ALFRED GOLDSWORTHY BAILEY, historian, poet, man of letters (b at Québec City 18 Mar 1905; d at Fredericton 21 Apr 1997). Bailey was educated at University of New Brunswick, University of Toronto and the London School of Economics, and led a life of scholarship and academic endeavour which took him from the New Brunswick Museum to UNB where he served, variously, as professor of history, dean of arts and vice-president, academic. He was best known for The Conflict of European and Eastern Algonkian Cultures, 1504-1700: A Study in Canadian Civilization (1937).
Bailey’s first collection of verse, Songs of the Saguenay (1927), was privately issued at Québec, and showed him, both in this collection and in Tao (1930), as a young craftsman of a traditional persuasion. In Fredericton he moved in literary circles and helped to establish the little magazine, The Fiddlehead. In 1952 he published Border River, a collection which was more modern in tone and freer in form. His collected poetry, Miramichi Lightning (1981), showed the closing of the circle of Bailey’s growth and development as a poet.
From conservative beginnings that echoed strongly the romantic tones of late 19th-century verse, Bailey evolved into a contemporary poet whose statement was full of the surrounding reality, whose voice is, at times, deceptively subdued but whose imagination ranged widely and wisely. In 1972 he published a collection of his essays, Culture and Nationality, which further confirmed his role of cultural historian. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Cover artwork by Pamela Forster