Award-Winning Author. Teacher. Activist.
Robert James Cromie
Irish Quebec Historian. Order of Quebec. Order of Canada.
Kathleen "Kit" Blake Coleman
The world's first accredited female war correspondent
First President of the Canadian Women's Press Club
Poet. Journalist. Novelist.
UNB Writer in Residence 1968 - 1983
Governor General's Award for Poetry 1968
In 2009 the Society asked Marianna for permission to include her name on the Ireland Canada Monument. She declined and recommended that her grandfather, Jeremiah O’Gallagher from County Cork, be recognized for his efforts to complete the AOH Celtic Cross at Grosse Ile in memory of the 6500+ Irish that died on the island 1845-48.
On the cross designed by her grandfather, Marianna commented: "He drew the design on the wall of the kitchen at 13 Conroy St. in Quebec City. My father said as more and more money came in, the monument grew in size and stature on the wall." The Celtic cross was erected on Grosse Isle in 1909 by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The twelve-meter monument is the largest Celtic cross in North America. The original Grosse Ile cross was damaged during a storm late 1940’s. Marianna’s father, Dermot and Dr. Larkin Kerwin worked on the repairs which left one stone over. Dr. Larkin gave the stone to Marianna who asked the Society to include it in the completed Ireland Canada Monument. The stone was transferred by Ambassador Declan Kelly to Archbishop J. Michael Miller CSV at a Transfer of the Stone ceremony held at Place des Arts Coquitlam, Oct. 5, 2009. And so it is that this unexpected gift and historic treasure travelled from East to West, bearing the memory with it, to be installed on the ICM monument that they will not be forgotten.
Marianna was born in Sainte-Foy, in 1929, one of six siblings born to Norma (O'Neil) and Dermot O'Gallagher. Her father was a land surveyor and previous mayor of the city now merged into Quebec City). She entered the Sisters of Charity of Halifax in 1952 and taught in Nova Scotia and New England, before she settled back in Quebec City, where she taught for 25 years at St. Patrick's High School. She earned a Bachelor's degree in History from Halifax's Mount St. Vincent University and a Master's degree from the University of Ottawa, Her thesis was about Quebec City's St. Patrick's Church and her interest in Irish-Quebecer history would continue for her whole life.
In 1973, the Federal government, who owned it since its establishment as the quarantine station, allowed O'Gallagher to visit Grosse Isle, which she found in a state of disrepair. This marked the beginning of her efforts to have the site federally recognized. She founded Irish Heritage Quebec the same year, an organization dedicated to the local promotion of Irish-Canadian history. She remained president of Irish Heritage Quebec until 2009.
The 1980s she left the religious order, founded bilingual publisher Carraig Books’ and started a committee for the designation of Grosse Isle resulting in the 1984 designation of the island as an historic site and, in 1988, to that of National Historic Site of Canada.
O'Gallagher spent the rest of her life writing books and articles on Irish-Canadian history, for which she became a major figure in the Canadian Irish studies community. She was the recipient of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association's G. E. Clerk Award in 1999, the Order of Quebec in 1998, and the Order of Canada in 2002. She was repeatedly included in Irish America's Global 100 lists, and was a member of the organizing committee for Quebec City's 2008 400th anniversary celebrations. A few months before her death, May 2, 2010, she had been Grand Marshal to Quebec City's first Saint Patrick's Days parade in 80 years and, only days before her death, the Canadian Association for Irish Studies had established an annual lecture named after her.
The following speech was delivered in the Canadian Senate by Senator Dennis Dawson a week after Marianna died. “…yesterday the Irish community of Quebec City, Quebec and, indeed, all of Canada laid to rest a great contributor to the Irish heritage of our country … (she) deserves, by far, the title of “the greatest Irish Canadian of Quebec City. … Her writings encouraged many to study the history of the Irish in Canada. Her work in the research and promotion of the Irish culture in Canada was recognized and respected not only in Quebec and Canada but also in Ireland.”
"Kit" Coleman was born in May 1856, Catherine Ferguson to
a middle-class farmer Patrick and Mary (née Burke) Ferguson
at Castleblakeney, near Galway Her parents influenced her love of creative activities, her father’s love of books and her mother, who was blind, teaching her to play several musical instruments. The strongest influence was however her uncle Thomas Nicholas Burke, a Dominican priest. Burke was a renowned liberal and orator - he taught her tolerance which was an attitude she carried into her journalism.
She had adopted the name Kathleen Blake and was young when she married wealthy, elderly landowner, Thomas Willis. They had one child who died in early childhood. Willis died soon after and she was disinherited by her husband’s family.
Kit moved to Toronto, Canada in 1884 and worked as a secretary until she married her boss, Edward Watkins. They had two children. They divorced in 1889. Watkins died shortly after and she turned to housecleaning to support herself and her children
She began writing articles for magazines and in 1890 moved to Toronto to pursue journalism. Under the name of Kathleen Blake Watkins, - ‘Kit of the Mail’ – she was the first female journalist to be in charge of her own section of a Canadian newspaper. In the 1890s and early 1900s, she ran a seven-column weekly page in the Toronto Mail, called "Woman's Kingdom" Rebelling against her editors’ assumptions that women were interested only in housekeeping, fashion, and advice she insisted on writing about politics, business, religion, and science. Her outspoken mainstream column attracted a wide following, including Canadian Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier. Her columns were syndicated to newspapers across Canada. She worked for the Mail until 1911.
Kathleen Blake Watkins began to write columns covering areas in the mainstream news, and soon became one of the Mail's star reporters. In 1891 she interviewed the celebrated French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who was performing in Canada. She was a special correspondent for Toronto Mail during the World's Fair, Chicago, 1893; the Mid-winter Fair, San Francisco, 1894; the British West Indies, 1894; and Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, London, 1897.
When she volunteered to cover the Spanish-American war in Cuba, the Toronto Mail said yes and after a struggle she received her war correspondent accreditation from the United States government, becoming the first accredited woman war correspondent in the world. Her coverage of the aftermath of the war and of its human casualties were the peak of her journalism career and made her famous. On her way back to Canada, Kathleen stopped in Washington where she addressed the International Press Union of Women Journalists.
Upon her return from Cuba, she married Theobald Coleman and they moved to Copper Cliff, Ontario, where Coleman was company doctor for the Canadian Copper Company. In 1901 they moved to Hamilton, Ontario.
In 1904 Kit helped establish the Canadian Women's Press Club, and was named its first President. She was also a poet and published books of poetry.
Coleman contracted pneumonia and died on 16 May 1915, in Hamilton, Ontario.
Michael Grattan O'Leary was born on Irishtown Road in Percé, in the
Gaspé, Quebec on February 19, 1888. A respected journalist, editor and senator, he helped to influence the policies of Canada. He would become one of the most notable Canadian newspapermen in history.
O'Leary left school at the age of 12 and for the next nine years he worked in the lumberyards and in a brewery. Unwavering in his desire to learn, with the help of the Bishop of Gaspe, he educated himself at home. He was two years at sea before entering journalism with the St. John Standard. His first big scoop was interviewing the survivors of the Titanic on their arrival in New York.
He joined Ottawa's press gallery in 1911 representing the Ottawa Journal and was a member of the .Parliamentary Press Gallery for more than 20 years.
He was close to most Conservative Party leaders. PM Arthur Meighen took him along to the 1921 Imperial Conference, and O'Leary repaid the favour by standing as Gaspé's candidate in 1925, though unsuccessfully. O'Leary also supported Liberal ministers, such as C.D. Howe, in columns and editorials. He eventually became editor of the Journal, which earned a reputation for high literary standards and good reporting. In 1961 O'Leary headed the Royal Commission on Publications, and in 1962 PM John Diefenbaker appointed him to the Senate in 196
.At the height of his career, O'Leary wrote two or three editorials daily, cabled stories to The Times in London, handled a political column for MacLeans and broadcasts for CBC and private stations. He attended imperial and international conferences in London, Washingtoncs, and Canberra, and was at the Potsdam Conference in 1945. He also served as the Rector of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario in 1968 but was forced to resign under student pressure.
He died in Ottawa on April 7, 1976. Two books - The Journal men: P. D. Ross, E. Norman Smith and Grattan O'Leary of the Ottawa journal, three great Canadian newspapermen and the tradition they created Hardcover – 1974 by Norman Smith, and O'Leary's own Recollections of People, Press and Politics are still available at Abe Books. Good reads.
Having sold 2.5 million copies of her last novel Room Donoghue is gearing up for the international release of
her latest novel with appeal to a much wider audience.
Quoted in the Irish voice: "My kids were asking me the other day, ‘Are you famous?’ And I was saying, ‘Well, listen, imagine Miley Cyrus, that’s really famous – well I’m like a pebble under her shoe, you know?’ My fame is not so great as to be burdensome, put it that way. I might have someone talk to me at the supermarket, but it’s all quite manageable.”
Her family has an academic background. Her father, Denis Donoghue, is one of the most respected literary critics in the world.
London, Ontario was an unusual place for an Irish person to fetch up in the end, and Donoghue said,
“I do find myself occasionally dreaming of Tayto crisp, I didn’t make a fuss about them when I was there.[Ireland] It’s like traditional music. I had no time for ballads at home, but when I left I discovered I’d memorized the words to ‘Danny Boy. Emigration brings out these new traits in you. When I go to Ireland now I bring back a sack of 20 Tayto bags and my kids rip them out of my hands.”
Donoghue met her partner Chris at Cambridge University where she studied for eight years for her Ph.D. Moving to Canada with the woman she describes as the love of her life made her wonder if she’d be forgotten about in Ireland, where her literary talent was first acknowledged.
"I wanted to do a Ph.D, but not in a subject that my dad was a specialist in. I went to Cambridge to do English literature, then fell for Chris and ended up in Canada.”
"It wasn’t that my career forced me out of Ireland. I just happened to end up out of Ireland. I would have thought I would have been forgotten about there, but it seems I have a strong following who think of me as an Irish writer.”
The 1968 Governor General's Award 67 for Poetry may have made Alden Nolan the only Canadian writer with less than a grade five education to earn such prestige.
Nowlan was born in poverty, 25 January 1933, at Stanley, Nova Scotia. His father, Freeman, was an alcoholic. His mother, Grace, was 15 years of age. She left her husband and took her children, Alden and his younger sister, to her mother’s home. When her mother died, 1940, Grace was unable to provide a home for the children and Alden was separated from her for the rest of his life. He was then raised by his grandmother, Emma, and his father, Freeman.
Born in 1904, Freeman had left school at 14 for work in the sawmill. In an interview Alden told Greg Cook, "never in his life had a permanent year-round job... never owned or learned to drive a car." His father improvised stories, while pretending to read to his son and made pencil sketches, "… all the storytelling and sketches ended before I was six years old. He was ashamed of both, because in his world grown men didn’t draw and make up stories."
Nowlan began writing poetry in 1944. He was a bookish, gangly 12 year old when he dropped out of school – a peer group target, the descendant of disposed peasants ‘wild Celtic brigands.’ In his first auto-bio-critical essay, he wrote: “I couldn't help being a part of my race. A race that continued to be tough. It was possible for me to accept myself, finally, only when I realized - emotionally - that poetry is tough too, that a poem can contain as much fury and power as a fist or a blackjack. It still seems to me that the greatest wonder of poetry is that it combines toughness with the tenderness of love, and the one is impossible without the other.” At age 13 reading Guy de Maupassant’s stories he realized that people did write about people like his family and village.
He was 14 years of age when his paternal grandmother died. Suffering from anemia and depression, Alden was admitted for several months to the Nova Scotia Hospital for the mentally ill. There as the staff encouraged him to study and write, he learned to accept himself. When he was 17, working-class D.H. Lawrence, became his hero and his writing evolved from letters-to-the-editor to poetry. After few stints of labour as farmhand, highway worker and sawmill night-watch, Nowlan began writing a book and a newspaper column, he attended a folk-art school and, at age 19, left home to work as a reporter for a weekly newspaper. He soon was published extensively in US literary magazines. Recognized as one of the most promising new poets of the century he said of himself, "Off hand the only North American writers I can think of who have come from a background of rural poverty and gone on to write about it have been Negroes. Richard Wright, for instance."
In 1961, a Canada Council grant allowed him to write his first novel and, in 1963, on the eve of leaving for an editorial position with the daily newspapers in Saint John, he achieved a personal goal: he married Claudine Orser and adopted her nine-year-old son, John – at last he was the father of his own family. In 1966, adjustment to family life, urban living and editorial duties were interrupted by surgeries and recovery from cancer of the thyroid.
His literary family grew and freed him from the demands of journalism as he was awarded the Canada Council (special grant in 1967), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation 1967 fellowship, the Governor General’s Award and the U of New Brunswick writer-in-residence appointment (1968).
During his 15 years as writer-in-residence the Nowlans became public figures. Alden was surrounded by young people and Claudine worked at the Pre-School Centre on the edge of the campus. He averaged more than a book per year including six new volumes of poetry including Canadian Authors' Association Silver Medal winning Smoked Glass (1977); two books of selected poems; four plays; three works of fiction including a memoir; an excerpt winning the University of Western Ontario’s President’s Medal for Fiction, 1970; and one volume each of history and selected essays winning the Evelyn Richardson Memorial Literary Trust Award.
His achievements were recognized with Honorary Doctorates of Letters from the University of New Brunswick, 1971, and Dalhousie University, 1976 and in 1979 he was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.
Alden Nowlan’s courage and honesty, speaking truly about and for the poor, was profound in a culture when many writers choose to treat poetry as a sign of the privileged life.
From his last collection:
So that I could
change a spade into a pen,
our ancestors suffered together with their oxen,
and gathered the sweat of a hundred years to give me ink.
In 1983, his 50th year, Alden Nowlan died from complications following pneumonia. It was written of him: Nations cannot possess and hold great writers. Their work grows, like Alden's, long after we have stopped on the hill to visit the grave of "An O Nuallin Mor," or The Big Nowlan, as his ancestral clan chief was called in the days of old, of Irish heroes.
Dr. Rosemary Sullivan, O.C. FRSC.
Internationally acclaimed author of seven award-winning novels, three books of poetry and numerous short stories, was born June 21, 1949, in Little Longlac, a small mining town in northern Ontario. Her father, mining engineer Walter Andrew Carter and her mother, Marian Quinn. Jane had six brothers, she was the youngest and only daughter. The family’s heritage made a lasting impact on her writing. Her mother’s Irish ancestors were immigrants to Canada during he 19th century potato blight and Great Hunger. Both parents had witnessed the trials of World War One and World War Two. Her childhood was filled with stories of Ireland and settlement in Canada. At that time Canada was a British colony, very little was taught of Canadian history - Urquhat's interest was quickened as she went on to the University of Guelph for a BA in English followed by a BA in art history.
In 1968 she married Paul Keele who was then a student and Urquahart worked as an assistant to the information officer for the Royal Canadian Navy. Tragically, Keele died in an accident in 1973. In 1976, Urquhart married the Canadian visual artist Tony Urquhart. With a busy family life, their daughter born in 1977, Jane developed her daily writing schedule. An Irish-style cottage in McGillicuddy Reeks became her writing retreat from 1996 to 2013. She and her husband now reside in SE Ontario.
Her internationally acclaimed novels include: The Whirlpool, the first Canadian book to win France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur livre etranger (Best Foreign Book Award); Changing Heaven; Away, winner of the Trillium Award and a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Underpainter, winner of the Governor General’s Award and a finalist for the Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; The Stone Carvers, was a finalist for the Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award and Britain’s Booker Prize; A Map of Glass, a finalist for a regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, and Sanctuary Line, a finalist for the Giller Prize.
She has received the Marian Engel Award and the Harbourfront Festival Prize, and is a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Numerous honorary doctorates from Canadian universities have been granted her and she has given readings and lectures and she has served on several international prize juries. Her books have been published in many countries, including Holland, France, Germany, Britain, Scandinavia, Australia, and the U.S. and translated into several languages.
Urquhart has twice been a keynote speaker at the annual Canadian Congress of the Humanities, and has served on the Board of PEN Canada and on the Advisory Board for the Restoration of the Vimy Memorial.
Order of Canada
Michael Grattan O'Leary
Journalist. Editor. Senator.
John James Carney
Producer. Broadcaster. Communications Consultant
United Nations Association/Canada Medal of Honour
Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal
Award winning Irish Canadian author.
Robert James, son of Henry James Cromie of Ireland and Sarah Ann Guy of Australia, was born in July 1887 in Scotstown, Quebec. He married Bernadette Grace Mcfeely in Vancouver, they had four sons and a daughter.
Educated in public schools in the Eastern Townships, Cromie travelled to Winnipeg as a teenager and after holding a variety of jobs and taking business classes at night school, was hired in 1907 as a personal secretary at was one of the largest railway-construction companies in North America. In 1917, in a bid to wield political influence in the provincial election, his employer took control of a bankrupt Liberal newspaper, the Vancouver Daily Sun, and put Cromie in charge. He turned out to have a natural genius for the business and soon acquired the paper. Dropping the evening edition, he began publishing in the morning. The paper’s readership jumped from 10,000 to 17,000, and less than a year later, its Sunday edition was selling more than 25,000 copies.
In 1924 Cromie purchased the Vancouver Daily World and converted it to the Vancouver Evening Sun, whose circulation reached 47,000 and topped 50,000 on Sundays in less than a decade.
He was a keen fan of all sports, a health enthusiast, and one of Vancouver’s first joggers. He had visited Japan, China, and India in 1929, attended the World Monetary and Economic Conference in London in 1933, toured Russia by airplane later the same year, and journeyed through the Canadian Arctic by boat and bush plane in 1934. He observed carefully, and wrote and lectured on his findings.
He died suddenly 11 May 1936 in Oak Bay, B.C., of a cardiovascular ailment. He was 48. His widow briefly succeeded him as president and publisher of the Sun, but it was under his son Donald that the newspaper would eventually displace the Province as the leading newspaper in British Columbia and become the largest metropolitan daily issued west of Toronto.
Follow Donald Cromie and Samuel Cromie for the continuing story
Recipient of the Halton Heritage Award
The Burlington Junction Appreciation Award
The Hamilton-Wentworth Hermitage Award
Jim Carney’s career began in Vancouver in 1960 as a producer for CBC-TV (CBUT). He moved to Toronto in 1962 as writer/director on network public affairs series such as “Close-Up“, “Horizon“, “Inquiry” and “This Hour Has Seven Days“.
In 1966 he began a ten-year association with the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal during which he wrote and/or directed a variety of award-winning theatrical shorts, sponsored films and TV documentaries including the “Children of The World” series, a CBC-UNICEF co-production filmed in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as development support films for the United States Agency for International Development.
From 1975 to 1987 Carney worked with the United Nations. In February 1975, on behalf of the National Film Board and the Government of Canada, he was seconded to the United Nations’ Habitat Secretariat in New York as Liaison Producer, to design and implement a program of financial and technical assistance for developing countries in the production of more than two hundred films for the 1976 UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat).
He was then appointed Deputy Director of the United Nations Audio-Visual Information Centre for Human Settlements (Vision Habitat), responsible for the world-wide distribution of the Habitat films, which required the establishment and direction of regional offices and film libraries in appropriate language versions in Amman, Bangkok, Dakar, Geneva, Mexico City and Nairobi. From March 1983 through April 1986 he served in Nairobi, Kenya, as Chief, Division of Information, Audio-Visual and Documentation, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements.
In May 1986 he returned to Vancouver as Commissioner-General of the United Nations Pavilion at Expo ’86. He decided to settle permanently in Vancouver and resume his career in film, TV and media- related consulting. Subsequently, in addition to developing a number of film and TV projects, he served as Chair of the Film and TV Industry sub-committee of the Asia Pacific Project and as a member of the Board of Directors of the BC Motion Picture Association.
For four seasons he hosted a TV series on the Knowledge Network – “Cross Currents” – presenting one-hour documentaries on a variety of geo-political issues around the world, including the Falkland Islands war, Lebanon, Israel, Africa and the USSR. More recently, he has been associated as writer and editor with the Commonwealth of Learning, an international agency headquartered in Vancouver.
Jim Carney’s films have won a number of Canadian and international awards at festivals in San Francisco, Tokyo, Monte Carlo, Rome, Columbus, Buenos Aires, Brisbane, Cracow, Prague, Venice and Montreal. In 1987, he received a World Environment Festival Award for his work in public information in the field of human settlements.
In 1995 he received the United Nations Association/Canada Medal of Honour, for having made “an exceptional contribution by a Canadian at the international level and related to the United Nations System”. In 2002, he received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for his work as a communications consultant with the B.C. and Yukon Command of The Royal Canadian Legion.
Jim Carney holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of British Columbia, followed by graduate courses in international development at UBC, and studies in film and television at Stanford University, California.
Pauline is a 10th generation French Canadian with an Irish citizenship is a professional storyteller, heritage performer and musician, historical interpreter and 1812-reenactor . who She has been telling stories and making music all of her life, delighting audiences of all ages in Canada, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. Her first audience was her children Shane and Robyn, now both grown and pursuing careers of their own.
Her stories and music have been recorded for Route 1812 in Southwestern Ontario and the GTA, the Southwestern Ontario Barn Quilt Trail, and History Television. And, she has recorded f stories of Canadian pioneer women and she has written a number of children’s history books .
Pauline took her love of storytelling one-step further to make history come alive. Dressed in period clothing she will take you back to yesteryear to share tales of the early settlers who planted their roots firmly in Canadian soil. She is the voice of Elizabeth Gage on the War of 1812 documentary on History Television. She has recorded her stories of “Women in Upper Canada during the War of 1812” for Route 1812,a driving route linking historical sites and cultural institutions in the Southwest, Toronto and Niagara regions. Pauline’s voice and instruments have been recorded singing heritage songs along the same route. Pauline is also the social historian for the Southwest Ontario Barn Quilt trail and was the historical advisor for the Lincoln Lamplighter Tours for their bicentennial production.
Pauline has written a number of children’s history books and stories for the young at heart. She has also recorded four CD’s, “Voices of the Past”, “Voices of the Past Two”, “Voices of Toronto’s Past” and “Stories of Women in Upper Canada during the War of 1812”..
Rosemary was born in the town of Valois on Lac St. Louis, near Montreal. Her paternal grandfather had arrived from Ireland around 1916 and settled on a farm in Smiths Falls, Ontario.
In 1972, with a PhD, she headed to France to teach, first at the University of Dijon and then the University of Bordeaux. She returned to Canada in 1974 to teach at U.Vic., B.C. she moved to teach at University of Toronto where she and her husband, Chilean actor-musician Juan Opitz, now live. In 1978, after taking leave to devote herself to writing, Rosemary lived in London, England. On her return she joined Amnesty International and founded the Toronto Arts Group for Human Rights and both conceived and organized an International Congress called The Writer and Human Rights in aid of Amnesty International. Seventy writers from forty countries attended.
Rosemary joined the editorial board of This Magazine, in 1982. She wrote articles about her travels to Latin America. Her first collection of poems, The Space a Name Makes (1986) won the Gerald Lampert Award for the Best First Book of Poet In 1987, commissioned by Penguin Books to write a biography Rosemary wrote a trilogy about the creative lives of women artists: Elizabeth Smart, By Heart, was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for non-fiction; Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen, published in 1995, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction, The Canadian Authors’ Association Prize for Non-fiction, the University of British Columbia President’s Medal for Canadian Biography, The City of Toronto Book Prize, 1996, and short-listed for the Ont. Trillium Prize. The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out was published in 1998.
At the U of T, Rosemary was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Literature, and in 2003, founded the new MA program in English in the field of Creative Writing. From 2003-06, she held the Maclean Hunter Chair in Literary Journalism at the Banf Centre. Following 4 years of intense research, in 2006 she published Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape,. A House in Marseille In June 2007, Villa Air-Bel was awarded The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem Award in Holocaust History by the Helen and Stan Vine Annual Canadian Jewish Book Awards.
Her family memoir, The Guthrie Road, tracing her Irish ancestry back to 1847, was published Rosemary is a Fellow of the prestigious Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and was awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal for Major Contributions to Canadian Literature and Culture by the Royal Society of Canada in 2008.
An outstanding turn-of-the-century writer,
born in Montreal on Christmas Eve, 1879. His father, David Nelligan, was da French Canadian who was musically talented, and a devout Catholic. These are qualities that drew the French and Irish together during the most troubling times they shared. Except for summer vacations with his family in the village of Cacouna in the Gaspé peninsula, and a short trip to Europe, Nelligan spent his entire life in Montreal.
Nelligan’s academic career was undistinguished. In 1897, against his parents’ wishes, he abandoned his studies to pursue his poetry. He was actively writing verses and could envision no other profession for himself. In 1896, he met his mentor and future editor, the priest Eugène Seers (later called Louis Dantin) and Joseph Melançon, who introduced him to the literary circles of Montreal. Under the pseudonym Émile Kovar, he published his first poem in June, 1896. By September eight more of his poems had appeared in local papers and journals By 1897, poems appeared for the first time in Le Monde Illustré and La Patrie under his real name, which was sometimes modified to "Nellighan" or "Nelighan". He joined the recently founded École Littéraire de Montréal, a circle of young writers and intellectuals who met weekly to discuss the arts. In 1898, Nelligan’s father sent him on a sea voyage to Liverpool and Belfast and later that year, his father arranged employment for him as a bookkeeper. These positions came to naught as he continued to publish his poems in local papers and journals and public readings to which the audience responded with a resounding ovation.
A short time later he was confined to the Saint-Benoît asylum where he would remain until his death in 1941.
Nelligan’s work comprises some 170 poems, sonnets, rondels, songs and prose poems. Astonishingly, these were all written when he was between the ages of 16 and 19. In 1904, thanks to the diligence of his friend Louis Dantin and with his mother’s help, 107 poems were published in Émile Nelligan et son oeuvre with a preface by Dantin. Three subsequent editions were published with poems that had been sent to friends or found among his papers. This edition has been reprinted several times, most recently in 1989.
He was a pioneer of French-Canadian literature. In his poetry, he threw off the time-worn subjects of patriotism and fidelity to the land that had so occupied his literary predecessors, and explored the symbolic possibilities of language and his own, dark, inner landscape.
Ushered poetry into the modern age.
Pioneer of French-Canadian Literature.