The Alcuin Society is a non-profit organization supported by people who care about the past, present and future of fine books. Founded in 1965, the society is the only organization in Canada dedicated to the entire range of interests relating to books: publishing, book design and production, bookselling, book buying and collecting, printing, binding, papermaking, calligraphy and illustration.

Paper in the Making: MARLENE CHAN investigates a proud family tradition at Montreal’s Papeterie Saint-Armand, steps from the historic Lachine Canal.

This article was published in Amphora no. 173, Summer 2016. See a scanned copy of the printed version here.

A HEAVY METAL door painted bright yellow marks the entrance to La Papeterie Saint-Armand, the legendary Montreal paper mill that David Carruthers launched in 1979. Situated in the heart of what was one of Canada’s primary manufacturing centres from the mid-19th century until the end of the Second World War, the mill faces rue Saint-Patrick and the historic Lachine Canal.

Opened in 1825, the canal linked the Old Port of Montreal with Lake Saint Louis and played a critical role in the industrial development of this part of Montreal. It was an essential link in the network that allowed ships to make their way to the heart of the continent before 1959, when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened. The rapids that made locks necessary for the passage of ships also provided a source of hydraulic power for local factories, including the Dominion Oil Cloth & Linoleum Co.—premises where Saint-Armand now occupies 15,000 square feet. Continue Reading…

The Alcuin Society’s 2017 Reid award winner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Alcuin Society is delighted to announce that David Carruthers & Denise Lapointe, La Papeterie Saint-Armand, makers of fine archival paper, are the recipients of the ninth Robert R. Reid Award and Medal for lifetime achievement in the book arts in Canada, for the year 2017.

La Papeterie Saint-Armand has been producing papers for both book and fine artists since the company’s inception in 1979. The extremely demanding process has enabled them to create a product that is an integral part of many fine books produced in both Canada and abroad for the last four decades. Their passion for their work is the basis for their success. As Carruthers put it, “We are artists in paper.” Continue Reading…

Railroad postage stamps

I started collecting model trains in the early 1970s in Montreal, and became a dedicated train buff from then on. Subsequently I amassed a goodly collection of Canadian, American, British and French locomotives and rolling stock, mostly steam but some diesel. So when I started collecting postage stamps in New Haven , it was natural that I should include a special collection of the many stamps covering railroads. I was totally surprised to find so many currently being published by post offices around the world—many more than those on ships and airplanes. Which just goes to prove that trains still hold a special place in the hearts of mankind. Indeed, so special that they are having a resurgence of building all new lines as a sign of “progress.” And in Western countries there are a rash of short-run scenic railroads run by railroad buffs using equipment they have taken great pains to restore. Terry and I even got a book together about the ones in North America and had it published in New York by E.P. Dutton. Continue Reading…


Saturday, December 2, 2017 in Toronto

For 30 years, in Toronto at this time of the year there has been a book arts fair where printers, binders, calligraphers, papermakers and others associated with the book arts have shown their wares and are available to discuss their work. Continue Reading…

Bernard Berenson

Working in Italy with the highly respected connoisseur of Florentine paintings and drawings, Bernard Berenson, immediately after Oxford (an ambition he had held since his high-school days at Winchester), provided the powerful springboard for Kenneth Clark’s astonishingly rapid career-path through the art world of the U.K. from the 20s to the 70s. Continue Reading…

Alcuin Society Book Auction Sunday – Reminder

When: Sunday, 19 November 2017, noon – 4 pm
Where: Westpoint Room, University Golf Club, 5185 University Blvd., Vancouver.
Cost: Free and open to everyone

Here’s a chance to find beautiful new Canadian books published last year in time for holiday giving; many of these little beauties are hard to find elsewhere. Canadian publishers submitted them to the Alcuin book design competition and now you have a chance to buy them for as little as 50% of list price.

This year we’re having a very brief live auction of select books, starting at 1:00 p.m. – the rest of the books will be sold by silent auction. Come at 12:00 p.m. to look over the books and place your bids, and chat over coffee or tea and cookies with like-minded members and their friends.

The proceeds from this event help fund next year’s competition, as well as the wonderful free events that are going to be part of it. Registration for the auction is required, although the event is free.

For more information, a list of the books, and to register, contact Mary Luebbe at 604- 255-1802 or

This event is sponsored by The Alcuin Society

Continue Reading…

We All Drew, Always: Bill Frank David Charles Mayrs

An important exhibit to see! Charles Mayrs is one of many talented artists who was also in the Alcuin Society’s Wayzgoose on Saturday at the Vancouver Public Library! There are two concurrent exhibits Nov 7- Dec 16:

West Vancouver Museum Artist Talk by Charles Mayrs: Saturday, November 18, 2 p.m.

West Vancouver Memorial Library  This exhibition brings together graphic design work and limited edition art books by all four Mayrs brothers, and recognizes their unique and long-standing presence in the history of Canadian art.


Congrats to the 2017 GG winners!!

We’ve just seen the list of this year’s winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, for Canadian books published in 2016.

We were delighted to learn that two of the books on the list of English language winners also won awards for their design in this year’s Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada. They are:

POETRY: On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood, by Richard Harrison (Wolsak and Wynn). Designer: Natalie Olsen

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE – ILLUSTRATED BOOKS: When We Were Alone, by David Alexander Robertson (HighWater Press). Illustrator: Julie Flett. Designer: Robyn Woodcock (Relish New Brand Experience)

Sincere congratulations to all of the winners!