Bill Poole

I first met Bill Poole (1923–2001) when I was a student at OCA in the early 1980s. He taught in the industrial design and printmaking departments. The first book I was involved in—from the creation of the paper to the hand setting of the type (Kennerley Old Style)—was made under Bill’s direction. He had met Robertson Davies and asked if he could provide a short text that we could print on the Albion hand press at OCA. Davies agreed and gave us the speech On Being a Professional. I worked the whole term, making paper, setting type and finally binding the book with my fellow students.

Poole’s hand printing was influenced by his friend Carl Dair (1912–1967), author of Design with Type (1952). Dair liked to encourage people to get their hands dirty and try some letterpress. To this end, Dair organized the Wrongfount folio of hand-printed work by Canadian poets, authors and artists. Bill was inspired, and wanted to continue the tradition of sharing hand-printed work, so he convinced the Grimsby Public Library to host the first Wayzgoose in 1978. This event provided an opportunity for printers to meet each other, exchange work and sell to the public. In 1981, Bill organized the first Wayzgoose anthology, which was an annual gathering of hand-printed sections bound into a book.

Bill Poole’s legacy comes to us from the Poole Hall Press. Bill printed books, broadsides and ephemera for his enjoyment from 1972 until his unexpected death in 2001. Each year Bill selected a short piece of prose he admired, obtained permission, and handset, printed and bound it into a book to distribute free to his friends as Christmas keepsakes. In an essay by Morris Wolfe, ‘Bill Poole’s Wonderful Life’, Wolfe sums up the man by stating, ‘more than anyone I’ve known, Bill Poole lived his life exactly as he wanted.’

— George A. Walker

The Devil's Artisan would like to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

Bill Poole Magnify

Bill Poole

Credit: Lynn Ross