Time Capsule: The 50s & 60s

ALU presents…time capsule! We’re digging up historical and literary dirt through the ages, like which books made waves back then (or hearken back to and capture the spirit of times gone by) and which publishers came on the scene. We grouped together our first two decades: the fifties and sixties (to think that before this, household TVs and the moon landing didn’t exist!). Check out our distinctly literary roundup of this long post-war era, below.


Share It:

After catching up on historical books this January, we’re cracking open Time Capsules from each decade to see what books – and publishers born during that time – will fall out.

The 50s & 60s

Inspired by/borrowed from Superman Action Comics, #36.

What went on

  • The 1950s were a period of unprecedented prosperity for North Americans. There were TVs in many a suburban living room, and the first credit cards allowed people to consume like never before.
  • Canadians began to shape their own identities (apart from Britain and the United States) with their unique, peacekeeping approach to the 1956 Suez Crisis led by then-diplomat Lester B. Pearson.
  • By the 1960s, students and artists clashed with the status quo the world over, protesting everything from conscription in the United States, to nuclear war, to civil rights violations.

Books of note

  • In 1954, The Stunted Strong by Fred Cogswell became the first book published by Fiddlehead Poetry Books, the company that would become Goose Lane Editions.
  • BC publisher Talonbooks published the early works of playwright James Reaney, including Colours in the Dark in 1969.
  • They also published bill bissett, who’d founded his own press blewointment (later Nightwood Editions) earlier that year. radiant danse uv being from Nightwood honours bissett’s legacy (and is published under the blewointment imprint!).
  • Terri Favro’s Sputnik’s Children (ECW Press), a whirlwind of pop culture references and counterfactual history, details the anxieties of the atomic (and space race!) age.
  • Carol Daniels’ harrowing novel Bearskin Diary (Nightwood Editions) tackles the Sixties Scoop era, a concerted move by the Canadian government from the 1960s-80s that seized Indigenous children from their parents and moved them into settler homes.

Publisher Birthdays

Fun fact: Coach House Books’ Stan Bevington bought his first press – a Challenge Gordon Platen – and rented the Coach House with money he made selling prints of the then brand-new Canadian flag.* * *And that’s a wrap on our first Time Capsule! Stay tuned every Tuesday and Thursday to take a walk on the time-side (this made more sense in our heads).