Another Favorite Publisher: Firefly Books

Firefly Books Logo

Not long ago I commented on the remarkable Canadian publisher Douglas & McIntyre.   Another nifty Canadian publisher worth taking note of is Firefly Books, which emphasizes non-fiction.  Aside from McClelland & Stewart, a major Canadian publisher that is a division of Random House, it seems that when it comes to high quality books from Canada one of these two outfits is sure to have had a hand in such works.  While Richmond Hill, Ontario-based Firefly produces a high number of science, nature and “how to” type books, the titles that stand out for me are those focused on art and photography.  Their volumes in those two areas are among the best on their subject matters.

Pictured above is a random selection from the Firefly catalog.  Coincidentally, I have four of these and each is very well done for its subject matter.   Of these, David Silcox’s The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, is the subject of an earlier post here, and I plan to comment on Pat & Baiba Morrow’s The Yukon and George Walker’s Graphic Witness — each mesmerizing in its own way — in the next few weeks.

Although it’s generally not fair to judge a book by its cover, the graphic elements of book design can play a role in pulling in a prospective reader.  So it’s a minor complaint that the website for Firefly Books, unfortunately, does not do its catalog justice in this respect.  When searching for a book a listing of titles is initially displayed and one must click on the title to get more information and only then get a visual on a given title.  Of course, this is a non issue once you’ve located the book for which you were searching or already have it in your hands

David Silcox’s Exquisite Book on The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson

While in Toronto recently I stayed at a hotel across from the Royal Ontario Museum.  Although I did not have sufficient time to tour the Museum, I briefly stopped by its gift shop.  Browsing through the art books on display I came across an amazing book on the Group of Seven that I had not previously seen and which I had to have.

Once back in Atlanta as I leisurely browsed through the simply named volume, The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, by David Silcox (Firefly Books 2001), I was impressed anew at this amazing collaboration of early twentieth-century artists who helped define a distinctively Canadian style of painting.  (See previous post on OCanadaBlog here.)  It also gave me a greater appreciation in particular for Tom Thomson, but for whose untimely death in 1917, the collective might well have been called the Group of Eight.   As one of the other members, Lawren Harris, noted in a narrative of the Group, “although the name of the group did not originate until after his death, Tom Thomson was, nevertheless, as vital to the movement, as much a part of its formation and development, as any other member.”

Tom Thomson, Autumn Foliage

Silcox’s beautifully compiled book is organized into thematic sections, initially around some broad categories, such as “Icons: Images of Canada,” “The First World War,” and “Cities, Towns and Villages,” and then by geographic regions, including “The East Coast,” “The St. Lawrence River and Quebec,” “Algonquin Park and Georgian Bay,” and “The Prairies, Rockies and West Coast,” among others.   This approach enables a wonderful comparison of each artist’s perspective on the same subjects and geography.  Preceding each section is  a brief narrative by the author that provides historical and cultural context that enriches the understanding of the individual Group members and their works.

Tom Thomson, In the Northland

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