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Early Impressions
Photo by Michael Visser

Early Impressions

The University of Toronto Press got its start printing exam booklets and is now the second-largest public university press in North America

Created in 1901 to print exam booklets and program calendars, the University of Toronto Press (UTP) – one century and thousands of books later – is now the second-largest public university press in North America, publishing everything from the history of the National Ballet of Canada to a treatise on quilts.

Although crucial for providing a young country with a sense of national identity, UTP did have its challenges along the way. Former managing editor Francess Halpenny (BA 1940 UC, MA 1941, LLD Hon. 1994) remembers “the incredible saga” of Tom McIlwraith’s Bella Coola Indians, researched in the 1920s. The National Museum of Canada feared McIlwraiths shocking description of aboriginal customs “might set back the cause of anthropology,” she recalls. One suggestion was to print sections of the book in Latin. Seemingly cursed, the project was shelved because of the Depression and had to be halted once more due to a paper shortage during the Second World War.

Photo: Michael Visser It was finally published, in English, in 1948. Robert Dawson’s Government of Canada (1947) was only the second book to offer a comprehensive political analysis of the country. Dawson (BA 1949 Trinity, MA 1950) couldn’t refer to existing research because there hardly was any. Then there was Harold Innis, working on his final book in 1952. The great communications theorist was dying of cancer and had to relay his revisions to Halpenny using his son as messenger. And this is how Changing Concepts of Time was finished just in time.

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  1. One Response to “ Early Impressions ”

  2. University of Toronto Magazine says:

    I do not suppose I am the first to draw attention to the terrific blooper regarding the graduation year of Robert MacGregor Dawson. Professor Dawson joined the U of T faculty in 1937 according to the Canadian Encyclopedia. I enjoyed his enthusiastic lectures before and after the Second World War. The Dawson who graduated in 1949 was his son.

    J. Murray Cook Thompson
    BA 1942 TRIN