John Robert Colombo in 2009. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

John Robert Colombo
Born March 24, 1936 (1936-03-24) (age 81)
Kitchener, Ontario Canada
Occupation Writer, folklorist, editor, public speaker, radio and television personality
Nationality Canada Canada
Period 1957-present
Genres Folkore, Science fiction, Poetry, Humour, Aphorisms, Reference, Quotations, Translations, Armorial bearing, Native studies, Almanac, Maps
Notable work(s)
Colombo's Canadian Quotations(Hurtig, 1974),
Colombo's Canadian References (Oxford, 1976)
The Monster Book of Canadian Monsters (BSDB, 2004),
1000 Questions about Canada (Hounslow, 2001)
Notable award(s) Harbourfront International Literary Award,
Honourary doctorate in literature by York University,
Member of the Order of Canada,
The Centennial Medal,
The Order of Cyril and Methodius (first class),
Esteemed Knight of Mark Twain,
A Fellow, Northrop Frye Centre, Victoria College, University of Toronto.
Spouse(s) Ruth Colombo
Children Three adult children

John Robert Colombo, CM (born March 24, 1936) is a Canadian poet, essayist, editor, and anthologist nationally known as the Master Gatherer. He is among the country's most prolific authors of serious books.



John Robert Colombo in 2009. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Columbo was born in Kitchener, Ontario.

He is the author or editor of over 200 books, best known as a writer and compiler of reference works and editor of anthologies pertaining to Canadian culture, history and geography, and the fields of lore and literature, science fiction, fantasy, and horror; his Other Canadas [1979] was the first anthology of Canadian fantastic literature, and established that the genre did exist with characteristic features. He also co-edited Not to Be Taken at Night [1982], the first anthology of Canadian fiction of horror and terror.

He was a charter member of Hydra North, the country's first association of SF professionals (founded by Judith Merril). He has been called "Canada's Mr. Mystery" for over 30 compilations of told-as-true Canadian ghost stories, beginning with Mysterious Canada (1978). Part of this work is "The Native Series" which consists of six volumes of Native lore including now-standard studies of the Windigo and the Shaking Tent mystery.

In the past he served as an editor or editorial consultant to The Ryerson Press, McClelland & Stewart, and other publishing houses. He is a member of the editorial board of the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, a reprint publisher of Canadiana and classic pulp fiction, and he is proprietor of his own publishing imprint, Colombo & Company.

Colombo's most famous works compile quotations by Canadians about all subjects and about Canada by non-Canadians, in a format similar to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. In this regard he has been called John "Bartlett" Colombo.

He has also been the country's most prolific compiler of told-as-true accounts of the supernatural and the paranormal, including ghost and UFO stories. He has written monographs on such parapsychological researchers as R.S. Lambert, George and Iris Owen, James Webb, and Denis Saurat (three volumes).

Colombo is a graduate of the University of Toronto in English and philosophy in 1959. He subsequently taught at Atkinson College and Glendon College, York University, Downsview, Ont., but is mainly known as an "editor-at-large."

An occasional contributor to newspapers and magazines as well as radio and television, he hosted the 6-part series Unexplained Canada on Space, which premiered in January 2006. He was chosen Humanist of the Year (2010) by the Humanist Association of Toronto.

Colombo has been a frequent commentator in the media. From 1990 to 2010 he led courses on presentation skills with Canada's "presentation guru," Peter Urs Bender, at the Canadian Management Centre, Toronto, Canada. Since the appearance of his three-volume collected poems in 2005, he has published each year a book-length selection of new poems that includes entries from his "dream diary."

Recognition Edit

He is a recipient of the Centennial Medal, the Order of Cyril and Methodius (1st class), the Harbourfront Literary Award, a D.Litt. from York University. and the Order of Canada.[1]


Main article: Bibliography of John Robert Colombo


  • Fragments. Kitchener, ON: privately published, 1957.
  • Incident for a Winter's Evening. Toronto: Hawkshead, [1960?]
  • Lines for the Last Day. Toronto: Hawkshead, 1960.
  • The Mackenzie Poems. Toronto: Swan, 1966.
  • Miraculous Montages. Don Mills, ON: Heinrich Heine Press, 1966.
  • The Great Wall of China: An entertainment. Montreal: Delta Canada, 1966.
  • William Lyon Mackenzie Rides Again!. Don Mills, ON: Guild of Hand Printers, 1967.
  • Abracadabra. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1967.
  • John Toronto. New poems. Ottawa: Oberon, 1969.
  • Neo Poems. Vancouver: Sono Nis Press, 1970.
  • The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1971.
  • Leonardo's Lists. Toronto: Weed / Flower Press, 1972.
  • Praise Poems. Toronto: Weed / Flower Press, 1972.
  • Translations from the English: Found poems. Toronto: P. Martin Associates, 1974.
  • The Sad Truths: New poems. Toronto & New York: P. Martin Associates, 1974.
  • The Great Collage. Toronto: privately published, 1974.
  • Proverbial Play. Toronto: Missing Link Press, 1975.
  • Mostly Monsters. Toronto: Hounslow, 1977; Toronto: Colombo, 1995.
  • Variable Cloudiness: New poems. Toronto: Hounslow, 1977.
  • Private Parts. Toronto: Hounslow, 1978.
  • The Great Cities of Antiquity. Toronto: Hounslow, 1979.
  • Recent Poems. Toronto: League of Canadian Poets, 1980.
  • Poems of the Inuit. Ottawa: Oberon, 1981.
  • Selected Poems. Windsor, ON: Black Moss, 1982.
  • Songs of the Indians. Ottawa: Oberon, 1983.
  • Off Earth: Poems and effects. Willowdale, ON: Hounslow, 1987.
  • Songs of the Great Land. Ottawa: Oberon, 1989.
  • The Mystery of the Shaking Tent. Toronto: Hounslow, 1993.
  • Luna Park: One thousand poems. Toronto: Hounslow, 1994.
  • Space Poems. Toronto: Colombo, 1995.
  • Earlier Lives: Old poems and new effects. Toronto: Colombo, 1996.
  • Contrails: New poems and new effects. Toronto: Colombo, 1996.
  • Ether: Oceans and emotions / Rewords: One thousand new poems. Toronto: Colombo, 1997.
  • What is What: New poems, new effects. Toronto: Colombo, 1998.
  • Interspaces: Some poems, some effects. Toronto: Columbo, 1999.
  • Impromptus: One thousand poems. Toronto: Colombo, 2000.
  • Half a World Away: Poems and effects. Toronto: Colombo, 2000.
  • Half Life: Poems and effects. Toronto: Colombo, 2002.
  • All the Poems of John Robert Colombo. (3 volumes), Shelburne, ON & Sauk City, WI: Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2005.
  • Autumn in August: Poems and effects. Toronto: Colombo, 2006.
  • Parts of the World: New poems and effects. Toronto: Colombo, 2007.
  • End Notes: Poems with effects. Toronto: Colombo, 2008.
  • A Far Cry. Toronto: Colombo, 2009.
  • End of Greatness. Toronto: Columbo, 2010.
  • Poems of Space and Time. Eugenia, ON: Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2010.
  • Entresol: Poems of 2010. Toronto: Colombo, 2011.


  • New Directions in Canadian Poetry. Toronto: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1971.
  • Omnium Gatherum: John Robert Colombo's biography. Toronto: Colombo, 1994.


  • Semi-Certainties: Some aphorisms of John Robert Colombo. Toronto: Colombo, 1998.
  • Open Secrets: Aphorisms of John Robert Colombo. Toronto: Colombo, 2000.
  • Briefs: Certain aphorisms of John Robert Colombo. Toronto: Colombo, 2001.
  • Personal Effects: New aphorisms of John Robert Columbo. Toronto: Colombo, 2003.
  • All the Aphorisms of JRC. Shelburne, ON: Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2006.
  • Indifferences: New aphorisms. Toronto: Colombo, 2009.
  • Imponderables. Toronto: Colombo, 2011.


  • Robert Zend, From Zero to One: Poems. Mission, BC: Sono Nis, 1973.
  • George Faludy, Learn this Poem of Mine by Heart: Sixty poems and one speech. Toronto: Hounslow, 1983.
  • Nicola Rousinoff, The Balkan Range: A Bulgarian reader. Toronto: Hounslow, 1986.
  • Richard Maurice Buck, The New Consciousness: Selected papers. Toronto: Colombo, 1994.
  • Sax Rohmer, The Wisdom of Sumuru & Tears of Our Lady by Sax Rohmer. Eugenia, ON: Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2010.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[2]

See alsoEdit

Poems of Space and Time - Part 1 of 309:56

Poems of Space and Time - Part 1 of 3


  1. Order of Canada citation
  2. Search results = au:John Robert Colombo, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, June 8, 2014.

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