Letter from Harry Bruce to Véhicule Press
October 24, 2002

My father died in Toronto, where he had lived for most of the previous four decades, on December 19, 1971. He was only 65. He was not bitter in his last months, but I believe he was disappointed by the decline in his reputation--as both poet and novelist--that had set in as the CanLit movement gathered force in central Canada during the 1960s. Not too many years after he died, a new Oxford collection of Canadian verse published poems by more than 100 Canadians. He was not among them. I was furious, and said so in a piece for the Toronto Star.

I am so used to thinking of him as a great poet, and so familiar with his poems, that I have never thought of him as "forgotten," but of course I'm his son. The unfair truth is that, even when he was alive, appreciation of his work was fading all across Canada, and in recent years he has indeed become a forgotten contributor to the long development of Canadian literature. I think he knew this would happen, and hoped against hope that some day, long after he was gone, someone who understood his craft would stumble on his work, and once again show it to the world.

On his behalf, I say, "Thank you."

Born in Toronto, I moved to Nova Scotia with my own young family in 1971, and although my wife and I now live mostly in Moncton, we own the seaside homestead in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, where my father was born, and we spend several months there every year. We regard it as our true home, just as I think my father did during all the years he worked by day as a news executive for Canadian Press in Toronto, and in the evenings and on weekends up there, wrote the poems that, 31 years after his death, so excited Michael Harris.


Harry Bruce

Halifax, Nova Scotia.