Lorne Pierce (1890–1961) devoted his life to the promotion of Canadian literature. As an ordained minister; founding member of the Canadian Authors Association, the Bibliographical Society of Canada, and the Art Gallery of Ontario; member of the Champlain Society and the Arts and Letters Club; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; literary executor for the poet Bliss Carman; private book collector and editor of the Ryerson Press from 1920 to 1960, Dr. Pierce had a broad knowledge of Canadian history, culture and the book industry. He knew many of the early Canadian poets and novelists and was eager to build a strong Canadian collection at his alma mater.
Pierce began to donate books to Queen’s in 1928, established an endowed fund for the future development of holdings, and bequeathed his personal library and papers—including his correspondence as editor of Ryerson Press—to the university. Since then, Queen’s curators, archivists, and faculty working in the area of Canadian Studies have built on this strong base.
When Special Collections was established, Dr. Pierce’s gifts formed the nucleus of what became known as the Edith and Lorne Pierce Collection of Canadiana. The literary component of the collection includes the works of poets and authors Bliss Carman, Major John Richardson, Charles G. D. Roberts,William Kirby, Archibald Lampman, Thomas Chandler Haliburton, and F. P. Grove and incorporates a number of literary sub-collections including the libraries of writers John Glassco, George Whalley, Mazo de la Roche, and F. R. Scott.
Over the same period, one of the largest collections of literary papers in Canada has been developed by Queen’s University Archives, beginning with the gift of the Lorne Pierce Papers. Nearly every Canadian literary figure of note for the period 1920 to 1960 is represented by at least some manuscript material in the collection. Highlights include the letters and manuscripts of William Wilfred Campbell, John Richardson,William Kirby,Wilson Macdonald, Charles G. D. Roberts, and Marjorie Pickthall. Also represented are the papers of Raymond Knister, Duncan Campbell Scott, Archibald Lampman, Camille Roy, Stephen Leacock, Marius Barbeau, Earle Birney, A. J. Pratt, and Al Purdy along with some papers of the artists J. E. H. Macdonald, A. Y. Jackson, C.W. Jeffreys, and Thoreau Macdonald. This invaluable resource for the study of Canadian literature has been supplemented with numerous collections in recent years—including George Woodcock, Al Purdy, Hugh Garner, Dorothy Livesay, Ralph Gustafson, the Oberon Press fonds, and a large portion of the Bliss Carman fonds. The collection was enriched in 1989 when Beth Pierce Robinson, Lorne Pierce’s daughter, donated a collection of correspondence, subject files, material relating to Canadian writers, photographs, and writings of her father.
The Canadiana collections held in the Jordan Library and the University Archives have been recognized as among the best in the world. These collections support and stimulate research to the post-doctoral level, as well as garnering interest from other parts of Canada and abroad.
Collection Profile and Overview: Barbara Teatero and Heather Home
Illustrations: Derek Cooper