by George J. Dance


F.R. Scott (1899-1985) in 1948. Courtesy Library and Archives Canada/PA-1162815 & the Canadian Encyclopedia.

F.R. Scott
Born Francis Reginald Scott
August 1, 1899
Died January 30, 1985
Language English
Nationality Canadian
Citizenship British subject
Education Doctor of Law
Alma mater McGill University
Genres poetry, nonfiction
Literary movement Montreal Group
Notable work(s) Collected Poems (1981), Essays on the Constitution
Notable award(s) Governor General's Award, Lorne Pierce Medal, FRSC
Spouse(s) Marion Dale Scott

Francis Reginald Scott, CC (August 1, 1899 - January 30, 1985) was a Canadian poet, academic, and constitutional expert. He won Canada's top literary prize, the Governor General's Award, twice, for poetry and for non-fiction.

Life Edit

Scott was born in Quebec City, Quebec, the 6th of 7 children. His father was Frederick George Scott, "an Anglican priest, minor poet and staunch advocate of the civilizing tradition of imperial Britain, who instilled in his son a commitment to serve mankind, a love for the regenerative balance of the Laurentian landscape and a firm respect for the social order."[1] He witnessed the riots in the City during the Conscription Crisis of 1917.

Completing his undergraduate studies at Bishop's University, in Lennoxville, Quebec, Scott went on a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he was influenced by the Christian Socialist ideas of R.H. Tawney and the Student Christian Movement.

Scott returned to Canada, settled in Montreal, and studied law at McGill University, eventually joining the law faculty as a professor.

While at McGill Scott became a member of the Montreal Group of modernist poets, a circle that also included Leon Edel, John Glassco, and A.J.M. Smith.[2] Scott and Smith became lifelong friends.[1] Scott contributed to the McGill Daily Literary Supplement, which Smith edited; when that folded in 1925, he and Smith founded and edited the McGill Fortnightly Review. After the Review folded, Scott helped found, and briefly co-edited, The Canadian Mercury.[3]

Scott (assisted by Smith and Leo Kennedy) also anonymously edited the modernist poetry anthology New Provinces, in which he published ten poems), which was published in 1936.[4]

Claire Gillis, David Lewis, M.J.Coldwell c007253

Scott (right), as National Chairman of the CCF, with Party delegation attending the September 1944 Conference of Commonwealth Labour Parties in London, England. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Great Depression greatly disturbed Scott; he and historian Frank Underhill founded the League for Social Reconstruction (LSR) to advocate socialist solutions in a Canadian context. Through the LSR, Scott became an influential figure in the Canadian socialist movement. He was a founding member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and a contributor to that Party's Regina Manifesto. He also wrote a book advocating Social Planning for Canada, 1935.[1]

Scott was elected national chairman of the CCF in 1942, and would serve until 1950.[1]

In March 1942 Scott co-founded a literary magazine, Preview, with Montreal poet Patrick Anderson. Like the earlier Montreal Group publications, "Preview's orientation was cosmopolitan; its members looked towards the English modernist poets for inspiration."[5]

In 1950-1951 Scott cofounded Recherches sociales, a study group concerned with the French/English relationship. He began translating French-Canadian poetry.[1]

In 1952 he was a United Nations technical assistant in Burma, helping to build a socialist state in that country.[1] During the 1950s, Scott was an active opponent of the Maurice Duplessis regime in Quebec, and went to court to fight the Padlock Law. He also represented Frank Roncarrelli, a Jehovah's Witness, in Roncarelli v. Duplessis all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, a court battle that Maurice Duplessis lost.

Scott began translating French-Canadian poetry, publishing Anne Hébert and Saint-Denys Garneau in 1962. He edited Poems of French Canada (1977), which won the Canada Council prize for translation.

The Poetry of F.R

The Poetry of F.R. Scott - Film, Literature & the New World Order

Scott served as dean of law at McGill University from 1961 to 1964 and served on the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. In 1970 he was offered a seat in the Canadian Senate by Pierre Trudeau but declined the appointment. He did, however, support Trudeau's imposition of the War Measures Act during the October Crisis that same year.

Scott opposed Quebec's Bill 22 and Bill 101 which established the province within its jurisdiction as an officially unilingual state within an officially bilingual country.

He was married to Marian Dale Scott, an important Canadian modernist painter. Their son, Peter Dale Scott, also became a poet and academic.

On his death in 1985, Frank Scott was buried in Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal.


The Royal Society of Canada elected him a Fellow in 1947, and awarded him its Lorne Pierce Medal in 1962.[6]

He won the Molson Prize in 1967.[6]

Scott won the 1977 Governor General's Award for non-fiction for his Essays on the Constitution and the 1981 Governor General's Award for poetry for his Collected Poems.[6]

He was the subject of a 1982 National Film Board biography, F.R. Scott: Rhyme and reason.[7]

Leonard Cohen added music to Scott's villanelle, "A Villanelle for Our Time", and recorded it on his album Dear Heather.

Scott is the subject of a number of critical works, as well as a major biography, The Politics of the Imagination: A life, by Sandra Djwa.




  • Social Reconstruction and the B.N.A. Act. Toronto: Nelson, 1934.
  • Labour Conditions in the Men's Clothing Industry (with Harry M. Cassidy). Toronto: Institute of Pacific Relations / Nelson, 1935.
  • Social Planning for Canada. Toronto: Nelson, 1935; Toronto & Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1975.
  • Canada Today: A study of her national interests and national policy. London, Toronto, & New York: Oxford University Press, 1938.
  • Canada and the United States. Boston: World Peace Foundation, 1941.
  • Make This Your Canada: A Review of C.C.F. History and Policy - 1943 (with David Lewis). Toronto [Central Canada Publishing, 1943.
  • Cooperation for What? United States and British Commonwealth. New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1944.
  • The World War Against Poverty: Essays (with R.A. MacKay & A.E. Ritchie). Toronto: Royal Society of Canada / University of Toronto Press, 1953.
  • The World's Civil Service. New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1954.
  • What Does Labour Need in a Bill of Rights? Summary of a paper delivered at the Atlantic Provinces Labour Institute. Halifax, NS: Dalhousie Labour-University Committee, Institute of Public Affairs, Dalhousie University, 1959.
  • The Canadian Constitution and Human Rights. Toronto: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1959.
  • Civil Liberties and Canadian Federalism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press / Carleton University Press, 1959. w
  • Dialogue sur la traduction: à propos du Tombeau des rois (with Anne Hebert). Saint-Laurent, QC: Bibliothèque québécoise, 2000.
  • Essays on the Constitution: Aspects of Canadian law and politics. Toronto & Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1977.
  • A New Endeavour: Selected political essays, letters, and addresses (edited by Michiel Horn). Toronto & Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1986. ISBN 0-8020-6603-8


  • St-Denys Garneau & Anne Hebert: Translations = Traductions. Vancouver: Klanak Press, 1962.
  • Poems of French Canada. Burnaby, BC: Blackfish Press, 1977.


  • New Provinces: Poems of Several Authors. Macmillan of Canada, 1936.[8]
  • The Blasted Pine: An anthology of satire, invective and disrespectful verse (edited with A.J.M. Smith). Toronto: Macmillan, 1957.
  • Quebec States Her Case: Speeches and articles from Quebec in the years of unrest (edited with Michael K. Oliver). Toronto: Macmillan, 1964.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[9]

Audio / videoEdit

Leonard Cohen - Villanelle For Our Time

Leonard Cohen - Villanelle For Our Time

Except where noted, discographical information courtesy the University of Toronto.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Keith Richardson, "Scott, Francis Reginald (Frank)," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 1961, Print.
  2. Dean Irvine, "Montreal Group," Oxford Companion to Canadian History., Web, March 25, 2011.
  3. Dean Irvine, "Montreal Group," Encyclopedia of Canadian History, Web, March 15, 2011.
  4. Michael Gnarowski, "New Provinces: Poems of Several Authors," Canadian Encyclopedia (Hurtig: Edmonton, 1988), 1479.
  5. George Woodcock, "Northern Review," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 1515.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "F.R. Scott: Biography," Canadian Poetry Online, University of Toronto. Web, March 21, 2011.
  7. F.R. Scott: Rhyme and reason], National Film Board of Canada. Web, Feb. 20, 2017.
  8. "F.R. Scott: Publications," Canadian Poetry Online,, Web, May 7, 2011.
  9. Search results = au:F.R. Scott, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Feb. 6, 2015.
  10. "F.R. Scott: Publications," Canadian Poetry Online,, Web, May 7, 2011.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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