“In 2019, I’d like . . . .
In 2019, I would like to hear a publisher say: “YES, WE WILL PUBLISH THIS.”
Since January, 2018 I have been writing the story of a friendship with someone who was my mentor, Wallace Havelock Robb.
At 16, I read about him in the weekend section of the Toronto Star (Oct.1, 1960) and immediately felt drawn to his life. I wrote two poems in his honour, mailed off the letter to Kingston, and three days later, received his answer that a copy of his latest book, Tecumtha, was on its way to me and: “You will find this book more difficult to read than Eaton’s catalogue, but perservere….”
I have made 24 trips to the Queen’s University Archives, learning about his spirituality, his friendships and the way he succeeded in life as a poet and naturalist. His property Abbey Dawn just east of Kingston, was the place where he erected a museum of native artifacts, held poetry festivals, and raised his family on the farm.
He was a man of integrity and deep spirituality, with a respect for all faiths and God’s creation. His epic legends about First Nations people provide insight into a way of life that has not been celebrated enough in our country.
The Toronto Star named him “The Abbe of Abbey Dawn”. He died in 1976 and I deeply mourned his passing because he was the person who had shown me how to follow my own path, and listen to my spirit. Parents love you differently; afraid when you take risks and walk away from the crowd. Wallace Havelock Robb encouraged me to pursue my dreams until they came true.
How grateful I am to have known him and hope others will enjoy reading about this remarkable Canadian who rang his poet’s bell each morning and lived the words inscribed upon it: “I give my soul to the Silent Dawn, and it goes where the song of the birds has gone.”