PRATT, E.J.




Author Tags: Poetry

In his attempt to fashion an epic poem about the creation of a cross-Canada railroad line, Newfoundland-born E.J. Pratt, as a professor at the University of Toronto, published his "verse panorama," Towards the Last Spike (Toronto: Macmillan, 1952), a book-length poem of praise that covers the period from the Terms of Union in 1870 to the driving of the last spike at Craigellachie in Eagle Pass, British Columbia, on November 7, 1885. While concentrating on the plethora of Scottish Canadian characters ("Oatmeal was in their blood and in their veins"), including financiers and politicians, Pratt ascribes a maidenly role to Canada's western-most province. He likens British Columbia to a lady who must choose between her sailor-lover, California, and her long-distance wooer, Sir John A. Macdonald. The somewhat fickle maid forsakes Alexander Mackenzie, her initial suitor, but ties the knot with Macdonald when Donald A. Smith (Lord Stratchona) drives the last spike. The Scot wins.

[BCBW 2005] "Poetry"