Thistledown Press was founded in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1975 to publish and promote the writing of both new and established prairie writers. It was one of a number of Canadian publishers who developed publishing programs in the mid-1970s as a response to a proliferation of quality poetry and fiction being written by Canadian writers, especially young writers, throughout the western provinces of Canada. Thistledown’s early programs consisted entirely of poetry; however, by the time it had joined the Literary Press Group in the early 1980s, its list had expanded to include fiction and poetry by writers beyond the prairies.
The founders of the press were Glen Sorestad, a poet, teacher, and editor whose first three books were published by the press, and Neil Wagner, a teacher and prairie artist who designed Thistledown’s books in the first seven years before his departure. Glen and his wife Sonia continued working with Thistledown in various capacities as majority shareholders until their retirement in 2000. While the press had many people associated with it in its formative years, two new partners, Al Forrie and Paddy O'Rourke, who came into the press in 1980, had the most lasting effect on building the press into a national forum. They remained as partners after the Sorestads retired until 2004 when Al Forrie bought out all shares in the press to become its sole owner. Jackie Forrie, Al’s sister who became office manager in 1994, remains with the press as well.
- To encourage innovation and excellence in the literary arts through the development of its literary publishing program
- To refine its communication and collaboration with all its stakeholders — writers, editors, design artists, granting agencies, and associate cultural industries are all partners in providing reading audiences with well written and edited, culturally significant literature
- To promote the concept of and climate for a healthy writing community.
Thistledown Press has a commitment to be a platform for such production activity and promotion.
- Publishing more than three hundred Canadian writers
- Working with a variety of professional staff members who gave more than they took
- Assembling one of the most professional editing teams in Canada
- Establishing the most successful “first book” program in Canada – The New Leaf Series
- Developing one of Canada’s most significant Young Adult book programs and placing Thistledown books on every high school curricula in Canada
- Garnering more than a hundred citations and book award wins, including but not limited to: the Governor General’s, the Commonwealth Book Prize, the Dublin IMPAC, and the Canadian ReLit
- Establishing the first Publishing Internship Program with the University of Saskatchewan
- Working with more than 100 Canadian artists on book cover design