The history of a pioneer community offers
a rich field to the biographer, for by its very nature the frontier
attracts unique and progressive individuals. The exacting demands of a
new country can be met only by men and women with initiative and
originality. The pioneer is a man who ventures out on an uncharted
course, and who stakes his future on his ability to adapt himself to new
and strange conditions of life.
The portraits which have been sketched in this volume are drawn from
three hundred years of Canadian history. They are the stories of men
who, as successive generations have pressed on towards new frontiers of
settlement, have built their lives into the very foundations of the
-country. To the beginnings of civilization in Canada they have brought
the rare qualities of the pioneer—strength of character, courage, the
ability to improvise, confidence in the future. In the life of each one
of them the spirit of adventure was ever-present, leading always to new
experiments and fresh discoveries.
These biographies were prepared originally as radio talks, and they were
presented in a series arranged by the radio committee of the Canadian
Historical Association for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The
subjects were selected from many different periods in Canadian history,
and from the whole length and breadth of the country. They represent
also a wide variety of ability and interest, and the list includes
explorers, politicans, scientists, artists, teachers, a lumber king, a
judge, a village bard. Many familiar names are missing for the purpose
of the series was to tell new stories rather than repeat old ones. The
subjects are therefore men whose fame has been less generally known, but
who hold an undisputed place in the company of great Canadians.
The authors are all authorities who have made a special study of the men
whose stories they have told. Mr. Graham Spry, who writes on Brule, is a
Canadian Rhodes Scholar now resident in England. The article on Bayly is
by Professor A. S. Morton, Librarian in the University of Saskatchewan
and Provincial Archivist in that province, who is a well known authority
on western history. The sketches of the two Nova Scotians, McCulloch and
Uniacke, are, respectively, by the Provincial Archivist in Nova Scotia,
Professor D. C. Harvey, and his assistant, Mr. J. S. Martell. Professor
Chester New is head of the Department of History at McMaster University,
and his book on Lord Durham has established him as an authority on the
period during which Bidwell lived. The article on Merritt is by Dr. A.
R. M. Lower, professor of History in United College, Winnipeg, whose
writings on Canadian economic history are well known. The late Douglas
MacKay gathered the information for his biography of Simpson when he was
editor of the Hudson’s Bay Company magazine, The Beaver. Dr. Charles
Camsell is Deputy Minister of Mines and Resources, and he is in a very
real sense a successor in office to the subject of his sketch, William
Edmund Logan. The colorful biography of Glasier is by Mr. Ian Sclanders
of the St. John Telegraph and Journal. Mr. Graham Mclnnes, who writes on
Kane, is a noted art critic and journalist. Professor R. O. MacFarlane
of the Department of History, University of Manitoba, knows thoroughly
the period during which Schultz lived, and has written a number of
articles on early days in Manitoba. Mr. D. A. McGregor of the Vancouver
Province is the author of the article on Begbie. Sir Ernest MacMillan is
Principal of the Toronto Conservatory of Music and his biography of
Lavallee is an interesting chapter in the history of Canadian cultural
life. Dr. Marius Barbeau, whose article on Jobin is based on a personal
interview, is on the staff of the National Museum of Canada. President
H. J. Cody of the University of Toronto writes about Tassie as one
famous educator about another, and Dr. L. E. Kirk, Dean of the Faculty
of Agriculture in the University of Saskatchewan has written a chapter
in the early history of western agriculture in his article on MacKay.
Professor F. H. Underhill, Department of History, University of Toronto,
is well known as an authority on Canadian political life during the
post-Confederation period, when Goldwin Smith was in Canada. Mr. E. A.
Corbett is Director of the Canadian Association for Adult Education, and
was for many years Director of Extension in the University of Alberta,
the province in which Michael Clark lived. Mr. D. E. Cameron, who writes
the sketch of “Bob” Edwards, is Librarian in the University of Alberta.
The article on McIntyre is by Mr. W. A. Deacon, Literary Editor of the
Toronto Globe and Mail, who has included a biography of his subject in
his book, The Four Jameses.
The papers have been edited in such a way as to keep as much as possible
the freshness and informality of the original broadcast talks.
R. G. Riddell
The Department of History, University of Toronto.
C.B.C. Broadcasts Edited by R. G. Riddell (1940) (pdf)