ECW Press

ECW Press

ECW is Entertainment. ECW is Culture. ECW is Writing.

Publishers Weekly recognized ECW Press as one of the most diversified independent publishers in North America. ECW Press has published close to 1,000 books that are distributed throughout the English-speaking world and translated into dozens of languages. In the next year, we’ll release 50+ new titles and will continue to support and promote a vibrant backlist that includes poetry and fiction, pop-culture and political analysis, sports books, biography, and travel guides. Books by writers whose names you know and love — and by those who we’re very pleased to introduce for the first time.


Who are we? After three decades, we still get asked about our name, those three little letters: ECW.

At first the acronym was self-descriptive: Essays on Canadian Writing (the name of the journal of literary criticism we started in 1974). But as the company grew and changed, our name, in our minds, also changed. We’ve heard the company called Essential Canadian Writing, Excellent Contemporary Writing, or, more recently, Extreme Cutting-Edge Writing. And these names have been, and still are, appropriate. But now we realize that each of those letters represents a particular strain of ECW Press’s diverse passions — Entertainment, Culture, Writing.

No matter how our name has been interpreted, however, there has always been one constant: our pursuit of excellent writing. We recognize that it’s our authors who make us what we are, who establish our reputation. And because of this we’re committed to bringing you the best writers and the best writing we know — in every genre. In the next decade, ECW will continue to grow and change.

Today, we’re publishing a heady mix of commercial and literary works that strive for a uniform standard of excellence: the best writing; the most exciting, controversial, and insightful takes on the hottest subject matter; ground-breaking design; and high production values.
Our goal is to support every ECW Press title with the kind of innovative marketing and promotion that give our books and authors the recognition they deserve.

Welcome to ECW.

ECW Press
665 Gerrard Street East
Toronto, ON M4M 1Y2


At ECW we believe that you can have your cake and eat it too, at least when it comes to the way you read. If you buy one of our print books we’ll give you the eBook for free! 



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A Helluva Life in Hockey


When he was still going strong into his 80s I thought he should retire. His voice was going. The hockey world was no longer a “Rock and Sock ’em, society. It was changing and I’d heard his bosses at Sportnet were waiting to find an excuse to push Grapes aside. They’d dumped a number of high salaried guys and Grapes was in the million-a-year bracket. Then, on Nov. 12, 2019—Remembrance Day—he was gone.


Turfed after his “you people” rant on Coach’s Corner, gone for singling out new immigrants for not wearing poppies to honour Canada’s veterans and dead soldiers.


Ron MacLean, sitting next to him, didn’t catch the words “You people” or he might have asked Don to re-phrase his rant and say “Everybody” instead of “You people.”


While the complaints started pouring in, MacLean nodded and gave his partner a thumbs up.


MacLean apologized the following day. Cherry did not. He said he meant every word he said.


Cherry was widely criticized but one finger pointer, coach Bill Peters of the Calgary Flames, soon regretted it. He approved of Grapes’ dismissal, and talked about hockey standing for diversity…


“I saw Cherry,” Peters said. “Our country is based on inclusion. We have a very diverse country. I know in the hockey community, we talk about hockey is for everybody. And that’s how we are in the country of Canada, too.”


Hockey for everybody, Bill? Black players, too? Really?


A few days after Cherry was sidelined, so was Peters. And for a better reason.


Black player Akim Aliu says Peters used racial slurs while addressing the then 20-year-old rookie winger in the locker room of an AHL club a decade ago. It was Aliu’s turn to select the music for the room and Peters had had an earful.


“Coach walked in before a morning skate and said ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n——- s—- music.’” Peters was reacting to Aliu listening to rap music. “He said ‘I’m sick of hearing about n——-s f——— other n——-s in the ass stuff.’”


Two of Aliu’s teammates on the AHL Rockford Icedogs, Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, corroborated Aliu’s accusations. Aliu said Peters never apologized for the incident, but instead doubled down in the coach’s office with another racial slur.


Peters essentially admitted that those allegations were true when he resigned as head coach of the Flames and apologized for “offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago.” He said that the racial slurs he used were “made in a moment of frustration and do not reflect my personal values.”


Maybe not. But Aliu had every right to out him, to expose his comments.


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Once a Bitcoin Miner

Once a Bitcoin Miner

Scandal and Turmoil in the Cryptocurrency Wild West
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There was a presentation by Bitwage, which offers a service that allows companies to pay their employees with cryptocurrency. I had been working on a second cryptocurrency article about that very subject, to coincide with Labor Day, and at that event, I met a lot who were taking salaries in Bitcoin—some entirely.


One of them was Gerald Cotten, a bright-eyed, sandy-haired 20-something, who like Mt. Gox’s Frenchman Mark Karpeles, seemed to be always smiling. Gerry, as he was known, had founded the exchange platform QuadrigaCX, where people can buy and sell cryptocurrency, and five years later, would die in India and send shockwaves across and beyond the cryptocurrency world—but that is a whole other story.


A business-school graduate, Gerry was a fixture in the Toronto’s burgeoning cryptocurrency scene, attending Anthony’s meetups even before the latter had secured his fashion-district building. Reserved, private and an avid player of Settlers of Catan, a nerdy, nerdy strategy board game, Gerry carefully avoided gluten and drank cider instead of beer due to digestive issues.


Gerry shook my hand and handed me a black business card, white text upon a dark, perforated steel theme. It was nice-looking, but it was clearly not made by a professional. There were at least three different types of fonts on it.


I had known Gerry a little by reputation, but of course, that was not unusual. At the time, there was few places in Canada where you could easily buy and sell cryptocurrency in an organized fashion, with Canadian dollars. Everyone knew Gerry and Quadriga. Aren’t you in Vancouver? I asked.


Oh, no, Gerry said, we were, but we just moved to Toronto.


I asked Gerry about Quadriga. It was then only nine months old, and it wasn’t doing that well. Only C$7.4 million worth of bitcoin traded hands on the platform that year, and it took in a meager C$22,168 in revenue December 2014 through January 2015, against almost four times that in losses.


Yet Gerry had gone all in. “I make all my money in Bitcoin,” he said. He was in for the long haul, a steadfast believer in the future of cryptocurrency.


For a while, I almost forgot about all the money I had lost. There was something oddly inspiring about Gerry. I decided to hold on to my Bitcoin.


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Leadership Moments from NASA


“Houston, Tranquility Base, the Eagle has landed.” July 20th, 1969 — a day that will stand forever in history. With the advent of television, more people were watching the NASA lunar landing than any other event in history. It had been eight years since President John F. Kennedy proclaimed that NASA would send humans to the Moon and return them safely to Earth before the end of the decade. “Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” With that proclamation began one of the most incredible stories of leadership, teamwork and risk management in history. It takes courage and a relentless commitment to excellence to achieve the impossible. Even with today’s space exploration capabilities many wonder how NASA was able to accomplish seemingly impossible feat, successfully achieving Kennedy’s goal less than nine years later. It wasn’t easy.

Many who dreamt of exploring space believed that it would be impossible. The televised Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions and the many articles in the LIFE and National Geographic magazines captured the imagination of the young and old. It was clear that there were risks associated with space exploration. In January 1967, the crew of Apollo 1 perished. Not in space but on the launchpad, in a fire lasting ninety seconds. The crew trapped inside the Apollo capsule had no chance for survival and NASA suffered the first loss of a spaceflight crew. When asked about risk in December 1966, Commander Gus Grissom responded, “You sort of have to put that out of your mind. There's always a possibility that you can have a catastrophic failure, of course; this can happen on any flight; it can happen on the last one as well as the first one. So, you just plan as best you can to take care of all these eventualities, and you get a well-trained crew and you go fly.” A month later he, Roger Chaffee and Ed White would perish in the tragic fire.

Space exploration is the story of people working together through triumph and tragedy. Gene Krantz, now famous as the lead flight director during Apollo 13, responded to the Apollo fire by calling a meeting of his staff in Mission Control three days after the accident. Not mincing words, he said “We were too ‘gung-ho’ about the schedule and we blocked out all of the problems we saw each day in our work. Every element of the program was in trouble and so were we.” With a steely gaze and crewcut, Kranz, an aerospace engineer and former fighter pilot, embodied the NASA culture. “From this day forward, Flight Control will be known by two words: Tough and Competent.” He said, looking each team member in the eye. “Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do. We will never again compromise our responsibilities…. Competent means we will never take anything for granted…. Mission Control will be perfect. When you leave this meeting today you will go to your office and the first thing you will do there is to write Tough and Competent on your blackboards. It will never be erased. Each day when you enter the room, these words will remind you of the price paid by Grissom, White, and Chaffee. These words are the price of admission to the ranks of Mission Control.” The team left the meeting and refocused their efforts on the most significant achievement in history, sending humans to the Moon.


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Every City Is Every Other City

Every City Is Every Other City

A Gordon Stewart Mystery
also available: eBook
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Driving back to the movie set I figured with the information Teddy would give me – which would be nothing – and a couple of talks with cops in Sudbury and maybe a couple of interviews with friends of Kevin Mercer it might be enough to be an investigation and then Barb Mercer could put it to rest and move on.

As soon as I thought that I caught myself. Lana was right, of course, there wouldn’t be any closure or any real moving on, Barb would live the rest of her days in the same way whether she believed her husband killed himself or that he just left.

Or maybe not, maybe if I tried hard enough I could convince myself that the rest of Barb’s life would be different if she knew one way or the other, it would be better somehow.

Why not, as a location scout I spend my life finding things that people believe are something else; a bar in Toronto is in New York, the front of a house propped up on an empty lot in Oshawa is a haunted house in Maine in 1955, half of downtown is the Suicide Squad’s Midway City.

As I was pulling into a spot on a side street we were using for crew parking my phone rang. It was Teddy.

He said, “I’ve got a question.”

“What is it?”

“Where was the last place this guy was seen?”

“I’m not sure, he drove up to about a hundred clicks north of Sudbury and walked into the woods.”

“That’s where they found his truck?”


“But when was the last time someone identified him?”

I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant. “His wife saw him on the morning of the 8th and the police found his truck on the side of the road two days later.”

“And his credit card was used on the road, he stopped for gas and lunch on the way, right?”

“You’ve got the statements,” I said.

“Yeah, I was just wondering,” Teddy said, “the last time he used the card was at a gas station in Sudbury?”

“If you say so.”

“Then he drove about a hundred kilometers north, it’s just woods up there, it’s not even a highway it’s an old mining road.”

I said, “That’s right.”

“And he stopped in the middle of nowhere and walked into the woods, that’s the theory?”

“Yeah, that’s it. It all fits,” I said, feeling bad again, realizing that Barb would never get anything more because she already had everything and just didn’t want to believe it.

“He also used the card at an Esso station about a hundred clicks south of Sudbury, spent a hundred and eighty bucks.”

“Sounds like he filled it up,” I said.

“That’s what I thought,” Teddy said. “I imagine that’s what the cops thought, too. How far could he get with a full tank?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “five or six hundred kilometers.”

“So two or three times as far as he drove?”

“That’s right.”

And then Teddy said, “And he spent a hundred and ninety at a station in Parry Sound. So tell me, why do you think he spent another hundred and seventy-five dollars at a gas station in Sudbury?”

“I don’t know, he just wanted to be sure,” I said.

Teddy said, “That sound likely to you?”

And I had to admit, it did not.


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A Memoir
also available: eBook
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I was in bed and was awakened by a madman pounding at our door. It was not a long run for me to see what was going on. I saw and heard my mother from across the small kitchen/living room tell this man that she would not let him in. I could also hear the madman on the other side of the door pleading to be let in. The man on the other side of the door was my father.

My mother was terrified.

We all were.

We knew what he was capable of—we had seen it.

Five young children and one young mother, trapped in a basement apartment, with no telephone and no means of escape.

He was loud. Probably drunk. Yet somehow he convinced my mother to open the door a crack so he could talk to her.

She did.

The chain lock was on so he could not get in.

Or so we thought.

Once my Mother opened the door a sliver he shoved his right arm through, reaching, trying to get a hold of her. She jumped back yet he continued to grab at thin air. This arm was just flailing around through this tiny opening, grasping for anything he could get his powerful hand on, all the while yelling what he was going to do to my Mother when he got through.

He got through.

The image of him grabbing my Mother by her hair and spinning her around that small apartment will never leave me. I do not remember what he said but I know what he did. He beat this woman brutally in front of his five children. This was not the first time, but for me, it remains the most brutal and vivid. He did not come home from work, as he had done in the past, angry about supper; no, he broke into what was supposed to be our home and tore down our last line of defense, right before our eyes.

She did nothing to deserve this.

All she did was remove her children from an abusive situation and the result was the beating of a lifetime.

During my time as a police officer I saw many disturbing things. Nothing I’ve seen has ever affected me the way that this event has.

Thankfully another single mother in the building had a telephone and called the police. It took six cops to take my dad off of my Mother and out of that cramped apartment to the street where their cars were parked. I know this because I watched them take my dad out in hand cuffs. I stood on one our beds and pleaded through the window with the officers to leave my father alone as they did their job and dragged him to a waiting police car.

It was awful. Watching my mother get beat by my father and watching my father get beat by the police.

I’ve never been the same.

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