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Friday, June 21, 2013

A Letterpress Education: The Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum

Museum exterior
A valuable resource for anyone wishing to become reacquainted with the marvels of letterpress printing is the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum, Canada's largest working printing museum, located in the village of Queenston, Ontario (5 km north of Niagara Falls). 

The jewel in its rare collection of letterpress, typecasting, and lithography equipment is a Louis Roy Press dating from the 1760s, Canada's oldest press and one of very few original wooden presses remaining in the world.

The museum occupies the restored Georgian home and print shop of publisher and political activist William Lyon Mackenzie, who lived and worked there from 1820 to 1824.  The building was officially opened in 1938 by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Mackenzie's great-grandson.  The on-site printing museum came later, in 1990, through a joint partnership between the Niagara Parks Commission, that owns and operates the facility, and a seven-person volunteer Printery Committee, that maintains the collection and secures the necessary operating funds.  

Museum interior
PrintAction publisher Sara Young, who has served on the Printery Committee for over 12 years, wrote me in a recent e-mail:  "I do believe that it is very important, perhaps even more so today, to preserve antique presses and the ancillary equipment that pushed our industry forward and allowed the Canadian printing industry to flourish in Canada from the time of the war of 1812."

From May until Labour Day, the Mackenzie Printery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (last tour at 4:30 p.m.)  After Labour Day, it operates only on weekends until it closes for the season in October, either right after Canadian Thanksgiving or Hallowe'en, depending on its volume of visitor traffic.

Besides special exhibitions and a dedicated library, the Printery museum offers all visitors not only a tour of the facilities but also the unique opportunity to try their hand at setting type and operating two of its eight antique presses.  Each visitor also receives a free poster and bookmark.  In all, it's good value for the nominal admission price of $5 (less for children under 12.)

Additionally, for the second year running, in response to growing interest, the Printery offers two half-day, professionally oriented, hands-on letterpress seminars costing $96 each (less for students), six people per class.

The museum is always collecting names of people who are interested in participating in their teaching programs with a view to expanding their offerings.  The contact for this purpose is Harold Meighan:  905-684-7672 / haljan@gmail.com.

For general information about the Printery, contact:  905-262-5676 / printer@mackenzieprintery.org

RESOURCES
For more resources on letterpress printing, please refer to my Pinterest boards entitled History of Printing and Printing Museums and:

More information specifically on the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum is available at:

Photos in this blog post were provided courtesy of the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum.