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John Reade fonds (P140)

1874-1918. - 24 cm of textual records.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

John Reade (1837-1919), educator, minister of the Anglican Church, journalist, poet and essayist, was born in Ireland on 13 November 1837 at Ballyshannon. He emigrated to Canada with his parents in 1856 and quietly became involved in the local literary scene, helping to found the Montreal Literary Magazine. After briefly studying law, he was named director of Lachute College, where he studied theology. He was then ordained a minister of the Anglican Church in 1865 and took up his ministry in Mascouche from 1865 to 1866, moving to Mansonville in 1867. However, he was forced to take early retirement because of ill health.

He returned to Montréal in 1868 and in 1870 was named the literary editor of the Montreal Gazette, a position he held for more than 40 years. Very well known for his weekly column "Old and New," he also wrote editorials, articles and other items.

Reade was a member of numerous learned societies: The Royal Society of Canada, of which he was one of the first members; the Canadian arm of the American Folk-Lore Society, of which he was a founding member; the Société littéraire et historique de Québec; the Society of Canadian Literature and the Society for Historical Studies, for both of which he served as president; and the Royal Society of Literature of the United Kingdom. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 1906.

In addition to his journalism, John Reade also published numerous poems, essays, translations and short pieces in a variety of magazines. In 1870, he published his only volume of poetry, The Prophecies of Merlin and Other Poems, which was steeped in Victorian romanticism. A commemorative review of his career, John Reade and His Friends, was published in 1925. His friend William Douw Lighthall wrote that Reade was "one of the chief figures in Canadian literature, and probably the sweetest poet." John Reade died on 26 March 1919 in Montréal. He had never married.

Scope and Content:

This fonds deals with the literary, journalistic and personal activities of John Reade. It consists mainly of correspondance received by Reade from various sources, namely, personalities such as Dr. Maude Abbott, Édouard-Zotique Massicotte, David Ross McCord, William Douw Lighthall, Sir James McPherson Lemoine and Joseph Gould, among others. Also in the fonds are newspaper clippings such as a biographical piece on Reade, invitations and a notebook in which Reade pasted the published reviews of his volume of poetry, The Prophecies of Merlin.

The fonds is divided into the following series:

  • P240/A: Correspondance (1874-1918)
  • P240/B: Poetry
  • P240/C: Invitations
  • P240/D: Newspaper articles