50 Years of Books – Send Us Your Stories

May_2017aDid you know that when we started as Peguis Publishers in 1967, we were Manitoba’s first full-time publishing company? This year, we’re celebrating a half century of trailblazing, from publishing educational materials that help guide the next generation, to award-winning books from Indigenous authors that tell stories of inclusion and reconciliation.

We started fifty years ago as the brainchild of Winnipeg bookseller Mary Scorer after she realized that Manitoba didn’t have its own publishing company. She wanted to give Manitobans a voice both within and outside the province’s borders. The first work she published was a reprint of Women of Red River for the Women’s Canadian Club of Winnipeg, followed by her first original work, Four Recorders of Rupert’s Land by Roy St. George Stubbs. Peguis Publishers would also go on to publish books of poetry, including three volumes by young Manitoba poets, and one by Winnipeg Free Press book writer Thomas Saunders, Red River of the North.

Mary Dixon bought the company in 1985 and turned its focus to K-12 educational resources. During her time as owner, she won the Manitoba Women Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1993, and Peguis Publishers became Portage & Main Press in 2001.

Annalee Greenberg and Catherine Gerbasi bought P&M in 2007 and started HighWater Press, our trade imprint, which publishes books that portray a wide-ranging expression of Indigenous culture and experience. Our titles include a rich mix of novels, graphic novels, memoirs, and children’s books for readers of all ages.

We’re going to party like only we can – by reading a ton of books! We want you to celebrate with us, so stay tuned for special 50th anniversary sales and exclusive social media content (like us on Facebook!).

Do you have any special memories of Portage & Main Press or HighWater Press books? We want to hear about them! Send us your story at portageandmainpress50@gmail.com to be part of our anniversary celebrations.

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Coming soon! Indigenous Writes

From guest contributor, author Chelsea Vowel:

Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada

Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada

At a NATO press conference in 2002, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was widely panned for saying: “Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

As ridiculous as Rumsfeld sounded, I actually find his words to be immensely useful. I like to boil it down to a simpler version: there are known knowns, there are known unknowns, and there are unknown unknowns. I have been having the same conversations for the past 20 years. I challenge “known knowns” about Indigenous people – the myths and attitudes that so thoroughly permeate public perceptions and discourse. I answer the “known unknowns,” questions – like who has Indian status and who the Métis are. Most important, I try to get people to face the fact of “unknown unknowns” – the vast number of things people in Canada are simply unaware of when it comes to Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada is my attempt to gather together these conversations and put them in an easily accessible place, with lots of resources to investigate further if a particular topic catches one’s fancy. Reading this book will give Canadians a basic understanding of Indigenous issues, finally allowing us all to have that “new conversation” so many people have been talking about.


Click here to pre-order your copy of Indigenous Writes.




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Inquiry – the teaching method where mistakes matter!

Coming soon – Bold School: An Inquiry Model to Transform Teaching

for all teachers

Did you know your brain rewires and makes new connections whenever you notice you have made a mistake and again when you correct a mistake? Each time you fail you provide feedback to your brain. Knowing this about the brain, we believe we should teach in a way that maximizes learning from mistakes, taking appropriate risks, as well as listening and learning from others. In the classroom, failing at something gives students the opportunity to reflect on what went wrong, what went well, and what changes need to be implemented in similar situations. In a way, we should be thankful for our mistakes, because they encourage us to be more curious and strengthen our thinking skills. Read More »

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New from author Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm


The Stone Collection

The Stone Collection

The Stone Collection is an interconnected collection of stories i gathered and polished for more than a decade. In them are glimpses of people I’ve known, places i’ve lived, my homeland, my community, my friends, my lovers, and me. None of the stories are about me although i suppose i have a cameo in “Picking Stones,” which is a story and a preface to welcome readers into the world within the covers of the book. In each story there are small moments, turning points, where the story spins in another direction and characters are caught up in the momentum, sent spiraling.

There is darkness in many of the stories. This is the reality for Indigenous people in this nationstate called Canada. Violence and disease of all kinds surround us. The stories reflect that colonial reality. There is pain, anger, betrayal, death, abuse. There is also beauty, deep friendship, intense loyalty, constant teasing and joking, abundant laughter, and, above all, abiding love.

One of the stories was inspired by a moment i saw flipping through TV channels one day. I lingered, just for a moment, on a daytime talk show and heard a young man speak about his role in a horrifying event, the murder of his grandmother. I didn’t hear his story or any details of what happened, just a few bits of what he said. But what i heard stayed with me. How could anyone do such a thing? i wondered. I was sad and horrified and kept trying, somehow, to make sense of it in a way that I could understand. I can’t really explain why but i wanted, I needed, to understand. I thought a lot about how life could lead a boy in that direction. I thought about grandparents and their roles in Anishinaabek life. I thought about the many grandmothers I know and about my own grandmothers whom i adored. The more I thought about it, the more compassion i felt for both a boy and a grandmother whose lives intersected in such a way. Much later, I wrote “The Stone Eater.”

I hope that, in part, this is what readers find in these stories: empathy, compassion, humour, strength, reverence, and a deeper understanding of our interconnectedness to each other and to the natural and supernatural worlds we, each of us, are a part of.
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I’ve gathered these stories, like stones, into this collection, and stories, like stones, hold memory.

Stories, like stones, are alive.

-Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

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Faye Brownlie launches new website

Fresh off her appearance at the BCTELA Provincial Conference on October 23, author and educator Faye Brownlie has launched a brand-new website!

From FayeBrownlie.ca:

“Faye Brownlie is one of BC’s most sought after literacy and learning experts. She works in staff development in BC, nationally and internationally. A long-time advocate of improved learning for all students in inclusive settings, she fervently believes in our collective ability to make a difference for each and every learner. Faye works with students and teachers from K-12 and especially enjoys co-planning, co-teaching, and reflecting on the lessons with teams of teachers. Together we are better!”

Visit often for information on reading assessment, publications, and upcoming events!

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“The Evolution of Alice” wins On the Same Page!

We are thrilled to announce that Manitobans have selected David Alexander Robertson‘s The Evolution of Alice as this year’s featured book for the 8th annual On The Same Page, a province-wide reading initiative. Check out the full news release from the City of Winnipeg here!

Please enjoy this short excerpt from The Evolution of Alice:

***Evolution of Alice

Matthew had just finished his first tour through the rez. It wasn’t anywhere he thought he’d ever be. He’d just found out he was part Cree, and that he had distant relatives, including a cousin, living there. All the same, he was fascinated by the experience. His parents hadn’t ever been there either, and the lot of them, in their Chevy Traverse, spent about an hour driving all around the area. Matthew had been assigned a ‘Culture In A Box’ project for his grade three class back in the city, and had been alerted to his Cree heritage by his parents, albeit a bit reluctantly. It turned out that he was far more interested in being Cree than he was in being Scottish.

After finding out he was Cree he had asked his father, innocently, ‘Daddy, am I related to the homeless people?’

His father had chuckled and said, ‘Oh I don’t think so, son.’

Matthew took notes throughout the excursion through the rez. As twilight hit and they were on their way back to the city,nike air trainer he read them.

‘Houses here don’t have street addresses they have broken cars. I bet people find their way around by looking for types of broken cars. There are nice things in ditches. I saw a tricycle and a car tire and a lawn chair. They all looked in pretty good condition. The front yards look fun. There are trampolines and toys and four-wheelers. I saw an old man with no shoes out front of his house carving a wooden boot. I think I’ll like being Cree.’

Matthew smiled at his notes. His teacher had said in his report card that he had exquisite handwriting.


You can order the print or eBook version of Alice on our website, so you can stay on the same page, too!

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A sneak peek from The Stone Collection

The Blackbird Cage

There is a cage in a sunlit room. A bird sleeps. A songless bird. In a cage covered with cotton.

The cage is round. There is no beginning, no end. This cage is a trap. This cage is a door. A trap door to freedom. Freedom wriggles and spirals and stretches like a child, for that is its nature.

In another room, breath is drawn. In this other room, dreams come fast and easy to those who sleep. The dreams are of rocks and shells, feathers and tongues, skies and wings. They are of the long ago and the yet to come. They are of bones and seeds, icicles and leaves, the Spirit Moon, Heartberry Moon, and a bear standing in the late snows of spring.

The silence will end when the dreamer awakes and the cage is opened. Read More »

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Goodbye summer – hello conferences, book launches, and more!

It’s been a busy September at Portage & Main Press! With the arrival of fall comes back-to-school time – and lots of book orders! We love sharing the work of our incredible authors and illustrators with you, and just know that our resources will be big hits in the classroom.

Summer may be over but there’s a lot to look forward to this fall. Read on for info about conferences, book launches, and more!

We’ll be heading out west for this year’s BCTELA conference, to support authors Leyton Schnellert, Shelley Moore, Faye Brownlie, and keynote speaker Richard Wagamese. This conference is always full of innovative speakers and ideas, and we’re proud to display our books there, too.

Portage & Main Press will be at several Manitoba SAGE conferences this year. SAGE takes place on October 23 this year, and we’re gearing up to display our books at four programs. And some of our wonderful authors will be speaking at them, too:

  • Jennifer Lawson is one of the keynote speakers at MAMT this year. Her session Planning for Problem Solving will explore the challenges of teaching problem-solving, the types of problem-solving tasks to focus on in the classroom, and guidelines for teaching problem-solving to enhance student engagement and success.
Jennifer Lawson

Jennifer Lawson

  • Katherena Vermette presents at the Council for Aboriginal Education in Manitoba conference. Her series The Seven Teachings Stories highlight the Seven Teachings of the Anishinaabe—love, wisdom, humility, courage, respect, honesty, and truth. Set in urban landscapes, Indigenous children tell familiar stories about home, family, and school. Katherena’s books and many of our other HighWater Press titles (including the Teacher’s Guide for Seven Teachings written by Katya Ferguson – who will also be speaking at SAGE!) will be available in the CAEM exhibitor area – and stay tuned to our website, as Seven Teachings will soon be available to download in Read Aloud format!
Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette

  • Our new Hands-On Science books will be at the Science Teachers’ Association of Manitoba conference. The latest edition of Hands-On Science Grade 1 and 2 are hot off the presses, and we can’t wait to share them at STAM. This resource is an inquiry-based approach, packed with hands-on, activity-based focus. Each lesson includes activities to Engage, Explore, Embed, and Enhance the learning outcomes.
Hands-On Science Grade 1

Hands-On Science Grade 1

Richard Van Camp is the keynote speaker at the Manitoba School Library Association conference. His keynote Writing from Home celebrates and honours his history and tradi­tions, in the most hilarious way he can: through stories, sweet gossip, and in all of his writing.

Richard Van Camp

Richard Van Camp

Hearing Richard speak is always a treat, so if you can’t make it to his SAGE conference – fear not! Richard will be launching his new book Blanket of Butterflies on Saturday, Oct. 24th at McNally Robinson – a co-launch with our friends at Great Plains Publications, who published Richard’s fourth collection of short stories Night Moves: Stories.

We hope to see you out at one of our many events this fall!

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A Launch for Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story


Last evening’s book launch, for award-winning aDavid Robertsonuthor David Alexander Robertson’s newest graphic novel, took place at McNally Robinson Bookstore in Winnipeg. During David’s heartfelt speech in which he talked about the murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada, he issued a challenge to all readers of Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story.

David said,
“The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry talked about the tragedy of inaction when reviewing Helen Betty Osborne’s death and the subsequent investigation. It reveals that many people could have changed things, if they had only spoken up. My challenge to you is to read this book, lend it to somebody, and then talk about it, and spread the truth. If we do it now, one day I hope we won’t have to talk about the changes we can make but the changes that have been made.”

The host, Winnipeg personality, Rosanna DeerchildRosanne Deerchild

The guest speaker, governor general award-winnipeg poet, Katherena VermetteKatherena Vermette

The talented artist and illustrator, Scott B. HendersonScott B. Henderson

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Congratulations David Alexander Robertson


1P5C3973aWe are proud to announce that author David Alexander Robertson received The John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer at the Manitoba Book Awards ceremony on April 25, 2015. This annual award was established by the Manitoba Foundation for the Arts with a bequest from the late John Hirsch, co-founder of the Manitoba Theatre Centre. The winner is selected by a jury of senior members of the Manitoba writing and publishing community.

The following is an excerpt from David’s thank you speech:
I’m very honoured to receive this award. It was unexpected. I want to congratulate fellow nominees MC Joudrey and Brenda Sciberras. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in grade three; I remember running home to my mom after writing my first poem and telling her, “Mom, I want to be a writer!” I’ve worked hard to be where I am, and to be recognized for that work is an incredible feeling. I want to thank my family and friends for their support over the years, the mentors I’ve had, and my publisher, HighWater Press, for continuing to support my vision. The work continues…

For more information about David or to view a list of his best-selling titles, please visit our website. Click here.

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