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Marie Tremaine began her illustrious career as a librarian and bibliographer in the Reference Department of the Toronto Public Library in 1927. She quickly became known to colleagues for the intensity with which she tackled bibliographical problems and for her meticulous study of early Canadian imprints. With Frances Staton, head of the Reference Department, she compiled the first of her major bibliographies, A bibliography of Canadiana, which described pre-Confederation Canadiana held by the Toronto Public Library. From 1941 to 1947, she held the position of associate head of the Reference Department.
In 1947, Miss Tremaine moved to Washington to become the director of the Arctic Bibliography Project of the Arctic Institute of North America. As such, she would undertake the monumental task of editing the first 14 volumes of the Arctic bibliography, an international publication including research on all aspects of the Arctic.
Miss Tremaine's lifelong interest in the history of Canadian printing is well illustrated by numerous articles and monographs on that subject, together with her landmark work, A bibliography of Canadian imprints, 1751-1800. Published in 1952, it received the highest praise from numerous reviewers. The detail of the bibliographical descriptions and historical notes have made it a standard for analytical bibliography of early Canadiana ever since.
Marie Tremaine's commitment to sharing bibliographical knowledge is demonstrated by her founding membership in the Bibliographical Society of Canada. The Society honoured her in 1970 by establishing the Marie Tremaine medal to recognize "outstanding service to Canadian bibliography" and by awarding the first medal to her. Other honours included a life membership in the Canadian Library Association in 1947 and an honorary degree from Trent University in 1976.
After her death in 1984, friends and colleagues published a tribute to Marie Tremaine in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada. They remembered her as a good friend and an excellent scholar who in the words of Douglas Lochhead "set the highest standards in Canadian bibliographical scholarship, standards we must labour to meet and maintain".
A bibliography of Canadiana. Edited by Frances M. Staton and Marie Tremaine. — Toronto : The Public Library, 1934. — 828 p.
Early printing in Canada. — Toronto : Golden Dog Press, 1934. — 14 p.
A bibliography of Canadian imprints, 1751-1800. — Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1952. — 705 p.
"Marie Tremaine, 1902-1984 — a tribute". — Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada = Cahiers de la Société bibliographique du Canada. — Vol. 23 (1984). — P. 12-29