alberta Readers’ Choice Award. The award is determined by an open online vote, so you can help make Tim’s book the winner by visiting this website and voting for Tim’s book before midnight on May 31st.

You can read more about this book by visiting our online catalogue.


22 May 2012

Is There a Doctor in the House? Yes!

While I was busy moving the heavy equipment required to keep the wheels of culture moving, two authors who have been quintessential collaborators with Gaspereau Press – nay, authors whose accomplishments have helped define the press’s very spirit – were busy being honoured by Nova Scotian universities.

Peter Sanger: Is that a Tilly hat?

On 4 May 2012, Peter Sanger was presented with an Honorary Doctorate by Nova Scotia Agricultural College (and its parent institution, Dalhousie University) during its 107th Convocation ceremony in Truro, Nova Scotia. Peter is actually Professor Emeritus at the college, where he taught in the humanities department. The college’s press release summarized the importance of Peter’s contribution to the college with uncharacteristic clarity: “There is a danger in a field like agriculture that teaching can become solely focused on facts. Students need to be introduced to the broader philosophical and cultural perspectives that make a student truly educated. Peter Sanger is an example of someone who has a deep love and appreciation of agriculture but can add the artistic and historical dimension that places agriculture at the centre of society and human development.” Congratulations Dr. Sanger! The honour is well deserved.

Later in the month, the irrepressible George Elliott Clarke, was also presented with an Honorary Doctorate, this one by our local university, Acadia. George is currently the inaugural E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto and has won many awards considering he’s only now reaching mid-career. His previous honours include the Portia White Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry (for Execution Poems, which was originally a letterpress project he and I cooked up on a whim), and appointment to the Order of Canada. George gave a convocation address at Acadia, and people around town are still talking about it. Congratulations to you as well, Dr. Clarke.

George Elliott Clarke: Not exactly as illustrated

A confession: I didn’t actually attend any of my own convocation ceremonies (there were three) during my university days. My grandmother actually attended my convocation when I earned a Masters of Arts degree, even though I didn’t. Out of politeness, I stopped by the auditorium to say hello to her before the ceremony began. I was on my way to the hardware store.


20 May 2012

Moving the Goluska Printshop Part 3

Yahoo! The Goluska type collection has arrived at Gaspereau by truck. First thing this morning we met the driver and his rig in the fortuitously abandoned parking lot (it being a long weekend) in front of our building in Kentville. My neighbour Bret Miner was kind enough to bring his gigantic tractor down off the South Mountain to shunt the skids from the truck to our dock (we have a dock leveler, but we didn’t want to risk the steep drop down off the truck’s deck with such heavy and valuable cargo). I dare say this is the first time he’s moved a Linotype. Once things were inside the building, my other mountain neighbours Erik Barr and John Colten helped reassemble the type cabinets and lug the hundreds of drawers of type into the letterpress studio. We were also greatly assisted by noteworthy typographer Stephen Slipp of Wolfville. We got all the type unloaded from the skids and reloaded into the cabinets, though there is still much work to do before the shop will be anything resembling organized again. I’m so pleased to see it all landed in Kentville safe and sound, just as Glenn had envisioned. Combined with our own considerable collection of presses and casters, it makes for a well equipped letterpress shop. I’ll be organizing and cataloguing the Goluska types though the summer in the hopes of some sort of official unveiling of the Goluska Type Lab (or whatever we’ll call it) at our wayzgoose on October 20th. Thanks again to Bret, Erik, Stephen, John and Gary for helping me to get this unloaded today.


14 May 2012

Moving the Goluska Printshop Part 2

Last week I travelled to Montreal with my neighbour Erik Barr and my son Adam to pack up and ship some 400 cases of wood and metal type and the other printing gear belonging to my late friend Glenn Goluska. The collection will be integrated into our operations at Gaspereau Press.

On the first day we lugged everything that could be carried to the alleyway where we built and loaded some eighteen pallets. I was thankful for the additional help of my friends Patrick Griffin (of Canada Type in Toronto) and Norm Ravvin of Montreal, and to Glenn’s widow Bernadette for laying out a wonderful lunch for the crew. The skids were picked up by a local mover and taken to a warehouse to await a truck from Nova Scotia. By the end of the day we were nearly unable to move from exhaustion, but were much soothed by a great supper provided by papermaker David Carruthers.

Assembling skids in the alleyway

Me with a case of wood type. Some of Glenn’s wood type once belonged to Tim Inkster of The Porcupine’s Quill; some of his metal type once belonged to Margaret Atwood

Adam and Patrick helping me with the Linotype magazines

Patrick moving pigs. Nice to see a digital type designer slinging a little lead around

The second day we moved the two larger items, a Linotype caster and a Vandercook Universal 1. After a day of lugging all those cases of type up to the alleyway, creeping the 3200+ pound Linotype along the floor and over the threshold with pipes and Burke bars seemed downright leisurely. We only had 3/8 of an inch grace getting through the doorway, but that was enough. These were boomed out of the patio well and joined the other skids in the warehouse.

Adam, Erik and I creeping the Linotype over the threshold on pipes

‘American Gothic’ or portrait of a Linotype Rigger

Linotype and Vandercook ready for the boom truck

Booming out the Vandercook

Booming out the Linotype

Before we took off for home Thursday evening, we had a quick tour of David Carruthers’ Saint Armand Papermill. David, a third generation papermaker, is holding a picture of his grandfather. The giant piece if gear is his Hollander beater.

Okay, stay tuned for updates on the installation of the Goluska Typetrust (or whatever we end up dubbing it) at Gaspereau Press. Most of Gary's and my coming week will involve great feats of rearrangement in preparation for the arrival of 20 skids of type and equipment later this week. Our shop was far from empty to start with.


13 May 2012

Moving the Goluska Printshop Part 1

I'm just back from Montreal, where I packed up Glenn Goluska's printshop with my son Adam and neighbour Erik Barr. I'll post more later, but for now here is a time-lapse video of the three of us walking Glenn's Linotype out the door.


07 May 2012

A week spent with great paper

Last week I was lucky enough to have spent the majority of my week ignoring most of my administrative, editing and typesetting duties and tackling a backlog of letterpress printing. As a matter of fact, I spent the whole week printing on handmade paper milled by our good friend David Carruthers and his staff at The Saint-Armand paper mill in Montreal. Any week a trade printer can print exclusively on handmade paper is a pretty good week.

The week started off with a keepsake that Thaddeus Holownia and I were collaborating on to celebrate the life of our late friend and coconspirator Douglas Lochhead. It required four press passes and a crease. Inside, one of Holownia’s images of the soon-to-be decommissioned Radio Canada International shortwave transmission towers on the Tantramar marshes was tipped in. The keepsake states:

During his lifetime, Douglas Lochhead wrote extensively about the people and the landscape of the Tantramar region, his home from the time of his appointment as Director of Canadian Studies at Mount Allison University in 1975 until his death. His relationship with the upland marsh above the Cumberland Basin was a particularly fruitful one from a literary standpoint, and poetry collections such as High Marsh Road and Dykelands secure Lochhead a place alongside Charles G.D. Roberts and John Thompson in the fraternity of Tantramar bards. Among the most iconic modern-day elements of the Tantramar’s landscape are the towers which comprise Radio Canada International’s transmission site, which since 1943 have broadcast Canadian shortwave radio signals around the world. In June 2012, RCI will discontinue shortwave broadcasting due to changing technology and federal funding cutbacks. This keepsake was produced by Thaddeus Holownia and Andrew Steeves in tribute to the passing of these two Sackville institutions and the “homesick noise” they sent “around the world from this brooding marsh.”

I reprinted the jacket to one of our perennial sellers and perhaps our best known publication internationally, Robert Bringhurst’s The Solid Form of Language. This jacket prints in three press passes – black, blue and white – and a fourth to crease the jacket’s folds. I have to admit the I enjoy printing the white most of all. There is always something joyfully perverse about inking up a press with white ink. The paper was Saint-Armand handmade ‘gold’.

I printed a two-colour book jacket for a privately issued collection of poems by George Edward Hart, the second we’ve produced for him. I was quite happy with the light blue paper and the black and blue inks.

I also printed some bookmarks on some off-cut ends of denim black Saint-Armand paper. The quotation is from Thoreau.