Charles Clarke, Pen and Ink Warrior

Charles Clarke, Pen and Ink Warrior

Kenneth C. Dewar
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Charles Clarke, Pen and Ink Warrior
    Book Description:

    Equally involved in local affairs - from the Sons of Temperance to the Natural History Society - Clarke tirelessly promoted the natural beauties of Elora and tried to protect the environment of the Grand River gorge from the ravages of industry and human carelessness. Using Clarke's journalistic writings, his private diary, and a memoir he wrote later in life, Kenneth Dewar paints a vivid picture of Clarke's evolving sense of himself and his world in an age of profound transformation.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7015-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE The Falls of the Grand River
    (pp. 3-22)

    No place in Ontario appealed to the nineteenth-century Romantic sensibility quite as much as the falls of the Grand River at Elora‚ in Wellington County. There was Niagara‚ of course‚ which was much better known‚ but the falls on both the Canadian and American sides of the Niagara River were of an entirely different order: awe-inspiring‚ breath-taking‚ and more than a little overpowering. As John Howison observed in 1821‚ visitors left the neighbourhood of Niagara almost with a sense of relief. No-one would actually want to live there.² The falls at Elora were on a more human scale‚ and they...

    • CHAPTER TWO Hopeful Emigration
      (pp. 25-46)

      Charles Clarke left England in April 1844 at the age of seventeen‚ to join his mother‚ sister‚ and stepfather in Upper Canada. They had emigrated the year before‚ settling on a farm in Canboro Township in the Niagara District. His own departure was prompted by an invitation from one of his uncles to sail to New York with him and his family‚ and thence to travel north to Canada. This route was often taken by emigrants who had the means to procure passage on ships designed for the purpose of transporting human beings rather than merchantable commodities. In the event‚Clarke...

    • CHAPTER THREE Victorian Radical
      (pp. 47-70)

      Clarke and Elora were well suited to each other. The founder of the village‚ William Gilkison (1777-1833)‚ had been a Scots Radical‚ and his carefully laid-out plan for a city in the wilderness‚ which was strongly influenced by the Scottish town-planning tradition‚ was stamped by his political beliefs as well. Among the street names he envisioned were Hume‚ Cobbett‚ Mackenzie‚ Reform‚ and Radical‚ the last of which was to mark the main road leading to the river.² What more fitting municipal lineage might be found for a young man of Charles Clarke’s background and disposition? What better symbol of the...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Apostle of Refinement
      (pp. 71-96)

      If the risks of journalism in the mid-nineteenth century lay in proprietorship and the rewards in editorial pronouncement‚ perhaps the prudent course for the would-be political essayist was to secure his livelihood in some more profitable full-time occupation while pursuing his literary ambitions on the side. In this way‚ he might derive a measure of the intellectual and social gratification that accrued to the editor as political spokesman and man of letters‚ without at the same time exposing himself fully to the economic uncertainties of publishing. At the same time‚ he might find that the status accorded him by virtue...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Education of an Optimist
      (pp. 97-120)

      Clarke had been taken aback by the Clear Grits’ alliance with Francis Hincks in 1851‚ when John Rolph and Malcolm Cameron had joined the Hincks-Morin government and William McDougall had put theNorth Americanat its service. Three years later‚ he was downright appalled by the realignment of partisan forces engineered‚ with Hincks’s blessing‚ in the months following the election in which Dr. William Clarke had triumphed over the divided Reformers of North Wellington. In the first case‚ those joined together might at least be said to have shared a broadly Reform outlook‚ even if radical principle had been set...

    • CHAPTER SIX The Great Cow Case
      (pp. 123-143)

      When theElora Observerran a series of “Sketches of the Early Settlement of the North Riding of Wellington” in the spring of 1866‚ Walter Newman contributed an account of Elora’s development. It would be difficult to imagine a more satisfying story of progress. In 1846 but a “small gap” in the woods‚ comprising a handful of primitive dwellings and few conveniences‚ the village now boasted numerous masonry buildings and “[s]tores that would not discredit the metropolis.” Schools and churches‚ roads and sidewalks‚ banking‚ legal and medical facilities‚ a newspaper and the telegraph were now among Elora’s amenities. Once it...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Identity and Memory
      (pp. 144-168)

      Towards the end of 1866‚ Clarke began keeping a diary in which he confided private doubts about his personal and political accomplishments and the progress of public life. What particularly prompted this new endeavour and the reflections it contained is not certain. Fashion must have had something to do with it. Diary-writing‚ as Robert Fothergill‚ a leading critic of the genre‚ tells us‚ reached its apogee “as a conventional habit among persons of culture” during the Victorian era.² Two of Clarke’s children‚ eleven-year-old Emma and nine-year-old Charlie‚ took up the habit at about the same time he did. Florence‚ at...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT “O‚Lovely Elora”
      (pp. 169-201)

      Clarke’s attachment to Reform was too much a part of his personal and social identity for him to be able to sustain his yearning for freedom from political entanglements. At the end of June 1867‚ his protestations of disgust with public life notwithstanding‚ he attended the Reform party convention in Toronto as an Elora delegate. There‚ the “great question of the hour” — he reported later in theObserver— was “Coalition GovernmentversusParty Government‚” a question that lay at the very heart of his politics. William McDougall and W.P. Howland‚ Reform members of the Great Coalition that had carried through...

    • CHAPTER NINE Household Savant
      (pp. 202-232)

      No more significant or tantalizing piece of evidence about Clarke’s private life may be found in his diary than a small interpolation and a large gap — no diary‚ as it were — at the beginning of the 1880s. The interpolation is a pencilled note in someone else’s handwriting at the end of the entry for 31 December 1880: “R.E.H. here to tea.” The gap is the entire volume for 1881.

      “R.E.H.” was Rose Ellen Halley‚ and it was she who added the note at some later date. She and Clarke were married on 1 August 1881 at her home in Ponsonby...

    • CHAPTER TEN Loyal Party Soldier
      (pp. 235-251)

      Very little of the candour with which Clarke expressed his opinions of politics and politicians in his diary‚ and nothing of his republicanism‚ found its way into his memoir‚Sixty Years in Upper Canada‚ with Autobiographical Recollections‚published by William Briggs of Toronto in 1908. Sir John A. Macdonald‚ for example‚ who in the diary personified Conservative corruption and deceit‚ is benignly portrayed in the memoir‚ in a sketch comparing him and George Brown as leaders of the two great political parties of nineteenth-century Canada. Though Macdonald is described as an “Absolutist” in politics‚ in contrast to Brown‚ a “Limited...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Looking Backward
      (pp. 252-269)

      In material terms‚ the clerkship represented the kind of security Clarke had been after in his pursuit of the shrievalty: something “quiet and certain‚” in Mowat’s words. He was not a wealthy man‚ and the fortunes of the store had been in decline for several years. He had barely been able to maintain his inventory of late‚ operating “hand to mouth” with goods purchased at auction in bankruptcy sales rather than from the wholesale houses he had always dealt with before‚ and mortgaging his building to free himself from the worry of short-term indebtedness to the bank.¹ Now he was...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 270-274)

    It is a truism of historical study that what we can learn of the past is limited by the record of the past‚ and what survives of the record is a matter as much of accident as of planning or intention. After Clarke’s death‚ the record of his life was carried forward into the twentieth century‚ mainly by Rose. He had kept everything: correspondence‚ association records‚ newspapers‚ newspaper clippings. “I have now a large collection of useful and interesting cuttings‚” he wrote in his diary one Sunday in July 1889; if preserved‚ he thought‚ they would be invaluable to some...

  10. Abbreviations
    (pp. 275-276)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 277-320)
  12. Index
    (pp. 321-330)