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A Short History of Cormorant Books

Currently based in Toronto, Cormorant Books began on a farm near Dunvegan in Eastern Ontario in 1986. The company was founded by Gary Geddes, who established a publishing company to give voice to diverse writers from across Canada. The cormorant is, according to one legend, a voiceless bird — hence the name. Gary published poetry, literary works in translation, many anthologies, books for children, and fiction. By 1990, Jan Geddes assumed the role of publisher; she shifted the publishing program towards fiction, particularly novels. In 2001, Marc Côté became the publisher of Cormorant and continued the tradition of publishing first novels and short story collections by diverse voices from throughout Canada, adding more Québécois novels in translation and serious non-fiction to the list. By 2008, the company began to publish again books for children and young readers under the imprint now known as DCB. Piloted since 2011 by Publisher Barry Jowett, DCB has received much acclaim.

Under Marc Côté, two-time winner of the Libris Award for Editor of the Year, the company remains committed to publishing culturally significant works of fiction and non-fiction from emerging to well-established authors from all over Canada, finding and developing diverse authors with narrative voices of character and distinction, new authors with something new to say, and rescuing the out-of-print authors whose reputations have tarnished with age and neglect.

The books published by Cormorant and those published under the children’s literature imprint, DCB, have been nominated for hundreds of civic, regional, provincial, national, and international awards, from the Scotiabank Giller Prize to the Neustadt Prize, from the many iterations of the Books in Canada First Novel Award to the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Kirkus Prize and the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Cormorant Books itself has been nominated nine times for the Libris Award for Small Press Publisher of the Year, and has won it three times.

The company’s dedication to publishing a diversity of voices continues, along with the belief that these voices are worth reading, not just for a small and select audience, but for the largest possible one.

Cormorant Books acknowledges the sacred land on which our company operates. It has been a site of human activity for many thousands of years, more than 15,000. This land is the territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and, most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The territory was the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and the Confederacy of the Ojibway and allied nations to peaceably share and steward the resources around the Great Lakes. Today, Tkaronto (Toronto) remains home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work in the community, on this territory.

Cormorant Books also acknowledges the resilience of the Indigenous Peoples of what is now called Canada; that much of their art, beliefs, traditions, and languages have survived demands our respect.

The residential schools and the institutional and systemic indifference to the missing and murdered Indigenous Women are but two shameful manifestations of the cultural arrogance that led to the racism and persecution of the original occupants of this land.

We are mindful of broken covenants and the need to strive to make right with all our relations. We cannot change the past, but we recognize the truth of the trauma colonizers have inflicted on Indigenous peoples and we commit ourselves to supporting their healing and making a better future for all who live on these lands.

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