David McKnight Canadian Literary Collection

Amassed over more than 30 years, the David McKnight Collection includes thousands of Canadian little magazine issues, a large number of Canadian small press and micropress imprints, and a complementary research archive. McKnight, a retired Special Collections Librarian (McGill University and University of Pennsylvania), was deeply inspired by his friend and mentor Professor Wynne Francis (Concordia University), an influential expert on Canadian Modernist poetry. He catalogued Francis' private collection of little magazines and small press publications, and inherited the collection upon her death in 2000. An avid bibliophile and self-avowed Modernist, McKnight combined Francis’ collection with his own and worked to fill in the gaps in order to create a remarkably comprehensive collection, one with extraordinary research potential. It begins with extremely rare Modernist publications from the 1920s and includes materials published up to 2012. Highlights of the collection include P.K. Page's copy of Preview, John Sutherland's run of First Statement, Allan Ginsberg's copies of TISH, and a nearly complete collection of the 1,500 Coach House Press imprints. The majority of the collection was donated to the University of Alberta Library in 2012 by David McKnight and Lillian Eyre in memory of Professor Wynne Francis, and the collection was showcased in a 2018 exhibition entitled Experiment: Printing the Canadian Imagination. To find published materials in the collection, search “David McKnight Canadian Little Magazine and Small Press Collection” in the library catalogue. To find materials in the research archive (PS 8237 M6 D38), use the finding aid for the David McKnight fonds.

Note: Related collections include the Dorothy Livesay Archive (see finding aid) at Bruce Peel Special Collections and Wynne Francis' Irving Layton papers at Concordia University Archives. You can hear readings by many of the poets treated in this collection through SpokenWeb.

Collection Formats: 20th Century, 21st Century, Books, Ephemera, Fine Press Books, Limited Edition Books -- click to see other collections with this format