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#199 Alfred Bailey: The Fiddlehead Founder

October 19, 2009

BP: The Alfred G. Bailey Auditorium, at Tilley Hall, UNB, Fredericton, NB

FiddleheadOn the title page of every issue of The Fiddleheadone of Canada’s best literary magazinescan be found this prose snippet from Alfred Bailey, originally printed in the debut 1945 issue:

“…a fiddlehead, that small plant that grows in the Saint John River valley in the spring, and which is said to be symbolic of the sun.”

Bailey had a long academic career at the University of New Brunswick and is considered by many to an iconic figure in New Brunswick literary history. 

M. Travis Lane, in an article for the journal Canadian Poetry, has quoted and commented on the haunting Bailey stanza that includes the lines:

unless they could make utterance
of the holy names
there would be no way out
and no end of the night county
(From “Night Country,” Miramichi Lightning: The Collected Poems of Alfred Bailey, 1981)

Bailey’s last book, the elementally-named The Sun, the Wind, The Summer Field, appeared in 1996.


The Alfred G. Bailey Auditorium, at Tilley Hall, UNB, Fredericton, NB;      

Songs of the Saguenay, and Other Poems. Quebec: Chronicle-Telegraph Pub. Co. 1927.
Tâo. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1930.
Border River. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1952.
Thanks For A Drowned Island. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1973.
Miramichi Lightning: The Collected Poems of Alfred Bailey. Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1981.
The Sun, the Wind, the Summer Field. Fredericton: Goose Lane, 1996.


#200 David Dunlap: The Man Who Wrote Shahwandahgooze

October 13, 2009

Shahwandahgooze Days

BP: David Dunlap Observatory Park, Richmond Hill, ON

My candidate for all-time best Canadian book title.

David Dunlap’s only book, Shahwandahgooze Days, was published in 1925. It’s a collection of poems and ephemeral scribblings influenced by his real life trips into the wilderness with famous Canadian painters. And the cover was done by a young Thoreau MacDonald, his first book-length work of illustrations.

Since only a couple hundred copies were printed, Shahwandahgooze Days, is exceedingly rare. Online, copies can go for $200 or more. You can also read the recently digitized version from the National Library for free.

Best stanza from the book:
Into the night they went, silent and lone,
Where the half-moon shed its murky light on
Leaf and cone.
(From Shahwandahgooze Days, by David A. Dunlap, 1925)


David Dunlap Observatory Park, Richmond Hill, ON
David Dunlap Observatory, Richmond Hill, ON
David Dunlap Circle, Toronto, ON

Shahwandahgooze days; by David A. Dunlap “Sip-Him-Dew-Dave”; illus. by Thoreau MacDonald. Toronto: D.A. Dunlap, Printed at Warwick Brothers & Rutter, 1925.