Roberts, Sir Charles George DouglasSir Charles George Douglas Roberts, poet, animal-story writer (b at Douglas, NB 10 Jan 1860; d at Toronto 26 Nov 1943). As author of Orion and Other Poems (1880) Roberts inspired Bliss CARMAN (his cousin), Archibald LAMPMAN and D.C. SCOTT and became a prominent member of the so-called "Confederation Poets." At his death he was regarded as Canada's leading man of letters. The son of a clergyman, he was brought up in New Brunswick, near the Tantramar Marsh and in Fredericton. He attended UNB (1876-79), and then worked as a schoolteacher at Chatham and Fredericton (1879-83), as editor of The Week (1883-84) and as professor at King's College, Windsor, NS (1885-95).
His finest poetry was produced in these early years, appearing in In Divers Tones (1886) and Songs of the Common Day (1893), and he was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1890). Financial pressure forced him to turn his main attention to fiction. Then, in 1897, he moved to New York and subsequently lived apart from his wife and family. He wrote a number of novels and historical romances, but his most successful prose genre was the animal story, in which he drew upon his early experience in the wilds of the Maritimes. He published over a dozen such volumes between Earth's Enigmas (1896) and Eyes of the Wilderness (1933). In 1907 he left for Europe, where he continued to write, though interrupted by service in WWI. His return to Canada in 1925 led to a renewed production of verse with The Vagrant of Time (1927) and The Iceberg and Other Poems (1934). Roberts was a popular figure at this time. He lectured throughout Canada and in 1935 was knighted.
Roberts is remembered for creating in the animal story, along with Ernest Thompson SETON, the one native Canadian art form. His early descriptive and meditative poetry ("Tantramar Revisited,""The Potato Harvest,""The Sower") recreates his Maritimes years with vivid sensitivity. Although he never fulfilled his early poetic promise, he laid a foundation for future achievements in Canadian verse.