Gaspereau Press of Kentville, Nova Scotia was established in 1997 with the launch of its literary quarterly, The Gaspereau Review, and first three books. Soon partners Andrew Steeves and Gary Dunfield were publishing eight titles a year and by 2000 they had purchased a printing press and bindery equipment so they could directly oversee all aspects of publishing a book, from start to finish.
This mandate of quality across the entire process—from editorial and design to the actual manufacturing of the book—gets to the heart of what Gaspereau is all about. They want to make books that “reinstate the importance of the book as a physical object, reuniting publishing and the book arts.” Gaspereau employs a mixture of techniques and technologies to achieve this goal, from traditional letterpress printing to offset lithographic printing. They often use handmade paper and original artwork; hardcovers are even case-bound by hand.
They are one of the few Canadian publishers that continue to print and bind their own books in-house. Their authors certainly seem to enjoy the care and attention Gaspereau takes with each of their titles. They have published such award-winning writers as Tim Bowling, Robert Bringhurst, Don McKay, Carmine Starnino, John Terpstra, Thomas Wharton, and Jan Zwicky.
And it’s not just the authors who notice the high quality of design and production Gaspereau demands of its books. They’ve won numerous awards for their book objects, including the Alcuin Awards. Just this year they won five such awards, including a first place distinction both for The Deer Yard by Allan Cooper and Harry Thurston and Jeremiah Bancroft at Fort Beauséjour and Grand-Pré by Jonathan Fowler and Earle Lockerby.
Gaspereau has received national attention for several of its books over the years. Their first national award win was George Elliott Clarke for Execution Poems, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2001. In 2010 Johanna Skibsrud won the Giller Prize for her novel The Sentimentalists. Sue Goyette was nominated for the 2014 Griffin Poetry for her collection Ocean.
Every year Gaspereau opens its doors to its neighbours for their Wayzgoose party, a traditional party given by the master printer to his workmen, marking the end of summer and the start of the season of working by candlelight. Gaspereau often hosts other Canadian printers and book artists in addition to author readings and showing off how their printers work.
If you’re ever in Kentville, you should stop by and see how these master printers work!