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Toronto Star : Sterling Rd. turns another page

House of Anansi Press is the latest addition to Toronto’s new ‘cultural hub’

House of Anansi Press has become the latest cultural powerhouse to rush to Sterling Rd., with the publisher announcing plans for a head office and street level exhibition space along the rapidly revitalizing strip.

Sent scurrying from its former Spadina headquarters by rocketing rents, the publisher evaluated a dozen spaces before enthusiastically settling on a spot on the formerly industrial street, despite the fact the new office, frankly, needed a little work.

“When we went into it, it was just a big muddy room,” said Sarah MacLachlan, House of Anansi president and publisher. “But to this management team, it was the right move. It was the right price for us.

“And we’ve been in the building and we’ve seen Banger Films,” she adds. “We’ve gone over to
the lowrise warehouse area where there’s a fantastic woodworking finishing shop and axe throwing space.

House of Anansi Press president Sarah MacLachlan has high hopes for the Toronto publishing house's new space on Sterling Rd.

House of Anansi Press president Sarah MacLachlan has high hopes for the Toronto publishing house’s new space on Sterling Rd.

“We’re going to be part of an interesting new creative hub.”

Indeed, it’s just the latest coup for an area that has recently received continual coats of polish. Perhaps most significant was the news that the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art would shift its base from Queen St. W. to Sterling, the two-lane strip dipping north from Dundas St. W. near Lansdowne.

It’s an urban industrial zone, once marked by massive factories and decay, that has recently transformed into a home for the eclectic likes of galleries, architects, paint ballers, film makers and musicians (including, famously, the site of Drake’s first recording studio).

Although Sterling would not be considered a traditional pedestrian paradise, House of Anansi was swayed largely by the presence of an 1,100-square-foot ground-level space that the publisher
will use to showcase its latest titles, stage author readings and throw parties.

MacLachlan says the move, set to take place between Christmas and the new year, has been met with enthusiasm from the literary world, with plaudits coming from author Robert Hough and children’s book illustrator Matt James.

Although publishers have traditionally cloistered closer to the downtown core, MacLachlan says splintering media have rendered centrality less of a priority.

And, she adds, venturing into a relatively uncharted area is in line with the principles of House of Anansi, which was founded in 1967 and immediately published the Manual for Draft Age Immigrants to Canada at the height of the Vietnam War.

“There’s always been that pioneering spirit within the company,” MacLachlan said. “And we’re going to be 50 in 2017, so we felt that starting fresh and new again would be appropriate.”

Along with the Nestlé factory and, soon, Henderson Brewing located nearby on Sterling Rd., there will be something special, quite literally, in the air.

“Beer, chocolate and books; it’s a good combo, right?” said MacLachlan.

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