Maitland Gibson was born in
1943 in Kilmarnock and
raised in the small Ayrshire village of Dunlop (where his mother still
lives) and went to Glasgow Academy before St Andrews,
where he gained an MA at the University of St. Andrews.
There he boxed for the
Scottish Universities team, was president of the Students’ Union, and won
the Sloan Prize in Lowland Scots composition, en route to winning the
scholarship that took him to Yale for another MA.
He came to Canada in 1967 and
entered the world of publishing in March 1968, as an editor with Doubleday
Canada. Through a series of accidents he found himself running an
editorial department at the age of 25, and publishing books set from
Newfoundland (Death on the Ice, by Cassie Brown) to British
Columbia (Vancouver, by Eric Nicol) and editing authors ranging
from Harry J. Boyle (The Great Canadian Novel) to Barry Broadfoot (Ten
He joined Macmillan of Canada
as Editorial Director in 1974 and became Publisher in 1979. In those years
he had the privilege of editing authors such as Morley Callaghan, Hugh
MacLennan, Bruce Hutchison, and Robertson Davies. Early in 1986 he joined
McClelland & Stewart as Editor and Publisher of a new line of books under
his own imprint, a first in Canada. Since then Douglas Gibson Books has
published works by authors such as Alice Munro, Peter Gzowski, Jack
Hodgins, James Houston, W.O. Mitchell and Mavis Gallant. In September,
1988 the Douglas Gibson Books line was reduced to three titles a year when
he became Publisher of McClelland & Stewart, overseeing all of its books
and attracting to the house many former associates, including Robertson
Davies, Ken Dryden, Myrna Kostash, Jeffrey Simpson, Michele Landsberg, Roy
MacGregor and Guy Vanderhaeghe. In June 2000 he became President and
Publisher of McClelland & Stewart.
As an old friend of Hugh
MacLennan, he was one of four eulogists at his funeral in Montreal in
1990. A year later the anthology Hugh MacLennan's Best, "selected
and edited by Douglas Gibson," was published, and in 1994 he contributed
to the University of Ottawa Press book Hugh MacLennan. He edited
the anthology The Merry Heart; Selections 1980-1995 by Robertson
Davies one year after Professor Davies' death, and he has since published
posthumous books by his friend W.O. Mitchell.
As a member of the publishing
community he has taught courses in editing to many groups, including the
Book Publishers' Professional Association and EAC, and contributed the
title chapter to the booklet "Author and Editor." From its creation in
1981 he was a Faculty Advisor to the Banff Publishing Workshop, and from
1985 to 1989 was the Co-Director of the course. He was the Chair of the
Advisory Board of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon
Fraser University from 1988-1993 and is now an Honorary Advisory Board
Member, and an adjunct faculty member for the Master of Publishing program
at S.F.U. In 1995 he delivered the annual Hugh MacLennan Lecture at McGill
University. He is a member of the Quadrangle Society of Massey College,
and the Scottish Studies Board at the University of Guelph.
As a writer, his work has
appeared in the anthology, The Bumper Book, in a book on
Alistair MacLeod and in Saturday Night, Toronto Life, Books in
Canada, the National Post and the Globe and Mail, and one of
his pieces was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Humour. From
1981 till early in 1984 he was the weekly movie reviewer for the CBC radio
programme "Sunday Morning." In a more serious vein, he has given speeches
to groups as varied as the Canadian Oral History Association, the CNIB,
and the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, and he made the
keynote speech at the Ottawa press conference in 1987 that launched the
campaign "Don't Tax Reading." He spoke as a Canadian representative at the
International Publishers' Association Convention in London in 1988. As a
Council Member of Historica he has spoken at a number of Canadian Clubs.
In 1991 he received the
rarely-presented Canadian Booksellers' Association President's Award "for
the numerous important Canadian books and authors he has developed over
the years." Since that time his encounters with major M&S books - from
The Ice Storm to No Great Mischief, which he extracted from
Alistair MacLeod - and with authors ranging from Andy Russell to Toller
Cranston and from John Crosbie to Pierre Trudeau, have provided him with
material for many speeches across the country.
in demand as an
authority on Robert Burns (having translated his Address To A Haggis into
modern English) and has spoken at Burns Suppers in Toronto, Montreal, and
even been invited back to Scotland. He was elected First Vice-President of
The St. Andrew’s Society of Toronto in 2005.
In 2005 he was voted "Scot of the Year"
and honoured at the Tartan Day Dinner at Casa Loma in Toronto on 5th April
of two daughters, he lives in Toronto with his wife, Jane Brenneman
Douglas was awarded the "The
Order of Canada" in 2017.