Avie Bennett, Toronto entrepreneur and former owner of the Canadian publisher McClelland & Stewart, died on June 2. He was 89.
Bennett made his fortune developing strip malls in Canada, starting in the 1950s. In December 1985, he purchased the publishing house McClelland & Stewart, at a time when the company was in financial duress, thus saving it from possible closure.
Bennett is credited with hiring Alice Munro's editor Douglas Gibson by offering him an eponymous imprint, thus poaching Gibson from rival Macmillan and bringing Murnro and other notable authors to the M&S list. In 1991, Bennett bought Hurtig Publishers, which produced the Canadian Encyclopedia. In 1995, he bought Montreal children's book publisher Tundra Books.
In 2000, Bennett made the unusual move of donating 75% of the shares of McClelland & Stewart to the University of Toronto, selling the remaining 25% to Random House Canada. In 2011, Random House Canada bought McClelland & Stewart outright from the university.
Brad Martin, president and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, said Bennett left an "indelible mark" on the Canadian publishing world. Bennett had, Martin continued, an "unwavering commitment to, and support of, Canadian authors during his time at the helm of McClelland & Stewart and every day since. We owe him a great debt and much appreciation. He will be missed.”