This is an unusual memorial to an unusual man. Douglas Duncan was a Torontonian who, by his patronage of the arts, has had an almost incalculable influence on their development in Canada. A bibliophile all his life, he began by espousing bookbinding as his chosen profession and after studying in Paris he returned to Toronto to set up as a bookbinder in 1928. But this was only one part of his life, and while in Paris his interest in music and painting had grown and matured. In 1936 the Picture Loan Society was founded and Duncan, at first one of the Committee, soon became solely responsible for it. It is in this capacity that his influence was greatest: literally hundreds of Canadian artists owe to him, in some measure, a debt of gratitude for sound advice, encouragement, and help generously given.
Ten informal essays have been contributed by people who knew Duncan well at different times and at various stages in his career. Because each contributor concentrates on the Douglas Duncan he knew the result is a personal, vivid and immediate portrait of a very attractive man. The book also includes reproductions of paintings by some of the artists whose work Duncan encouraged and collected, and examples of his work as a bookbinder and a photographer.