by George J. Dance

Compass reading

Goodridge MacDonald (1897-1967), Compass Reading, and others, 1957. Courtesy Internet Archive.

Goodridge MacDonald
Born Cuthbert Goodridge MacDonald
May 10, 1897
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Died January 9, 1967 (aged 69)
Occupation journalist, editor
Nationality Canadian
Education high school
Alma mater Nelson High School
Relative(s) Charles G.D. Roberts, uncle
Jane Elizabeth MacDonald, mother

Cuthbert Goodridge MacDonald (May 10, 1897 - January 9, 1967) was a Canadian poet who worked as a journalist, editor, and freelance writer.


MacDonald was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to Samuel Archibald Roberts MacDonald, a druggist, and Jane Elizabeth MacDonald, the sister of Confederation Poet Sir Charles G.D. Roberts and a poet in her own right.[1]

MacDonald moved with his family in 1912 to Nelson, British Columbia, where he attended Nelson High School; to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1914; then, after his parents separated, to Ottawa with his mother in 1915.[1]

World War I was raging at that time, and after a brief stint in the civil service, MacDonald enlisted in 1916. He served in France with the Queen's Field Ambulance, Canadian Expeditionary Force, in 1917 and 1918. He was honorably discharged due to poor health.[1] His first chapbook of poetry, Armageddon, and other poems, was published in 1917.[2]

After the war MacDonald worked as a freelance journalist. By 1925 "he was working for the Montreal Herald and rose to become its associate editor."[2] The Herald was "a prominent newspaper that supported the British constitution," which "served as a voice for well educated British men and expressed ideals that reiterated liberal fundamentals. Its principles aligned exactly with MacDonald's Catholic upbringing and the importance of the arts as emphasized by his family."[1]

MacDonald published infrequently in Canadian literary periodicals including a 1925 placement in the McGill Fortnightly Review. He did not publish another book of poetry, though, until 1946. He went on to publish 4 more volumes of poetry.[2]

MacDonald died in January 1967. He was cremated and his ashes buried in the family plot in Fredericton.[1]


On November 10, 1967, the University of New Brunswick held a memorial service for Goodridge MacDonald, at which "his poems and life were celebrated by numerous poets from Canada and the United States."[1]

His Selected Poems were issued in 1970, edited by R.G. Everson.[2]


The New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia (NBLE) characterizes MacDonald as a traditionalist writing in the style of the Confederation Poets: "his poetic style was similar to other poets in his family. His verse is technically proficient and emotionally powerful. As with many poets of the same period, his poetry is romantic, conservative, pastoral, and written in traditional metre and form."[1]

Against that assessment, though, stands the fact of MacDonald's publication in the űber-modernist McGill Fortnightly Review. Anthologist Brian Trehearne argued in 2010 that MacDonald in his later works was a thorough modernist: "MacDonald commanded a terse, wry modernist style as current and pungent as that of any of the younger poets of the postwar period."[2]

It is inarguable that, like his family, MacDonald wrote much nature poetry. As the NBLE notes: "Many of his poems delight in the natural wonders of New Brunswick and the Atlantic Provinces, such as the poems 'By St. Margaret's Bay' and 'Inlets and Mirrors,' which describes the Digby [Nova Scotia] shore."[1]




  • "Equestrians in the Spring Night," "The Mocking," "For You are a Legion," Canadian Poetry 1920 to 1960, (edited by Brian Trehearne). Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1910, 379-382.[2] ISBN 0771086318.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy St. Thomas University.[1]

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Laura Houlihan, "Cuthbert Goodridge MacDonald," New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia, St. Thomas University,, Web, June 11, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Brian Trehearne, "Goodridge MacDonald", Canadian Poetry 1920 to 1960 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1910), 379-382, Google Books, Web, June 11, 2011.

External linksEdit

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