Author Tags: Poetry, Sports

A fixture in the Victoria literary scene since 1974, Doug Beardsley is a poet who collaborated with Al Purdy on two non-fiction titles -- one about about D.H. Lawrence and the other about John Donne -- and he corresponded with Montreal poet Irving Layton for 35 years. Beardsley also wrote Country on Ice, an analytical book that celebrates hockey as an essential component of Canadian culture, and he has edited anthologies pertaining to hockey. He began teaching at the University of Victoria in 1981.

Born in Montreal on April 27, 1941, Beardsley earned a Bachelorís degree in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria and a Masterís degree in English from York University. Long active in a variety of sports as a coach and a player, Beardsley also played drums in a jazz trio. He has lectured and taught at the University of Dijon, the University of Bordeaux, Victoria Indian Cultural Centre and the University of Victoria. Beardsley has also worked as an editor and assistant editor at The Tribal News in Victoria and The English Quarterly at York University. Since 1985 he has been involved in writing and editing with Beardsley and Associates in Victoria. His works have been widely anthologized, he was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 1989 and trees were planted in Israel in 1996 in recognition of his services to Holocaust remembrance and education.

Swimming With Turtles: Spirit of Place (Thistledown $17.95), Doug Beardsley's collection of contemplative narrative poems, was inspired by several sea voyages in the Carribenan, the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.



Country On Ice (Polestar Books, 1987)
No One Else Is Lawrence! (Harbour, 1998). With Al Purdy.


The Rocket, The Flower, The Hammer, and Me (Polestar Books, 1988)
Our Game: An All-Star Collection of Hockey Fiction (Polestar Books, 1997)
The Man Who Outlived Himself: An Appreciation of John Donne, a dozen of his best poems (Harbour Publishing, 2000). Edited with Al Purdy.


Going Down Into History (Oolichan Books, 1976)
The Only Country in the World Called Canada (Sesame Press, 1976)
Six Saanich Poems (Victoria Indian Cultural Education Centre, 1977)
Play on the Water: The Paul Klee Poems (Press Porcepic, 1978)
Premonition & Gifts (Privately printed, 1979). With Theresa Kishkan
Poems (Islomane Press, 1979). With Charles Lillard
Pacific Sands (League of Canadian Poets, 1980) - pamphlet
Kissing the Body of my Lord: The Marie Poems (Longspoon Press, 1982)
A Dancing Star (Thisteldown, 1988)
Free to Talk (Victoria: Hawthorne Press, 1992)
Inside Passage (Thistledown, 1993)
Wrestling With Angels: New & Selected Poems, 1960-1995 (Signal Editions, 1996)
Swimming with Turtles: Spirit of Place (Thistledown 2014) $17.95 978-1-927068-87-8

[BCBW 2014] "Poetry" "Sports"

Country on Ice

ďDespite the attempts of B.C. to be the Hawaii of Canada," says Doug Beardsley, author of Country on Ice (Polestar $19.95), "we've had a considerable impact on the national game."

Many of the modern rules of ice hockey--introduction of blue lines, putting numbers on players' backs, changing players on the fly--were in fact mulled over and decided at the home of the legendary Patrick family in Victoria. During the 1920's the Patricks established the Western Hockey League and built the first two artificial ice rinks in Canada, in Victoria and Vancouver.

Like the Patricks, Beardsley hails from Montreal, having passed his boyhood winters on outdoor rinks. In recent years he has been collecting information about hockey and "looking at the Canadian soul in Robertson Davies' fashion- to see what we're all about," using hockey as the prism for his views. Some of his reflections will alter the way Canadians look at and think about the game.

Country on Ice claims hockey is actually much less violent than it has been in the past. "There were four deaths in the game on the ice in 1904," says Beardsley, "Gretzky says he wouldn't have played in the NHL twenty or thirty years ago.

"It's just that we talk a lot more about the violence in hockey now because we see it as symbolic of the kind of aggressive behaviour that could snuff out the planet."

As well, Beardsley maintains the infusion of foreign players is a bad thing for Canadian self-esteem. "It's a very Canadian attitude not to have enough confidence in our own product so that we have to open it up to foreigners.

"Gretzky often plays on a line with a couple of Finns. It's part of our second-rate mentality that we think nothing of this."

A chapter on The Business of Hockey describes how expansion into American territory and American entrepreneurial spirit have affected the game and our perceptions of it. The Sound of Hockey examines the difference between hearing the game on radio and seeing it on television. A seminal chapter looks at the joy of shinny, including off-ice versions of pick-up hockey.

"The Canadian psyche ends up looking remarkably like a beat-up puck,"
says Peter Newman of Beardsley's book. With 40 other hockey books listed in the bibliography, plus examinations of the seven modern players who have raised hockey to new heights, Country on Ice is one of the most in-depth attempts to articulate the relationship between hockey and Canada.

"The country is still linked by 700,000 hockey rinks right across the country," says Beardsley, "If you live in the big urban centres these days you might not feel that hockey is still a unifying symbol.

"But very few guys in the NHL come from the big cities anyway. They come from places like Camrose and Nelson and Medicine Hat and Flin Flon and Chicoutimi. In those places the small community hockey rink is still like a church."

[BCBW Spring 1987]