Roseway Publishing has a slightly different origin story than many of our other members. Kathryn Tudor, a retired teacher and author, founded the company in 1990. She published titles on subjects such as diversity, prejudice, Canadian history, and women survivors of abuse, like Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi’kmaw Children at the Indian Residential School at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia by Isabelle Knockwood. When she was ready for a second retirement in 2006 Roseway was a perfect fit for the academic publisher Fernwood Publishing.
Primarily releasing titles that inform, enlighten, and challenge readers, Fernwood was at a point where they wanted to extend their audience from the mostly post-secondary social sciences crowd they were currently publishing to, to a more general readership who were interested in social change and social justice.
There was a real sense of symmetry when one of the first titles Roseway published as part of Fernwood, was Kathryn Tudor’s next work, Deep Roots, about a small fishing community that the government planned to turn into a provincial park.
Longtime Fernwood employee, Beverley Rach, took over the role of Publisher at the Roseway imprint in 2008 and has continued to select titles that fit into the overall Fernwood mandate of “critical books for critical thinkers”. This usually means fiction, creative non-fiction, and memoirs but not always. One such instance stands out to Beverley—How the Cougar Came to be Called the Ghost Cat/Ta’n Petalu Telui’tut Skite’kmujewey Mia’wj by Michael James Isaac. They had decided not to publish children’s books but this illustrated children’s story featuring a young cougar who sacrifices part of who he is in order to fit in, had a larger story to tell. Told in both English and Mi’kmaw, it showed the importance of rebuilding a language that was becoming lost through colonization; for the publisher, “sometimes the ‘social justice’ is in the act of publishing something, not just in the content of the story.”
Under the original Roseway logo—it’s always good to remember your history—they have gone on to publish over 25 titles since they joined Fernwood, including Chasing Freedom by Gloria Wesley, which along with its sequel (If This is Freedom) is a story of the struggle of Black Loyalists and their arrival in Nova Scotia that went on to be nominated for the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature, and Grist, by award-winning author Linda Little, which Donna Morrissey called “an epic story by a gifted writer.”
From their two offices, one in Black Point, Nova Scotia and the other in Winnipeg, Manitoba, they also see to the publication of the winning manuscripts for the Beacon Award for Social Justice. Soon to be presented as part of the Atlantic Books Awards, the award is presented by the Beacon Social Justice Literature Society in hopes of stimulating the “creation, publication and dissemination of new works of fiction designed to ignite the readers passion for and understanding of social justice.”
Previous winners include Rock Reject by Jim Williams, taking on the dangers of asbestos to humans and our environment, and Turn Us Again by Charlotte Mendel, which deals with issues of domestic abuse and went on to win the 2014 Margaret and John Savage First Book Award.
Like all of our publishers, the most important part is helping stories get told and sharing those stories with readers. Roseway loves the opportunity to take part in the St. Margaret’s Bay holiday market, for example, because they get to bring their books to a different audience and interact directly with readers.
Roseway Publishing was a great addition to the Fernwood family, and to us here at the LPG. Take a minute to peruse their backlist and you're sure to find many insightful stories that will get you thinking.