Case 2: Imaging a National Literature: Building a Foundation for Future Study

Perhaps Lorne Pierce’s most lasting contribution to Canadian Literature and to Queen’s has been the remarkable array of print materials donated to the W.D. Jordan Library that form the Edith and Lorne Pierce Collection. As Pierce recalls, his career as a collector of Canadiana began with the purchase of an anthology, a morocco-bound edition of The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, bought the day James Cappon had spoken with such condescension about Canadian literature.

As an editor at Ryerson Press, Pierce sought out manuscripts, letters, and early editions of the works of Canadian writers, augmenting the collection he had begun in 1912. By late 1923 he had decided to “give back to Queen’s” by donating his assembled materials to his alma mater. In July 1924 he shipped the first 3000 volumes, timed to coincide with the opening of the Douglas Library: “Margery Fee has written that this vast collection of books and manuscripts, still a major resource for Canadian scholars, which Pierce augmented throughout his life and in his will, is one of Pierce’s greatest contributions to Canadian culture after his editorial work at Ryerson Press” (Campbell, Both Hands, 244)