This Week in History
Macphail Makes Headlines
For the week of Monday November 19, 2007
On November 24, 1864, Andrew Macphail was born in Orwell, Prince Edward Island. Although he would spend most of his life in urban Montréal, he would always remain tied to his birthplace in rural P.E.I.
Macphail’s most notable literary achievement was founding and editing The University Magazine. Macphail created the quarterly to address Canadian issues and to provide the country with intellectual leadership. He contributed 43 articles to the magazine himself, but also paid other contributors, an unusual practice that ensured excellent quality and allowed Macphail to mould the magazine according to his own opinions. Although The University Magazine set the writing standard in English-speaking Canada, its content was often controversial. Macphail once listed his critics as Liberals, Conservatives, assorted professors, and the daily press.
Macphail discontinued The University Magazine shortly after returning from serving with the Canadian Army Medical Corps during the First World War. He continued to write mostly social criticism, which rejected industrialization and the other changes rapidly taking place in Macphail’s society. The Master’s Wife, a semi-autobiographical reminiscence of rural P.E.I., was Macphail’s most personal composition. It reflects his love of the quiet, country life that he experienced during his childhood.
With the exception of the war years, Macphail spent every summer from 1905 until his death in 1938 at his family home in Orwell. Sir Andrew Macphail became a National Historic Person in 1945.
For more information on Stephen Leacock, please visit the This Week in History story "'Sunshine Sketches' of Stephen Leacock".
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