PQ Weekly Roundup: 20 Sep 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.


Thanks for checking in on our most click-worthy bookish links of the week. Be sure to stop by and see us at Word on the Street this Sunday at Booth 242A!

Have a great weekend,

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Printing in Wonderland: Tim Inkster Muses on Howard Graphic Equipment/Howard Iron Works

The Porcupine’s Quill is pleased to be participating in the Second Annual Howard Iron Works Print Expo & Book Fair, which will take place on Saturday, September 28 at the Howard Iron Works Printing Museum in Oakville. If you are fascinated by the printing process, you won’t want to miss this event, I promise you. 

Recently PQL publisher Tim Inkster got to thinking about his experiences with the fine folks at Howard Graphic Equipment and Howard Iron Works, and wrote this wonderful piece on the printing Wonderland out in Oakville. Many thanks Liana Howard and Howard Iron Works for providing images in this post, as well as Peter Taylor, for  images adopted here from an earlier guest post.

NOTE: This version of Tim’s post is slightly modified for use on the PQL blog. For the full post, visit the Devil’s Artisan blog.

* * *

The Porcupine’s Quill upgraded to a Polar Cutter in 1982. A 28-inch Model 72CE, with a split back gauge (very useful for trimming books) and hydraulics on the clamp as well as the blade. That is where this story begins. The Polar is a quality German machine, that we still run, most days, but did not have the functionality of our previous machine (a Pivano cutter) which had a screw clamp that we were customarily mis-appropriating to crush the swell generated in the folds of signatures by the Smyth sewing machine. This was an ongoing issue because the Sulby binder required tight signatures or the spines of books might be crushed in the finishing stage.

Polar cutter

Polar Cutter. Photo credit: Peter Taylor.

The challenge of “puffy” signatures was an issue that wasn’t resolved until 1987 when we found an inexpensive used bundling press for sale at Howard Graphic Equipment on Dunwin Drive in Mississauga. Howard Graphic Equipment has since relocated to the furthest western reaches of Oakville, but I remember the old location because it was close to an upscale Italian restaurant called Rogues where Elke and I knew the proprietor, Tony Pereira, who had trained as a busboy at the Windsor Arms in Toronto and then later at the Millcroft Inn in Alton (near Erin Village). I feel confident that the Howards would have known Tony as well.

The Hunkeler

The Hunkeler. Photo credit: Peter Taylor.

The bundling press we bought from Nick Howard is Swiss, a Hunkeler MBP 90. Our capital equipment list suggests we paid the princely sum of $1300 for it, at a time when Howard Graphic Equipment was primarily involved in buying and selling large-format multi-color offset presses internationally. Heidelbergs, and Komoris. The sale of the Hunkeler to the Porcupine’s Quill may have been one of the least consequential transactions completed in the history of Howard Graphics, but I remember that, even as early as 1987, there was already evidence of the beginnings of the Iron Works Museum on display in the lobby of the cavernous warehouse on Dunwin Drive.

I suspect that Nick Howard may also remember the sale of the Hunkeler, possibly because it may WELL have been one of the least consequential transactions completed in his corporate history. Nick has been a godsend, on several occasions, and the fount from which salvation has been known to flow when we have found ourselves in desperate need of highly technical assistance of a rather esoteric sort. The Smyth sewing machine, once. And the Heidelberg KORD, once.

In the summer of 2017 I received an email from Nick Howard saying that he had recently bought a Linotype machine from a small-town newspaper somewhere in the American Midwest. The Linotype appeared to be in decent repair but it was not operational and wondered if I might know someone, possibly connected to the Devil’s Artisan, who might remember how to run a Linotype.

George Walker on the linotype

George Walker on the Linotype Model 31, 1953. Photo credit: Howard Iron Works Museum.

Naturally I remembered that George Walker had run an Intertype in the printmaking department at the Ontario College of Art. A very similar sort of linecaster. I contacted George, but George was more than a little reluctant to entertain the notion of carting off to the remote wilds of Oakville to service a Linotype of questionable provenance. It took some gentle persuasion, but George was eventually convinced to make the trek to Westgate Road. I had narrowly missed an opportunity to visit the Museum myself the previous summer , so I was curious to know what sort of a report I might get back from George about his expedition.

The way George tells the story I suspect the Howards (Nick, and his wife Liana) were more than a bit sceptical themselves, possibly because George did not look like the sort of iconic Linotype operator they had been expecting. A burly type, perhaps something akin to Don Black who had been a Linotype operator at the Globe and Mail back in the day. George Walker is not burly, and he is somewhat given to stylistic affectations that can often include a Charlie Chaplinesque pork-pie hat. Liana in particular was uncertain.

George was, however, able to recognize that there were a couple of critical bits and pieces of things missing from the Linotype in question, and asked if Nick Howard had “parts”. A fork-lift operator was dispatched and returned scant minutes later with a large wooden shipping crate labelled “Linotype parts”. George was impressed. Ever more so when the crate was opened to reveal an original parts manual for the machine, an operator’s manual and hundreds of parts in Ziploc bags, each labelled with the appropriate part number. George Walker is a wood engraver, an artist, a book designer, an art teacher and a half dozen other things but he is not a machinist and the level of professionalism on display at Howard Iron Works would have been utterly astonishing.

“The place is Wonderland,” said George. “You look around and realize that you are, already, down the rabbit hole.”

George on wooden press.

George Walker, looking ready to work at this a replica of a 17th century field press built in the late 1970s. Photo credit: Howard Iron Works Museum.

The Linotype Model 31, age 1953, is now fully operational and will be part of the demonstration George will give on Saturday, September 28 at the Second Annual Howard Iron Works Print Expo & Book Fair. George will also (time permitting) be demonstrating a wooden press the Howards have recently acquired … a replica of a seventeenth-century field press that would have been used in army field offices, and dragged around from location to another, by horse-drawn wagon.

* * *

Join us at the Second Annual
Howard Iron Works Print Expo & Book Fair

Saturday, September 28, 2019
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Howard Iron Works Printing Museum
800 Westgate Rd., Oakville, ON
(Half a dozen blocks west of the Bronte GO station.)

* * *

We hope to see you there!

Remember, to read the full, detailed version of this post, check out the original on the Devil’s Artisan website.

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GUEST POST: Daniel Bryant on the Rerouted Origin Story

As you might already know, Daniel Bryant is launching his collection of short stories, Rerouted, tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, September 15, 2019) at the Dora Keogh Pub in Toronto. It’s going to be quite the party, with music, literary band t-shirts, and bookish fun! In honour of this upcoming event, we here at PQL might be fun to hear the origin story of the book, straight from the author’s … keyboard. So, without further ado…

Rerouted cover image

* * *

Soooo, it all started a few years ago.

As you can well imagine, I chat with everyone on my route. I talk about the weather, slip in a few probing questions, and drop some info about myself quite seamlessly. I have no filter or sense of decorum.

Ask my wife.

Over the course of the first year on my route (generally we switch every 4-6 years when the station undergoes a restructure) I noticed that Chandra received a lot of packages and cheques from various publishers. One day while she was signing for a package, I asked her if she was a writer. She replied that she was an editor. I then talked about being a compulsive writer (I like to write and I don’t know why) Of course, talking about being a compulsive anything is risky, but Chandra listened and the conversation flowed into talk of favourite writers and genres. I name dropped Paul Quarrington and Will Ferguson as I had mentored with both. I think at some point I may have blurted out that I love H.P. Lovecraft, but Chandra was very gracious and good natured and did not close the door on my face.

At the end I asked if she would be willing to take a look at two stories (honestly, I only had two stories that I had finished to my satisfaction) and give me feedback as to whether this writing thing was worth pursuing further.

She did and we are here today.

A quick note: at the same time my wife did express at the time – quite colourfully in fact – that I should perhaps try and finish a story for once in my life instead of leaping from one idea to the next like some crack-addled frog in lily pad land.

Or something like that.

The details have become vague with time.

* * *

There are two things to take from this little guest post. 1. Daniel Bryant is a funny guy, and his writing definitely reflects this personality. You’ll find Rerouted to be darkly comic, with a literary supernatural twist. 2. Take heart! When you’re a published author with a first collection under your belt, the hungry days of struggling to publish said collection may be lost to the fog of time.

PortraitWe hope you’re able to stop by the launch. It promises to be quite a treat!


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 13 Sep 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.


And that’s it for today’s weekly roundup. Don’t forget—if you’re not ready to let the bookish fun end, you can head on over to the Dora Keogh Pub in Toronto this Sunday afternoon for the launch of Daniel Bryant’s book Rerouted. It’s going to be a great night!

Happy Friday,

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Out and About with the Quill: Fisher Small and Fine Press Fair 2019

This Saturday, Toronto was cool and cloudy—perfect weather for people to peruse books, prints, art and more at the Fisher Small and Fine Press Fair, held at the University of Toronto’s gorgeous Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. This year’s event saw coast-to-coast participation, with vendors from all over Canada congregating in the reading room to sell their wares.

The PQL table at the Fisher Small Press Fair

The PQL table at the Fisher Small Press Fair

I did a short walkabout late in the day, and managed to chat with just a few of the vendors about their works. I made it a point to talk to some familiar faces as well as to introduce myself to some new folks I didn’t know by sight. Here’s a short summary, if you weren’t able to join us.


Wesley Bates

Clifford, Ontario wood engraver Wesley Bates had the table right next to ours, so I had a great view of the artwork on display at his table. His gorgeous prints—particularly the ones of the natural world—were a hit with many art lovers at the show. My favourite was the beautiful print that will be used as the title page on his upcoming book with Robert Reid, Casting into Mystery. It is truly stunning!



knife | fork | book

Kirby and Jim Johnstone at the knife | fork | book table.

Kirby and Jim Johnstone at the knife | fork | book table. Photo by Don McLeod.

Kirby and Jim Johnstone (of Anstruther Press) sat behind the knife | fork | book table, and let me tell you, they had some very eye-catching books on display. Of particular interest to me was the inaugural issue of their annual publication that focuses on visual poetry, entitled Not Your Best. Speaking as someone who is frequently overwhelmed by the “best of” lists that roll our every season, there is something calming and appealing about a publication that encourages exploration, and celebrates the overlooked. Also of note—knife | fork | book’s chapbook imprint, featuring pretty little volumes like Khashayar Mohammidi’s Dear Kestrel, which was gifted to me, and which provided entertainment on my train ride home.


Online Store:



The Book*hug table, behind which sat the ever-at-work Jay MillAr, was full to bursting with pretty editions. One fascinating edition on the table was Ken Hunt’s The Odyssey, which somehow marries space, poetry, technical jargon and ghosts. Seriously worth checking out just for the cool factor. Also eye-catching to me were the very short stacks of The Unpublished City, a two-volume anthology of distinct and diverse voices from Toronto’s literary community—they must have been crowd favourites that day. Also of note, a small volume modestly pushed off to the corner—Jay MillAr’s own I Could Have Pretended to Be Better Than You, published by Anvil Press.



George A. Walker

George A. Walker displays his favourite engraving from his limited edition of The Hunting of the Snark.

George A. Walker displays his favourite engraving from his limited edition of The Hunting of the Snark.

Of course I had to stop by and talk briefly with wood engraver George Walker and his lovely wife Michelle. George recently finished his limited edition of The Hunting of the Snark, an (it must be said) charmingly snarky edition of the Lewis Carroll poem featuring wood engravings drawn from the current American political climate. I particularly loved the map tucked into the cover—beautiful work, indeed. The entire package manages to be brilliant and funny and astoundingly fitting. (Look for our trade edition this fall.)



Nestlings Press

Next I visited Warren Clements of Nestlings Press. I mostly had to stop because the covers were adorable and silly and absolutely smile-inducing. I couldn’t help but pick up Clements’ own Eight Ways to Kill Off Classic Literature: And Other Unexpected Light Verse as well as several adorable collections of versified Aesop’s fables. Well worth a look!



Natalie Draz

Natalie Drazholding her art piece, Flock.

Natalie Draz holding her art piece, Flock.

One table I had to stop by belonged to Natalie Draz. I had spent all day behind our own PQL table watching as she picked up this plumed stack of paper and folded it into this beautiful dream catcher-esque paper sculpture. I had to know more. Turns out, the piece was called flock, and it was displayed alongside a number of its siblings in an interactive exhibit involving pulleys and strings. It was kind of mind blowing and makes you think about how we experience art and books.



Greyweathers Press

Greyweathers Press display table.

How cool is this Greyweathers Press display?

And finally, I had a chance to speak to Larry Thompson of Greyweathers Press. Larry has been enormously busy consulting on Carlton University’s new Book Arts Lab, and is now just getting back to work on an exciting new limited edition book of engravings about Manfred Von Richthofen, the infamous Red Baron and the Canadian pilot who is alleged to have shot him down, Roy Brown. It promises to be a beautiful book of engravings!



PortraitHope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the fair. We’ll be back in the GTA for Word on the Street on September 22, and for the Howard Iron Works Expo and Fair on September 28, so we hope to see you again soon.



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PQ Weekly Roundup: 05 Sep 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.


Happy first weekend of September, Quill fans. Are you enjoying the sweater weather? We hope so, and we hope to see you tomorrow in Toronto for the Fisher Small and Fine Press Fair!


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.