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Of Odds And Sods
by Robin Britt

EVERY MAGAZINE should have an odds-and-sods column, so with this issue "The Browser" will take on the daunting challenge of noting thissa and thatta from all over. This month it`s the more esoteric reaches of bibliophilia that demand attention, in particular a couple of staid old literary institutions that have bestirred themselves and put on a more welcoming face vis-a-vis the general public. SINCE 1905, the Champlain Society has been publishing volumes of historical documentation that constitute a valuable record of Canada`s past. The emphasis is on titles that would not be touched by a commercial publisher, and the treatment is exhaustive: not just excerpts or selections, but complete texts accompanied by the appropriate scholarly commentary. Also noteworthy is the physical quality of the Society`s books, which makes them a pleasure to handle as well as read. A complete list of Champlain Society publications would take up all the rest of this column`s space, but a few high points should be mentioned. Its six-volume edition of The Works of Samuel de Champlain, which includes the French text as well as an English translation, is a remarkable achievement; and its Ontario Series and Hudson`s Bay Company Series have intensively examined the rich archives of their respective areas. Although the Society`s books initially concentrated on eastern Canadian materials, the success of its 1916 edition of The Narrative of David Thompson encouraged it to be equally receptive to western subjects. One of its recent publications, Volume 1 of Alexander Henry the Younger`s journal 1799-1814, is an engrossing record of exploration from the Red River to the Pacific Ocean. The Champlain Society`s titles are available only to members, and during most of its existence there has been a waiting list of people eager to join. Currently, however, the Society is actively seeking new members; memberships, which are $40, are available from the Executive Secretary-Treasurer, R 0. Box 592, Station R, Toronto, Ont., M4G 4E1. ANOTHER ORGANIZATION that has undergone a bit of a shake-up is Canadian Notes and Queries. Founded in 1968, the periodical was originally modelled on the examples of the British Notes and Queries and American Notes and Queries, wherein discoveries and difficulties are exchanged among a network of scholars and researchers. Recently, however, Canadian Notes and (,queries has been purchased by Douglas Fetherling, who has added some new ingredients to its editorial mix. The Spring, 1991 issue (number 44) includes a generously illustrated piece on "The Nautical Motif in Bookplates by Canadian Artists;` as well as articles on such obscure but interesting authors as Marie Joussaye Fotheringham and Robert Barr. In addition, there are "Books Wanted" notices from several antiquarian booksellers and the usual diverse range of arcane notes and queries. The magazine is available from Box 367, Station T, Toronto, Ont., M4Y 2L8, and subscriptions are $15 for one year, $30 for two, and $100 lifetime. SPEAKING of antiquarian booksellers, the 19th edition of the Toronto Antiquarian Book Fair will appear May 24-26 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Fifty dealers from across Canada, as well as several from the United States and Britain, will be displaying everything from rare first editions to holograph letters to fine bindings. The first session of the Fair, Friday the 24th from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., will be a hectic scrum of high-intensity wheeling and dealing; on the 25th and 26th the hours are 12 noon to 6 p.m., and it`s then that one can take a more leisurely browse through the varied wares on offer. There is an admission charge ($10 for the three days - $8 in advance - and $5 on Saturday and Sunday), and further information is available from Annex Books (416-537-1852) and McBurnie & Cutler Booksellers (416-367-1873) in Toronto. PAPERBACKS tend to get overlooked in Books in Canada`s understandable concentration on new hardcover releases, but there are six good reasons to focus the spotlight on McClelland & Stewart`s New Canadian Library reissues of Ethel Wilson`s work. Hetty Dorval (108 pages, $5.95), The Innocent Traveller (243 pages, $6.95), Mrs. Golightly and Other Stories (216 pages, $6.95), Love and Salt Water (177 pages, $6.95), Swamp Angel (216 pages, $6.95), and The Equations of Love (263 pages, $6.95) restore all her major books to print, and forcefully remind us of just how marvellous a writer she was. "Serious writing" all too often slides from the serious to the lugubrious; but the quirky surprises and epiphanic insights of Wilson`s novels and stories are a source of constant delight. Typical is Maggie Lloyd, the gutsy protagonist of Swamp Angel, who discovers that she can get along very well, thank you, without such conventional crutches as a husband and a respectable job. Kudos to New Canadian Library for a first-class restoration project. 4
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