Kirk Howard, founder of Canadian independent publishing house Dundurn Press, has died at 80.

Howard founded Dundurn in 1972 to publish books on Canadian history. The press quickly expanded, acquiring other Canadian publishers including Natural Heritage Books, Thomas Allen Publishers, and XYZ Publishing, which enabled the house to expand into a wider variety of topics. Dundurn has published some 2,600 books to date.

Among the notable titles published by Dundurn are Barbara Fradkin’s Amanda Doucette and Inspector Green mystery series, several editions of Phil Edmonston’s Lemon-Aid New and Used Cars and Trucks, and artist biographies such as James King’s Inward Journey: The Life of Lawren Harris and Steve Paikin’s biography of Bill Davis, as well as Paikin's book Paikin and the Premiers,

Dundurn titles have won many of the major Canadian book prizes, from the Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize (formerly known as the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize), the Governor General’s Award, the Speaker’s Book Award, and awards presented by the cities of Ottawa, Toronto, and Victoria.

Under Howard's leadership, Dundurn was credited with bringing aggressive modern marketing to Canadian publishing and bookselling. The tactic that drew criticism and controversy over the years.

Howard also played a key role in the development of several publishing institutions in Canada. He served as president of the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Organization of Book Publishers of Ontario, and was founder of the Commonwealth Book Publishers’ Association. In 2017, he was awarded the president’s award by the Association of Canadian Publishers, and in 2018, he was named a member of the Order of Canada for his work advancing Canadian publishing.

A group of tech investors purchased Dundurn in 2019. Last year, in 2022, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary by relaunching with a new colophon. Today, Kwame Scott Fraser serves as publisher.