A bit about the poet

Kate McIntyre Ruttan (1855-1928) was a rather interesting if not highly talented poet, one of three women chosen by William Arthur Deacon for representation in his study of Canada’s “monarchs of the quill” (3), The Four Jameses (1927), one of whom—James McIntyre (1827-1906)—was Kate McIntyre Ruttan’s father. The chapter “The Ladies: God Bless Them!” is thus included in Deacon’s curious text; it opens with Ruttan, but also includes two other equally unknown female poets: Anastasia Hogan and Lillian Forbes Gunter.

Ruttan’s poetry is rather parochial, as befits the daughter of James McIntyre, the “Cheese Poet.” McIntyre’s “Ode on the Mammoth Cheese” (“generally recognized as [his] masterpiece”) was composed in honour of “the ‘Mammoth Cheese’ that was sent to the World’s Fair at Paris” (Deacon 59). McIntyre subsequently wrote the “Oxford Cheese Ode”. Deacon notes of the two poems that “there is a sublimity in the lines on that single, gigantic cheese that the Oxford Ode does not quite equal…” (67). (The opening lines of the “Oxford Cheese Ode” are “The ancient poets ne’er did dream/That Canada was land of cream,” which obviously cannot compare with “We have seen thee, queen of cheese,/Lying quietly at your ease.” How does one inject ironic tone into blog posts, one wonders? There should be an icon…)

James McIntyre wrote poetry about and for his daughter; she reciprocated in kind: at least two of the poems in Rhymes, Right or Wrong, of Rainy River (1926) are titled or addressed to Jas. McIntyre. A number, too, are autobiographical, but still more are biographical, referring to famous and unknown individuals alike: there are poems for “Mrs. Rajotte,” “Dorothy Strachan,” and “Mable Lennix”; and “Sir John A. MacDonald” (no picture) follows directly after “My Daughter Maude” (with picture). Included below is a page spread with a set of poems—”Girls, Don’t” and “Boys, Don’t”—which parallel two earlier poems, “A Word to Girls” (12) and “A Word to Boys” (13).

“Girls, Don’t” and “Boys, Don’t”

Work Cited

Deacon, William Arthur. The Four Jameses. Ottawa, ON: Graphic, 1927.

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