HARRY MCGEE: EDITOR, PUBLISHER
Cover of THE ROSEBANK LETTER No. 46, 15 November 2002
PUBLISHED BIMONTHLY SEP. 1995 TO JAN. 2003
Interested in roses? And things related to roses? Interested in northern rose breeders? And the hardy roses they created?
The Rosebank Letter started in 1995 as an independent bimonthly rose newsletter. From its beginning as a single sheet providing news to Canadian rose societies, it was almost immediately demanded by the rose gardening public. It soon turned into the fastest growing rose journal produced for rose gardeners in Canada and other countries of the same nordicity. Outstanding, well-respected rose writers and rose breeders from across Canada contributed articles reflecting their knowledge and expertise.
Maintaining the highest publishing standards, The Rosebank Letter was professionally printed in 8 ˝ x 11 inch format, book form. Beginning with the March 1997 issue, it added one or more colour features. Yet it was produced on a shoestring. The editor, Harry McGee, published the bimonthly as a break-even undertaking. Subscription rates merely covered out-of-pocket expenses for printing, postage, research toll calls and colour cartidges. All the editor's work was a gift to his country. The phenomenon grew to an incredible 16 big pages — the maximum that could be put through a mail slot. Surprisingly, the subscribers became a family with an amazing rapport among each other. They wrote of their concerns, or just to express their pleasure (or displeasure) with an item. The editor was deluged with responses when something struck them right.
What did it cover?
It did not deal with cultivation, except in generalities, because that is special to each locality and climate. What works well in one area may be harmful in another. Nor did it report on rose show results because they usually only intrigue the participants. Local rose or hort societies do the best and speediest job of providing such information. It did not carry advertising. Accordingly its reportage was completely independent.
The Rosebank Letter is covered by copyright held by the publisher, ROSECOM . But rose or hort societies were able to arrange for blanket permission to reprint items in their own newsletters. It was dedicated to helping them by supplementing their writing resources — not competing with them. The Rosebank Letter never cherry-picked items from them to reprint, lest the public abandon the locals knowing they would get it in TRL. It only published original material.
By 2000, TRL had spread into the United States and Europe. It espoused federating all the independent rose societies across the whole of Canada, with a resolute insistence that each of the five main regions of Canada be represented equally with voting power and input and support. In 2002, that became a reality with the incorporation of National-Roses-Canada. A year later, the federation bought future rights to TRL for the princely sum of one dollar.
Editors don't live forever, but an idea will. The Rosebank Letter will go right on, but in March 2003 with National-Roses-Canada as the publisher, the name was changed to Roses-Canada. The editor was pleased to accept the assistance of a French language contributing editor, Roch Rollin. The promotion of the journal was assumed by the federation's website http://www.rosescanada.ca/ managed by the N-R-C former vice-president, André Poliquin. It is very comforting to know that no matter what happens, the rose family will go on being fed.
What happens to all the good stuff that was published from September 1995 through January 2003? You can still access it, either from the National Library in Ottawa (both in the Library's permanent collection, where it is available for consultation and research, or in Canadiana, the national bibliography) or from the original publisher, ROSECOM, where the entire oeuvre, No. 1 through No. 47 complete, is available for purchase at CAD or USD $100.00 and that price includes mailing. Purchase of individual numbers may be negotiated. It is identified as ISSN 1481-255X. To order, please provide your return address and your cheque made out to Rosecom. Mail them to Rosecom, 41 Outer Drive, London, Ontario, Canada N6P 1E1.
The following web page provides abstracts of every item published in this periodical. One feature of the newsletter was Reader Response and some subscribers read it before all else. One said he sometimes read only it. The Rosebank Letter makes fascinating reading as much of the content is literature in its own right. For those with a love of history, it is unbeatable.
Stay tuned for other publications in the following pages.