Just last year this country’s oldest independent publisher celebrated its 60th birthday. Goose Lane Editions, based in Fredericton, New Brunswick has been publishing books since 1954 but before that it was actually a literary magazine.
We covered a little bit of their origin story as part of our CanLit Rewind series with the selection The Stunted Strong. This was the first book they ever published, under the name of Fiddlehead Poetry Books, which later became Goose Lane Editions. Fred Cogswell, poet and academic, had taken over as editor of The Fiddlehead in 1952 and overhauled the magazine so that it would appeal to as wide a range of readership as possible. Al Tunis, a like-minded colleague in the UNB Sociology department, joined Cogswell in 1954 with the intention to start publishing books. The Stunted Strong, was a collection of hard-edged sonnets by Cogswell, about ordinary farmers as they had rarely been depicted before in Canada.
Cogswell remained committed to Goose Lane for the next 25 years, working with many new authors that went on to become some of Canada’s most distinguished writers and seeing through the publication of almost 300 books.
Goose Lane continues to fulfill the original mandate set out for the company: to "believe in the power of words to inspire, to change, to enlighten; that the pen can be more powerful than the sword and that ideas writ large are the most important resource on this small planet." They fulfill this mandate by publishing works of fiction, poetry, and books on history and travel, nature and humanity.
To celebrate their 60th birthday Goose Lane went back into their own archives to pick out some books that were important to the press throughout their history. The “sexagenarian sextet” includes stories from Alden Nowlan, from his posthumously published 1988 first novel The Wanton Troopers; Douglas Glover, from his 1991 Governor General Award nominated short story collection A Guide to Animal Behaviour; Lynn Coady (adapted from her award-winning debut Strange Heaven, published in 1993); Shauna Singh Baldwin, from her debut collection English Lessons and Other Stories (1996); Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, from her debut collection Way Up (2003); and Mark Anthony Jarman, from a brand new collection.