Chapter 5: Case Study

Ryerson Essays

The Ryerson Essays represented the first substantial publishing initiative undertaken by Lorne Pierce after he joined the Methodist Book and Publishing House/Ryerson Press in 1920. The initial advertisement for the series appeared in the Christian Guardian in March 1921. Predominantly theological in focus, these essays appeared in brochure format and tended to be brief – usually less than fifty pages. Priced between five and thirty-five cents, they were “derived to provide the scholar and lay reader with authoritative and ready information on questions of current importance.”1

Ryerson Essays, seven volumes bound by theme

Pierce enthusiastically published the first essay in the series – Harris Franklin Bell’s Was John Wesley a Premillenialist? (1921) – in a print run of 5000. (New York’s Methodist Book Concern had previously issued the essay.) Subsequent Ryerson Essays generally appeared in more constrained print runs of 1000, but did not sell well.2 Their authors typically received a royalty, but not always.3 Although only two titles appeared in the series in 1921, by September of that year, Pierce recorded in his private diary that he felt he was “making some real progress with my Ryerson essays.”4 In 1922, another eight Ryerson Essays issued from the press, including Waddill Catchings’s Our Common Enterprise, William Alva Gifford’s John Wesley, Patriot and Statesman, Samuel Peter Rose’s Old Testament Prophesy, George Coulson Workman’s Is Jesus Coming Again?, and four essays by Albert Morris Sanford. Pierce’s biographer Sandra Campbell notes that the Ryerson Essays “were criticized by some within the Methodist and Presbyterian churches as too ‘modernist’ on subjects like the Virgin Birth, but they received favourable attention in other quarters. By 1924, the Montreal Gazette was referring to Pierce as the ‘brilliant editor of the Ryerson Essays.’”5 In those early years, Pierce himself contributed two essays to the series: Primitive Methodism and the New Catholicism (1923) and The Beloved Community (1924).

Is Democracy Doomed? Ryerson Essay no. 59

Titles continued to be issued in the series for the remainder of the 1920s, and into the 1930s. A sampling of titles from the mid- to late-1920s include: Alfred Gandier’s The Doctrinal Basis of Union and Its Relation to the Historic Creeds (1926), John Line’s The Doctrine of Christ in History (1926), George Frederick Kingston’s The Foundations of Faith (1928), William George Jordan’s The British-Israel Theory (1929), and William Morgan’s Immortality (1929). In the early 1930s, there appeared, among others, Samuel Dwight Chown’s Some Causes of the Decline of the Earlier Typical Evangelism (1930), David Christie’s The Ministry To-day and To-morrow (1932), and William Charles Good’s Is Democracy Doomed? (1933). Campbell notes that, “Years later, Pierce glumly recalled of the series: ‘Religious and theological works we nibbled at, feeling under obligation to publish good books by our own men, but they nearly all left us in the red.’”6


List of Ryerson Essays7


1  Harris Franklin Bell, Was John Wesley a Premillenialist?


2  L.H.C. Hopkins, The I.B.S.A. or Russellism

3  Samuel P[eter] Rose, Old Testament Prophecy

4  George Coulson Workman, Is Jesus Coming Again?

5  Waddill Catchings, Our Common Enterprise: A Way Out for Labor and Capital

6  Albert M[orris] Sanford, “The Revelation of God to Man”

7  Albert M[orris] Sanford, “Inspiration and Infallibility”

8  Albert M[orris] Sanford, “Literalistic Interpretations of the Scriptures”

9  Albert M[orris] Sanford, “The Development of Paul’s Theology”

17  William Alva Gifford, John Wesley, Patriot and Statesman


10  W.W. Andrews, Christ and the Ecclesiastical Spirit, and, Nature and Self-Sacrifice

11  John Haynes Holmes, John Wesley and the Methodist Revolt

12  Samuel P[eter] Rose, The Genius of Methodism

13  F. Louis Barber, The Philosophy of John Wesley

 14  Newell Dwight Hillis, John Wesley and the Moral Awakening of the Common People

15  Samuel Thomas Tucker, The Evolution of the Democratic Ideal in the Old Testament

16  Roy M. Pounder, Some Thoughts about God

18  Robert E[dis] Fairbairn, Faith Healing

19  Albert M[orris] Sanford, The Fourth Gospel: Distinctive Messages

20  Samuel P[eter] Rose, The Things that Remain: A Confession of Faith

21  A.D. Belden, The Greater Christ

22  Albert Durrant Watson and Margaret Lawrence, Mediums and Mystics: A Study in Spiritual Laws and Psychic Forces

23  George Coulson Workman, Divine Healing or True Science vs. Christian Science and Faith-Cure

24  William Creighton Graham, John Wesley as a Letter Writer

25  A[lbert] M[orris] Sanford, The Person and Work of Jesus. Part I

26  Lorne Albert Pierce, Primitive Methodism and the New Catholicism

 27  A[lbert] M[orris] Sanford, The Person and Work of Jesus. Part II


28  Samuel P[eter] Rose, How We Came by Our English Bible


29  Lorne [Albert] Pierce, The Beloved Community: Social Studies in Rural Progress


30  John Line, The Doctrine of Christ in History

31  Henry Mick, The Significance of the Cross

32  W[illiam] G[eorge] Jordan, England Revisited

33  D.L. Ritchie, The Genius of Congregationalism

34  Alfred Gandier, The Doctrinal Basis of Union and Its Relation to the Historic Creeds

35  John Clarence Webster, The Distressed Maritimes: A Study of Educational and Cultural Conditions in Canada


36  Charles Herbert, Sunday in the Home

37  George Frederick Kingston, The Foundations of Faith: A Study in Levels of Belief with Suggestions as to Corresponding Stages in Individual and Social Development


38  William George Jordan, The British-Israel Theory

39  R.J. Wilson, Church Union in Canada after Three Years

40  Suggested Courses of Study for the Guidance of Busy Ministers

41  W[illiam] Morgan, Immortality


42  Ernest Thomas, Pentecost What It Was – And What It Means

43  Samuel Dwight Chown, Some Causes of the Decline of the Earlier Typical Evangelism

44  W[illiam] G[eorge] Jordan, Voltaire the Crusader


45  Group Discussions on Reading

46  H.D. Ranns, Careers for Canadians

47  Keith F. Rogers, Doctor’s Advice to His Son: A Discussion of the Problems Peculiar to Youths and Men, with a Presentation of the Established Scientific Facts Underlying These Problems

48  Osbert Morley Sandford, The Genius of the United Church

49  Harvey G. Forster, Man and His Universe: A Study in Cosmic Adjustments

50  A.S. Tuttle, A Present Day Problem: How to Make Religion Effective in a Mechanized Age


51  Robert Edis Fairbairn, Did You Know Jesus?

52  J.G. Perold, Unemployment and Christianity

53  David Christie, The Ministry To-day and To-morrow

54  W.R. Morson, Prosperity and Depression: Canada’s Place in Empire Industry

55  Percy W. Wright; foreword by Harold A. Innis, Smoothing the Bumps in Business: A Consideration of the Problems of Avoiding Recurrent “Boom” and “Depression”

56  Kenneth M. Munro, Divine Optimism


58  Challenge of the Oxford Group Movement: An Attempt at Appraisal

59  William Charles Good, Is Democracy Doomed?


60  Robert Edis Fairbairn, Kingdom of God Evangelism

61  George Coulson Workman, Immortal Life


1 “Reflecting the Canadian Life in New Literary Development [advertisement],” Saturday Night 28 October 1922: 8.

2 Sandra Campbell, Two Hands: A Life of Lorne Pierce of Ryerson Press (Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2013) 180.

3 Janet B. Friskney, “The Years Before Union: Samuel Fallis, Lorne Pierce, and the Ryerson Press, 1919-1926,” Epilogue 13 (1998-2003): 78-79.

4 Cited in Friskney 78.

5 Campbell 180.

6 Campbell.

7  Ryerson University Library’s McGraw-Hill Ryerson Press Collection contains numbers 1-32, 35 bound together by themes in seven volumes. Unbound essays also included in the Collection are numbers 2, 9, 23, 26, 27, 29, 36, 44, [47], 53, 54, 55, 56. and 59.