Hendry, Phoebe. “The Yellow Page.” Little Things on Life’s Highway: A Book of Poems (Author, 1900): 17.
Yes, I know. William is a man. In going through the books on my office shelves the other day, though, I came across this little edition. I have no recollection whatsoever of where I got it. While the text is already available online, my copy is rather special. Not only is it signed by the author, but also by the owner, Gertrude Fouks (later Mrs. Sidney Zack), who was an artist and a prominent member of the Vancouver Jewish community. Added to this is a page from a play—”The Rebirth of Rameses: A Mystery Play,” written and directed by William E. Grant—glued into the flyleaf. It appears that the play was staged at King Edward High School, the first high school established in Vancouver; one must assume that Gertrude Fouks, who moved to Vancouver with her family in 1918, attended there. William. E. Grant is listed on the playbill as both author and director; William Ewart Grant (c1884-1935) is also listed in the 1921 Census of Canada as a school teacher in Vancouver, so we can assume that he wrote this play for his students to produce, although the year of production is not recorded. It would be interesting to find a full script of the play…
Regardless of whether or not I find answers to my questions, I hope you will enjoy the beauty of this little volume, presented here in colour images and searchable pdf: it is so much more attractive than the black&white scan of the CIHM microfilm that archive.org has posted.
In preparing the post about Margaret Vance Rody’s Gleanings, I called in every edition I could find through the Inter-library Loans office at SFU. the 1925 edition does not appear to be extant any longer. For the other editions (1931 and 1942), I only asked for the Tables of Contents and publication information. I noticed, though, that Beauty in Thought and Verse, the 1942 edition published in Vancouver, contains a photo. The ILL issued another request for me, and kindly scanned the photo of Rody, as the volume was too delicate to remove from the library (usually I do the scanning at home). So here is a signed, labelled photo of the author to add to the information about editions I have posted previously. Her photo is up at the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory, as well, ready to adorn our entry when we get them all up.
This morning I received an email from Debra Martens, author of the Canadian Writers Abroad blog, who shares my interest in Sara Jeannette Duncan. Debra has found a fascinating item on sale on AbeBooks: “Autograph Letter Signed by Duncan Jeannette.” Which is to say, a letter purportedly written by Sara Jeannette Duncan on Ladies’ Empire Club letterhead, but with no date and an illegible addressee.
The text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Lady [Mullin?] Thanks for your note. I hope dear A’s things are now safely sailing through the Bay under my berth. Do come in to tea tomorrow, here, about five. I shall be in and expecting you; but if you can’t, let me know. I am off on Thurs – and won’t, I fear, have another chance of seeing you.
And it is signed, as much of her correspondence was, “S.J. Cotes.”
We can extrapolate the date and location from the letterhead and the comment “Do come in to tea tomorrow, here,” As Duncan stayed in the Ladies’ Empire Club in February 1904. She had been in Canada in December of 1903, and was back in Simla, India, in March 1904. That is not to say that she didn’t stay at the LEC on some other occasion, but Marian Fowler’s research, such as it is, suggests not (Redney: A Life of Sara Jeannette Duncan, Toronto, Anansi Press, 1983), and I have found no conflicting evidence.
The bookseller is Robert Wright Books, in Tamworth, Ontario, and one wonders how the letter made its way there… and also who is going to come up with the asking price of $300. Were I in Ontario, though, I would certainly be going for a visit to Tamworth to see the actual letter, and compare the writing against the letters I do have scans of. And oh, if only I had $300 to spare for such delightful ephemera!
If any of you buy it, please let us know!
Moffat, Gertrude MacGregor. “All Night I Heard.” A Book of Verse (Toronto: Macmillan, 1924): 17.
Many of you will be thinking at this point: but E. Pauline Johnson died in 1913… And of course you would be right. But she was involved in the First World War in an unexpected (and to me, bizarre) way.
Annie Garland Foster, in her biography of Johnson—The Mohawk Princess, Being Some Account of the Life of Tekahion-Wake (E. Pauline Johnson) (Vancouver, BC: Lion’s Gate, 1931)—includes a lengthy discussion of a gun purchased in honour of E. Pauline Johnson (“L’Envoi,” pp. 156-170), but the gun had slipped from general knowledge. For almost a century, academics and other interested parties studying Johnson have had no clue as to its whereabouts. In November of 2016, the machine gun emblazoned with the name of Tekahionwake “turned up at the Beatty Street Drill Hall, where it had been hiding in plain sight in a regimental museum … nobody seemed to realize the significance of the machine gun, because it was tucked away in a display case, with the identifying ‘Tekahionwake’ inscription on the inside.”
I awoke this morning to a text message from my friend and aficionado of Canadian literature of the First World War, James Calhoun, who had stumbled upon the Vancouver Sun article I have included here. There is no need for me to say more: the article gives the history of the gun—its creation and its discovery—in full detail. I wish I had been aware at the time, and posted immediately this amazing end to a research question that has been plaguing early Canadian literature specialists and Johnson fans for a long, long while. But even now, it is still news to many.
John Mackie, “This Week in History: 1915-2016 — A Lost Relic from the First World War Turns Up,” Vancouver Sun online, 18 November 2016.