by George J. Dance


Katherine Hale (1878-1956) in Canadian Singers and their Songs, 1919. Courtesy Internet Archive.

Katherine Hale
Hale in Canadian Poets, 1916.
Born Amelia Beers Warnock
Died September 7, 1956
Nationality Canada Canadian
Alma mater Miss Veal's School
Notable work(s) The Island, and other poems
Spouse(s) John Garvin

Katherine Hale was the pen name of Amelia Beers Warnock (1878 - September 7, 1956), who found success as a Canadian poet and critic.


Warnock was born in 1878 in Galt (now Cambridge), Ontario, the daughter of Katherine Hale Byard of Mobile, Alabama, and James Warnock of Kilmarnock, Scotland. She was educated in Galt and at Miss Veal's School in Toronto, later continuing her education in New York City.[1]

In her youth Hale wanted to be an opera singer. As a student in New York she began writing articles on Wagnerian opera, which she sent to The Mail and Empire in Toronto. The paper not only printed her work, but later hired her as its editor of 'Contemporary Literature.'[1]

Hale became well known as a critic for the Mail and Empire, and also "developed recital and lecture work, which is well and widely known."[1] In 1912 she married poet and editor John Garvin.[2]

In 1914, during the early days of World War I, Hale published her first poetry collection, Grey Knitting, a book of war poems. The volume was widely praised, and "a number of the most encouraging criticisms were written by English and American reviewers. It is also noticeable that the small brochure ran into four editions of a thousand each, before it had been on the market for six weeks."[1]

Grey Knitting was followed by 2 more books of war poetry: The White Comrade in 1916, and The New Joan in 1917. All 3 books achieved popular success, establishing Hale's reputation as a poet.[2]

Hale's 1923 collection, Morning in the West, was praised by Charles G.D. Roberts and others. "Verily, Lady Dear, I had not realized before how great your gift," Roberts wrote to her. "These lyrics grip & delight me. They are fresh & spontaneous & haunting." Also in 1923, critic J.D. Logan wrote in Highways of Canadian Literature that Hale's "new and distinct achievement" was her portrayal of "Canadian nature and civilization envisaged with a spiritual realism which has national perspective and native colour and atmosphere."[2]

In 1924 Hale published a book on Isabella Valancy Crawford, as part of the Makers of Canada series published by Ryerson Press, which included a bibliography, selections from Crawford's verse, and an "Appreciation" written by Hale.[2]

Hale's 1934 collection, The Island, and other poems, was positively reviewed by Saturday Night, and won praise from Lotta Dempsey in a 1948 essay on Hale published in Leading Canadian Poets. However, according to Dempsey, "critics found a curious inability to dissect or explain" the poems in The Island, perhaps (noted anthologist Wanda Campbell) because the title poem is experimental in both form and content.[2]

Hale published a final collection of poetry in 1950, The Flute, and other poems, which included only 3 new poems. She also wrote several works of prose on aspects of Ontario and Canadian history.[2]

Hale died on September 7, 1956. She was buried in the city celebrated in her last, posthumously published book: Toronto: Romance of a great city.[2]


Hale's poem "In the Trenches" was set to music by Gina Branscombe.[1]

8 of her poems were included in Garvin's 1916 anthology, Canadian Poets.[1]




  • Dear Lad o'Mine (with music by Gena Branscombe). Arthur P. Schmidt, 1915.


  • Canadian Cities of Romance. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1922.
  • Isabella Valancy Crawford. Toronto: Ryerson (Makers of Canadian Literature), 1923.
  • Canadian Houses of Romance. Toronto: Macmillan, 1926.
  • Legends of the Saint Lawrence. Montreal: Canadian Pacific Railway, 1926.
  • Pierre Esprit Radisson. Toronto: Ryerson, [192-?]
  • Jeanne Mance. Toronto: Ryerson, 1930.
  • This is Ontario. Toronto: Ryerson, 1937.
  • Historic Houses of Canada. Toronto: Ryerson, 1952.
  • Toronto: Romance of a great city. Toronto: Cassell, 1956.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 John W. Garvin, "Katherine Hale," Canadian Poets (Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1916), 324. A Celebration of Women Writers,, Web, June, 19, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Wanda Campbell, "Katherine Hale", Hidden Rooms: Early Canadian women poets (London, ON: Canadian Poetry Press, 2000). UWO, Web, June 19, 2011.
  3. Search results = au:Katherine Hale, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Sep. 6, 2014.

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