The Perilous Trade

About the Book

The Perilous Trade: Publishing Canada’s Writers is the first study of contemporary book publishing in English-speaking Canada. Part history, part memoir, the hardcover edition was released by McClelland & Stewart in 2003. It received advance praise from author and former publisher Mel Hurtig, who called it “a truly marvelous book for all those interested in Canadian authors and publishers and the books they create.” Critic David Staines, general editor of The New Canadian Library, said, “Authoritative and utterly balanced, The Perilous Trade is an essential, indeed indispensable, companion to the development of our literature of the last fifty years.”

The publisher writes

“Canadian publishing is the stuff of a good novel. As author, critic, industry analyst, and co-founder of New Press, Roy MacSkimming is uniquely qualified to write about this unpredictable industry.

“MacSkimming takes us behind the headlines to draw memorable portraits of the mavericks, gamblers, entrepreneurs, political activists, and true believers who against all odds have given us Canada’s greatest cultural achievement. With a keen eye for character and incident, he weaves their tangled relationships with authors, literary agents, booksellers, and each other into an entertaining narrative, rich in previously untold anecdote and personal recollection.

The Perilous Trade is the first book to relate how Canadian publishers large and small succeeded in nurturing a literature of remarkable brilliance and diversity. MacSkimming tells their story with insight, eloquence, and élan. The Perilous Trade will fascinate all who love Canadian writing.”

After several weeks on the Maclean’s bestseller list, The Perilous Trade was named a Globe & Mail Best 100 Book of the Year and a finalist for the National Business Book Award.

In 2007 McClelland & Stewart published a revised edition in paperback under the title The Perilous Trade: Book Publishing in Canada 1946-2006. The paperback edition contains a new final chapter updating developments in the industry and highlighting online publishing and marketing.

Roy MacSkimming is also publishing “The Perilous Trade Conversations,” a series of edited interviews with Canadian publishers conducted for the book. The series is appearing in the literary periodical CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries, edited by John Metcalf and published by Daniel Wells at Biblioasis, a literary press in Windsor, Ontario. Conversations appearing to date have included Robert Weaver in CNQ 69, William Toye in CNQ 70, Jack McClelland in CNQ 71, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson in CNQ 72, Dave Godfrey and Dennis Lee in CNQ 73, and Stan Bevington and Victor Coleman in CNQ 77.


  • “Masterful…. The Perilous Trade unobtrusively, quite fetchingly, conveys a massive amount of research, yet also manages to be a brilliantly seductive cultural history of Canada.” - Greg Gatenby, The Globe and Mail
  • “Quietly authoritative, highly readable and well-paced…. Anyone with even a slight interest in the story of Canadian publishing should find it a useful and engaging read.” - Philip Marchand, Toronto Star
  • "A history driven by an engaging narrative and a cast of remarkable characters." - Christopher Moore, The Beaver
  • “A lovely read – history marbled with memoir.” - Ted Mumford, Report on Business Magazine
  • “A fascinating account of the wild ups and downs, the triumphs and tragedies, in this most precarious of businesses.” - Dave Williamson, Winnipeg Free Press
  • “Roy MacSkimming writes with the narrative skill of a novelist and the precision of a poet…his book is as close to a page-turner as any broad industrial history is likely to be. It succeeds because it is an intensely personal account.” - Ian Montagnes, Logos: The Journal of the World Book Community (U.K.)
  • About the updated paperback edition: “Indispensable.” -Martin Levin, Books Editor, The Globe & Mail

Gordie: A Hockey Legend

About the book

Gordie: A Hockey Legend is the authoritative, unauthorized biography of Gordie Howe, who many regard as the best all-around player in the game’s history. First published in 1993, Gordie was reissued in paperback in 1994 and republished in 2003, Howe’s seventy-fifth year, with a new cover and introductory chapter updating the story of his life to that point.

The publisher writes

“Before Gretzky, before Russians played in the NHL, before multimillion-dollar salaries, there was Gordie Howe: the greatest all-round player in hockey history. Thoroughly researched, richly illustrated and completely unauthorized, Gordie: A Hockey Legend is the only full-length biography to cover Howe’s entire playing career.

“It’s all here: the dramatic Stanley Cup victories, the bloody fights and terrible injuries, Howe’s stirring comebacks, and the incredible longevity of a career that lasted until Gordie was 52 and playing alongside his sons, Mark and Marty. Recreating four decades of hockey glory, author Roy MacSkimming takes us behind the sports icon to reveal a man who remains immensely popular with young and old.

“The Howe legend begins on the frozen sloughs of Saskatchewan, where a painfully shy boy from a poverty-ridden family discovered his one advantage in life: major athletic talent. Signed by the Detroit Red Wings at 16, Howe joined celebrated teammates Sid Abel, Ted Lindsay, Terry Sawchuk and Red Kelly to forge a team that dominated the NHL as only the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers have since. Six-time leading scorer, six-time Hart Trophy winner as most valuable player, Howe surpassed Rocket Richard’s NHL goals record to reach an amazing total of 801, unmatched for years until finally Gretzky caught up to his mentor and idol.

Gordie: A Hockey Legend recreates the glory of hockey’s golden age, the six-team NHL from the 1940s to the 1960s. Author Roy MacSkimming has interviewed the men who played with and against Howe, watched game films and scoured archives for written and visual records.

“In an introduction to the new edition, MacSkimming reflects on Howe’s last ten years. He recounts Gordie and Colleen Howe’s reactions to this unauthorized biography, relates Howe’s many attempts to retire, and describes the tragic illness that has recently afflicted Colleen Howe and transformed the couple’s life together. Reissued to celebrate Gordie’s seventy-fifth year, Gordie reminds us of Howe’s enduring importance in the rapidly changing world of hockey.”

Gordie Howe trivia questions

  1. In which season did Howe break into the NHL with the Red Wings?
  2. What was Howe’s highest NHL regular-season goals total?
  3. What were Howe’s NHL regular-season total goals and total points records until broken by Wayne Gretzky?
  4. What was Howe’s first team in the World Hockey Association?
  5. Which NHL team was Howe playing for when he retired for good in 1980?



  • “Marvellously evocative of the era…an excellent biography.” - The Sporting News (U.S.)
  • “An intelligent, lucid, well-researched, and entertaining book about the life and career of a true hockey legend . . . a definite must-read for all hockey fans.” - Canadian Book Review Annual
  • “A wonderful throwback to the good old days of hockey. . . . This is a trip down memory lane worth taking.” - Calgary Herald

Cold War: The Amazing Canada-Soviet Hockey Series of 1972

About the book

Cold War is the definitive history of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union. Published in 1996 on the eve of the series’ 25th anniversary, Cold War interweaves dramatic accounts of all eight games with player interviews and analysis of the series’ profound impact on hockey.

The publisher writes

“It was the greatest hockey series ever played – and it changed the game forever. In Cold War, Roy MacSkimming evokes as never before those legendary 27 days in September 1972: a time when hockey’s two worlds collided, as the perennial world champions from the Soviet Union finally tested themselves against the top professional stars of the National Hockey League.

“Decided only in the dying seconds of the final game in Moscow, the series captivated fans and non-fans alike with its explosive upsets and unrelenting suspense. Cold War combines rich period detail, illuminating anecdotes and thrilling hockey action with eyewitness accounts from some of the series’ leading figures. With help from Paul Henderson, Yvan Cournoyer, Vladislav Tretiak, Ken Dryden, Pat Stapleton, Ron Ellis, Harry Sinden, the late John Ferguson and many other participants, MacSkimming recreates the entire series: its heroes and goats, its characters and prima donnas, its incomparable moments of poignancy, courage, hilarity and shame.

Cold War is also about a nation’s magnificent obsession. MacSkimming shows how Canadians’ passionate identification with their hockey roots transformed eight ‘friendly matches’ into a bitter, life-or-death struggle between the game’s superpowers – and into a highly symbolic confrontation between hostile political systems. Cold War artfully and memorably documents one of the great mythic dramas in the history of sport.”

Summit series trivia questions

  1. How many game-winning goals in the series did Paul Henderson score?
  2. Who was Team Canada’s leading scorer?
  3. Who were Team Canada’s two goaltenders?
  4. Team Canada had two brother combinations. What were their surnames?
  5. Which Soviet star later died in a car accident?



  • “Roy MacSkimming’s book is a hockey and historical masterpiece. In looking back 25 years at the Canadian equivalent of the big American question – ‘Where were you when Kennedy was shot?’ – he has given fresh perspective and new meaning to the critical event that not only defined Canadian hockey but shaped world hockey for all the years to come. You cannot understand the game until you understand what 1972 meant – and you will not understand 1972 until you read Cold War.” - Roy MacGregor, author of The Home Team and The Last Season
  • Cold War brings into full technicolour the desire and glory, arrogance and greed. This book takes a legend and turns it into a story. It shows the game really belongs to those who play it.” - Alison Griffiths, co-author of Net Worth
  • “The ’72 series was a very memorable and important part of my life. Cold War takes you back and gives you the feeling you were there. And Roy MacSkimming has really done his homework. I was there, but I still learned a lot from this enjoyable book. I only now realize how well prepared the Russians were for that series.” - Yvan Cournoyer, member of Team Canada 1972


Published by Greystone Books in hardcover in 1996 and in paperback the following year for the series’ 25th anniversary, Cold War has been out of print for several years. A few copies are on sale online at comparatively high prices.

A limited number of mint copies of the original hardcover edition, signed and inscribed by the author, are available by regular mail. To obtain a signed copy, send a letter with name and address and a requested inscription, if any, along with a cheque or money order for $50 CDN, inclusive of postage and handling, to Roy MacSkimming, R.R.3, Perth, ON K7H 3C5, Canada. Your copy will be shipped within a few days of receipt of the order.

Out of Love

About the book

Out of Love is a novel of passion and redemption set in modern Greece on the verge of war. As the right-wing military dictatorship collapses in August 1974, Toronto publisher James Urquhart flies to Athens on a quest to free his twenty-year-old son, Nick, who has been imprisoned for unexplained reasons. Urquhart is unprepared for what he finds. His search for Nick takes him on a journey through the ruins of his own past: a lost love, a shattered marriage, and the unresolved conflicts of his relationship with his son.

Confounded by obstacles, Urquhart reluctantly seeks help from his former lover, Maria, and an old colleague, Michaelis Kastri, the Greek socialist leader now returned from exile in Toronto. Neither turns out to be the person Urquhart thought he knew. He must contend on his own with Nick’s jailers, officials of the failed junta determined to hold onto their power, and must finally travel to a remote village on Crete to learn Nick’s and his own fate.

Out of Love is Roy MacSkimming’s second novel. Before publication, author Heather Robertson wrote:

“Jim Urquhart’s search for his son Nick through the streets of Athens leads us into the shadows of an ancient Greece the tourist never sees, the bloody Greece of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Out of Love is a subtle, haunting evocation of political fascism and parental guilt. I couldn’t put it down.”


  • “A well-told tale, set in the exciting summer of 1974 in Athens, when the colonels fell from power, Greece was mobilizing for war with Turkey, and Andreas Papandreou returned from exile in Toronto to seize the mantle of Greek leadership. ...a moving exploration of a Canadian father’s difficult relationship with his son.” Bronwyn Drainie, The Globe & Mail
  • “As in the plays of Classical Greece, most of the blood and murder in this literate thriller take place ‘off-stage’…. MacSkimming shares with [Lawrence] Durrell the ability to transform a physical place into something akin to a character. Athens and Crete are given a life of their own. MacSkimming’s description of the decadent, decaying splendor of Athens and the timeless magic of an increasingly worldly Crete is acute, bittersweet, and memorable. …[He] has written with care and clarity of the timeless journey to self-knowledge.” Diana Brebner, Ottawa Citizen
  • “Political thrillers of John Buchan’s Thirty-Nine Steps variety, in which an intrepid hero becomes entangled in the internal affairs of another country, are still rare enough in Canadian literature to raise an eyebrow. …A compelling and memorable novel.” Wayne Grady, Montreal Gazette
  • “Rare and refreshing is the book that celebrates coming to terms with endings instead of romantic beginnings, and this is the aim of Out of Love. …The epigraph by Durrell indicates MacSkimming’s awareness of the illusory nature of romantic love and of our willful self-deception when we are caught in its throes. Reminiscent of John Fowles’ The Magus, as well as his Daniel Martin.” Jill Franks, Canadian Literature


Out of Love was published by Cormorant Books as a trade paperback in 1993 and is currently out of print. Previously owned copies are available through antiquarian booksellers, as well as Abebooks and other online sellers dealing in used books. A French edition translated by Jean Chapdelaine Gagnon was published by Les Herbes rouges in 1995.

A limited number of mint copies of the English edition, signed and inscribed by the author, are available by regular mail. To obtain a signed copy, send a letter with name and address and a requested inscription, if any, along with a cheque or money order for $30 CDN, inclusive of postage and handling, to Roy MacSkimming, R.R.3, Perth, ON K7H 3C5, Canada. Your copy will be shipped within a few days of receipt of the order.


About the book

On tiny, primitive, isolated Formentera, smallest of the Spanish Balearic Islands, a clutch of expatriates converges in the mid-1960s. They come from North America and the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany, bringing their counterculture values – attitudes toward sex, drugs and alcohol that clash with the island’s traditional peasant culture. The young visitors are a harbinger of drastic change for an island that will soon be transformed, like neighbouring Ibiza, by mass tourism.

Among the twenty-something invaders are old friends from Toronto, John and Bruce, who share a house in a village. Their friendship is unexpectedly complicated when Bruce falls in love with Deirdre, a Scottish woman having a casual affair with John. But John becomes more deeply involved with Sylvie, an American engaged to be married back home, who has retreated to Formentera to reconsider her future. Sylvie, John and Bruce move into the countryside together, reclaiming an abandoned farmhouse. Soon they all must resolve difficult questions of commitment, forced on them by their personal contradictions and the imminent development of the island by tourist operators.

Formentera is Roy MacSkimming’s first novel, published when he was twenty-eight. In vivid lyrical prose it evokes a rite of passage for a generation that sought adventure, meaning and eros in Europe. Above all, the novel celebrates “God’s playroom,” an idyllic island whose beauty and simplicity are threatened by outsiders seeking those very same qualities.


  • “[An] honest and revealing work. MacSkimming writes from within his material, leading us to the heart of the experience. …It’s a strong achievement to have led us to share in what Formentera briefly meant to a generation in the ’60s, led us with knowledge and without judgment.” - Dorothy Bishop, Ottawa Journal
  • “Beautifully written, penetrating…a profound, coherent vision.” - John Moss, Journal of Canadian Fiction
  • “A finely wrought, perceptive and compassionate study…in a sensuous and richly vibrant prose.” - Douglas Barbour, Edmonton Journal
  • “Beautiful prose. His writing is as sensual as his characters. …[Formentera] deserves to be a bestseller” - Erling Friis-Bastaad, Books in Canada


Formentera was published by New Press in 1972 and has been out of print since 1977. A few copies are available through antiquarian booksellers and online. The novel is most likely to be found in libraries. A French edition translated by Arlette Francière was published by Le Cercle du Livre de France in 1976 in the Collection des deux Solitudes.