Kirkconnell, Watson

Kirkconnell, Watson, b 16 May 1895 in Port Hope, Ontario, d 26 February 1977 in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. (Photo: Watson Kirkconnell.) Literary scholar, writer, and translator. Educated at Queen's University and Lincoln College, Oxford, Kirkconnell taught English literature and classics at Wesley College, Winnipeg, McMaster University, and Acadia University. Living in Winnipeg (1922–40), he became interested in the languages and literatures of the city's ethnic groups. In 1935 he edited Canadian Overtones, the first anthology of ‘New Canadian’ writings in English translation. Between 1937 and 1965 he contributed an annual review ‘Publications in Other Languages’ to the University of Toronto Quarterly. During the Second World War he helped organize the Department of National War Services and served on advisory committees of its Nationalities Branch. He played an important role in the founding of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee (UCC). In pamphlets such as Our Ukrainian Loyalists (1943) he emphasized the dedication of the UCC and non-communist Ukrainian Canadians to the Allied war effort and criticized the pro-Communist Association of United Ukrainian Canadians. Kirkconnell collaborated with Constantine Andrusyshen to produce a volume of Ukrainian poetry in translation, The Ukrainian Poets 1189–1962 (1963) and to translate Slovo o polku Ihorevi (Tale of Ihor’s Campaign, 1963) and the works of Taras Shevchenko (The Poetical Works of Taras Shevchenko, 1964).

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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