The Mysterious East fonds

MG L19

This finding aid was funded by a grant under the
Canadian Council of Archives Control of Holdings Program.

Archives and Special Collections Department
Harriet Irving Library
University of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 7500
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H5
August 1996

Table of Contents


Special thanks to Mary Flagg for giving me the opportunity to work with this fonds and for providing encouragement and support.

Special thanks also to Linda Baier, who supervised the project, for her patience, guidance and support. Her fine editorial skills and keen sense of humour not only contributed greatly to the successful completion of this project, but also made the work most enjoyable.

The staff of the U.N.B. Archives and Special Collections Department: Mary Flagg, Linda Baier, Patsy Hale, Patti Auld, Andrea Britt and Shelley Cochrane willingly gave of their time and experience which made the project run smoothly. I am especially indebted to Shelley who assisted me as we worked through each stage of the process. To each one, I offer my sincere appreciation and thanks.

Janice Cook
Project Archivist

The Mysterious East fonds. -- 1969-1973.-- 268 cm of textual records and 17 cm of graphic material.

Administrative history: On 21 August 1969 letters patent were issued under the Companies Act of New Brunswick incorporating Thomas Peter Warney, graduate teaching assistant, Robert Reid Campbell, graduate student and Russell Arthur Hunt, assistant professor of English at St. Thomas University, all of Fredericton, under the name "Rubber Duck Press Inc."

The company's primary function was to publish and distribute The Mysterious East, an alternative monthly magazine intended to provide Atlantic Canadians with critical, in-depth analysis of social, political, cultural and economic issues. Such issues, its editors maintained, were often glossed over or largely ignored by mainstream presses or covered from a single viewpoint.

Initially Campbell, Warney, Hunt and Donald Cameron, a Professor of English at the University of New Brunswick, composed the editorial board. Janice Oliver, an interior designer, and her husband, Jon Oliver, an architect-planner, handled the graphics.

The editors had committed themselves to producing only 12 issues, but published 21: 2 in 1969, 10 in 1970, 7 in 1971 and 2 issues in 1972. Beginning in 1969 with a circulation of 5,000, by 1970 Rubber Duck Press distributed approximately 10,000 copies of the magazine each month, primarily in the Maritimes. Readers and subscribers represented a cross-section of the general public: academics, professionals, office personnel, students, business people, politicians, writers, fishermen, farmers and industrial workers.

The editors did not confine themselves exclusively to magazine publishing. Occasionally they took up special causes, presenting briefs to government bodies on the mass media and poverty as well as organizing petitions which called for reform of New Brunswick's judicial system.

Nevertheless, their main focus was and remained journalism. The editors proposed the creation of the Rubber Duck College of Journalism and Communications and the establishment of Paper Tiger Press, but these plans were never realized. In 1970 Thomas Warney left the magazine and Garry Allen and John Rousseau joined the editorial board. By 1972, for various reasons, Campbell, Cameron and Hunt were no longer closely associated with Rubber Duck Press, and the frequency of publication had declined. After much discussion, in late 1972, the magazine ceased publication.

Custodial history: The bulk of the fonds was deposited with Harriet Irving Library Archives and Special Collections by two of the original editors of The Mysterious East, Robert Campbell and Russell Hunt, on 27 August 1973.

Six bundles of miscellaneous issues of various periodicals, newspapers and booklets (approximately 29 titles) which arrived with the fonds, were listed by titles, issue numbers and dates. These items have been separated from the bulk of the fonds (See Appendix A).

Four cartons of miscellaneous issues of periodicals, published primarily by left-leaning and underground presses (approximately 192 titles), were deposited by Robert Campbell on 18 September 1980. These items were listed by titles, issue numbers and dates and have also been separated from the bulk of the fonds. (See Appendix B).

Scope and content: This fonds documents the production and distribution of The Mysterious East. It also reflects the political activities and left-leaning sympathies of the editors, and suggests the leading social and political concerns of the day.

Headquartered at Fredericton, the magazine published editorials and articles primarily about Maritime issues from a local, but alternative perspective. These articles covered a wide range of topics: pollution, housing, censorship, birth control, drugs, police policies, and native problems. A popular monthly feature announced the recipient of the Rubber Duck Award. The Duck was usually given to public officials who, according to the editors, demonstrated "conspicuous knavery or incompetence or stupidity."

The fonds consists of 6 series: 1. Correspondence, 2. Publishing Activities, 3. Subject Files, 4. Business and Financial Records, 5. Related Interest Groups, 6. Graphics.

It contains incoming and outgoing correspondence, draft submissions, draft or working copies of articles, background research material, bank records, invoices (subscriptions), distribution and general office files, newspaper clippings, photographs and negatives. Artifacts include: 1 rubber stamp -- "Mysterious East" and 7 rubber ducks.

Title based on contents of series.

Original file titles have been retained although they may not always accurately reflect content.

Several files were created by archivist from materials that were misfiled or not filed by creator at the time of acquisition. These files have been identified.

Correspondence was located throughout the fonds attached to other materials. These items have not been separated. Subjects discussed are far-reaching including those of a business and personal nature.


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Last Update: 97/04/18