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The Scottish Tradition in Canada
The Lowland Tradition in Canadian Literature
Elizabeth Waterston

The parallels between Scotland and Canada, both physical and social, are striking and important. The new country is larger, but it sprawls along the same inhospitable latitudes. To the south in both cases there is a large, powerful, and domineering neighbour. In Canada, as in Scotland, two languages, two religions, and two cultures have co-existed.

Little wonder that in the nineteenth century Scottish cultural models transplanted so easily. Given our climate, Burns made more sense than Wordsworth. In the brief Canadian springtime, Canadians could relish the small detail of flower or stream, rather than the Wordsworthian vista of lake or mountain. Given the need for energetic social interaction as a defence against isolation, Canadians responded to Scott's eventful bustling plots, rather than to the misty paradoxes of Poe or Hawthorne. As the century moved on, Canada remained the scene for manly action, sport, physical adventure: Robert Louis Stevenson's tales of adventures and escapes, of hardy travel and daring encounters, were closer to Canadian reality and Canadian dreams than were the spidery finenesses of a Henry James or the depressing naturalism of a George Moore or a George Gissing. And for those Canadians not facing the frontier, but settling into the quieter patterns of Brantford or Orillia, Ormstown or Fredericton, there was more to be admired and recognized in a Kailyard novel, an "Auld Licht Idyll," than in the bleaker negativism of American novels about dusty main streets or about the dreary main-travelled roads of the countryside.

In 1911 George Bryce proclaimed the creed of many Canadians, including many not of Scottish origins: "The world's greatest lyric singer [was] Robert Burns; the world's greatest novelist, Sir Walter Scott; the two greatest historians, Macaulay and Carlyle." He might have extended the credo, and still expressed a Canadian consensus in the early twentieth century, by adding: "The greatest writer of adventure stories for young people was Robert Louis Stevenson; the greatest writer of sentimental regional idylls, and the most tender and whimsical of dramatists was J.M. Barrie."

The Canadian education system and Canadian publishing houses, largely dominated by Scots in the nineteenth century, promulgated and perpetuated this creed. The results are clear in nineteenth century Canadian poetry and prose, arts and architecture. Love for Burns set the bounds of theme, metre, tone, and length of Canadian poems from McLachlan to Carman. Devotion to Sir Walter established the dominance of historical romance in Canada, from Richardson and Kirby to Gilbert Parker, at the expense of other possible models such as Dickens or Hawthorne, George Eliot or Melville. "Great Man" history, thesis history, following the examples of Macaulay and Carlyle, flourished in Canada - witness the tremendous acceptance of works like the "Makers of Canada" series -  though again at the expense of more scientific or sociological approaches that might have been learned from German, French or American models. The influence of Stevenson and Barrie in the later part of the century produced an over-abundance of children's books and of regional idylls. Canadian names on this list of later Scottish-dominated romancers would include Ralph Connor, Marshall Saunders and L.M. Montgomery.

Lowland influences should also be similarly noticed as predominant in the graphic arts. Wilkie and Landseer rather than Constable or Whistler in turn dominated the style of the Canadian academies. Abbotsford inspired the worst of our architecture, and the Adams' influence perhaps generated our best. In theatre, in choral music, in folklore and dancing, the pressure of Scottish models has been constant. Study of the reasons for this preponderance of influence by a single culture, imported as one among many, clarifies many facets of the needs and nature of the importer.

The physical, social and economic similarity between Canada and Scotland, added to the large number and the power of the Lowland immigrants, made the Scottish strain in Canadian art appropriate as well as pervasive and persistent. I propose to examine the extent of this borrowing and adaptation, first in early Canadian poetry and in pre-Confederation fiction, and later in the early productions of the Dominion after Confederation and during the extended national growth in the railroad era. Such an examination will lead to speculation as to the price paid by Canadian culture for this century-long habit of importation.


A glance at any Canadian song-book or keepsake album or literary anthology of the nineteenth century will show how great was the influence of Burns on Canadian writers. But in Canada as in Scotland the love for Burns came as culmination of a taste developed earlier in the eighteenth century. Ramsay in 1724, Fergusson in 1774, had revived the native tradition of the "makaris." In the years after 1707, although Scotland's political and economic autonomy had been ended, her literary and intellectual life had taken on new lustre. Now vernacular poetry achieved new respect, joining the folk songs which had been kept alive in the Lowland dialect. Scotland in the late eighteenth century contributed three major works to the popular literature of all English-speaking people, on both sides of the Atlantic: Bishop Percy's Reliques, Henry Mackenzie's Man of Feeling, and James Macpherson's Ossian.

Scots who came to the Canadas or the Maritimes in the eighteenth century brought a taste for the austere border ballads, for the occasional verse cleverness of mock elegies and last testaments, and for satiric lovers' oaths in the Ramsay-Fergusson manner. They brought a liking for the misty grandeurs of Ossian, and for the sentimentalities of The Man of Feeling. They also brought a pride in the intellectual glories of the Edinburgh schools, in philosophers like Hume and Reid, economists like Adam Smith, Blair and Karnes and Robertson. Scottish culture centres in the Maritimes predated the American Revolution: Windsor, Saint John, Moncton, Saint-Andrews-by-the-Sea flourished as "little Edinburghs" with interest ramifying into history, theology, and belles-lettres, long before the New England Loyalists added their store of bookish interests in the 1780s and 1790s.

Eighteenth century Montreal merchants also built a culture similar to Edinburgh's: neighbourly, bourgeois, bastioned against both a wilderness to the north and an alternative culture to the south. These Quebec-based businessmen sent fellow Scots into the commercial network being cast westward. From 1670 the Hudson's Bay Company had been placing hardy Scots among its factors, and Scots continued to dominate fur trade and exploration throughout the century, climaxing the dominance with the formation of Montreal-based groups rivalling the HBC and dominated by the Frasers, the McTavishes, and the Mackenzies. These men had brought with them from their Scottish schools a taste for science. They moved through the northwest as amateur geologists, ornithologists, and anthropologists, making notes as if in preparation for delivering a paper at some literary and historical society back in Ayrshire or Paisley. The American frontiersman - the Davy Crockett type - is pictured in legend as illiterate, almost inarticulate except in tall tales and bawdy anecdotes. The Canadian frontiersman could be correctly pictured as serious, cautious, observant, a man simply but sensibly educated, keeping his journal in clear, statistical order. Early in Canadian records appear not tall tales but the travel narratives of Mackenzie, Fraser, Henry. All reflect the impact of the Scottish renascence on Canadian style, tone, and content.

Besides the fur traders, Lowland Scots had come as tradesmen and independent farmers throughout the eighteenth century, many of them in the wake of economic or military failure at home. They brought conflicting attitudes: a sense of recent defeat, of present difficulties, plus a national pride, a belief in free enterprise and an insistence on education and theology as prerequisites of each new community. The basis of their culture was carried over from the Scottish "moral sentiment" school: "sentiment as a principle, rationality as a method" - leading to the warmth of Scottish family life, and the hard-headed enterprise of Scottish business. The villages they clustered into were tribal, not feudal or hierarchic. Kinship led to family bluntness in speech as well as to hovering concern over courtships and illnesses. The family feeling was no doubt strengthened when the Scots came up against the prejudice and disdain carried from England by the Johnsonian English administrators.

In the older Canadian towns and the new frontier settlements, then, the Lowland presence was strong, distinct, colourful and conspicuous.


Burns's themes and assumptions, as well as the forms of his poetry, became a powerful part of Canadian pioneer art and life. They may have blocked the growth of alternative styles as the country moved toward Confederation. In the hands of Scottish-Canadian poets of the 1830s to 1850s, Burns's themes undergo interesting modifications, but the phenomenon of McLachlan's poetry, for instance, is one of many examples of the essential survival of a poetic tradition, after the cause and manner of its emergence are no longer relevant.

Burns himself at one time contemplated emigrating to America. This was a nearly inevitable choice facing men of his time and place. Of his contemporaries in Ayr and Paisley, Tweeddale and Dumfriesshire, many of the liveliest, most patriotic, most enterprising, were being forced by pressure of competition to leave home. By the 1820s, emigration societies, mostly operating in the Lowlands, were arranging mass export of manpower. In the chattels on those emigrant ships went many a copy of Burns; and in the emotional baggage went many an attitude that guaranteed transplanted fondness of Burns's work. The Lowland workers brought with them the tensions, the habits, and the aspirations from which Burns's songs had sprung, and which had reached their apotheosis in his songs.

"Bad habits," for instance those of gambling, drinking, nostalgic inertia, and shiftlessness, had been among the legacies of hard times in the border counties. These were among the major stimuli of Burns's songs. They were carried to Canada, all too often to intensify there. Brandy and whiskey continued necessary for endurance, for survival. The convivial "drappie" carried with it to Canada the poetic ratification of Burns. So did the social energy, manifest in fighting, brawny sports contests, vigorous dances, raw jokes.

Humour was another defence against the indignities of the new life. Again Burns provided the wry tone, the mock-heroic note, that had helped overcome melancholy in the Old Country, and would keep the exile's melancholy in proper perspective.

Family warmth, combined with intense personal independence, expanding into a rich sense of national identity - these good elements too were imported in augmented strength into the Canadian frontier. In particular, the kind of patriotism that Burns had hymned - defiant, irrational, surviving the absence of state help or sympathy - became the basis of a fondness for the new country blending easily with the tenderness for the Scot's "ain countree."

Lowland settlers moved into the new Canadian terrain, finding at every point a snatch of Burns's song that could release the tensions of experience. Here, as at home, flowers were frail and precious, winters sudden and cruel. As at home, men and animals lived close together, dogs, cattle, horses almost becoming part of the family, and certainly felt as personalities. As at home, the warmth of the house, the shelter of love, was in sharp contrast with the "cauld blast" outdoors. When it came to putting these things into song, Burns's tight forms were appropriate channels for the brief creative gusts possible in an energy-draining life. Burns's forms, as well as his themes, made appropriate transplants.

By the 1820s, Lowlands Scots in the Maritime provinces were producing and publishing verse strong in "pith and realism" (to quote Fred Cogswell's account in the Literary History of Canada). Andrew Shields, "the Cape Breton Blacksmith," William Murdoch of Partridge Island, John LePage of PEI, Robert Murdoch, John Steele - all produced direct, clear verse, humorous, much of it, though with a melancholy undercurrent. The same simple strength appears in imitations of Burns produced in Lower and Upper Canada by such poets as McQueen, 1836. Numbers of these poems were printed in local journals whose presses as well as editorial desks were largely manned by Scots: Hugh Thomson of Kingston, David Chisholme, A.J. Christie, Andrew Armour of Montreal.

Early Canadian poets made simple local substitutions in Burns's flora and fauna. "To a Dandelion" supplements "To a Daisy" in a poem by Miss Johnson, and the owl replaces the mousie in John Massie's "Hoot awa, hoolet, alane in the tree." Bonnie Doon gives way to innumerable Canadian banks and braes, in acceptable lyrics written with one eye on the stream and the other on the standard Habbie verse form of Burns.

These poems are not merely harmless imitations; they are a healthy transplant of a vital tradition. In these early days such poetry, unsubtle as it was, served well to reflect and to entertain all settlements in the Canadian bush, whether or not dominated by Scots. The presence of such verse, and of a press to purvey it, must be considered a major contribution made by Lowland Scots to the emerging Canadian nation. Burns was a valuable and appropriate model in early days in Upper and Lower Canada and in the Maritimes, wielding an influence which would differentiate all early Canadian literature from contemporary work in the United States. The yearning for a lost homeland was a note that could be struck within the empire's bounds in a way impossible in the republic. So the sentimental imitations of Burns's patriotism could be appropriately entwined into all Canadian song. There is nothing in republican literature to equate with the plethora of Canadian publications with titles like "My auld Plaid," "My Birth-place," "Our Mither tongue," "White Heather," "The Old Scottish Songs," "The Burn's answer." Songs thus titled would stir fellow-feelings in exiles from other parts of the British Isles, as well as in Burns's compatriots. Yearning for a lost homeland was a shared sentiment; "Strange earth we sprinkle on the exile's clay" (in the words of McGeorge, 1858). The sense of enduring a life-long exile was a strong, and a strongly-shared, Canadian sentiment.

Voicing the sense of exile was not the only way in which Burns's imitators served to release Canadian feelings. The immediate contact with details of environment - single flower or animal - was a natural topic for the consciousness harshly limited by the monotonous, pressing forest. Poems titled "To------", with their assumed convention of personal song, overheard by a small intimate circle of friends, would be appropriate poems for a village audience in Burns's own society. They would also be appropriate for what was virtually an extended village - the thin-spread settlements of the frontier. The author's stance of familial intimacy, so much a part of Burns, was a tenable convention for the small though scattered coterie of readers and listeners in Canada. Burns's subjects served to catch and record central, simple Canadian social occasions - church meetings, drinking parties, funerals, courtship-directed dances.

Burns's stance suited the early Canadian taste too well perhaps. The ironic downrightness of "a man's a man for a' that" permeated the working class, spreading from the nucleus of Scottish artisans into the whole early Canadian community. Its acceptance curtailed the desire for subtlety and elegance, and made laughable the finer social forms and conventions. In poetic form, downrightness resulted in simple adherence to Burns's simple forms: Standard Habbie, for instance, with its rigid rhyme scheme (a, a, b, a, b, with the last line curtailed) has a kind of blunt reductiveness, a refusal of any expansiveness in the concluding movement. The refrains many of them inherited by Burns from Ramsay, Fergusson, and even older models, are simple and blunt: "He's dead;" "That day." Such refrains have a finality, a tight-lipped honesty that inhibits subtlety or fantasy.

In general, early Scottish poets in Canada wrote more patriotic songs but fewer love songs than Burns, more egalitarian songs but fewer drinking songs; more on nature's details (flowers, animals, waterways), but fewer satires on people; more songs of sentiment, fewer of passions. But in all these categories there is an amazing bulk to be noted. In all, the influence of Burns is very strong, in rhythm, rhyme scheme and phrasing, as well as in tone and content.

The climax of the Burns tradition in Canada is the work of Alexander McLachlan, a poor boy who came from Glasgow in 1840, and became the best known of the Scottish poets before Confederation. He published Lyrics in 1858, The Emigrant in 1861, Songs and Poems, 1874. His work appears in all early anthologies as a major representative of Canadian poetry in the early nineteenth century. Dewart, in Selections from Canadian Poets (1864), called McLachlan "the Burns of Canada" both for "his racy humour" and for his "moral grandeur and beauty." McLachlan himself reports the pioneer love of the Lowland poet. On the Sabbath, McLachlan says, writing of a pioneer's life,

Even Burns he puts aside
Burns! his weekday joy and pride
Burns! so human, wild and wide . . .

The Canadian Scot, like his Lowland cousin, adds a greater literary idol:

And he brings from out its nook,
That great Book of Books, the Book!

The Pioneer's prayer is Burnsian:

Break! O Lord! the spell of birth,
Haste the time when moral worth
Shall take highest rank on earth. (96)

A brief look at McLachlan's Songs and Poems (Toronto: Hunter Rose, 1874) shows how widely the range of Burns has affected his Canadian follower. Best known of his poems is, "We live in a Rickety House," with its sardonic attack on the Holy Willies of the new country:

Ye clog the soil of nature
With your wretched little creeds,
Then hold up your hands in wonder
At the dearth of noble deeds.

Another Burns theme, manly independence, sings in "Acres of your own." The "cauld blast" note of realism in "The rain it falls" presents dour recognition of the incomprehensible harshness of nature, fate, and death. McLachlan can also sing blithely of the flowers and buds in May." He is nostalgic on love:

The faith and the friendship
The rapture of yore
O shall they revisit
This bosom no more?

Some of McLachlan's poems integrate echoes of Burns into more Victorian notions. "Britannia," for instance, strikes an imperial note - but even here the rhythm is derived from "Scots wha hae":

Great mother of the Mighty Dead,
Sir Walter sang, and Nelson bled
To weave a garland for thy head,
Britannia . . .

And Bacon's head and Burns's heart
Are glories that shall ne'er depart,

McLachlan extends some of Burns's themes in adapting to the new country. To the satire of the "unco guid" he adds the satire of new butts -Americanized Scots, the "unco money-minded:"

Talk not of old cathedral woods,
Their gothic arches throwing,
John only sees in all those trees
So mony saw-logs growing.

He laughs at all our ecstasies
And he keeps still repeating
You say 'tis fair, but will it wear?
And is it good for eating? (103)

Some of the ironies of "rising in the world" are Burnsian in spirit though not echoing any particular Burns song.

Burns's melancholy strain is given a new twist by the absence of continuity with the past: In "pic-nic,'' McLachlan muses by the stream,

Still at the song, it sang so long
To Red Men gone for ever!
And it will leap and laugh along
As gay and happy-hearted
And it will sing this happy song
When we too, have departed.

Elsewhere McLachlan speaks of the "deeper joy of sadness" in a new world. The sense of discontinuity leads from nostalgia to terror, the terror of finding change everywhere, even in the beloved remembered scenes of home: "I'll no gae back, I'll no gae back."

In McLachlan, Burns's love of animals is directed to new fellow-creatures: Buck and Bright the oxen, or Old Hoss and Young Hoss. Independence can become the restlessness of the frontier: "This settlement is getting old, and just a leetle crowdy" (135). "Heroes!" cites intellectuals, teachers and preachers in a new pantheon. Burns would hardly worship at these shrines, but certainly McLachlan's reverence is in keeping with the Lowland values of his own day.

The Canadian poet, as has appeared in all these quotations, imitates Burns's metres as well as his themes. He loves a rollicking rhyme:

If roughs assembled at a bar
And steaming with the barley-braw
They raged and roared and staggered,
As soon as e'er his face they saw,
It held in reverential awe
The most regardless blackguard.

McLachlan's intricate rhyme schemes, and the craft of his internal rhymes as well as the rollicking swing of his metres, all show the influence of Burns. They show too the resistance to alternatives; to, for instance, the slower dignity of Wordsworth's metres. The Scottish poet sufficed. Burns' simple, independent vigour and his tight crafted verses served as a useful, expandable model for McLachlan in particular; they served with equal dominance for the vast majority of early Canadian poets including many not of Scottish extraction. In all we see the dangers of a too-exclusive response to the single model. Burns suited Canadian needs too well. Loving his work, finding it applicable, Canadian poets settled for his range, and sent out few feelers into the realms of experience more complicated than his.


The same sort of story can be told about fiction in Canada before Confederation. Here the first powerful name is that of Sir Walter Scott. Like Burns, his influence fell on ready soil here; unlike Burns, it was closely followed by the influence of a second major Scottish novelist, John Galt. From 1814 to 1832, the author of Waverley dominated popular sales in Canada as in the United States and the United Kingdom. His work was particularly acceptable in Canada because of its moral tone, its sense of the tissue of the past (dear to an exiled generation), and its heroic action and pageantry (vicarious enrichment for the bare life of subsistence in the settlements).

Scott avoided Burns's bawdry, but maintained Burns's feeling of homeliness and warmth, humour and gusto, especially in the treatment of Lowland characters such as Baillie Nicol Jarvie. For the settlers in farms and villages in the Maritimes, in English-speaking areas of Lower Canada, and in Upper Canada, Scott's border farmers, his fishermen, his gypsies were a reminder of home: Dandy Dinmont, McAulay, Dalgetty, and Edie Ochiltree aroused affection, sentiment, and laughter. Their qualities were much like those that the new colony fostered and intensified: eccentricity, doggedness, ingenuity. Even when, back home in Scotland, these qualities had begun to blur under the impact of increasing industrialization, they endured in the newer, more open economy of Canada.

And for those (fewer) members of the Canadian audience who were striving for garrison gentility, Scott offered a second level of characters in most of his novels - those rather wooden heroes and maidens and fine old gentlemen, whose imagined company must have sweetened many a lonely evening for the legion of Mrs. Moodies, "roughing it" in the 1820s and 1830s. The stiff "unreal" conversation of Scott's ladies and gentlemen served as a pattern for writing and speaking among those desperately clinging to propriety and decorum.

Scottish critics of Scott remind us that the bulk of his readers at home in the United Kingdom were neither fisher-folk nor aristocrats, but rather the new urban bourgeoisie of Edinburgh, and Glasgow, Manchester, and London. Such a mercantile middle class represented a much smaller proportion of Canada's population and of her reading public. The audience here perhaps read more for a sense of identification than for a sense of illusion and escape. What could be read in Scotland and England as romance could be read in Canada as realism. Scott's ineffectual heroes, those innocent travellers on whom the wilder natives act, became an obvious prototype for the Canadian gentleman, travelling through a strange uncivilized land. A characterization that seemed to European critics an imaginative ideal becomes a realistic report on a normal state of mind, a role being acted out everywhere in Canada in the first decades of the century. Scott's "hero" - whether he was Waverley, Lovel Brown, or Osbaldistone - would be swallowed by British readers as a helpful device for getting the story going. For Canadian readers, these portraits were a report on a very present reality: the genteel traveller, the man who had lost his identity, the young fellow who had been set against an older generation back home. This was not a fantastic fairy tale but an exciting report on a commonplace of Canadian experience.

When early Canadian writers copied - and over-copied - Scott's plots and characterizations, they were copying not for the romantic escapist qualities but as a response to realities effectively and accurately captured. Scott recreated an imagined border country filled with uncertainties about law and duty; he presented melodramatic contrasts of old and new ways of life. In Canada, these fantasies were observable as fact. Physical pain and torture scenes were used by Scott to give a frisson of terror to his safely-housed Edinburgh friends; travel books on Canada show how close was the anguish of cold, hunger, fire in real life here. Again Scott's fiction fitted in with the life of his Canadian readers, not as illusion, but as confirmation, report, documentary.

Scott's real world was an urban one; his imagined world is half wilderness. But the reader who had vicariously experienced this imagined world was prepared to cope with a world full of events such as Fergus's gathering, of places like Bane Lane cave, a world literally of smugglers and caves and brigand-infested marshland.

Did having a "literary prototype" help soften travellers' feelings? Did the presence of a surrogate - a "genteel young man, of genteel appearance travelling" - run through one's mind as one found a place in the Montreal coach, or the bateau at Coburg, or the canoe at Les Chattes? Scott's fiction seemed peculiarly relevant to the deep facts of Canadian life, to the mythic pattern, as well as the daily drift. Scott's fiction was accepted by Canadian readers, so powerfully accepted as to become an all-pervasive influence on Canadian writers, over-exclusive of other points of view, and almost exclusive of native experiments.

In the first chapter of Waverley, Scott lists the kinds of novels he could have written. It is an amusing catalogue of all the sub-species of fiction in vogue in 1814: the Gothic, the German romance, the sentimental tale, the fashionable sketch of society. Waverley, of course, was to add a new subspecies: the romance, in which historical fact could be intertwined with adventure and homely comedy, all set against a landscape of strange and rugged grandeur.

Titles of the Canadian novels published in the post- Waverley period may suggest that the novelists had early, pre-Scott models in mind. For instance, Hart's Saint Ursula's Convent (1824) sounds as though it would be more indebted to "Monk" Lewis than to Scott; Lane's The Fugitives in 1830 suggests a romance plot of disguised identities; Cheney's Rivals of Acadia (1827) conjures the sentimental vein. But examination of any of them shows the power of Scott's manner to overflow into every category of fiction.

When Scott moved from near-contemporary stories to concern himself with earlier days in Scotland, and then to earlier times in the lands of Ivanhoe, Kenilworth, and Talisman, Canadian writers followed willingly. The feeling that the past is more rich, more mysterious, and at the same time more satisfying as a subject for reverie than the present was a natural feeling in "this barren wooden country." The "lack of a past" disturbed many early writers; the assumption that the sense of the past is a rich and essential part of human experience animates the early Canadian leap into historical fiction. In 1824, Cushing's Saratoga, A Tale of the Revolution, took readers back "sixty years since," as Waverley had done, and Cheney's A Peep at the Pilgrims followed Sir Walter into remoter eras. The year 1826 added Cushing's York Town: A Historical Romance, and Cheney's Rivals of Acadia. A much more successful Canadian follower of Scott was Major John Richardson: Wacousta (1832) is an excellent example of the transplanting of the Scott tradition. Professor Carl Klinck, in introducing a New Canadian Library edition of Wacousta says, "Here is stock material of Scottish romance in the age of Sir Walter Scott, effectively but unexpectedly introduced in the war tent of a savage."

A second Scottish influence came to supplement that of Scott. John Galt had been hailed in Scotland as the man likely to succeed to Scott's romantic mantle (and rewarding sales record). But Gait's more sociological approach, his dour realism, failed to hold the popular Scottish audience. These very qualities constituted his appeal in Canada. The novels of the '20s, set in the Lowlands and in London, were reminders of the commonplace aspects of the life left behind by immigrants; the two novels with American settings, Lawrie Todd (1830) and Bogle Corbet (1831), added vigorous, anti-heroic portraiture of Scottish expatriates, and an ironic, reductive plot of grudging acceptance of the new frontier life. Galt's own life in Canada was very colourful and controversial, but his fictional account of life in the settlements established a strain of wry, low-keyed reporting of undramatic, unaccented "roughing it."

Galt democratized Canadian fiction twenty years before Uncle Tom's Cabin did this job for American best sellers. He democratized it in a way distinct from Dickens's way - in a way divested of caricature or exaggeration. No doubt it was a way more appropriate for a country where eccentricity was never encouraged, and where "leveling" (vide Mrs. Moodie) was rigorous. This Galt strain of robust ironic realism was paralleled in the writings of another Scottish Canadian, Thomas McCulloch. The Letters of Mephibosheth Stepsure (1821-22) predated and may have influenced Haliburton's "Sam Slick" (1836-1860). Here the dour self-mocking tone may owe something to Galt, and the comic portrait of a jaunty opportunist may sound echoes of Scott's Andrew Fairservice and Dugald Dalgetty; or one may say that Haliburton's kind of irony is simply a drawing on the joint-stock of Scottish humour - a humour based on the enjoyment of smartness or "canniness,'' wry laughter, without rancour.

A third Scottish-born novelist who exercised enormous influence on Canadian fiction in pre-Confederation years was R.M. Ballantyne. In an unceasing flow of books for young readers, Ballantyne capitalized on the image of the Canadian frontier. Hudson's Bay began the series in 1843. Canadian novelists for years continued to feed the demand for boys' books established by Ballantyne. The Ballantyne school helped fix the image of the Canadian barrens as barren indeed - barren of social or intellectual interest fit for adult consumption. Ballantyne's work made familiar the great stretches of Canada controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company and administered largely by Hudson's Bay factors who were young Scots, like Ballantyne himself. This image of the adventurous North supplemented the more domestic settlement scenes scrutinized by Galt. Together these two Scots, Galt and Ballantyne, added to the influence of Scott himself, dominated the work of Canadian fiction writers up to the Confederation period.


Once again it is the story of an influence that lasted too long. Gait's annals of Canadian parishes, like Ballantyne's tales of boyish northern adventures and Scott's swashbuckling historical romances, satisfied audiences that might well have been turning to the new Canadian realities of urbanization, new ethnic tensions vis-a-vis French Canada and the States, or to the subtler social and psychological probings of the age of Hawthorne and Melville. The Scarlet Letter in 1850 and Moby Dick in 1851 were apparently by-passed by the Canadian novelists, who went on grinding out such pseudo-Scottish romances as Richardson's The Monk of Saint John (1850); Somerville's The Life of Robert Mowbray (1853); McDougall's Lady of the Beacon of Aheera (1857); Noel's The Abbey of Rathmore; Fleming's Sybil Campbell, or the Queen of the Isles (1863); Daniel's William and Anne, A Tale of Love and War (1864).

Professor John Matthews, in Tradition in Exile, offers a feasible thesis. Literary forms of the Old Country - in this case, forms of Lowland Scotland - would transplant to Canada because the terrain and the social patterns in early days were comparable. These transplants assuaged the need for imaginative expression. In the States, and in Australia, the inappropriateness of songs about moors and crags and of stories of genteel travellers led to early cultural uneasiness on the part of the exiles, and consequently to an earlier development of new folk forms. Canada stayed with Scottish models because of the continuing closeness of physical and social forms.

Another major reason that the taste for Lowland themes and measures dominated Canadian readers was the preponderance of Scots in the printing, publishing, and book selling business. From the very first phase of Canadian history, publishing matured under Scottish direction. Many of the first printers in the Maritimes and Quebec were Scots, such as William Brown and James Robertson. Early journal editors included John Strachan (Christian Examiner, 1819); Hugh Thomson (Upper Canada Herald, 1872); David Chisholme (Canadian Magazine and Literary Repository, 1823, and Canadian Review and Magazine 1824); A.J. Christie (Canadian Magazine and Literary Repository, taken over in 1824); George Stewart (Literary Magazine) and Alex Spark (Quebec Gazette, 1792, and Quebec Magazine). These editors were complemented by Scottish book publishers such as Andrew Armour and Hew Ramsay of Montreal in the mid-30s, G. Mercer Adam of Montreal and Toronto, Robert Middleton of Quebec, Thomas Maclear and Hunter and G.M. Rose of Toronto, and A. and W. Mackinlay of Halifax. Bookstores were often run as an adjunct to a press or a journal. These added further Scottish bias. Publishers were John Neilson in Quebec, James Lesslie in Toronto and later in Kingston and Dundas, John McMillan of Saint John, Samuel Thomson in Toronto and James Campbell in the same city. All were well-established between 1824 and 1850. And all were naturally well-disposed towards the acceptance of books with a Scottish flavour.

Lowland Scots in Canada moved into other areas where their taste exercised a crucial influence on the continuing development of Canadian culture. They dominated the Mechanics' Institutes and the literary and historical societies; they led the militia; they rallied the temperance movements and presided over the Free Masons. James Rattray in The Scot in British North America provides long lists of the Scots in all these positions: the long lists add up to illumination of the way Scottish motifs and tastes continued to dominate Canada even after the percentage of Scots in the total number of immigrants began to dwindle. Above all, Scots dominated Canadian schools and politics in the pre-Confederation period. Sir Daniel Wilson is one good example among many of those who exercised strong educational leadership.

Learned societies based on Scottish models reflected Scottish interests and intellectual ambitions. Law, medicine, science, architecture - in all Scottish taste and values were imprinted, all with influence both direct and indirect on the growth of Canadian literature. The influence of Scots as governors-general must be noted too, from Dalhousie to Lorne, as a pressure on cultural development.

Scottish-flavoured work continued to be published. Following Scottish models, and imbued with Scottish love of historical research, regional histories flourished: from John Ross, 1819, to Alex Ross, 1848, from George Simpson to Thomas Simpson, 1843, from Gourlay, Haliburton and Fisher in 1836 to Atkinson, Murray and McGregor in 1844. Statistical methods culminated with Christie's six volume History of The Late Province of Lower Canada in 1855, but regional histories continued with Beamish Murdock, 1865; Duncan Campbell, 1873; Alexander Begg, 1871; James Hannay in 1879. Accounts of the War of 1812 and the search for Franklin engaged two other Scottish Canadians, Auchinleck and McClintock.

Memoirs and light essays of the Noctes Ambrosianae ilk appeared from Tiger Dunlop to Alex Rae Garvie's Thistledown, 1875. More vigorous, and more topical, was the work in journalism of William Lyon Mackenzie, Neilson, Richardson and others. In all, comparison with Scottish journals will show a source for tone and topic.

Journalism and history were the genres in which the most impressive Canadian work was done between the 1830s, when Haliburton and Richardson reached the peak of work in fiction, and the 1880s, when the poetry of Roberts and Lampman began to appear. The period from 1840 to 1880 represented lean years in the creative arts in Canada.

Meanwhile, back in Scotland, a similar story of a long hiatus marks the middle years of the nineteenth century. In the '40s, '50s, and '60s, when such ex-Scots as Carlyle and Ruskin were helping to animate the great mid-Victorian flowering in London, Scottish writers in Scotland were turning out school-of-Scott novels, school-of-Burns poems. This long dull period in Scottish letters lasted until the dramatic emergence of Robert Louis Stevenson. When Stevenson did appear, he found a Canadian audience very ready to respond.


In Scotland during the cultural low between the period of Burns and Scott and the emergence in the 1880s and '90s of Stevenson and the Kailyard School, followers of Galt such as Hugh Miller and William Alexander continued to publish parochial idylls. Among Scottish expatriates in England, Thomas Carlyle and George Macdonald did most to keep Lowland themes and values before the general public, but Carlyle's interests were increasingly retrospective, and Macdonald's focus swung from the contemporary worlds of David Elginbrod (1863) and Robert Falconer (1868) to the fantasy worlds of At the Back of the North Wind (1871) and The Princess and the Goblins (1872) and their successors. Such writings, taken with the persistence in Scottish poetry of imitations of Burns and Scott, may be interpreted as sad and dangerous, as escapist, and as a negation of the changing economy and the structure and direction of real life in the industrializing, centralizing, and secularizing Lowlands. In this literary interregnum, Scottish genius directed itself largely into technology: the great names of the '50s to '70s are those of engineers and business magnates.

In Canada, the same persistence of parochialism and romantic adventure in literature is less escapist. Canadians still lived out the life that Scott and Carlyle hymned. Canada was reliving a Scottish stage long gone by, in the still-rural, still-atomistic settlements of the pre-railroad era, as well as in the northern barrens and in the barely accessible northwestern plains. So, even though some non-Scottish literary influences began to be strongly felt - Tennyson and Whitman, David Copperfield and Uncle Tom's Cabin - the Scottish themes remained appropriate as well as powerful. Lowland machinists manning the printing presses, Lowland clerks working in and buying out the bookselling shops, Lowland journalists moving into publishing and editorial positions, all ensured that these appropriate themes would also remain widely available.

It was into a society still clearly attuned to Scottish tastes that the sense of a new renascence in Scottish letters moved swiftly and pervasively. Robert Louis Stevenson began publishing his short stories in 1878, with "Lodging for the Night" and "The Sire de Maletroit's Door." His essays, first appearing in British periodicals from 1877, soon drew wider attention: Virginibus Puerisque, for instance, appeared in book form in 1884. His frivolous travel books such as Travels with a Donkey and The Amateur Emigrant, began to be widely read from 1878-9. Of his novels, Treasure Island appeared in book form in 1883, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886, and Kidnapped in 1887. In every one of these areas he found a Canadian audience very ready to respond, and a group of Canadian writers very ready to imitate. Through him, a new pressure of Scottish tensions was felt, first directly from his own books, later through the works of Canadian imitators.

Stevenson caught some of the traditional Scottish relish for romantic adventure, quest and quarrel, and epitomized also the nineteenth century revolt against some of the trammels of Calvinism. His own rebellion a-gainst the values of his father and mother in Edinburgh focused the aesthetic, joyful reaction against the soul-searching gloom of orthodoxy. It was not a Burnsian revolt; Stevenson erupted not into passions for women, for native land, or for drinking; instead he flung back into the freedoms of the child-world, of far away places, and into experiments in the macabre. But these too, like Burns's avenues, were native paths for the Scottish soul in its mood of revolt. Stevenson's sea-going romances, his children's poetry, his vagabond lyrics, are all rooted in Scottish traditions. Transplanted to Canada, they flourished with equal charm, equal colour -and equal shock value.

Stevenson himself was a legendary figure: his Bohemian life, his agnosticism, his marriage to a divorcee, his quest for life in the South Seas, all jumbled together in the world's imagination to make him seem the epitome of revolt against convention. His warmth, sincerity and optimism made the revolt appear wholesome rather than effete. He appeared frivolous and charming rather than dangerous, even to orthodox elders. Altogether, Robert Louis Stevenson offered an attractive model of innovation to the rather timid rebels among Canadian artists of the 1880s and 1890s.

His eloquence and devotion to style made him a hero to short story writers like Duncan Campbell Scott and Gilbert Parker. His emphasis on the romance of life, and the value of an art set against the practicality of an industrializing scientific age, stirred such poets as Isabella Crawford, G.F. Cameron, and Wilfred Campbell. Bliss Carman was encouraged by his example to play with the notion of vagabondage, and to experiment with poems of childhood and with short singing verse forms. In the novel, Stevenson's lead was followed by Lily Dougall, A.C. Laut and Charles G.D. Roberts, among others, in their flippant, fanciful play with history, their cast of characters - rogues, charmers, sensible young men caught in perilous quests - and in their emphasis on action and chance in plotting. Essays in late nineteenth century Canadian journals show a stylistic elegance, a radical loosening from Confederation pomposity in manner; they too have been touched by the rather dandified charm of Robert Louis Stevenson. Children's novels, always a major genre for Canadian writers since Ballantyne, swelled in numbers and in strength: Marshall Saunders wrote both in this genre and in the historical romance. Finally, Stevenson pointed the way for experiments in the macabre; Duncan Campbell Scott's work in such a tale as "The Witching of Elspie" owes more to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than to the earlier models provided by Poe.

Of all these Canadian writers, Bliss Carman shows most clearly, Isabella Valancey Crawford least clearly, the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson. Carman had spent two years at Edinburgh University in 1881 and 1882, years when Virginibus Puerisque, A Gossip on Romance, and other essays were creating a great stir. In Carman the influence of Stevenson transfigured his earlier dependence on the Pre-Raphaelites and on Tennyson. "A Seamark," a threnody published on Stevenson's death, acknowledges the influence of Stevenson as man and as poet on the young Canadian. Songs from Vagabondia and most of the later volumes implicitly contain the same acknowledgment of debt, in their themes, rhythms and tone. In Carman, the legendary, the sensational, the mystic and the marvellous combine with grimmer ironic tones in a mix very much like Stevenson's. Pairs of lines rise in the mind: "Under a wide and starless sky" / "Here by the gray north sea"; "Shovel them in, shovel them in, shovel them in to shore . ..." / "Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"; "When I was sick and lay a-bed." / "When I was just a little boy, Before I went to school Among the novelists, the writer most strongly influenced by Stevenson was Gilbert Parker. Here was a young man from Napanee, in that part of eastern Ontario dominated in politics and in education by the Scottish powers at Queen's University. Parker's early tales deal with Scots and voyageurs in the Northland. The greatest of his mature novels, The Seats of the Mighty (1896), parallel to Stevenson in style and tone and in inventiveness, is also parallel in its basic plot: the canny, honorable, Whiggish hero, Major Stobo, has been "kidnapped" into an alien, romantic world. He is both attracted and repelled by the dashing, bragging, witty, and amoral Doltaire - a French-Canadian variant of Alan Breck Stewart. Parker's romance is almost as inhibited and sexless as Stevenson's. Its central adventurous voyage down the St. Lawrence has the dash, the sensationalism, and the essential cruelty of Stevenson's fight-filled stories.

Stevenson was popular in the United States. F.L. Mott, in Golden Multitudes, a study of best sellers in America, shows him as rivalling the sales of F. Crawford, W.D. Howells, Mark Twain, and Marie Corelli in the 1880s. But in Canada, the vogue for Stevenson outstripped all contemporary rivals. To me this indicates not only the particular popularity of Stevenson's manner here, but also the persistent openness to Scottish work. For Stevenson, in spite of his rebellion against Scottish orthodoxies of business and theology, re-introduces essentially Scottish materials. Response to a grey huddle of hills and a bright thread of river, tenderness and laughter, respect for the past, pleasure in rhythmic song, love of a voyage or of a good fight - Stevenson's trademarks are stamped on most Scottish characters.

In the plethora of Canadian novels from the late 1880s on, many of the titles bear witness to the Stevenson influence in particular, and to the Scottish bias in general. Marshall Saunders, who had been educated in Scotland and France, began professional writing with My Spanish Sailor, 1889, and added other Stevensonian adventure stories over the years, such as Rose a Charlitte, 1898. Lily Dougall, educated at Edinburgh University, published Beggars All as the first of a long series of novels in 1891. John Campbell, a graduate in theology from Edinburgh after earlier education at Toronto, published Two Knapsacks in 1892, reminiscent in subject and tone of Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey. Parker, in The Chief Factor, also 1892, presented a Scottish company factor, one of the staples of fiction about the adventurous North. Parker's portrait was in part a recognition of the local fact, in part an exploitation of the vogue for Scots dialect which Stevenson had revived. John Mackie, turning to the new West for adventurous setting, also made vivid use of Scottish elements in Devil's Playground (1894) and other novels featuring the Mounted Police. Robert Barr's In the Midst of Alarms, 1894, a comic version of the time of Fenian raids in the Detroit district, exploited some of Stevenson's pace and the rush of incident familiar from Treasure Island. Barr, who later became a prolific novelist, had come to Canada from Glasgow. Agnes Laut in 1900 began her concern with Canadian historical writing with the romantic, adventurous Lords of the North, featuring rival groups of Scottish fur traders in the Montreal of McTavish, Fraser, and Mackenzie. Miss Laut, daughter of the Principal of Queen's University, got her Scottishness at second hand, but her early novels in particular show the persistence of Scott, refreshed by Stevenson. William McLennan published Spanish John in 1898 and The Span of Life in 1899 in collaboration with Jean McIlwraith. Miss McIlwraith, a graduate of Glasgow, went on to publish her own novel, The Curious Career of Roderick Campbell in 1901, the same year as Ralph Connor's Man From Glengarry. Roderick Campbell, a turncoat before Culloden, is an engaging Falstaffian figure, an opportunist, who stirs memories in his readers of a long roll of literary prototypes from Scott to Stevenson. A Nova Scotian, W.A. Fraser, exploited the conventional antithesis of the canny Lowlander, dashing Highlander in Blood Lilies (1903). In the opening years of the new century, titles reminiscent of this same strain continued to appear: e.g. in Richardson's The Cam-erons of Bruce and W.W. Campbell's Ian of the Orcades (both 1906). Imitations of Kidnapped, designed for child readers, appear as late as Frank Baird's Rob MacNab, a Story of old Preston (1923).


The elegant romanticism of Robert Louis Stevenson thus provided a very powerful model and stimulus from the 1890s on for Canadian novelists, many of them Scottish by inheritance and by education. A different and even stronger Scottish influence began to be felt within Stevenson's last years. This was the influence, also in the '90s, of the "Kailyard School" of Scottish fiction.

The Kailyard writers - J.M. Barrie, S.R. Crockett, Ian MacLaren - are usually considered by Scottish critics as a debased and deleterious group of writers. These novelists, "hankering for a homely rural past," presented faint caricature versions of a picturesque and disappearing way of life. Village humour, village pathos, sentiment and whimsy were all presented in a way that seems to most modern Scottish critics vulgar, bathetic and basically dishonest. The motives for writing such fiction in Scotland were bound up in the displacement from rural, familial, and religiously orthodox life, into the fragmentation of the turn-of-the century period. Barrie's Auld Licht Idylls (1888), Sentimental Tommy (1889), and A Window in Thrums (1891) came out of his own dislocation from home, village, mother and native land. Crockett's The Lilac Sunbonnet (1894) and the novels of "Ian MacLaren" (John Watson), Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush and Days of Auld Lang Syne, satisfied demands for more about "the auld name, the wee hoose, and the whaups crying on the moors" - and added the other elements which became the stock of these homely novels: sentimental treatment of the "Dominie" and the minister, plot manipulation of poignant family losses and the inhibition of passion, graveyard tremors and coy glances at inebriation.

Immensely popular in Great Britain, these books {Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush in particular) also outsold such contemporary rivals as The Prisoner of Zenda and Trilby in the United States. In Canada, the impact of the Kailyard novels was greater still. Canadian cities had perhaps not produced a reading public needing such exotic escapism as Trilby and Zenda. Canadian readers had not developed a taste complex enough for the niceties and nuances of Henry James, or on the other hand distressed enough to welcome the muckraking wrath of Frank Norris and his school. The Canadian society, predominantly middle class, still predominantly rural and Protestant in mores, had maintained a taste not ranging beyond regional dialect annals. The Scottish parochial sentimental romances found an avid readership in Canada, and a group of writers all too ready to imitate.

Why not? There was hardly a Canadian village throughout the later nineteenth century without its dominating Kirk, its Scottish schoolmaster and its Scottish-trained printer and journalist. The Lowland thread was much more visible and significant in Canadian towns than in those of the United States. And the Kailyard values, seen in a kindly rather than a satiric light, were still really present in many Canadian villages, perhaps long after they had disappeared in the homeland. Humour, gossip, sweetness, sentimentality - these were the values, presented in annals of the parishes from John Galt on, still present and possible in Canadian town life. So when, at the end of the century, the Lowlands produced the new popular idylls, Canadian taste was quickly responsive.

"Ralph Connor," like "Ian MacLaren" a minister writing village fiction under a pseudonym, had a Kailyard fondness for chronicling regional detail; and like Barrie, Crockett and MacLaren, Ralph Connor is most effective when retrospective, when hovering with loving accuracy over the "bees," and wakes, the tavern fights, the Bible classes of Glengarry, rather than when moving into the emerging tensions of city society or political manoeuvres. His hero is a current version of the Robbie Burns type, with fine instincts, powerful passions, natural intelligence, a beautiful singing voice, and magnificent physical strength. Ralph Connor adds the "mother figure" popularized in the A Window in Thrums in his hero's patroness, the minister's wife. He modifies the anti-city hysteria of the Scottish Kailyard stories: his hero meets success in Montreal business, although he whimsically realizes the ultimate impossibility of converting real worldlings to his own moral values. (Here he is closer to the hard core of Scottish common sense in Barrie's plays, such as The Admirable Crichton and A Kiss for Cinderella, with their anti-idyllic recognition of the impenetrability of social and economic barriers, even by a Burns type.) The Lowland strain appears everywhere in Ralph Connor, in spite of his initial choice of Highlanders for his cast - Macdonald Dhu, Macdonald Bain, the MacRaes and the McGregors. He soon turns to the Lowland pleasures of endless debates on predestination, and the application of a Calvinist conscience to the exigencies of Montreal commerce, and of a romance involving a sophisticated charmer and also a simpler, more pious maiden.

Ralph Connor was soon joined in the Canadian Kailyard by R.L. Richardson, with Colin of the Ninth Concession, 1903. Here are memories of schoolyard fights, of a sadistic dominie, and of the warmth of a Scottish Canadian farm home - all capped with a romance ending more in the manner of Disraeli than of MacLaren. W.A. Fraser in The Lone Furrow, 1907, presents the story of a village minister and his wife set against the narrowness of village morality. He works his dialect with accuracy and charm.

More strongly marked by the mawkish mannerisms of the Kailyard is the work of "Marion Keith" (minister's wife, this time). Duncan Polite (1905) presents a Highlander and a Lowlander as two old friends keeping an eye on the life of the village of Glenora. Piety, temper, and affection characterize the Lowlander, "splinterin' Andra" Johnstone. The plot of young romance and of theological changes (broadening, softening, secularizing) lacks tension. But in this too the author follows the desultory sequence of Barrie's Idylls, or of Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush. Perhaps we see here a continuance of the "statistical" method so dear to the annalists as a rejection of fanciful artistic manipulating. Perhaps there is a link still with the unorganic plotting of Scott. Perhaps a combination of such theological and aesthetic concepts is reinforced in Marion Keith by Canadian and feminine timidity.

The same qualities may appear effeminate in R.E. Knowles's Saint Cuth-bert's (1905). Here the dour Old Testament rigidity of the village Scot is sentimentalized, and connected with an idyllic rehash of the parable of the Prodigal Son. "Only those who understand the Scottish temperament would have known there had been a struggle," the book announces in its opening sentence, and proceeds to exploit the Kailyard cliches about the stern Scots father, the delicate suffering mother, and the wandering boy. Knowles's The Dawn at Shanty Bay (1907) continues the moral and sociological strain; so do many other popular Canadian novels in the ensuing years. The best in the type is Isabel Ecclestone Mackay's Mist of Morning (1919).

Didacticism, sentiment and whimsy mark all these novels. Perhaps the high incidence of ministers among the producing novelists is responsible. Religious bias among the publishers, plus the successful examples in Canada and Scotland of clerical authors, fostered these ministerial efforts. The results show the presence of some occupational hazards: vapid moralizing, blindness to ironies, and censorship of moral and psychological blasphemies.

There were some ironic counterblasts among the Canadian novelists, presaging the anti-Kailyard tone of Brown's The House with the Green Shutter. There is the anti-idyllic humour of E.E. Sheppard's Dolly the Young Widder (1886), the farcical humour of Arch McKishnie's Gaff Linkum (1907) and the wider ethnic range of John MacLean's Warden of the Plains (1896), in which a Scots missionary hero tackles vices other than those of Ontario villages. Robert Stead's Bail Jumper (1914) presents life on the western farms, where only Scottish names remain as reminders of heritage, and where no use of dialect or Lowland mannerisms seems significant enough for record.

But Kailyard strains at their best survive in the work of Sarah Jeanette Duncan, fused there with a Jamesian fineness of technique and an ironic tone which reminds us of the best of John Galt. There are two Scottish ministers in The Imperialist (1904), representing perhaps two generations of Lowland theology, or else representing a Scottish newcomer and a Scot tempered and restructured by Canadian experience. The heroine's father, Mr. Murchison, represents another Lowland type, the type that had in fact ensured the dominance of Scottish ways and values in Canada throughout the first years of the life of the Dominion. In Duncan's novel, the Kailyard qualities still appear - gentleness and humour and family tenderness - but leavened by wit and a bit of malice. Henry James may have shown her the basis of her fictional technique, but she added to James, not from Hamlin Garland or Theodore Dreiser, and not from Conrad or Hardy, but from Barrie and Ian MacLaren. The world these Scottish writers pictured, and the tone they chose, was not only pleasanter but also actually closer to Canadian reality than the American or English alternatives.


To turn from fiction to poetry, before moving on to the consideration of non-literary aspects of Canadian culture, is to enter an area where influences from the Lowlands are more nebulous. Here, as in fiction, there is a striking preponderance of Scottish names among the writers: Campbells and Camerons and Macraes join the Dougalls and Frasers and Gordons and Duncans.

Every year saw volumes of verse by Scots or descendants of Scots, a few in Gaelic, but mostly in dialects of the Lowlands. We could start with McLachlan's volumes in 1855 and 1858, and then skim through the following list:

1858: MacGeorge, Tales, Sketches and Lyrics
1861: McLachlan, The Emigrant
1863: Ascher (not a Scot but using the popular dialect) Voices of the Hearth
1860: William Murdock, Song of the Emigrant
1868: Charles Mair, Dreamland and Other Poems
1867: Alexander Muir, "The Maple Leaf Forever"
1874: Machar, For King and Country
1875: Alex Rae Garvie, Thistledown
1878: Hunter-Dewar, Emigration of the Fairies
1866: Lachlan MacGoun, "Tramp Tramp Tramp" (anti-Fenian song)
1880: W.W. Smith, Poems
1881: K.S. MacLean, Coming of the Princess, the Lady of Lome
(1883: Evan MacColl, Poems and Songs in Gaelic)
1884: I.V. Crawford, Malcolm's Katie
1887: G.F. Cameron, Lyrics on Freedom
1887: Mary Morgan ("Gowan Lee"), Woodnotes in the Gloaming
1889: W.W. Campbell, Lake Lyrics
(1889: W.D. Lighthall, ed., Songs of the Great Dominion)
1890: D. Anderson, Lays of Canada
1891: G. Murray, Verses and Versions
1891: John Imrie, Songs
1893: Elizabeth MacLeod, Carols of Canada
1893: D.C. Scott, The Magic House
1893: J.D. Edgar, This Canada of Ours
1894: Robert Reid, Poems Songs and Sonnets
(1895: D. Anderson, Scottish Folklore)
(1895: J.A. Lockhart, Beside the Maraganeywa
(1896: W.W. Smith, New Testament in Broad Scots)
1897: John Macfarlane, Heather and Harebell (R.L.S. echoes)
1899: A.M. Machar, Lays of the True North
1902: J.W. Bengough, Echoes of Drumtochty (includes "To Ian MacLaren")
1900: F.G. Scott, Poems

Names of authors, and titles of their publications prepare us for the predominance of echoes from Scott, Burns and Carlyle. The Literary History of Canada comments that "a direct connection between the best poems [of this period] and contemporary events hardly exists." The conventions in Burns which had been valid for the poets of the '40s and '50s remained as artifice in the '60s and '70s. The stance of the village poet voicing in a common vernacular the shared joys and sorrows of a tightly-knit community became a pose in the poets - and poetesses - of greater sophistication. These poets chose to write in "braid Scots" for sentimental effect. The range of poetry in this vein appears best in Selections of Scottish Canadian Poetry, edited by William Campbell (1913). Much of it is third-rate, bathetic and sentimental. It is not popular art or folk art - much too self-conscious for that. But it has an interest as revelation of mass taste, a taste still dominated by one ethnic strain, even though that strain had became numerically less and less significant.

Major poets of the late nineteenth century - Lampman, Carman, Roberts, Campbell, Crawford and Duncan Campbell Scott - do not work in this blatantly "auld hame" vein. But they too show the remnants of Lowland attitudes, inculcated through family ties, educational system, the press, and politics. Essentially they are bourgeois poets, writing in a vein of moderate commonsense gentility. The Scottish educational ideal might point to these poets as its best products. Knox's dream of a school in every parish, a college in every city had come close to fulfilment in the young Dominion. Such a system guaranteed a freedom from class divisions, reinforcing the kinship or clan feeling of the early days, when bonds were

strong enough to counteract economic separations or stratifications. There is consequently a level homogeneous tone in Canadian expression in the decades after Confederation. The Canadian poets manifest neither the sparkle of the aesthetic aristocratic wits, the Wildes and the Beardsleys, nor the hammer of the new proletarian language of Whitman, the early Frost, or E.A. Robinson. The dignity of the Canadian tone also reflects the Scottish strain in school discipline, and the Scottish balance between respect for technology and respect for poetic gifts. The poet trained in such a school - different both from the classicism of the best English education, and the levelling practicality of contemporary American schools - might be expected to manifest a modest self-confidence, self-respect in the face of scientific contemporaries, and no need to withdraw into effete aestheticism, nor to align with assertive mass movements. The stance of self-respecting bourgeois gentility, which differs from the posture of poets of the '90s both in England and in the States, is noticeable in all the turn-of-the-century Canadians (with the possible and rather self-conscious exception of Carman).

Related is the pallor of these poets' works. Their propriety, their gentility, their poetic thinness, may come also from the very decency of their upbringing. The upright, fair-minded Scottish school masters, inculcating a taste for the spare, the sparse, the controlled, left their mark on this generation of poets. Again it is a mark differentiating them from the more opulent tone of English decadence, and from the greater angularity of American conflict-conscious muckrakers (to mention contemporary non-Canadian alternatives in poetic tone). We see the effect in Lampman's "November" poems, in his taste for a decorous pastel beauty, in his choice of tight forms like the sonnet. There is a kind of poetic thrift in this pallor. The same tone - honest, affable, controlled, rather pale - appears in the New Brunswick poems of Charles G.D. Roberts.

Mentioning Roberts and Lampman we remember another quality of their work which seems rooted in the Scottish inheritance. This is localism, a focus on regional detail. In that turn-of-the-century period, so stirred by nationalisms in Europe and America, Canadians achieved (by Yeats's definition) "provincial" rather than "national" poetry. The orientation to small culture pockets in Scotland had been especially strong in old days when water channels and spurs of hill effectively separated each little plain or glen from its neighbours. In Canada this local differentiation survived, even after transportation had erased much of it in Scotland. So Lampman in Ottawa and Roberts in the Maritimes focused on local patches of landscape in a way reminiscent of an earlier day in Scotland. And the landscape, whether in the Gatineau hills or on the Tantramar shores, still resembled Scotland in its dun colouring and its angularities.

Lampman's strongest note is his sense of reaction against an idyllic romantic response to the landscape. Lampman, set against nature, wrapped in thought, "draining the heat," creates his own "nameless and unnatural cheer, a pleasure secret and austere." It is a mood familiar to the Scot, who husbands his resources and preserves his identity by drawing in to his own fire.

The need to preserve identity is a constant theme in Roberts and Lamp-man. Canada in the post-Confederation period was feeling the pressures of a border state - a position familiar in Scots tradition. In the new nation, buffetted by counter-ideologies British and American, a kind of dogged resistance emerged, individual as well as national, not flaming or passionate, but close to the mood long sustained in Scotland during centuries of political and economic orphanage. Lampman's focus on his own moods, in the face of the impinging realities of nature, suggest the dour insistence on identity of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Scot. Examination of the conscience, self-help, ironic downrightness and honesty - these are the marks also of many of Lampman's compatriots, and especially of George Frederick Cameron.

One of the qualities honestly recognized and explored by these poets was their pleasure in retrospect. Nostalgia for a passing world was strong in fiction at this time, as has already been suggested in reference to The Man From Glengarry. Leacock's "Mariposa" and L.M. Montgomery's "Avonlea" rose to popularity on the same nostalgic thrust. In the poets, the hankering back, the longing for a remembered world of childhood, a countryside of pre-industrial simplicity, is endemic. "Yet will I stay my steps," Roberts says in "Tantramar Revisited," "... Muse and recall far off, rather remember than see." This corresponds to the contemporary Kailyard longing for childhood and countryside and continues the emigrants' cry of longing for the old home. The theme of displacement -displacement in time, in place, in sociological and theological values - is dominant in Canada as in Scotland, and to an extent unequalled in the States or in Europe or England.

In the poetry of Roberts, Lampman, Carman, Scott, and Campbell, there are many qualities other than these I have mentioned. But these qualities - thrift, pallor, nostalgia, independence, self-assertion against nature - seem to be important traits, and they seem to be arguably Scottish ones. I do not mean that the qualities emerging at the end of the nineteenth century were merely late marks of the Scottish heritage. I do mean that nothing in the Scottish heritage impeded the direction Canadian poetry was taking - and many elements in that heritage implemented the development, and cleared a path for it.

Although there is much that is admirable and interesting in these poets, they did not create a body of outstanding poems, any more than their contemporaries in Scotland did. Nor did they play an appreciable part in voicing or directing national culture, in the way Burns or Scott or even Stevenson had done. The major cultural force in the last quarter of the century may be said to have inhered not in a single writer or in a coterie of writers, but in the strong, serious, popular press.


An army of newspapers, grinding out editorials, reviews, essays, short stories, and occasional verse, kept the taste for reading widespread, and kept the readiness for a national literature apparent. It directed the cultural as well as the political and economic growth of the country along lines alien to American democratic forms, even while deviating from British principles. And that popular Canadian press still found its editors, its writers, its printers and its publishers largely among the Hunters and the Roses, the Andersons and the Middletons, the Browns, the Dougalls, the Stewarts and the Christies. All these men from Glasgow and Aberdeen and Paisley were trained to be practical and hard-headed. But they were ready, like their unsung predecessor at Kilmarnock, to take a chance on local talent and popular taste. Particularly were they ready, of course, to recognize a new poetic voice when it spoke with a Scottish burr.

Contributing to the tendency to patronize and push Scottish trends was the incredible roll-call of Scottish Canadian success stories. A tradition that produced so many successes carried its own validation. The success of such men as Strathcona and Macdonald was itself a cultural force. Scottish values had given Canadian railroading its creators, from Strathcona to Sandford Fleming; had produced merchant powers like Renfrew and Simpson, lords of the liquor and tobacco empires like Seagram and Macdonald, educational leaders like George Grant, politics from George Brown and John A. Macdonald to Alexander Mackenzie and Alexander Galt. Who could argue with a set of assumptions and a code of behaviour that produced such performances? The percentage of Scottish immigrants dwindled, but the power of Scottish mores waxed.

Diminution in the numerical proportion of Scottish immigrants was particularly noticeable out West. After the 1880s, when we speak of Canadian culture we must look beyond Lake Superior to include the life of the prairies and the west coast. Throughout the early years of the nineteenth century, hardy travellers who pushed beyond the Sault had recorded a passage from one Hudson's Bay factory to the next. It was a record of a chain of isolated Scottish families, offering warmth and friendship, and creating a myth of Canadian western hospitality that has its base in Scottish conventions. As towns grew up in the West, many focused around the established "first family" of the Scots factor. Such a family at the core of new settlement gave a social tone, decent, law-abiding, and hard-working, to the Canadian West. The tone is recorded in travel accounts from Sladen to Kipling; and most accounts add glimpses of the Scots from whom the tone emanates. After 1886, new settlers flooded in, many of central European, Slavic, or Scandinavian background; but the early tone persisted. Bryce's The Scot in the North West summarizes the extent of influence.

East and west, the continued Scottish dominance in Canadian schools ensured continuing relish for literature and for the national past. Scottish teachers also inculcated respect for the creative man, a tradition rooted in the idolatry of Burns and Scott, and one that marked a sharp difference from the increasingly irreverent anti-creative bias in the States (the bias which forced Mark Twain into the pose of non-poetic "funny man" for so many years). The respect for learning in Canada had as a negative result -a rather pretenious erudite style, even in the semi-learned.

The combination of bookshop, printing establishment and newspaper office in small towns and in the rising cities continued to be another channel through which Lowland ideas were diffused. The Canadian Monthly and National Review, for instance, so powerful an intellectual influence, was the brain child of a Scot, Graeme Mercer Adam. Associated in this enterprise as in so many of national importance was Stevenson; the printers were Hunter and Rose. (George McLean Hunter had moved into this venture from earlier work with the Montreal Witness.) The great city journals continued to be dominated by Scottish Canadians like George Brown of the Globe, David Chisholme of the Montreal Gazette, Dr. A.J. Christie who went from the Gazette to the Canadian Magazine, and John Ross Robertson of the Toronto Telegram. In smaller centres, from a profusion of Scottish names one might select Thomas McQueen of the God-erich Huron Signal, James Innis of the Guelph Mercury, James Somerville of the Ayr Observer, Robert Sellar of the Huntingdon (Que.) Gleaner. Histories of Canadian journals sound like a directory of Aberdeen or Glasgow: Hugh Scobie, Hugh Graham, J.A. Macdonald, David Creighton - the Lowland names are legion.

Domination over politics was another means by which Scottish cultural values were made to prevail in Canadian communities as the nineteenth century drew to its close. Traces of this bias appear in the whole spectrum of political life - a curious alternative to the story of Tammany domination in the United States, and without comparable undertones of corruption by an ethnic group.

Finally, the pressure of Scottish values can be seen in the English-Canadian view of history. In the first Makers of Canada Series, how many Scottish names appear among the historians, as well as among the men who "made" history! As Canada moved into the twentieth century, two massive studies summarized the effects of the Scot in this country: James Rattray's The Scot in British North America (1884) and W.W. Campbell's The Scotsmen in Canada (1911). Both authors catalogued Scottish success stories in every conceivable field; both also attempted to generalize on the Scottish qualities that emerged from these stories. Campbell specified elements dominant in Scottish character, and persistently successful in the Canadian scene: "dour, kindly, dignified, stubborn, strenuous." Daniel Clark, in Selections from Scottish-Canadian Poets, concocted another list: "reticent, slow, purposeful, philosophic, grim in humour, given to melancholy ... but preserving an inward chuckle." Both lists sum the Scottish strain in nineteenth century art and life.

In cultural terms, the story of the nineteenth century might now be summarized: an early direct imitation, followed by long continuance of Scottish themes and styles in the mid-century, and culminated by a late return to direct imitation. The Lowland stream had reached its fullest expression in Canadian art early, when Canadian conditions made its use possible, successful and satisfying. The Scottish stream became narrow and thin, but Canadians persisted in following a less-and-less appropriate tradition. By the end of the century Canadian writers, though refreshed by the facile flavour of the new sentimental and escapist Scottish art, wandered into an illusory land, a parched terrain. Yet the solider values of the earlier tradition remained powerful in Canadian folk and popular culture.


As the world moved towards World War I, no single new Scottish voice caught the Canadian ear. Writers and painters of the Celtic Renaissance such as "Fiona MacLeod" stirred little response. Duncan Campbell's "Piper of Arll" is probably the most important of Canadian attempts at the mystic qualities of the "Celtic twilight." Art nouveau prettiness and the swing into symbolism and fairy tale magic sat uneasily on Canadian poets. Perhaps Presbyterianism had established too strong a distrust of illogic, too great a defence against the luxury of stained glass, incense and jewelling. In Canadian symbolism when it did emerge, more important poetic influences were to be felt from American, Irish and English contemporaries, and from earlier poets like Donne and Blake.

Glasgow played its part in stirring the experiments of emerging Canadian painters of the '20s. William Cruikshank and William Wood are among many Scots who brought new infusions of talent in the early century, and one may speculate on the deep-grained effect of Scottish attitudes toward art on the life of Tom Thomson at Leith, and of others growing up in still-Scottish communities in rural Canada. But one would see this Scottish strain as very minor compared to Scandinavian, German, and French influences on the Group of Seven and their successors in Canadian art.

In less serious art terms, the same diminution of influence appears. In escapist fiction, although some Scottish novelists have been very popular (notably John Buchan and A.J. Cronin, and more recently Michael Innis, J.I.M. Stewart) the days of dominance seem over. Modern historical novelists such as Neil Munro, James Lorimer and D.T.H. McLellan have made little impact. The genre has remained popular with Canadian writers like Thomas Costain and Thomas Raddall, however, and perhaps the Scottish flavour in these Canadian names suggests that this is one of many examples of a different growth, but from a common root - the old Scott tradition.

Similarly, Scottish dialect humorists such as Eric Linklater have had little sale, now that the Scottish rhythm and localisms are no longer familiar (in the literal sense of family nearness) to Canadian ears. But Canadian writers as diverse as Earle Birney and Sheila Watson still catch the flavour of dialect for ironic effect - a persistence of the old near-scientific pleasure in linguistic oddities.

The literature most controversial in modern Scotland has fostered little following in Canada. We have found our own forms of irony, of irreverence, of radicalism; but we have not followed the lines of George Brown or "Hugh MacDiarmid " or Louis MacNeice. We have had innovative political movements but they have not shown much debt to Dr. Grieve's form of nationalism or communism. We have had our own kind of reaction a-gainst the regional idyll, in writers like Ernest Buckler, Margaret Laurence, and Sinclair Ross, but the reaction shows little trace of being aroused by Brown's The House with the Green Shutters. Canadian poets have danced mockingly around our own "blasted pine," but the ironists like A.J.M. Smith and Frank Scott show little affinity with MacNeice, though they may be echoing the essence of his cry, "It's no go the gossip column, it's no go the Ceilidh."

Now Buckler grew up in Dalhousie West, Nova Scotia; Margaret Laurence's Neepawa was Scottish-founded and Scottish-dominated; and Sinclair Ross and Frank Scott bear testimony to the Scottish influence in their very names. But the range in ethnic backgrounds of contemporary Canadian writers is actually very great. The Canadians who have achieved "best seller" status include Pierre Berton, Morley Callaghan, Leonard Cohen, Robertson Davies, Margaret Laurence, W.O. Mitchell, Hugh MacLennan, and Mordecai Richler. Even so condensed a list suggests how little the contemporary Canadians can be said to follow a subsidiary stream from a Scottish source. Yet Klein, Layton, Gustafson, Cohen - as well as Ross, MacLennan, and Graeme Gibson - seem most Canadian when they strike notes closest to the Lowland strain. Love of home, tenderness for children, combined with dour recognition of the "cauld blast" in the universe, and a self-mocking reductiveness - these qualities remain strong in most major Canadian artists. For even when the Lowland groups no longer predominate at immigration points, and even when Lowland names no longer sound most persistently in the roll call of poets, novelists, essayists, journalists, painters, musicians, architects and sculptors, values and tastes which we recognize as Scottish still permeate Canadian life and art.

Love of the land is still a major theme. This is not a paradisal land, but it is a land that can be tamed and possessed. It appears still in terms Burns would recognize. Grove, Ostenso, Buckler, and Laurence anatomize the hard work, frugality and independence of Canadian farm life in ironic terms. Realistic animal stories also persist: a direct line seems to run from Burns to C.G.D. Roberts to Farley Mowat, in tenderness, humour and sympathy, presenting honest encounters with our "fellow mortals." Irreverence and impropriety, also taken from Burns's book, mark contemporary love songs, but in Canadian lyrics the other strand of Burns's manner persists also - tenderness, gentleness, sentiment.

Dualistic psychology, which critics of literature see as characteristic of the Scottish outlook, still dominates Canadian novels. Critics have attributed Scott's double focus - on genteel hero and pawky follower - to the divided loyalty of the Scot, the sense of Highland and Lowland alternatives, or to a Calvinist sense of duality. Critics have added Stevenson's dichotomies - Jekyll and Hyde, David and Alan - to the dualistic scheme. If such dualism is indeed peculiarly Scottish, it has been thoroughly adopted in Canada. In MacLennan's The Watch that Ends the Night George and Jerome offer such a double focus; the twin theme recurs in Buckler's David and Anna in The Mountain and The Valley; and one might add for an obviously non-Scottish Canadian example the double hero-villain of Cohen's Beautiful Losers. Such a duality appropriately represents the bicultural strains in Canada, just as it once reflected the double culture of Scotland.

Today, Canadians dream of a flowering of native literature. Our situation is not unlike that in Scotland in the opening years of the nineteenth century, a time of frustration because of economic and cultural encroachments by a rich and powerful neighbour, and of determination to resist "cultural imperialism" by rediscovering national essences. Lockhart in those days exhorted his fellow Scots, in terms that could be modified to fit Canadian needs:

Scotland should learn to consider her own national character as a mine of intellectual wealth, which remains in a great measure unexplored .....She should by no means regard English literature as an expression of her mind, or as superseding the examination of what intellectual resources remain unemployed within her own domains.

Adapting this exhortation to Canadian terms, we might suggest that Canadian culture may now. be ready to free itself from dependence on any imported models as a "mine of intellectual wealth," or "expression... mind." We may also however further explore the notion that many of our "intellectual resources" remain as a naturalized form of Scottish values. These values are powerful here both as a heritage from a day when Scottish threads were the strongest inweavings of the Canadian fabric, and also as a continuing, inevitable and appropriate response to an environment similar to Scotland in geographic forms, in climate, and in politico-sociological structures.

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