Kirk Howard Obituary, Death- The news of the loss of Publisher Emeritus John Kirk Howard on June 30th, 2023, has left the staff at Dundurn Press in a state of mourning. Howard was the founder of the press and served as its leader for forty-seven years. During his tenure, the press had a significant influence on the publishing business in Canada and was instrumental in the development of the careers of hundreds of Canadian authors. He went by the name of Kirk pretty much wherever he went.
In 1972, Kirk launched Dundurn Press as a publisher of books that were focused on the history of Canada. The press grew significantly throughout the subsequent decades, notably in the 1990s and 2000s, when Dundurn purchased many other Canadian publishing houses, such as Thomas Allen Publishers, Natural Heritage Books, and XYZ Publishing. These acquisitions contributed to the press’s expansion. As a result of these acquisitions, Dundurn’s catalog was enlarged to include not just works of literary fiction, mysteries, and fiction for young readers, but also works on topics such as business, politics, local interest, memoirs, and travel.
Kirk has received a number of awards in recognition of his commitment to the publishing industry in Canada. These awards include the President’s Award from the Ontario Historical Society in 1989 and in 2012, as well as the Janice E. Handford Award from the Ontario Book Publishers Organization in 2015. In 2012, he was presented with the Diamond Jubilee Medal of Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2019, he was inducted into the Order of Canada for his contributions to Canadian society.
Early in 2019, Kirk was successful in selling Dundurn Press. The current team is led by Kwame Scott Fraser, Chris Houston, Kathryn Lane, Graham Matthews, and Meghan Macdonald, and their goal is to continue Kirk Howard’s legacy by bringing Canadian publishing excellence to the world with books such as Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s Giller-shortlisted The Son of the House and Nate Hendley’s Beatle Bandit, which won the Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book. We recognize and pay tribute to Kirk’s tenacity and leadership, both of which were essential in the development of the publishing program that we are pleased to deliver today. Even though we are thinking about Kirk’s loved ones and those closest to him at this time, it gives us comfort to know that he was able to see Dundurn Press’s celebration of its fiftieth anniversary before he went away.