In House: Wolsak & Wynn

Hamilton, Ontario’s Wolsak & Wynn has dedicated itself to “publishing clear, passionate Canadian voices” since 1983. With around 125 works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in its catalogue, the publisher self-identifies as favouring no one style above the other: publishing to “no agenda beyond that of presenting the best.”

While taste in books is always subjective, Wolsak & Wynn certainly has arguments in their favour for “presenting the best” Canadian authors and poets have to offer. Six of their poetry books have been nominated for Governor General’s Awards, and two have won. Their books consistently make favourites’ lists, most recently Matt Cahill’s The Society of Experience on Harper's Bazaar's list of '15 Best Books of Fall 2015.'”

Cahill’s book was published by W&W imprint Buckrider Books, itself launched in 2014. Headed up by Senior Editor and writer Paul Vermeersch, Buckrider is named for the legend of the Buckriders, or de Bokkenrijders. According to the legend, several bands of robbers made a pact with the devil, and they flew through the night sky on the backs of magical goats, robbing local farms and churches. Word of the buckriders triggered a panic that resulted in a brutal series of persecutions, kangaroo courts and mass executions that eclipsed even the infamous Salem witch trials in the New World. For Wolsak & Wynn’s purposes, though, the books launched by the imprint rob readers only of their attention towards anything else.

Wolsak & Wynn has a storefront-style HQ in Hamilton (see publisher Noelle Allen peeking out its window in the photo on the right), which serves as a community hub for the city’s burgeoning arts scene. They routinely acquire books that have a Hamilton pedigree or setting, like local personality Vince Agro’s In Grace’s Kitchen, a love letter to the large Italian-Canadian population in the city.