150 Neighbours

Commemorating Canada's 150th Anniversary in Scarborough

Steve Brown

If you graduated from high school in Canada, there is a 92 percent likelihood that you were educated with a text from Scarborough’s own Nelson company. The 104-year old firm is one of the oldest publishers in the world, and Canada’s only educational publisher, providing both physical and digital material to 50 percent of the K-12 market and 34 percent of the post-secondary market. “We educated the educators,” points out CEO Steve Brown. “University provosts, professors and administrators have all been educated with Nelson texts.”

Brown is enthusiastic about his company and his role. An affable Englishman, he lived around the world for over twenty years in the automotive and movie industries, the latter as the industry began to recognize the shift to digital media. Coming to Nelson to oversee the transformations being wrought on publishing by changing technology and customer expectations.

“I knew I could do the job. And then I fell in love with it. It’s such a noble thing we do.”

Founded as a producer of religious texts in 1913 on Wellington Street in Toronto by Thomas Nelson, Nelson Publishing has been producing and distributing educational material in Scarborough for 100 years. The religious component of the business was spun off years ago and now operates in the United States. The Scarborough operation employs 600 people in the publishing, editorial and distribution of learning materials from coast to coast in Canada and around the world.

According to Brown, the English language Canadian common core curriculum is globally recognized, and the program of choice for 126 million Chinese, as well as educators from the Gulf States to Indonesia. In addition to traditional texts, Nelson has a strong presence in digital education tools and the development of innovative learning products, as well professional advancement, government and institutional materials. “We also work with authors and researchers and there is on-staff pedagogical review,” he says. “I’m surrounded by a lot of really smart people”.

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