Upper Canada Tract Society

Here’s an ad from the June 27 1928 edition of the Toronto Globe for religious tracts:


A telephone is reserved for your use!

I’m fascinated by “God’s Minute”, which featured 365 prayers by “approximately 350 saintly men”. Did some of the saintly men write more than one prayer? Or were approximately 15 writers not saintly? I suppose it’s just that they didn’t bother to check that closely, and I guess there’s no reason why they should.

I was also intrigued by “Silken Threads” by Wilhelmina Stitch – could that possibly have been her real name? Apparently, it wasn’t – it was a pen name of Ruth Collie (1888-1936), and “Silken Threads” is a collection of her poems. In 1930, she would undertake a tour of North America, speaking every day for 50 days.

Fay Inchfawn, the author of “Verses of a House Mother”, also turns out to be a pen name, this time of Elizabeth Rebecca Ward (1880-1978). Ms. Ward, like Ms. Collie, was a prolific writer of verse. She was known as the “Poet Laureate of the Home”.

As for the Upper Canada Tract Society: the ad claims that it was founded in 1832, and I found a reference to them in the 1867 Toronto city directory (as the Upper Canada Bible and Tract Societies), located at 102 Yonge. In 1900, they were listed as the Upper Canada Religious Book & Tract Society at that location, and J. M. Robertson (the manager mentioned in the 1928 ad) was listed as one of the “joint depositaries”.

By 1933, the society had moved to 406 Yonge, where they stayed until at least 1948. The 1950 directory lists the society as having relocated to 112 Richmond West. By then, there was clearly less demand for religious publications, as the firm rebranded itself as The Book Society of Canada, educational publishers. They were in the 1954 directory at that location, but not in the 1957 directory.

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