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Canadian Bookman


Introducing the Canadian Bookman’s Bookmen

A brief foreword by the Publishers.

The editors and readers of such a periodical as the “Canadian Bookman'’ should he on a footing of mutual friendship and confidence. Such a footing can only be established by means of an introduction; and realizing that the native modesty of the species will effectually prevent the Editor and the Editorial Committee of tile “Bookman'’ from introducing themselves, the Publishers are herewith taking up the task.

Owing lo the wide variety of interests served by the “Canadian Bookman.” which undertakes to act as a guide to the literature of the industries as well as of the arts, the Editor must be a man of wide reading and experience. Such an Editor the Publishers have fouiiil in Mr. B. K. Sandwell, who since 1910 has been Associate Editor and Editor of the Financial Times, of Montreal. who is a Member of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, who is Lecturer on the History of Commerce in McGill University School of Commerce, and Lecturer on Journalism in McGill University Extension Department, and who moreover in the opinion of those competent to judge is one of the best read men in Canada to-day. Although born in England, Mr. Sandwell came with his father to Toronto at the age of 11. in 18SS, and as lie has lived in Canada for nearly thirty years can surely be claimed as Canadian. Educated at Upper Canada College, where he rose to be head of the school, he proceeded to Toronto University, where he graduated with first class honours in classics in 1S97. After three years of journalistic work in England. Mr. Sandwell joined the staff of the Montreal Herald, where he served for nine consecutive years, chiefly as dramatic and literary critic. In 1910 he assisted in the foundation of the Financial Times, which owes its success in no small degree to his brilliant pen.

A frequent contributor to Canadian and American periodicals. Mr. Sandwell's humour has also penetrated less capitalistic skins, through the columns of the Canadian Magazine. World’s Work, University Magazine, etc. Always keenly interested in the drama. Mr. Sandwell was one of the judges of the Earl Grey Dramatic Competition. Add to those qualifications the fact that he is an accomplished musician, and you realize that the Publishers and readers of the “Canadian Bookman” have reason to congratulate themselves on their good fortune in securing so versatile an Editor.

The Publishers feel that they have also been fortunate in enlisting the services of a very strong Editorial Committee, which will be made yet stronger as occasion requires by the addition of recognized experts upon branches of technical and specialist literature not yet represented. The complete list of this Committee will be found on the index page, and it will be seen that they are all men who combine the two necessary qualifications of a first-class knowledge of theiT subject or subjects, and a thoroughly practiced hand in writing about J them. Several of the members of this Committee, however, are men who in addition to their specialist qualifications, are well known throughout Canada for their services to general culture, correct thinking and spiritual growth, and who have welcomed the opportunity to perform some of these services through the columns of the “Canadian Bookman.” Foremost among these is Professor J. A. Dale, whose co-operation has been invaluable in the production of the first issue of this magazine, and whose absence for a brief period upon educational work among the Canadian troops during the term of demobilization will not prevent him from making his personality felt in the “Bookman” in the coming year. Others whose presence on the Committee is similarly the result of a deep interest in the progress of Canadian thought and culture are the Hon. W. S. Fielding, formerly Finance Minister of Canada, and Dr. George H. Locke, the inspirational Chief Librarian of the City of Toronto, and the Dominion s most eloquent apostle of literature.

With such co-operation as this, the Publishers are launching the “Canadian Bookman” upon its career in the full confidence that it will serve a useful purpose, and will therefore achieve a deserved success.

The New Era

The first issue of the new Canadian Bookman appears at a moment which happens also to mark the beginning of a new era in the history of mankind, and. very particularly, in the history of Canada. That this is so is not by design. The date of this first issue was planned many months ago, long before there was any hope that November, 1918, would see the collapse of the Teutonic Alliance and the commencement of the return to a state of peace. On the other hand, it is not wholly a coincidence.

The world at large, and Canada in especial, during the generation preceding 1914, passed through an age of extreme pre-occupation in “practical” affairs. It was an age of immensely rapid development of material wealth and enlargement of man's command of the resources of the planet; an era of intense competition to obtain the benefit of those resources; an era of trust in those resources as the sufficient foundation of human happiness. This era came to an end in a way which, we now see, was probably the only way in which it could end. Its intense competition, and the pride and self-confidence which it bred in some of the most successful of the competitors (and this does not refer exclusively to Germany, for while Germany began the war, many other nations made the war possible—a world state-of-mind, so to speak, was its begetter), led to culminate in a four-year struggle in which absolute force was the sole decisive factor in the destinies of the world. We have lived through that terrible period. We have seen our own country perform its full share in that conflict, we have learned the lessons which can be taught only by suffering and sacrifice glorified by a noble cause, and we have seen the conflict end, as any long-drawn-out conflict of the kind must end. in the victory of the side whose force was backed up by the moral strength of a high and noble principle. And we stand today, along with the other great nations of a purified world, at the beginning of a new era which will certainly be vastly different from both the era of force and the era of materialism which preceded it.

It is too early yet to forecast the character of this new era with any precision. But it does not seem too early to be confident that it will be in one respect an era of ideas, an era of profound and general thought, not about the purely material problems which preoccupied us until four years ago, but about the more important things — the nature and purpose of life, the relation of man to his fellows and to his Creator, the meaning of the human race and its slow and painful but evident upward progress, the contribution of each nation and each individual to the sum total of the achievement of humanity.

And if this era is to be au era of ideas, it follows that it is to be also an era of books, since books are the one great medium through which ideas of communicated and perpetuated. Not the purely material books which have over occupied our attention for more than a generation — though science will obviously have still its honoured part to play. Not, certainly, the merely sentimental, narcotic, idea-less books, miscalled books of the imagination, which have formed the literary food of too many of us who did not wish to be bothered with ideas. But real books, containing real ideas about the important things of life, whether expressed in the form of fiction, or of religion, or of philosophy, or of poetry, or of history, or of science in the broader and deeper sense of the word. It was this conviction, of the coming of an era of ideas and of books, which was strong in the minds of the founders of the new Canadian Bookman and which led them to select the present as an appropriate time even though when they selected it it seemed unlikely to be a time of peace, for the establishment of a purely Canadian periodical which should deal with them, not as masses of paper and binding, nor as so many square inches of type, nor as speculative adventures in search for “best-sellers”, but as the vessels for the containing and the imparting of ideas — and of ideas suited to the uses of Canadian readers. In this sense, the appearance of the Canadian Bookman at the very dawn of this new era is not a mere coincidence. The Canadian Bookman is itself one of the phenomena of the new era.

Evidences of the dawn of such an era as we have described arc plentiful enough. We at home in Canada can see them in the character of the books on the front shelves of our book stores, and in the drawing-rooms and studies of our friends. We can sec them in the conversation of the social gatherings, in the frequentation of our public libraries, in the growth and new vigour of cultural societies, in the sermons in our churches, the teaching in our schools. And yet we see only a fraction of them. The best of our youth is still far from us, in France and Flanders or in training camps and hospitals on the road to and from the battle-fields, and it is their mentality which will make the mentality of Canada when they return to us. And if all accounts agree, the life of camp and battle-field has produced in their minds such a ferment of ideas and curiosities, such an interest in the things of the spirit; such an eager open-mindedness, as could never have been produced in fifty years of peace. Mr. J. M. Dent, the noble English publisher whose cheap editions of real books have been among the greatest gifts that modern science has made to mankind, was in this country recently, and reported that army life had produced, both among British and Canadian troops, an immense new interest in literature and ideas. Nor is this surprising, contrary it may be to past experience of war. This war has been fought, for the first time in history, by absolutely democratic armies, in which rich and poor, educated and uneducated, cultured and uncultured, have fought side by side in the iron-closed brotherhood of common peril. Each class has learned to understand and value the other, in a way that our peace-time conditions have never allowed. The man who knew nothing of books, and in old eared nothing for them, has seen with his own eyes, in the person of his own chum, what books and a knowledge of books may mean to the spirit of man in hours of suffering and peril. And lie who has seen this will never be contemptuous of books again, nor his children after him.

To this new interest in ideas, and in the books which convey them, there is added in the ease of Canadians a new national self-consciousness, a new demand that ideas be judged not by the standards of any other nation, however closely allied by kinship or economic circumstance, but by the standards of our own country; a new output of ideas by Canadians themselves, and a new belief in those ideas as being probably the best expression of Canadian requirements, the best solution of Canadian problems and a consequent new demand for vehicles of criticism and discussion concerning this purely Canadian output.

At such a moment, it seems to us, the undertaking of the new Canadian Bookman is justified. Like most periodicals in the hour of birth, it is not likely that it realises in its first issue, or will realise perhaps for many issues to come, all the ideals of its projectors. Some of them cannot be realised without the assistance of a considerable body of readers, and of more friends that can be counted on by any publication before its first appearance — albeit the Canadian Bookman has already received such indications of friendship and kindly co-operation from Canadians in all walks of life and all parts of Canada and elsewhere as to prove that there is a widespread desire for the service which we aim to render.

January 1915 (pdf)


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