New Brunswick Author Portal

Alfred  Goldsworthy  Bailey
Categories: Male AuthorsAnglophone AuthorsPoetsAuthors of Non-FictionSaint John River Valley

photo of author
Source: UNB Audio-Visual Services


Dr. Alfred G. Bailey (born 18 March 1905; died 21 April 1997) was an educator, poet, anthropologist, ethno-historian, librarian, academic administrator, and considered the founder of the second poetic “Renaissance” in Fredericton through his example and through his establishment of The Fiddlehead magazine.

Born in Quebec, Bailey received his Bachelor of Arts in 1927 from the University of New Brunswick, and completed his Master of Arts (1929) and Doctorate (1934) degrees at the University of Toronto, specializing in ethno-history and aboriginal culture. Post-doctorate he studied abroad at the University of London, and was awarded a Carnegie grant to study British and continental museum administration.

From 1935 – 1938, Bailey worked as assistant director and associate curator at the New Brunswick Museum (Saint John, N.B.). In 1938, he began a long administrative career with the University of New Brunswick when he was named the first head of the History Department, a position he held until 1969. He also served as Honorary Librarian and Chief Executive Officer of the UNB Library from 1946 – 1959, Dean of Arts from 1946 – 1964, and Vice President (Academic) from 1965 – 1969. In 1970, Alfred Bailey retired from the University of New Brunswick and was appointed Professor Emeritus.

Bailey’s literary interests led to the founding of the Bliss Carman Society in 1940 and his co-founding of The Fiddlehead, Canada’s oldest literary magazine, in 1945. He wrote several books of poetry and scholarly historical and anthropological works, including Songs of the Saguenay and other poems (1927); Tao: A Ryerson Poetry Chap Book (1930); The Conflict of European and Eastern Algonkian Culture 1504 – 1700: A Study in Canadian Civilization (1937a; 1969b); Border River (1952); Culture and Nationality: Essays (1972); Thanks for a Drowned Island (1973); Miramichi Lightning (1981); and The Letters of James and Ellen Robb: Portrait of a Fredericton Family in Early Victorian Times (1983). He also served as an editor for the standard Canadian literary reference work, The Literary History of Canada.

How has New Brunswick influenced your work?

I was trying to reactivate literature here. I had the idea of a magazine, but mimeographing had not yet been developed. I wrote an article entitled “Verse” with the intention of stimulating people to think about developing our local talents. I pointed out, for example, that there is a statue of Burns in Fredericton, why not one of Bliss Carman and two other poets [Charles G. D. Roberts and Francis Sherman].I wrote to Dr. Clarence Webster urging that such a monument be erected to the Fredericton Poets. I was thus responsible for the monument to the poets of Fredericton on campus here.

Source: Lane, M. Travis. “An Interview with Alfred Goldsworthy Bailey.” Studies in Canadian Literature: 11:2 (1986)

Literary Prizes

Shortlisted, Governor General’s Literary Awards (Poetry) - 1981
Officer of the Order of Canada - 1978
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada - 1951

Featured Publication

Miramichi Lightning: Collected Poems


entangle me o lord in thy meshes
that I may rest in air
when water needs nothing.
Look down, look down
where the green weeds move
in the flooding tide.

Entangle me in the wind
let me sever, and sow
plants in the meadow
by the hill stream

the lord is my shepherd
I shall not want
the tips of the fingers
the roots of the trees.

Find this author in the New Brunswick public libraries catalogue.


  • “Dr. Alfred Goldsworthy Bailey fonds.” University of New Brunswick Archives
  • Cogswell, Frederick, Marguerite Maillet and Nancy Miller Chénier. New Brunswick Authors/Écrivains du Nouveau-Brunswick. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1984.
  • Sturgeon, Linda Ann. “Biographical Sketch.” ( 6 Nov. 1995). Http://