Miscellanea Manitobiana

No. 4
Ralph Connor/The Rev. Dr. Charles W. Gordon: The Role of Archives in the Memorialization of a Canadian Literary and Theological Giant

By John Richthammer

The history of literary estates is filled with such what-might-have-been: what might have been de­stroyed, what might have been pre­served, what might have been dis­torted or inked over.[1]

Charles Gordon Writing under the pen name Ralph Connor, Winnipeg Presby­terian min­ister, the Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon became the most popu­lar and best-selling novel­ist of the early twen­tieth cen­tury. Five mil­lion copies of his 30 novels were sold world­wide.[2] To the world, “Ralph Connor” was a liter­ary giant. To Winnipeg citizenry, Charles W. Gordon was a be­loved min­ister and a long-time Moder­ator of the Presby­terian Church. During the First World War, he was a high-profile chap­lain in the Canadian Army. His ac­tiv­ities as a labour dispute nego­tiator and social justice crusader on the prairies are well-documented.[3]

Gordon’s extensive fonds (25.25 linear feet) are at the University of Manitoba Archives.[4] In ad­di­tion to this anchor col­lec­tion, other archival mater­ial on Gordon exists in re­posi­tories across the country, while numer­ous books depict various facets of the life of this remark­able man.[5] What is ab­sent from any scholar­ship on the life of Charles W. Gordon is a con­sider­ation of how he may have viewed his own public memory. Did Gordon ex­hibit even a pas­sing inter­est in his post­humous re­pu­ta­tion and to what extent might such inter­est have been? Is there actual evi­dence which clearly suggests whether he ex­hibited or main­tained an inter­est in or con­cern about the per­petu­ation of his histor­ical memory or leg­acy to the world? Did he ar­ti­cu­late any pos­sible con­cern over what speci­fi­cally would become of his papers and, if so, how did he make known his con­cerns? Do the var­ious sources bear any such tes­ti­mony?

The fact that, in the last year of his life and under the heavy strain of illness, he wrote a lengthy autobiography would seem an obvious sign that Gordon, especially at the end of his life, was con­cerned with his own memorial­ization.[6] Then again, perhaps the memoirs were not a sign. Was he prodded to write his memoirs be­cause of his fame as a cele­brated novelist and preacher, or did he write the auto­biography solely for family, fans, or re­muneration? Are his feel­ings toward memorializ­ation evi­dent in the work? What do his last will and testa­ment and estate pro­bate records tell us about Gordon’s wishes for final dispo­sition of his papers? Does he even in­clude them in his testa­mentary in­struc­tions? Since he was memorial­ized in myriad ways by var­ious groups and in world­wide media, were calls for the pre­ser­vation of Gordon’s papers ever arti­cu­lated?

What conclusions may be drawn from the fact that between 1969 and 1994 the Gordon col­lection was donated by the family to the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections (as it was then known)?[7] Where had they lang­uished in the decades fol­low­ing Gordon’s death? What of the archiv­ing sensi­bilities of the Gordon family? Is it ap­par­ent or not that the papers ever fell victim to ‘souvenir­ization’ by family mem­bers or col­lectors? If it is likely the papers were not de­nuded or cen­sored, was any material added? Moreover, were the papers neg­lected, sepa­rated, ig­nored, pro­tected or trea­sured? What of the role of archives? Was the donation of the Gordon papers an after­thought, a means of disposal of un­wanted paper bulk in a family member’s base­ment? Did the archives ap­proach family members, or did they con­tact the archives? Conversely, if archival dona­tion was seri­ously con­sidered by the family, why did the ac­qui­sition take so long, and why was the University of Manitoba Archives the re­posi­tory of choice to the family? By examining Gordon’s volum­inous papers, his lengthy pub­lished auto­biography Post­script to Adventure: The Auto­biography of Ralph Connor, the pro­bate records of the Gordon estate, and the University of Manitoba Archives’ ad­minis­trative files on the ac­qui­si­tion of the Gordon fonds, it is plausible that these ques­tions will find their answers.[8]

In order to glean an understanding of the sig­ni­fi­cance of the Gordon papers, it is essen­tial to review the extra­ordi­nary life and multiple car­eers of Charles William Gordon. Born at Indian Lands, Glengarry County, Canada West, on September 13, 1860, Gordon was the fourth son of Mary Robertson and the Rev. Daniel Gordon. Scottish-born Daniel became a mis­sion­ary of the Free Church of Scotland in Canada in 1853. Gordon’s mother, Mary, who had also emi­grated from Scotland, com­plimented her hus­band in keen intel­li­gence. In fact, her intel­lectual breadth and academic accomplishments were signi­fi­cantly ac­know­ledged when, at the age of only 22, she was asked (although she de­clined) to become principal of her alma mater, Mount Holyoke Ladies’ Seminary.[9]

Charles Gordon was educated at uni­ver­sities in Toronto and Edin­burgh, and after teach­ing for a short period of time, was or­dained in 1890 as a Presby­terian minister. For the first three years of his ministry, Gordon served in the dis­trict of Banff, Alberta, area until moving to Winnipeg to become minister at St. Stephen’s Broadway Church.[10]

The sunrise on Gordon’s literary life and cele­brity began in 1897. In order to raise funds for and public awareness of church-related en­deavours, Gordon pub­lished a series of short stor­ies based on his ex­periences in mis­sion work in the Canadian West. The stories ap­peared as serials in a church pub­li­cation. Their warm critical re­cep­tion pro­pelled Gordon to con­tinue his de­vel­op­ing passion for writing. He consis­tently wrote under the pseudonym “Ralph Connor.”[11] His 1899 book The Sky Pilot was a best-seller, as was The Prospector (1904), and The Foreigner (a novel of intrigue set in the north end of Winnipeg). These novels, and sub­sequent works, firmly estab­lished Gordon as a Canadian author of note.[12] Paul Rutherford, in pay­ing homage to Gordon’s liter­ary gifts, popular appeal, and critical acclaim, sug­gests that any success English-Canadian writers enjoyed came first from critical suc­cess in Britain and the United States:

A number of English-Canadian authors like Charles Gordon (writ­ing as Ralph Connor), Gilbert Parker, Stephen Leacock, and Margaret Saunders won large Canadian audi­ences, and some inter­national fame by writ­ing moral­istic ad­ven­tures, histor­ical romances, humour and animal stories. Their re­pu­tation in Britain and the United States was the first evi­dence of a success­ful adaptation by a group of Canadians to the tastes of anglo­phone readers else­where.[13]

Gordon’s fictional works, which were so success­ful during the latter nine­teenth cen­tury and well into the twen­tieth century, are im­bued with char­acters which to­day may be seen as stereo­typical repre­sen­tations of good and evil in pioneer­ing settings. Church and community leaders pre­sided over these tales in which good ultimately triumphed over evil. As historian Gerald Friesen noted in The Canadian Prairies: A History, Connor’s novels

… told the stories of western mission­aries, doc­tors, and Mounted Policemen — good-hearted and manly men — who con­fronted the rough life of the bush camps and mine towns. Naturally, the good guys won victories for the temper­ance movement and the church.[14]

Imperial adventure fiction, Gordon’s beloved writ­ing genre, was firmly em­bedded into early twentieth century psyche, and he became the most success­ful prac­titioner of this genre in the world. However, he often did not write for months, then, at the prodding of his publisher, would ex­per­ience great par­ox­ysms of creativ­ity. This struggle to com­plete manu­scripts promptly dogged Gordon much of his life. Historian William L. Morton, in his epic work, Manitoba: A History, notes that Gordon’s fame developed rapidly, a situ­ation which no Canadian author had previously enjoyed:

Gordon had achieved a reputation as a novel­ist with the publi­cation of Black Rock and The Man From Glengarry, novels of some feel­ing and character­ization. There­after there flowed from his pen a series of novels de­scrip­tive of western Canadian life, which were widely read and trans­lated into many lan­guages. They served the need for some descrip­tion of the land to which thousands were flock­ing; they dis­cussed Canadian life in that tone of manly Christian en­deavour which Canadians then found satisfying be­cause it did fill a gap be­tween the rough­ness of the frontier and the pieties of the home.[15]

Vast social changes have oc­curred since Gordon’s life­time, hence the works of “Ralph Connor” have often been criti­cized for exis­ting under cano­pies of over-sentimentalization and melo­dramatic, roman­ticized stereo­types.[16] Friesen ex­plained that some critics have missed or ig­nored en­tirely the under­lying im­por­tance of the con­text of time and place in which these novels were written and became wildly suc­cess­ful:

To modern readers his charac­ters seem stereo­typed and his plots con­trived but, at the time, the prairie set­tings were reve­lations. The novels dis­cussed the de­vel­op­ment of indi­vidu­als and the de­vel­op­ment of society — a Christian and western Canadian society — in a manner that was be­liev­able and ex­citing … they sug­gested that the prairie west was a place where any indi­vidual could be­gin again and, with a little hon­est effort, could suc­ceed. Connor built this image of the west upon a series of com­par­isons be­tween the new land and other societies: it was a society close to nature, not urban; it was young, not old; it was free, not bound by con­ven­tion. The prairie west, in­deed, could re-create the in­divi­dual just as it im­proved upon the social order … at the turn of the cen­tury, country life was asso­ciated with images of pur­ity and pro­duc­tive­ness.[17]

Much of Gordon’s early subject matter came from the stories his par­ents told, and from his own youth in Glen­garry County, Ontario, where several of his novels, in­clud­ing Glengarry School Days (1902), were set.[18] The great­est influ­ence on Gordon — after his par­ents — was his be­loved mentor, Dr. James Robertson, whose bio­graphy he wrote in 1908. As Presbyterian super­intendent of western Canadian mis­sions, Robertson was not only Gordon’s superior but also a cher­ished friend.[19]

In 1899, Gordon had married Helen Skinner King, the university-educated daughter of the Rev. John Mark King, first prin­cipal of Manitoba College (now the University of Winnipeg).[20] Their eldest child, John King, was born the following year in Winnipeg; the births of six daughters followed.

Gordon served in France as a chap­lain with the Cameron High­landers in the Canadian Army dur­ing the First World War. Upon de­mobil­ization, he em­barked upon a speak­ing tour of the United States to promote American par­ti­ci­pa­tion in the war effort.[21] As Terrence Craig observed, “His novels then and after­ward were broader in scope and set­ting, more blunt­ly di­dac­tic in apply­ing theo­logy to modern society, and less popular than his wes­terns.”[22]

Upon returning to Winnipeg from the speak­ing tour, Gordon was ap­pointed chair of the Manitoba Council of Industry for four years fol­low­ing the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. He also became well-known for his tan­gible assis­tance in medi­ating many notable, pro­tracted labour dis­putes.[23]

In 1921 he became Moderator of the Presby­terian Church in Canada and was instru­mental in the pro­cess of forming the United Church of Canada in 1925.[24]

The Autobiography

Gordon initially had had no plan to write an auto­bio­graphy. However, after pro­longed urg­ing of family and friends, he began work on an auto­bio­graphical manuscript.[25] The pro­ject was completed just prior to Gordon’s entering Misericordia Hospital for an intes­tinal oper­ation.[26] He died suddenly, shortly after the operation, and his auto­biography, Postscript to Adventure: The Auto­biography of Ralph Connor was published posthumously by the New York firm of Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., in the following year, 1938.

Charles and Helen Gordon’s son, John King Gordon, fol­lowed in his father’s footsteps by likewise be­coming noted for much more than his ministry. King Gordon earned degrees from the University of Manitoba, Oxford University, and the Union Theological Seminary. He taught theo­logy for several years before leav­ing that career to devote more time to his in­creas­ingly social­istic, debate-provoking views. Even­tually King was a found­ing member of the Fellow­ship for a Christian Social Order, of the League for Social Recons­truction, and of the Co-operative Commonwealth Feder­ation (CCF). His work in social reform led him to a position at the United Nations in New York City. He re­mained there for the rest of his work­ing life, serving in top-level posi­tions in Korea, the Middle East and the Congo. For many years he was a pro­fessor of inter­national relations at the universities of Ottawa and Alberta, served as chair of CUSO, and advised the International Development Research Centre.[27] King Gordon was one of the executors of his father’s estate and un­officially appointed himself custodian of his father’s liter­ary works. Since his mother and sisters were not much con­cerned with the then-unpublished autobiography, King took charge and worked tirelessly on preparing his father’s manuscript for the New York publishers.[28] The introduction King wrote for the autobiography is obviously a tender gesture from an admiring son. The younger Gordon recalled his father’s modesty and hesitancy in consenting to write a memoir:

It had taken a great deal of persuasion to get him launched on the re­min­iscences of his life … for all of his 76 years he lived as a young man. There had been no break in the adventure of his life … As I have indi­cated, he was averse to writing his ‘Memoirs.’ The book, if written at all, would be simply a run­ning account of inci­dents and per­son­alities that had played some part in his life.[29]

Gordon’s autobiography neither men­tioned his last years nor his wishes for dis­position of any papers re­main­ing from his liter­ary career. It is a plaus­ible sur­mise that Gordon viewed his exten­sive auto­biography, des­tined for publi­cation, as evi­dence enough of his relig­ious life and liter­ary career, as well as an ample record of his private life. Gordon may well have felt that through this auto­biography he was leav­ing be­hind some­thing of him­self as Charles Gordon, the man, while Ralph Connor, the writer, had produced cele­brated novels which would live on whether or not they were men­tioned in his last wishes. Gordon’s auto­biography was his way of using his ex­tensive col­lec­tion of papers for one last purpose, or so he may have thought. Con­sequently, after having drawn heav­ily upon his papers for the auto­biography, it is probable that Gordon felt that his papers had little or no future use. How erron­eous such an assumption would have been.

The Will

Charles William Gordon died at age 77 at the Miseri­cordia Hospital in Winnipeg on Hallowe’en Day, 1937. Oddly, he and his brother, Dr. H.F. Gordon, died less than 24 hours apart.[30] Charles Gordon’s brief will, signed eight years ear­lier, in 1929, is written in the hand of Roland Fairbairn McWilliams, his lawyer, friend, and future Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba.[31] It was common practice at that time for wills to be type­written, so the fact that Gordon’s will is written in McWilliams’s inelegant, tiny, and nearly illegible handwriting is a puz­zle. The simple document was witnessed by McWilliams’s wife, Margaret Stovel McWilliams, one of Manitoba’s most celebrated feminists, and Gordon family friend and bookkeeper, Nettie Love.[32]

This is the Last Will and Testament of me, Charles William Gordon, of the City of Winnipeg, Minister of the Gospel, made and declared this 29th day of August, A.D. 1929.
I give, devise and bequeath all my estate real and per­sonal of what­soever kind to my dear wife Helen Skinner Gordon upon the following trusts:
To use the income from my estate for the main­tenance and edu­cation of her­self and our children in such manner as she shall think proper to use as much of the prin­cipal as she may from time to time think necessary for the said pur­poses.
To divide the prin­cipal re­main­ing at her death amongst our chil­dren in such manner and pro­por­tions as she may think best which dispo­si­tion may be made either by writ­ing dur­ing her lifetime or by her Last Will and Testament and with power to advance such amounts on account of such dis­po­sition to any of the chil­dren as she may think advis­able.[33]

The will is short on detail and speci­fics. Gordon does not seem to have deli­ber­ated to any great extent on the dis­po­sition of his estate. He listed no par­ti­cu­lar mater­ial bequest, preferring to leave the de­cision to his executors, with any final de­cision rest­ing with his wife, Helen.[34] There is no mention what­soever in the will of Gordon’s papers, and he appointed neither a bio­grapher nor a liter­ary executor. Any reason why this internationally-renowned literary cele­brity took no special notice of his papers in his will is a mystery, but a mystery upon which specu­lation is not im­possible.

Gordon was known for his modesty, and per­haps it was that char­acter­istic which pre­vented him from men­tion­ing his papers in his will. As well, it is con­ceiv­able that he simply did not recog­nize the his­tor­ical value of his papers. He pos­sibly thought that other than for his family, there would be no inter­est in them. A sig­ni­fi­cant sign of Gordon’s modesty ap­peared in the first line of his will. He de­scribed his occu­pa­tion as “minister of the gospel,” with no mention made of the fact that he earned the major­ity of his living by authoring internationally-celebrated novels.[35]

Although Gordon did not specifically mention his papers in his will, he included the following clause:

In the event of my wife not having made any dis­position, the resi­due of my estate re­maining after her death shall be divided equally among the children then sur­viving after taking into ac­count any sums which may have been ad­vanced on prin­cipal to any of the children. If any of our children should have predeceased my wife leav­ing a child or children, such child or children shall then share of my estate which their parent would have inherited.[36]

The “residue” of the estate included pos­ses­sions such as liter­ary and per­sonal papers. His daughter Ruth and son King retained them along with any other in­herited possessions. Since Gordon did not men­tion his liter­ary work in his will, there was, of course, no time restriction or embargo placed upon them, and the family ulti­mately never imposed any restrictions when they made the donation to the University of Manitoba.

Apart from his autobiography, Gordon appears not to have con­cerned himself much with his post­humous repu­tation nor did he write — either publicly or privately — of how he viewed himself or his papers. In his seminal mono­graph on literary estates, Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biog­raphy, Ian Hamilton addressed two main ana­logies of the “flame” which is either kept or dis­carded by its creator: “flames have a double presence: there is the gem-like flame of art and there is the private bon­fire, ‘the trustful guardian of secret matters.’”[37] While there is well-documented evidence of Gordon’s legen­dary modesty, evi­dence also strongly sug­gests (and is borne out in the apparent complete­ness of his papers) that he was no “guar­dian of secret matters.” In an al­most negli­gent way, Gordon shaped his pos­terity by an utter lack of inter­est in his own fame, public persona or (save for his 423-page pub­lished auto­biography), his post­humous repu­tation.[38] Gordon bio­grapher John Lennox also notes a sincere modesty in his sub­ject’s literary affairs, a reti­cence easily trans­lated into Gordon’s deeply unequivocal, frus­trat­ing sil­ence on how his executors (wife Helen, son King, and trusted friend and advisor, barrister McWilliams) should ad­minister his liter­ary or clerical pos­terity. It would seem that Gordon, the popular novelist, had neither de­sire nor pre­ten­sion by which to contemplate his post­humous literary legacy.[39]

The Papers’ Trail

Two folders of non-public adminis­tra­tive files at the Uni­versity of Manitoba Archives con­tain cor­res­pondence, notes taken by the univer­sity archiv­ist dur­ing conver­sations with some of Gordon’s children, agree­ments (including deeds of gift), studies, and reports. The files contain the most complete infor­mation extant re­lating to the custo­dial history of the Gordon papers.[40] While no docu­men­ta­tion in the ad­mini­stra­tive files reveals de­fini­tively this history from Gordon’s own death un­til that of his wife Helen in Winnipeg on March 17, 1961, it is obvious, from family cor­res­pondence with archival per­sonnel on the matter, that Mrs. Gordon her­self re­tained custody of the major­ity of the papers.[41] This cer­tainty is cor­ro­bor­ated by the fact that Gordon’s will stipu­lated that Mrs. Gordon was to inherit the entire estate and, should she make her own will at a future date, that she should then leave any resi­dual pro­perty to their chil­dren or the chil­dren’s sur­vivors.[42] A few short years after Gordon’s death, straitened financial circum­stances forced Helen Gordon to move from the evo­ca­tive family mansion at 54 Westgate at Armstrong Point in Winnipeg. Through­out her later years, she lived with her daughter, Ruth Gordon, in the Wolseley area of Winnipeg.[43] Mrs. Gordon apparently died intestate, so the clause in her hus­band’s will would still have been effective, and the “residue” of the estate remaining at her death would have been dis­trib­uted to sur­viving children.[44] However, the bulk of the papers re­mained with Ruth who assumed (in­correctly, as it was learned) that any papers left in the former Gordon home on Westgate were de­stroyed or lost through damage when the house was unoccupied and deteriorating for many years.[45] Apart from the ob­vious bulk of material kept by Ruth Gordon in her home, several boxes of Charles Gordon’s papers and ephem­era were retained by King Gordon and his sisters in their homes across Canada and the United States.[46] King Gordon was not the only Gordon scion who re­tained an endur­ing inter­est in the per­petu­ation of their father’s life and work. Ad­minis­trative cor­res­pondence at the University of Manitoba Archives indi­cates the fervent interest King’s six sisters shared in seeing the Gordon papers preserved.

Just as Charles and Helen Gordon were accomplished and dis­tin­guished, so too were their chil­dren. For ex­ample, Ruth Gordon was an ac­com­plished dancer of national reputation,[47] Mary Robertson Carver was a well-known commun­ity worker, Lois Isobel Gordon earned a Master of Social Work, worked for the Children’s Aid Society in Toronto and served as a cap­tain in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps,[48] Margaret Helen (Marjorie) Smart worked for the British High Commissioner’s Office in Ottawa and Washington, was vice-consul for Canada in New York, and was the first principal of St. Hilda’s, a new women’s college at the University of Melbourne in Australia.[49] Gretta Brown was a Winnipeg child care activist,[50] and the youngest, Alison Cox, also lived and worked in Winnipeg.[51]

The placement of the Charles William Gordon (Ralph Connor) Collection at the University of Manitoba Archives is due in large part to the extra­ordinarily archivally-minded efforts ex­pended by a de­voted fan of the novelist. Gordon D. McLeod, a teacher at St. John’s-Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg, had chosen the works of Charles Gordon as the sub­ject of his doc­toral disser­tation. He then went searching for primary source mater­ial. He re­corded that his first thought was a ques­tion: Did Gordon leave any papers, and where were they? In 1968 McLeod met Ruth Gordon, who wel­comed him into her home and showed him some of the manu­scripts and other papers she had stored hap­hazardly in vari­ous places in the house. He soon recog­nized the histor­ical value, as well as the depth and breadth, of the papers. With Ruth’s bless­ing, McLeod set out to find a suit­able archival reposi­tory for them.[52] Without McLeod’s forth­right, deter­mined inter­vention, the papers might never have been pre­served as an archival col­lec­tion and might have become frag­mented, or de­stroyed altogether. How­ever, approx­imately three decades earlier, an attempt to obtain manu­script mater­ial was pos­sibly the first recorded inter­est in Gordon’s papers after his death. He had died just over two months ear­lier when, in January, 1938, William Barbour of the Fleming H. Revell Company, a publishing firm in New York City, wrote to Helen Gordon:

It has occurred to us that possibly you may have found incomplete or com­pleted manuscripts among Dr. Gordon’s papers: and if there is any material — par­ti­cu­larly in fiction form — … I hope that you will write us at your convenience.[53]

There is no record of Mrs. Gordon’s response to this rather flip­pant, un­timely letter, although it is anno­tated on the top left corner with the date “May 24,” which may be indica­tive of the date on which a reply was written or sent. Hence, it is not known whether or not Mrs. Gordon found the ill-timed letter to be an af­front; as a greedy attempt by that pub­lisher to continue to capitalize on Gordon’s writing. From the ex­tent of the papers as they were later collected, it may be deduced that she did not send any manuscripts, either par­tial or complete, to the Fleming H. Revell Company.[54]

Gordon McLeod, in his bibliography to the Gordon manuscripts, recounted the events of his discovery of the papers:

I became interested in finding whether the work­ing notes and manu­scripts of Connor’s novels were in exis­tence. After correspondence with Ralph Connor’s son, King Gordon, I found that if there were any manu­scripts they would be in the possession of Connor’s daughter, Miss Ruth Gordon, of Winnipeg. At first it seemed there might be no manu­scripts at all. Miss Gordon pointed out to me that when she and her mother moved from Westgate many of the papers had been thrown out. Secondly she remarked that her father had not saved in an organized way his manuscripts and finally that while in storage in the base­ment of her home on Wolseley Avenue some had been damaged by the [1950] flood.
However after search­ing though trunks etc. Miss Gordon did find the manu­scripts and papers which I de­scribe below [in a biblio­graphical essay]. She feels that these are all the manu­scripts of Connor that exist. I sug­gest, there­fore, that these papers should be pre­served here at the University of Manitoba in the city in which most of them were written and that they be made available for research.[55]

McLeod prepared his bib­lio­graphy to help en­tice The University of Manitoba, and in par­ti­cu­lar, the Elizabeth Dafoe Library and the University’s English Department, into accepting for per­man­ent reten­tion the manu­scripts, note­books, sermons, and cor­respondence of Gordon. McLeod ap­proached Dr. Doris B. Saunders, professor and head of the English Department. In a May 4, 1968 letter to her, McLeod outlined the process by which he wished to see the papers made accessible to researchers:

If the papers are acquired by the University they should be cata­logued and placed in the pro­per sequence. This would require con­sider­able work as I feel that the nota­tions on parts of the manu­scripts placed by a secre­tary are prob­ably incorrect and also be­cause many of the manu­scripts are frag­ments of chapters, some of which have not been pub­lished in that form. Whether or not this work were to have any bear­ing on my Ph.D. [disser­tation] I would be willing to work on the papers this summer if the University were inter­ested in my doing so. I, of course, feel strongly that the papers of Prairie writers should be pre­served here at the University of Manitoba. I have no under­standing of the financial value of these papers but I feel that they have consider­able liter­ary value and cer­tainly great his­tor­ical value in the field of Fiction of the Canadian West.[56]

Following nearly one year of meetings and cor­res­pon­dence among McLeod, various University offi­cials, and Ruth and King Gordon, the papers were ac­cepted into Dafoe Library.[57] It would be nearly ten years before a formal University Archives was estab­lished and the papers actu­ally became avail­able to re­searchers.[58] The choice of a per­man­ent home for Gordon’s papers was a un­ani­mous one among his chil­dren during the initial place­ment dis­cuss­ions in 1968 and 1969. Not only had their mother Helen been an early gradu­ate (one of the first women, in fact) of the University of Manitoba, but all seven Gordon children were gradu­ates of the University of Manitoba in their birth­place of Winnipeg. During the cele­bration held at the University’s Elizabeth Dafoe Library to welcome the initial ac­ces­sion of Gordon papers, the Gordon sib­lings told those pre­sent, in­clud­ing journal­ists, that the University of Manitoba was, to them, the most logical and appro­priate re­posi­tory. Further­more, they noted that their father had re­ceived an Honourary Doctorate from the University, then headed (as Chancellor) by his dear friend John Wesley Dafoe, editor of the Manitoba Free Press.[59]

Dr. Richard E. Bennett, a noted Mormon scholar, gained a repu­tation for build­ing an impressive collection of literary papers during his more than 20 years as Head of what was then known as the Department of Archives & Special Collections at The University of Manitoba. During Bennett’s tenure, the Gordon col­lection was ex­panded greatly as Gordon’s children, then senior citizens, sur­rendered boxes of archival material as it came to light. In one parti­cular ac­crual, Bennett was startled to find ex­ten­sive and in­cred­ibly de­tailed per­sonal cor­res­pon­dence re­flec­ting the wide var­iety of friend­ships Gordon shared with people from all walks of life. The breadth of per­sonal corres­ponddence ranged from ardent fans to long-time friends whose names re­main world-famous today. Among them, American presi­dents Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding, Canadian Prime Ministers Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and Sir Robert Borden, along with Governors-General of Canada The Duke of Argyle and Lord Tweeds­muir (John Buchan), the wife of a former governor-general, Lady Ishbel Aberdeen, and Salvation Army founder Catherine Booth-Clibborn.[60] Bennett worked con­scien­tiously to effect a har­mon­ious relation­ship between the University of Manitoba Archives and the Gordon family, a relation­ship the evi­dence of which is borne out by nearly 20 years of genial, voluminous cor­res­pon­dence.

Memorializing a Literary Giant

The first posthumous memorials to Gordon came immedi­ately upon his death, in the form of obitu­aries, eulogies, and tri­butes from the news media around the world. The obitu­aries and editor­ials which lamented Gordon’s death ap­peared not only in large North American news­papers such as the New York Times, but also further afield in loca­tions such as the British Isles, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and Eastern Europe. Added to Gordon’s own papers were thick pack­ages con­taining obitu­aries sent to his widow from friends and ad­mirers across the globe.[61] It is likely Helen Gordon col­lected and filed these per­sonally. Word of Gordon’s death was also flashed in news­reels and broad­cast by radio form across the con­ti­nents, and hun­dreds of letters of con­dol­ence flooded in from every con­ceiv­able sender. The family was com­pletely over­whelmed, and it took them most of the follow­ing year to respond to the ava­lanche of sym­pathy.[62] A ran­domly chosen example of a condol­ence letter ad­dressed to Mrs. Gordon is one from a repre­sen­tative of the Ingersoll Cream Cheese Co. Limited, dated November 30, 1937, and anno­tated as an­swered on January 11 [1938]:

I have hesitated writing you for a time to ex­tend to you on be­half of my Wife and Daughter and myself, and I am sure of your Husband’s many friends in Ingersoll our very deep sympathy at the passing of one of Canada’s most loyal and able Sons…. I fear words are feeble in try­ing to ex­press to you all that he meant to us — his jolly manner, his innate kind­li­ness and thought­ful­ness of others, the charm he lent to every­thing he was con­nected with and the memory that he has left be­hind. We loved him dearly and will not forget, and hope we all may re­flect some­what his many fine quali­fi­cations and char­ac­ter­istics that had such a wide influ­ence with every­one he con­tacted.[63]

Apart from his papers at the University of Manitoba, Gordon is memori­alized in myriad ways around the world. Perhaps the second memor­ial (apart from eulogies and paper tri­butes) was the simple marker placed by his griev­ing family on Gordon’s grave in Old Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery in Winnipeg. Today it also contains the names of several of the children.[64]

advertisements for "Corporal Cameron" Gordon also left an exten­sive array of newspaper and maga­zine articles written about him and his activ­ities in all spheres. He was a jour­nalist’s dream interview. While it is appar­ent through his mod­esty that Gordon did not court the press, it never­the­less sought him out on a regu­lar basis for more than three dec­ades. His af­fable nature, and un­disputed accom­plishments as a popular novelist, clergy­man, and social re­former of inter­national repute, along with his pithy, astute com­ments, made for colour­ful copy which spanned the globe. What remains is a world­wide trail of his quotes and activ­ities in articles in in­numer­able news­papers and maga­zines. It is not known if any voice re­cording exists else­where in the world; none appear to be ex­tant in Canadian archives.[65]

Gordon’s legacy as a writer con­tinues not only in his books, articles and papers, but also in his de­scen­dants. His son, King, wrote a great deal of the policy still used in a numer­ous United Nations policies and edicts.[66] King’s son, Charles, and daughter, Alison, are prominent Canadian writers and commentators. Charles, author of several books, writes for the Ottawa Citizen and Maclean’s magazine, while Alison has long been in radio and television for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, is a sportswriter for the Toronto Star, author of several books on sports, and a mystery novelist.[67]

Gordon’s seven children, now all de­ceased, made numer­ous senti­mental jour­neys for the pur­pose of per­petu­ating their father’s memory. Perhaps the earli­est public commemoration took place in 1959 when a plaque was unveiled at St. Elmo, Ontario, near Gordon’s birth­place of Indian Lands. King Gordon at­tended, as did his sister Lois, his son Charles Gordon, Jr., and his aunt, the sister of novelist Gordon. The Ontario Archaeo­logical and Historic Sites Board, in con­junc­tion with the Glengarry Historical Society, had arranged for the plaque to be placed near Gordon’s birth­place.[68]

In Winnipeg, Gordon is most famously repre­sented by his stately man­sion at 54 Westgate. Gordon, who at one time was esti­mated to be worth nearly one million dollars, left an estate of only $8,732.87. While he was serving overseas in the First World War, Gordon’s friend and lawyer, R.M. Thomson, invested the former’s money unwisely. Gordon returned from over­seas to learn that his wealth was reduced to nearly nothing. Gordon spent the rest of his life writ­ing and giv­ing speeches in order to pay off debt.[69] Soon after his death, Helen Gordon and daugh­ters were forced by embar­rass­ing financial circum­stances to vacate their trea­sured home when it was seized by the City of Winnipeg for tax arrears. It stood vacant for some years be­fore being rescued from de­struc­tion by The University Women’s Club, which con­tinues to operate from 54 Westgate.[70] Gordon-King Memorial United Church, a large worship centre located at 127 Cobourg Avenue in Winnipeg, was named in honour of Gordon, and his father-in-law, John Mark King.


There are revealers and there are con­cealers. The agents of reti­cence have no truck with the agents of dis­closure. Privacy is sacred, the public has a right to know. Thus, de­pend­ing on your point of view, or the nature of your personal involvement … the executor is either a secretive parasite or a protector of imperilled de­cencies.[71]

While Gordon’s papers in­clude nothing sala­cious or par­ticu­larly titil­lating, the absence of such data does not neces­sarily imply that any such mater­ial ever existed. Gordon was fore­most a family man and “min­ister of the gospel.” There are no erotic letters to his wife, no skel­etons ardently await­ing re­lease from secret-laden archival closets. Nothing of the sort exists in the papers because, doubtless, no such letters were written and no such skeletons existed.

Gordon himself or the Gordon family were un­likely to censor, sup­press, ex­punge, or other­wise cull from his papers. There is, at least, no evi­dence to support any such suggestion. In fact, var­ious docu­ments in the University of Manitoba Archives’ non-public ad­minis­trative files re­veal that the papers are remark­ably well-sequenced by dates and events in Gordon’s life. A thor­ough investi­gation of the pro­cessed col­lec­tion itself con­firms and cor­ro­borates the state­ments made in the administrative files. Any minor cul­ling was, according to the find­ing aid to the col­lec­tion, done by Maura Pennington and Susan Bellay, history graduate students who processed the papers under the super­vision of Dr. Richard Bennett. Un­marked or un­annotated items such as blank envelopes and paper or other non-archival items were discarded at the time of processing.[72] While Gordon’s volu­minous per­sonal, literary and other pro­fes­sional papers are intact, his photo­graph collection is not. Only seven slim folders of photo­graphs are extant in the Gordon papers; several of the folders only con­tain three to five still images.[73] For example, the col­lec­tion does not in­clude any photo­graphs of Gordon’s wife, chil­dren, par­ents, or sib­lings. The exis­tence of Gordon photo­graphs in both the Archives of Manitoba and the Library and Archives of Canada leads to the assum­ption that the photo­graph col­lec­tion was frag­mented and scattered, where­as the tex­tual collec­tion ultimately came together in the University of Manitoba Archives.[74]

Gordon himself left no particular instruc­tions and quite likely gave little if any thought as to what future impor­tance to his­tory his papers might have. From the lack of plan­ning for his papers’ disposal — other than to empower ex­ecutors dear to him — it is evi­dent that Gordon har­boured no desire for self-mythologization. His pub­lished works are — undeniably — a form of immor­tality. Perhaps more impor­tant to him was his immor­tality in the religious or spiritual sense. Apart from his auto­biography, it is appro­priate to specu­late that Gordon, who fer­vently devoted his life’s work to spread­ing the gospel of God, would have hoped for a place in heaven and there­fore would not have con­cerned him­self with achiev­ing post­humous memorial­ization. Gordon would have be­lieved that a person’s earthly life is only tem­por­ary, to be fol­lowed by per­petual life in heaven, and thus that the need to leave be­hind archival records would be moot. On official docu­ments, such as First World War service records and his will, Gordon con­sistently de­scribed his occu­pa­tion as “minister of the gospel.”

Despite Gordon’s disinterest in his post­humous repu­tation, the actions of his children, and people such as teacher-historian Gordon McLeod and archivist Richard Bennett in rescu­ing the papers from years of neglect and poten­tial future destruc­tion, are the very back­bone of the archival enter­prise. In usher­ing Gordon’s papers safely into archives, they easily fit the de­scrip­tion of “keepers of the flame,” a phrase coined by Ian Hamilton. Gordon’s own con­tri­bution to his post­humous memorial­iz­ation was ob­viously his auto­biography and novels. How­ever, his family’s dona­tion — over a period of more than 20 years — of papers to the University of Manitoba Archives re­flects what Hamilton termed the “chang­ing notions of pos­terity.”[75] The Gordons re­alized the archival, historical and re­search value of their father’s papers, as did Gordon MacLeod, as did officials of the University of Manitoba over the years, and as did the scholars who then and now study the papers which have been de­sig­nated “Cultural Property to Canada.” The “notion” of pos­ter­ity has, thank­fully for history, shifted from Gordon’s in­tended audience of family and friends, to an ever-increasing community of re­searchers world­wide.

The salvaging of literary papers from de­struc­tive quag­mires is the modern “notion of pos­ter­ity” which caused Hamilton to exhort that “In the mean­time, no one should burn anything, however he or she might feel about what the lost loved one ‘really would have wished.’”[76] As evidenced by state­ments made in their cor­res­pon­dence with the University of Manitoba, the Gordons well knew that their father was un­inter­ested in self-aggrandizement. While his cor­res­pon­dence re­veals that he was touched by the hon­ours ac­corded him for decades, he was in­her­ently un­assuming and re­tiring to the point that he had to be con­tinuously, relent­lessly prodded to keep writ­ing by his publisher, George Doran, who in­vari­ably was sorely frus­trated by the lateness of Gordon’s manuscripts.[77] The family knew their patri­arch would not have cared much for fuss, but they also knew how moved he would have been to know that his papers would com­prise one of the most com­plete and most sig­ni­fi­cant collections left by an early Canadian novel­ist. Cor­res­pondence be­tween the University of Manitoba Archives and the family re­peatedly indi­cates that Charles Gordon would have been sur­prised to learn just how ex­ten­sively his work would be sub­jected to post­humous aca­demic in­spec­tion. As King Gordon told those gathered at a well-publicized cere­mony to mark the ini­tial don­ation of manu­scripts in August 1969, “I’m sure my mother and father would have been very happy to see the papers of my father placed here.”[78]

Friesen further noted that “Ralph Connor gave im­mor­tal­ity to the image of a culti­vated utopia in the prairie west … and caught the imagin­ation of a generation.”[79] Although Gordon him­self left no in­struc­tions for the dis­position of his pro­fessional and per­sonal papers, the papers them­selves have hon­oured him. Richard Bennett, former head of the University of Manitoba Archives, stated in 1990 that the Gordon papers are among the most studied of all col­lec­tions in the Archives’ care.[80] De­spite the fact that the pro­cess­ing of var­ious boxes and en­velopes of archival material took more than two decades to com­prise the col­lec­tion as it is today, the work of archiv­ists is largely com­plete, and that of his­tor­ians only just begun. This is ample testi­mony to the spirit of Charles William Gordon, one of the most famous authors in the world in his day, but also a man of such modesty that he would have been as­ton­ished to know of the joint Herculean ef­forts of a de­voted amateur sleuth, university officials, archivists, and his own aged children.


1Ian Hamilton, Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Bio­graphy. (London, GB, 1992): 1
2Keith Wilson, Charles William Gordon: Manitobans in Profile (Winnipeg, 1981), John Lennox, Charles W. Gordon (“Ralph Connor”) and his Works (Toronto, 1989), Terrence Craig, “Charles William Gordon,” in The Canadian Encyclopedia (2000), 990, and Gerald Friesen, The Canadian Prairies: A History (Toronto, 1984): 304.
4MSS 56, PC 76, University of Manitoba Archives. There are no re­stric­tions on ac­cess, how­ever, re­searchers are ex­pected to abide by the copyright laws of Canada.
5See biographies by Wilson, Lennox, Craig, Ferre, Kurnarsky, and Smith.
6Charles W. Gordon, Postscript to Adventure: The Autobiography of Ralph Connor (New York, 1938).
7Gordon Collection non-public ac­quisition files (2) in the office of the Head, University of Manitoba Archives.
8Last Will and Testament of Charles William Gordon (August 28, 1929) and Probate file (January 1938) in the Archives of Manitoba; Gordon Collection ac­qui­sition file.
9Wilson; Lennox; Charley Gordon, “The Life and Political, Literary, and Religious Works of Charles Gordon and Ralph Connor.” (unpublished, n.d.).
13Paul Rutherford, “Made in America: The Problem of Mass Culture in Canada,” in David H. Flaherty and Frank E. Manning (eds.), The Beaver Bites Back: American Popular Culture in Canada (Montreal, 1993): 263. Rutherford’s sources are Mary Vipond, “Best Sellers in English Canada, 1899-1918: An Overview,” Journal of Canadian Fiction 24 (1979): 108, and Robert Bothwell, Ian Drummond, and John English, Canada 1900-1945 (Toronto, 1987), 190-191.
14Friesen, 303. A sterling example of Gordon’s staple types is the cen­tral character in Corporal Cameron of the North West Mounted Police: A Tale of the Macleod Trail (Toronto, 1912), 308.
15William L. Morton, Manitoba: A History (Toronto, 1957): 415
16Among critical studies of Gordon’s novels are J. Lee Thompson and John Herd Thompson, “Ralph Connor and the Canadian Identity,” Queen’s Quarterly 70, no. 2 (Summer 1972): 159-170, and F.W. Watt, “Western Myth — The World of Ralph Connor,” Canadian Literature 1 (Summer 1959): 26-36.
17Friesen suggests that Gordon’s novels of the prairie west as pure and en­riching rural exis­tence ad­vanced the thesis that “not only was rural life purer because it was closer to nature, but it was also, according to the physio­cractic notion of wealth, the source of national pros­perity” (Friesen, op. cit., 304). Friesen adds that Gordon himself alluded to this notion in an ad­dress to the Canadian Club of Toronto entitled, “The Future of Canada,” found in Addresses and Proceedings (1904-05): 148.
18F.W. Watt, “Western Myth — The World of Ralph Connor,” Canadian Liter­ature, 1, (1959): 26-28.
19It has not been ascertained whether or not Dr. James Robertson was any relation of Gordon’s mother, Mary (née Robertson). For additional in­for­ma­tion on James Robertson, see Catherine Macdonald, “James Robertson and Presbyterian Church Extension in Manitoba and the North West, 1866-1902,” in Prairie Spirit: Perspectives on the Heritage of the United Church of Canada in the West, ed. Dennis L. Butcher et al. (Winnipeg, 1985).
20For further information on Helen Skinner King Gordon, see Marjorie Gillies, “Dedication — Helen Gordon, 1876-1961,” in Extra­ordinary Ordinary Women: Manitoba Women & Their Stories (Winnipeg, 2000); J. King Gordon, “The World of Helen Gordon” (Winnipeg, 1961). Detailed information on the life of Helen’s father, the Rev. John Mark King is found in “Rev. John King Papers,” MSS 63, PC 82, University of Manitoba Archives, and in the Rev. Dr. Gordon Harland, “John Mark King: First Principal of Manitoba College,” in Prairie Spirit, above-cited.
21J. Lee Thompson and John Herd Thompson, “Ralph Connor and the Canadian Identity,” Queen’s Quarterly 79 (1972).
22Gordon’s extensive First World War service file, which contains attestation papers, theatres of service, demobilization documents, correspondence, medical and dental reports, is found in RG 150, Box 3644-20 at the Library and Archives of Canada; Craig, in The Canadian Encyclopedia (2000), 990.
23Wilson; Lennox; Gordon, Postscript to Adventure.
24Numerous article-length biographies have been published; a full-length treat­ment has not yet been published.
25Introduction by J. King Gordon in Postscript to Adventure.
26The Winnipeg Free Press and The Winnipeg Tribune obituaries and tri­butes to Gordon, November 1937.
27John W. Holmes in The Canadian Encyclopedia (2000), 991.
28Introduction by J. King Gordon in Postscript to Adventure.
29Ibid., ix-x.
30Ibid., ix-x.
31Last Will and Testament of Gordon, August 28, 1929, 1-3.
32Ibid.: 1-3.
33Ibid.: 1.
34Ibid.: 1-3.
35Ibid.: 1.
36Ibid.: 2.
37Hamilton, Keepers of the Flame, foreword: viii.
39Lennox, 7.
40Gordon Collection acqui­sition file, University of Manitoba Archives.
41Winnipeg Free Press; Winnipeg Tribune, March 17, 1961, and cor­res­pon­dence between Ruth Gordon and Dr. Richard E. Bennett, 1990-1993.
42Last Will and Testament of Gordon, 2.
43Correspondence between Ruth Gordon and Bennett; Gillis, “Dedication — Helen Gordon,” in Extra­ordinary, Ordinary Women.
44If Helen Gordon wrote a last will and testa­ment, it was apparently not probated in the Probate Division, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench. A thorough search of all relevant files at the Archives of Manitoba found no list­ing for a will of Helen Gordon.
45Gordon D. McLeod, “The Connor Papers: A Biblio­graphical Report,” typescript, (University of Manitoba Archives, 1968), 4-6.
46Correspondence between J. King Gordon, Ruth Gordon and Bennett, 1986-1989.
47Biographical notes on Ruth Gordon may be found in Jack M. Bumsted, Dictionary of Manitoba Biography (Winnipeg, 2000).
48Mary Gordon Carver was the first of the chil­dren of Charles and Helen Gordon to die.
49“Ex-Winnipegger [Marjorie Gordon Smart] Heads College,” Winnipeg Free Press, January 25, 1964.
50Biographical data on Gretta Gordon Brown is found in Extraordinary, Ordinary Women: 69-70.
51Alison Gordon Cox’s son, Michael Gordon Cox, is Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Architecture and Design at The University of Manitoba.
52Correspondence between Gordon D. McLeod and The University of Manitoba, 1968-1969 (Gordon Collection ac­quis­ition file).
53Correspondence from Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, to Helen Gordon, January 11, 1938.
55McLeod, The Connor Papers, 4-5.
56Correspondence from McLeod to Dr. Doris B. Saunders, Head, Department of English, The University of Manitoba, May 4, 1968. The late Dr. Saunders celebrated her 100th birthday in Winnipeg in 2001.
57Correspondence from The University of Manitoba to Gordon family upon ac­cep­tance of the Gordon manuscript collection, 1968-1969.
58The Department of Archives & Special Collections of the University of Manitoba (as it was then known) offici­ally opened in 1978.
59Correspondence between Ruth Gordon, King Gordon and Bennett, 1984-1988; The Bulletin, University of Manitoba, September 23, 1969.
60Gordon cor­res­pon­dence, MSS 56, boxes 4-5.
61Gordon obituaries, MSS 56, box 1.
62Letters of con­dol­ence, MSS 56, boxes 4-5.
63Ingersoll letter, November 30, 1937, boxes 4-5.
64Archives of Old Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery, Winnipeg; confirmed by examin­ation of the monum­ent on the Gordon family plot.
65MSS 56 — finding aid, Appendix 1: 247-248.
66Biographical notes on J. King Gordon are found in The Canadian Encyclopedia (2000), 991.
67Alison Gordon’s biography appears in The Canadian Encyclopedia (2000), 990.
68The Glengarry News, October 1, 1959, 1; Lois Gordon, the last surviving and longest-lived offspring of Charles and Helen Gordon, died in Winnipeg on June 18, 2003 at age 97.
69Beth Paterson, “Ralph Connor and His Million-Dollar Sermons,” Maclean’s Magazine (November 15, 1952).
70Probate records of the Estate of Gordon (Archives of Manitoba); Lennox; Wilson; “Club Cited for Effort on Connor House,” Winnipeg Tribune, February 18, 1976.
71Hamilton, foreword: vii.
72MSS 56 — finding aid: 8-11.
73PC 76 — finding aid: fos. 1-7.
74Library and Archives of Canada and Archives of Manitoba websites.
75Hamilton, foreword: vii.
76Ibid., vii.
77George H. Doran, Chronicles of Barrabas 1884-1934 (New York, 1935).
78Winnipeg Free Press; Winnipeg Tribune, August 23, 1969.
79Friesen: 304.
80MSS 56 — find­ing aid: 10-11.



University of Manitoba Archives

Charles William Gordon (Ralph Connor) Manuscript Collection MSS 56, MSS SC 3, PC 76.

Bellay, Susan and Maura Taylor Pennington. For God, King, Pen & Country: The Papers of Charles William Gordon (1860-1937) (“Ralph Connor”) — A Research Tool. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 1990.

Gordon Collection non-public acquisition files (2), in office of the Head, University of Manitoba Archives.

McLeod, Gordon D. “The Connor Papers: A Bibliographical Report.” Winnipeg: type­script, Summer 1968, 18 pp.

Archives of Manitoba

Last Will and Testament (August 28, 1929) and Probate File (January 1938), Charles William Gordon, Probate Division, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench [then the Surrogate Court of the Eastern Judicial District of the Province of Manitoba]



Gordon, Charles W. “The Future of Canada,” Addresses and Proceedings (1904-05). Toronto: Canadian Club of Toronto, 1905.


Connor, Ralph [C.W. Gordon]. Corporal Cameron of the North West Mounted Police: A Tale of the Macleod Trail. Toronto, 1912.

————. The Man From Glengarry: A Tale of the Ottawa. Toronto: The West­minster Company Limited, 1901.

Doran, George H. Chronicles of Barrabas 1884-1934. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1935.

Gordon, Charles W. Postscript to Adventure: The Autobiography of Ralph Connor. Introduction by J. King Gordon. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1938.

Gordon, Dr. J. King. “The World of Helen Gordon: King Gordon’s Speech to the University Women’s Club.” Winnipeg, 1961. Reprinted in Manitoba Pageant, vol. 24, no. 1 (Autumn 1978). Avail­able online at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/pageant/24/gordon_hsk.shtml.


Books and Articles

Bothwell, Robert, Ian Drummond, and John English. Canada 1900-1945. Toronto: Macmillan, 1987.

Brown, Rev. E.K. “Review of Postscript to Adventure: The Autobiography of Ralph Connor.” The Canadian Historical Review 20 (June 1939).

Bulletin, The. “Why Ralph Connor’s Papers are Here.” The University of Manitoba (September 23, 1969).

Cruikshank, E.A. “The Study of History and the Inter­pretation of Documents,” in Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 3rd series, vol. xv (1921), section 11: 1-13.

Cunnington, Bernice. “Ralph Connor.” Canadian Author & Bookman, vol. 48, no. 3 (Spring 1973), 15-16.

Eggleston, Wilfrid. The Frontier and Canadian Letters. Toronto: Ryerson, 1957.

Ferre, John P. A Social Gospel for Millions: The Religious Best­sellers of Charles Sheldon, Charles Gordon and Harold Bell Wright. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1988.

Friesen, Gerald Arnold. The Canadian Prairies: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984.

Gillies, Marjorie, “Dedication — Helen Gordon, 1876-1961,” and Muriel Smith, “Gretta [Gordon] Brown, 1903-1987 Child Care Activities,” in Colleen Armstrong (ed.), Extraordinary Ordinary Women: Manitoba Women & Their Stories. Winnipeg: Manitoba Clubs of the Canadian Federation of University Women, 2000.

Gordon, Charley. “The Life and Political, Literary, and Religious Works of Charles Gordon and Ralph Connor.” First draft of an English term paper, 18 pp. Located in MSS 56, Box 1, University of Manitoba Archives.

Hamilton, Ian. Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography. London: Hutchinson, 1992.

Harland, Rev. Dr. Gordon. “John Mark King: First Principal of Manitoba College,” in Dennis Butcher, Catherine Macdonald, Margaret McPherson, Raymond Smith, and McKibbin (Mac) Watts (eds.) Prairie Spirit: Per­spectives on the Heritage of the United Church of Canada in the West. Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press, 1985.

Katynski, Liz. “Historic House Marks Anni­ver­saries.” Winnipeg Free Press (June 16, 2004).

Kurnarsky, Larry and Murray Smith. Famous and Fasci­nating Manitobans. Winnipeg: FACE Publications, 1982.

Kundera, Milan. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, translated by M. H. Heim. Markham, ON: Penguin, 1986.

Lamb, Brian. Booknotes Life Stories: Notable Biographers on the People Who Shaped America. New York: Times Books/Random House, 1999.

Lennox, John. Charles W. Gordon (“Ralph Connor”) and his Works. Toronto: ECW Press, 1989.

Macdonald, Catherine. “James Robertson and Presbyterian Church Extension in Manitoba and the North West, 1866-1902,” in Prairie Spirit: Perspectives on the Heritage of the United Church of Canada in the West, ed. Dennis L. Butcher et al. Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press, 1985.

Marsh, James H. (ed.). The Canadian Encyclopedia, Year 2000 Edition. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999.

Millar, Bill. “Unfinished Towers: The Social Vision of Charles W. Gordon.” Paper submitted to the Historical-Theological Division, Vancouver School of Theology, 1980. 79 pp. Located in Box 1, MSS 56, University of Manitoba Archives.

Morton, W. L. Manitoba: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1957.

Paterson, Beth. “Ralph Connor and His Million-Dollar Sermons.” Macleans Magazine (November 15, 1953).

Rogers, George C., Jr. “The Sacred Text: An Improbable Dream,” in Literary and Historical Editing, George L. Vogt and John Bush Jones (eds.). Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Libraries, 1981, 23-30.

Rutherford, Paul, “Made in America: The Problem of Mass Culture in Canada,” in David H. Flaherty and Frank E. Manning (eds.), The Beaver Bites Back: American Popular Culture in Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993.

Thompson, J. Lee, and John H. Thompson. “Ralph Connor and the Canadian Identity.” Queen’s Quarterly 79 (Summer 1972).

Vipond, Mary, “Best Sellers in English Canada, 1899-1918: An Overview,” Journal of Canadian Fiction 24 (1979).

Watt, F.W. ‘Western Myth — The World of Ralph Connor,’ Canadian Literature 1 (1959): 26-36.

Watson, Patrick. The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation. Toronto: McArthur & Company, 2000.

Whiteway, Doug. “Richard Bennett: Underground But Not Subversive.” University of Manitoba Alumni Journal (Autumn 1979).

Wilson, Keith. Charles William Gordon. Manitobans in Profile. Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1981.

Zinsser, William (ed.). Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.


The Glengarry News, “Plaque to Memory of Ralph Connor Will Be Unveiled at St. Elmo, October 10th.” October 1, 1959, 1.

Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Tribune. Various clippings related to the presen­tation of Charles W. Gordon’s papers to the University of Manitoba Archives, the dedi­cation of plaques and the history of 54 Westgate, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Winnipeg Tribune. Various clippings related to the presentation of Charles W. Gordon’s papers to the University of Manitoba Archives.


Leclerc, Lionel A. “Ralph Connor, Canadian Novelist.” Unpublished M.A. Thesis, University of Montreal, 1962.

Wood, Edward H. “Ralph Connor and the Canadian West.” Unpublished M.A. Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 1975.


Miscellanea Manitobiana, no. 4
URL = library.uwinnipeg.ca/people/Dobson/Manitobiana/issues/004.cfm
Published by John Blythe Dobson, 1170 Spruce Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 2V3, Canada
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