Charles Mair


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(1838–1927). Born in Lanark, Upper Canada (Ontario), a timber town in the Ottawa Valley, Mair began medical studies in 1856 at Queen's University, Kingston, but left in 1857 to work for ten years in his family's timber business. In 1868, after another year at Queen's, he went to Ottawa, where he became one of the founders of the Canada First movement. He then accepted a job as paymaster to a government road party at the Red River Settlement (present-day Winnipeg). His vividly descriptive letters to his brother, who forwarded them to the Toronto Globe, praised the Northwest but insulted the Métis, particularly the women, and caused a furore in the Settlement. In Dec. 1869, during the Red River Rebellion, Mair was imprisoned and sentenced to death by Louis Riel. Escaping from Fort Garry, he later made his way east, to Toronto, where he roused Ontario's Orangemen over Riel's execution of Thomas Scott. Angry over Riel's confiscation of his poems, Mair returned to the West to join the suppression of Riel's North West Rebellion of 1885. Back in Toronto, he received a medal of honour and was proclaimed the ‘warrior bard’.


From The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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