Curriculum Vitae of the writer James Bacque
320 Watson Road. Penetanguishene, ON L9M 1X9
All his archives have been donated to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Room at the University of Toronto where they are open to the public.
Educated at Upper Canada College; BA Trinity College, University of Toronto; one year postgrad work in history. Married Elisabeth Marani. Four children, Susan, Catherine, Ben and Andrew.
Reporter, Stratford Beacon-Herald, Stratford, Canada.
Assistant Editor, Saturday Night magazine.
Stagehand, CBC TV.
Assistant Editor, Canadian Homes magazine.
Editor, Macmillan of Canada, book publishers, 1961-1969.
Founding partner and president, new press, book publishers, 1969-1975.
Editor, Seal Books, 1976.
Bacque has been responsible as editor and publisher for the publication of more than 200 books, and has written and published nine himself, which have sold over 250,000 copies in thirteen languages around the world.
In 1958, Bacque was a stagehand and member of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees union at the CBC and of local 58, Toronto. He was appointed a Steward during a protest movement organized principally by Fred McShane and Nick Treanor, to investigate corruption in the IATSE international union under Hugh Sedgwick, Canadian representative of the American head office of IATSE. McShane, Bacque and Treanor organized a movement to decertify IATSE, which narrowly failed in the first round of voting, but succeeded some years later.
A volunteer teacher for Clara Kellerman of the University Settlement House, University of Toronto, Bacque taught night school for two years 1962-4, helping new Canadians to learn English. He developed a novel system for teaching Canadian pronunciation, by singing and chanting.
The co-founders of The Committee for Canada, 1965, were Ramsay Cook, John T. Saywell, Robert Fulford, Mark Gayn and Bacque. Their purpose was to educate English-speaking Canadians in the subject of French-Candian nationalism and aspirations. The group brought such speakers as Solange Chaput-Rolland, Maurice and Jeanne Sauve and Rene Levesque to Toronto to speak to packed houses in Strachan Hall at Bacque’s college, Trinity, in the University of Toronto. The purpose was to create greater awareness of the possibilities of Quebec nationalism, and of rapprochement between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. The work of the committee also resulted in Bacque commissioning the English translation and publication of Pierre-Elliott Trudeau’s book entitled Federalism and the French-Canadians. This was an instant best-seller. Over 80,000 copies were sold in the first few weeks after publication, and influenced the Liberal party to elect Trudeau party leader in 1968.
In 1967 Honourable Justice Joseph Sheard, QC and Bacque co-founded Group Action to Stop Pollution, with the CBC nightly news anchor Stanley Burke. The purpose of the group was to raise public concern and to move government to reduce or eliminate air-borne pollution in Canada. The group eventually merged with Pollution Probe, at which point Bacque commissioned the best-selling book Pollution Probe from Dr. Donald Chant, editor, who was also a co-founder of Pollution Probe. The royalties from the book went to support Pollution Probe at the time of its founding, when money was short.
When the Ontario government was organizing its first arts foundation, now the Ontario Arts Council, to help writers and other artists, Bacque advised Ontario representative Ron Evans how to save money and time in judging awards and subsidies to writers. This system, of allocating money to writers on the basis of publishers’ recommendations, has worked without a hitch for over forty years, resulting in savings of millions of dollars through elimination of duplicate and unnecessary judging processes.
With two partners, Roy MacSkimming and Dave Godfrey, Bacque founded the book publishers new press, in 1969, with the aim of publishing high-quality literary works in every genre, with the emphasis on bringing Canadian authors and writing to Canada and the world. In the following five years, they published more than 100 Canadian titles, some of which sold abroad. All three partners also published their own work with new press: Dave Godfrey’s novel The New Ancestors won the Governor General’s award, and Bacque’s novel Big Lonely was published in England and a best-seller in Canada It was included in the prestigious McClelland and Stewart series, New Canadian Library. While at new press, Bacque founded The Trent Native Series, 1970, in conjunction with the representative of Trent University, Professor Harvey McCue (Waubageshig). The purpose of the series was to publish books exclusively by First Nations Canadians. The first in the series was by Harvey McCue, entitled The Only Good Indian. Others followed, notably Geniesh by Jane Willis, about life in an Anglican boarding school for Cree children in northern Quebec; Devil in Deerskins by Anahareo, a memoir of her life with Grey Owl; Red on White, by Duke Redbird, and Prison of Grass by Howard Adams. Bacque commissioned, edited and published all these titles. This was the first series of books ever dedicated exclusively to First Nations writers.
Bacque was one founder with six others, of the Highland Committee, in 1979, whose purpose was to rescue Vietnamese refugees languishing in British camps in Hong Kong. They brought seven young Vietnamese in the first round, guaranteeing their support for years. The Highland Committee helped to clothe, feed, and educate them, especially in the pronunciation of English. After several years, all these young people were happy and productive citizens of Canada, able to help bring in the next few members of their family and friends, whom the committee also supported. The committee loaned them money, found them clothing, jobs and housing, and helped some of them get into university. In the end, 22 members of the family and their friends became citizens of Canada, working in various fields.
In 1970, Bacque was one of the founders of The Independent Publishers’ Association of Canada, which has thrived and become the Association of Canadian Publishers, representing 145 Canadian houses. He organized the founding committee, arranged accommodation for the first meetings, and supported the founding committee with money and volunteer labour. He was also a founding member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and served as Secretary-Treasurer in 1979.
Since that time, Bacque has researched, written and published three novels, two histories, one biography, a play and a book of essays, all published or produced in Canada, three of them also published abroad. One notable book, entitled Other Losses, was featured on the cover of Saturday Night magazine, and became an international best-seller. It revealed the deadly fate of German prisoners of war in French and American camps after World War Two, and literally thousands of Germans wrote to Bacque to thank him for revealing the truth about these camps. The research took him to archives great and small in seven countries, and to dozens of interviews with survivors of World War Two. Four hours of TV film have been made and broadcast of his historical work, and he has given hundreds of interviews about his histories and his fiction. He was the first western writer to be admitted to the KGB Special State Archive in Moscow after the fall of the communist regime. He produced, wrote and co-directed a ten minute film about Other Losses, and his new play, Conrad, was produced by Russell Productions in Toronto, under the prize-winning director Martin Hunter. In 2009, he began cooperating with the German film-maker Prof. Dr. Michael Vogt on two new films based on the German histories. In June, 2009, he toured Germany, speaking in two cities and giving a TV interview. He also travelled to northern Manitoba and Kenora, Ontario visiting reserves and Metis housing projects as research for a book about Frontiers Foundation, which has been building coop housing in the north for fifty years.
In October 2009 his comedy Conrad, about Conrad, Lord Bilk of Crosspurposes opened at the George Ignatieff Theatre in Toronto. It was an instant success and returned in January 2010. Bacque is at work on a sequel.
The Lonely Ones (Big Lonely in paperback) McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1969; Macmillan of London, 1970.
A Man of Talent, new press, Toronto, 1972.
Creation (With Robert Kroetsch and Pierre Gravel) new press, Toronto, 1972.
The Queen Comes to Minnicog, Gage-Macmillan, Toronto, 1979.
Our Fathers’ War, Exile Editions, Toronto, 2006.
Other Losses: an investigation into the mass deaths of German prisoners at the hands of the French and Americans after World War Two; Stoddart, Toronto, 1989; MacDonald, London, 1990; Prima, Rocklin, Calif., 1992, revised edition, Little, Brown, Toronto and London, 1999, 2004. In Germany, Ullstein Verlag, Berlin, 1989 as Der Geplante Tod. Revised and reprinted by Pour le Merite, Kiel, 2008. In France, Editions Sand, Paris, 1990, as Mort Pour Raisons Diverses. Also in Japan (Asahi Shimbun), Italy (Mursia), Turkey, Portugal, Korea, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia.
Crimes and Mercies, Little, Brown, London and Toronto, 1997. Also as Verschwiegene Schuld, Berlin, Ullstein, 1996, Also published in USA by Northwestern University Press, Chicago, in cooperation with Talonbooks of Vancouver, 2007. Published in Spanish in autumn, 2008.
Just Raoul, Stoddart, Toronto, 1990, and Prima, Rocklin, California, 1992.
Dear Enemy: Germany then and now, (With Richard Matthias Mueller); Essays on contemporary Germany seen from the inside by Mueller, and from the outside by Bacque; Fenn, Toronto, 2000.
Conrad, Russell Productions presents, at the George Ignatieff Theatre, Toronto, October 2009. Repeated January 2010 at the same theatre.
Television: Subject of one-hour BBC TV documentary 1990; of four TV documentaries in France, Germany, Canada. Appearances on BBC; Dan Rather CBS Evening News; Good Morning America; CBC TV The Journal; Apostrophes, (in French, live, in Paris); Panorama, Sud-deutsche Rundfunk.
Readings and/or speeches at Harbourfront, Toronto; Universite de Strasbourg; Universities of Toronto, McGill, Manitoba, Alberta, Ottawa, British Columbia, Trent, Harvard Student Union. Readings in Paris, Strasbourg, Montreal, Ottawa, Penetanguishene, Saskatoon, Calgary, Toronto, etc.
Awards, prizes Canada Council Junior Arts Award, 1970; Canada Council Senior Arts Awards, 1976 and 1993; National Magazine Association Gold Medal, 1978; First Prize, Periodical Publishers Association of Canada, 1981; Chatelaine Magazine Fiction Award, 1980; Bismarck Society Medal.
Articles, Anthologies In many places, including Saturday Night magazine, Books in Canada, The Globe and Mail. Most recently in Abuse Your Illusions, Edited by Russ Kick, The Disinformation Company, New York, 2003, and Exile Quarterly, Toronto, Vol. 29, 2006.
JamesBacque.com, offers pages describing Other Losses, Dear Enemy, Crimes and Mercies. Excerpts plus explanatory notes for Our Fathers’ War. On Google, james bacque recently produced 50,100 hits; on Yahoo, 81,000 hits.
Over the years, Bacque’s books have sold over 250,000 copies world-wide and are still selling at the rate of a hundred per week. He was the first Canadian Anglophone writer to appear on the famous French TV literary program Apostrophes, and also the first Canadian writer to appear in the best-seller list of Der Spiegel.
In Preparation: Praying Boss, a history of Frontiers Foundation, pioneer in co-op housing for aboriginals and Metis in Canada;
Putting On Conrad: A Fable. Satire on the Canadian Literary establishment