Hugh Kane

Hugh Kane (1911-1984) joined McClelland & Stewart in 1937 as a salesman, worked his way up to executive vice-president of publishing and general manager, and then left the firm in 1969 to assume the presidency of Macmillan of Canada, where he succeeded the legendary John Gray. On the occasion of his departure, Jack McClelland called attention to his long-time employee’s ‘taste, judgement, experience and unrivalled knowledge of the trade’.

In 1958, for example, Kane had persuaded the young Frank Newfeld to join McClelland & Stewart, where Newfeld also became a vice-president of publishing. In 1972, Kane persuaded the same Newfeld to illustrate Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie for Macmillan — a title that was destined to become one of the most popular Canadian books for children, ever.

Born in Belfast, Kane had emigrated to Canada as a child, and started work at Sun Life in Montreal. Although he had no formal higher education, he was well read, and he employed considerable managerial talents — integrity, diplomacy, and a keen sense of humour — to become a widely admired figure in Canadian book publishing. He was president at Macmillan for only three years, becoming vice-chairman when the firm was acquired in 1972 by Maclean-Hunter who brought with them their own administrators.

Kane had many successes in Canadian publishing. During his tenure at Macmillan, he published Joseph Smallwood’s I Chose Canada and John Diefenbaker’s One Canada, as well as Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie. In 1976 Kane return to M&S in the role of president and managing director of one of its subsidiaries, the Natural Science Library. He retired in 1982, and died two years later.

Hugh Kane’s papers are held at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

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