The Uncollected Short Stories of Duncan Campbell Scott

By Duncan Campbell Scott, edited by Tracy Ware

Editorial Notes

For each of the stories in this collection, these notes serve three purposes: first, to identify the original place of publication; second, to provide a general context for approaching the story; and third, to explain obscure references and identify allusions. In compiling these notes, I have found the following sources particularly helpful: The Canadian Encyclopedia; The Canadian Oxford Dictionary (C.O.D.); Alan Rayburn, Dictionary of Canadian Place Names; The Encyclopaedia Britannica; The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations; The Oxford English Dictionary (O.E.D.); The New Strong’s Concordance of the Bible. For the bibliographical references for the original publication of these stories, I am indebted to Laura Groening.

The Ducharmes of the Baskatonge

Scott’s first published story, “The Ducharmes of the Baskatonge” appeared in Scribner’s Magazine 1 (Feb.1887): 236-43. It was the first of Scott’s eleven stories in this prestigious American journal, including seven of the stories that constitute In the Village of Viger (1896) and “The Triumph of Marie Laviolette” (included in this collection). As in “At the Cedars,” Scott uses a Quebec wilderness setting to tell a story of heroic sacrifice, and that setting must have helped him secure publication in Scribner’s (see Doyle 105). Both the refrain in the opening and closing paragraphs and the scenic details themselves anticipate the techniques and themes of his later poems.

The Baskatonge is a reservoir “along the Gatineau River, about 150 km north of Hull” (C.O.D.).
“the haunts of men seem as far away as stars”: See “The Height of Land,” II. 41-48.
“silence”: See the emphasis on “Something . . ./ Deeper than peace” in “The Height of Land,” ll. 17-18, 49-59, 152-57. See also the reference to “a silence deeper than silence” in “The Forsaken,” ll. 93-94.
the St. Joseph: E.K Brown describes the Joseph as “a small river full of obstructions” in the Gatineau (xix). [Page 149]
boom: Barrier to “guide floating logs” (C.O.D.).
shanty: shack
the Baskatonge: See the note to the title.
the Gatineau: See the note to the title.
the Bras d’Or . . . the Castor: Although many of these are common names in Quebec, I cannot locate particular places in the Baskatonge region. Castor (French for “beaver”) is the name of one of the twins born to Leda and Zeus.
the Ruisseau: Stream (French).


Coiniac Street

When published in The Globe (Toronto) 23 Nov. 1889: 11, this story had the following words after the title: “A Tale of Love and Sorrow / Strong and Original Writing / Duncan Campbell Scott’s Latest Production / The Woods in a Storm / The Lair of the Counterfeiters—Presentiments Fulfilled—A Desperate Resolve—No Life Within and Death Without.” At the end of the story, the word “Ottawa” appears below the last line. As the heading suggests, the story is sensational, with many of the conventions of Gothic fiction, from the “riot and tumult” of the opening storm to the haunted house and the demonic enchantress.

sooth: Truth (archaic).


John Scantleberry, Working Merchant Tailor, Great Specialty of Pantaloons

This story appeared with illustrations in The Dominion Illustrated Monthly (Feb. 1892): 37-45. This study of abnormal psychology in an oppressive urban setting is remarkable for its restraint. John Scantleberry is an anti-social tailor with “no imagination” and almost no memory, except for the one glimpse of his childhood. While his affection for the little girl in the courtyard is redemptive, it does not lead him to any great change. Instead, [Page 150] he loses his obsession when Dagon dies, and he sinks into obscurity.

Scantleberry: As a noun, “scantle” means “small portion”; as a verb, it means “to make scarce” (New 47).
Pantaloons: New suggests that the word derives “from the Italian ‘mask-wearer,’ Pantaleone” (47). Pantaleone is a character in Italian comedy, “represented as a foolish and vicious old man, the butt of the clown’s jokes, and his abettor in his pranks and tricks” (O.E.D.)
imp: A mischievous spirit.
“Remember sinful youth . . .”: Traditional Christian injunction. See Ecclesiastes 12: 1: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”
yorker: Inhabitant of Toronto (“York” was the former name of Toronto).
surbase: Lower border.
Dagon: Deity worshipped by the Philistines before his image is destroyed (Judges 16: 23; I Samuel 5). Dagon was conventionally depicted as, in Milton’s words, “Sea monster, upward Man / And downward Fish” (Paradise Lost I.462-63).
Scantlingberry: Dagon’s corruption of Scantleberry’s name plays on “scantling,” which can mean a beam, a sample, or a small amount.
goose: A “tailor’s flatiron, having a handle like a goose’s neck” (C.O.D.).
Bohemian: From Bohemia, the “region forming the Western part of the Czech republic” (C.O.D.).
pallid: pale
trim it and water it: see Blake’s “A Poison Tree” 11.5-6: “And I waterd it in fears, / Night & morning with my tears” (28)
shoddy: An “inferior cloth made partly from the shredded fibre of old woolen cloth” (C.O.D.).
basted: Loosely stitched.


The Triumph of Marie Laviolette

“The Triumph of Marie Laviolette” appeared with illustrations in Scribner’s Magazine 12 (Aug. 1892): 232-41. (On Scott’s appearances in this journal, see the head note to “The Ducharmes of the Baskatonge.”) Again Scott uses a Quebec setting, though here the mundane but happy lives of [Page 151] the Laviolettes are violated by the predatory Tim O’Mara and Black Donald McDonald. The author’s sympathies are clearly with Gabriel and Marie, whose “triumph” has less to do with their virtues than with the courage of Maggie O’Mara.

diaphanous: “almost transparent” (C.O.D.)
phosphates: Increasingly used as a fertilizer in the last half of the nineteenth century.
Lievres: According to Michael Gnarowski, this river, now known as the “Rivière du Lièvre,” “flows into the Ottawa northeast of the Capital at Masson, Que.” (107). It serves as the setting for one of Archibald Lampman’s most famous poems, “Morning on the Lièvres,” and for Scott’s “The Winning of Marie-Louise” (in The Witching of Elspie).
St. Anne: Mother of the Virgin Mary.
St. Nicholas: 4th century Bishop; patron saint of sailors, merchants, and children. According to legend, he saved three children who had been pickled in a tub of brine.
Desiré: In “Tete-Jaune,” Père Dugas has this to say about the name: “He wasn’t wanted. Why call him Désiré? That’s a girl’s name” (Circle 38). I have changed the concluding accent in the name, which is consistently reversed in the Scribner’s text.
shanty: Shack.
hollyhock: Tall plant with large flowers.
Paltimore: Quebec town north of Ottawa (now spelled Poltimore).
“Sur le pont d’Avignon”: Traditional French song about the bridge at Avignon built by St. Bénézet in 1177-88. The song begins as follows: “Sur le pont d’Avignon / L’on y danse, l’on y danse.”


Sister Ste Colombe

This story appeared in Scott’s Mermaid Inn column in The Globe for May 6 1893: 7, and May 13, 1893: 11; and in Barrie Davies’ edition of these columns (303-05, 309-11). The Mermaid Inn was a literary and general interest column that Scott, William Wilfred Campbell, and Archibald Lampman wrote for The Globe from Feb.6, 1892, to July 1, 1893. In “Sister Ste Colombe” (which is contemporary with the stories of In the Village [Page 152] of Viger), Scott places more emphasis on Catholic spirituality than usual in his stories of Quebec.

the Blanche: French for “white.” Blanche is also the name of the river in In the Village of Viger.
Ste Colombe: The name means “dove” (Old French).
curé: Priest.
dove-cote: Shelter for doves.
wimple: A nun’s headdress.
vesper: Evening prayer.


The Mystery of The Red Deeps

This mystery story appeared in Massey’s Magazine in two parts: (April 1896): 232-40; and (May 1896): 309-15. Massey’s Magazine was established by the philanthropist Hart Almerrin Massey (1823-96); it merged with the Canadian Magazine in 1897. As Carole Gerson notes, the use of Quebec “as a setting for gothicism and mystery” was common in nineteenth-century Canadian fiction (Purer 111). “The Mystery of the Red Deeps” (the longest of the uncollected stories) is Scott’s most ambitious use of the conventions of detective fiction. It is the story of Oliver Arahill’s “first case” and the end of his apprenticeship.

Denham, in Mississiquoi: There is town called Dunham, south of Cowansville, in the county of Brome-Missisquoi in southern Quebec. Scott set “Recompense” (in The Witching of Elspie) in Dunham.
sciatica: Pain in the area of the hip.
cameo: Stone “carved in relief with a background of a different colour” (C.O.D.).
cassock: Clerical garment.
fell: Ridge.
Hypnotism: Scott wrote an ironic column on the vogue of hypnotism for the Mermaid Inn, Sept. 3 1892.
factotum: Handyman.
shewed: Showed (archaic).
dormer windows: Upright windows on a sloping roof. [Page 153]
“Auld Robin Grey”: Scottish song written in 1771 by Lady Anne Barnard in which the speaker explains the distress that caused her to marry Robin Grey in the absence of her beloved Jamie.
“There was a lad was born in Kyle”: Song written in 1787 by Robert Burns to the tune of “Dainty Davie.” The tone is clear from the opening stanza: “There was a lad was born in Kyle, / But what na day o’ what na style / I doubt it’s hardly worth the while / To be sae nice wi’ Robin. / Robin was a rovin’ Boy, / Rantin’ rovin’, rantin’ rovin’; / Robin was a rovin’ Boy, / Rantin’ rovin’ Robin”” (Burns 137-38).
“The Rover of Loch Ryan”: According to John Stuart Blackie, “The Rover of Lochryan” is “the real glory and crown of the Scottish sea-song of Lowland origin” (353). It was written by Hew Ainslie, and it ends as follows: “When landsmen sleep, or wake an’ creep, / In the tempest’s angry moan, / We dash through the drift, an’ sing to the lift / O’ the wave that heaves us on” (Blackie 356).
Neapolitan: From Naples.
maledictions: Curses.
motley: Multi-coloured outfit (like that worn by a jester).
hummocks: Ridges.
grewsome: Gruesome (archaic).
shanty: Shack.
claret: Dry red wine.
Seven Sleepers: In legend, seven Christians who fled Roman persecution and slept in a cave for two centuries.
phial: Small bottle.
The Wheel of Fire: King Lear says, “I am bound / Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears / Do scald like molten lead” (King Lear 4.7.47-49).


John Greenlaw’s Story

This story appeared in Massey’s Magazine (July 1896): 30-34. (See the head note to “The Mystery of the Red Deeps” for information on this journal). Like most of the other five stories that Scott published in this journal, “John Greenlaw’s Story” uses the conventions of detective fiction. In this case, the narrator’s services are requested by Basil Mannix, but the emphasis is less on detection than on witnessing a mystery that cannot be solved. [Page 154]

Harriet Westbrook: The name of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s first wife. She committed suicide in 1816, after Percy left her for Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin.
plover: Plump-breasted bird (C.O.D.).
snipe: Marsh bird.
Velasquez: Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660), Spanish painter known for his portraits.
“nothing in heaven or earth, or the waters under the earth”: See Deuternomy 5:8: “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth.”


The Nest of Imposture

This story appeared in Massey’s Magazine in two parts: (Aug. 1896): 102-06; (Sept. 1896): 203-08. (See the head note to “The Mystery of the Red Deeps” for information on this journal.) For the second part, Scott is identified as “Author of ‘In the Village of Viger’”. As in “The Mystery of the Red Deeps,” Scott uses the conventions of detective fiction in a Quebec setting, but now his emphasis is more on the intrigue in the Savona family than on the abilities of the detective.

gait: Erroneously printed as “gate” in 1896.
St. Pierre Miquelon: Saint Pierre and Miquelon are French islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence 20 miles off Newfoundland.
Lacolle: Quebec town just north of the New York border.
Richelieu River: River that flows from Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence.
Bonaventure Depot: The old train station in Montreal.
Longueil: City on the St. Lawrence east of Montreal.
Rouse’s Point: Town in northeastern New York state, on the Quebec border.
thither: There.
malediction: Curse.
cairngorm: Quartz.
dirk: Dagger.
wraithlike: Ghostly. [Page 155]
cinnabar: Bright red.
pallid: Pale.
Blomidon: A “hooked peninsula on the northwest central coast of Nova Scotia” (C.O.D.).
Uclulet: Town of the west coast of Vancouver Island (now spelled “Ucluelet”).
nonplussed: Perplexed.
Bastile: Famous Paris prison (usually spelled “Bastille”).
Brahmin: The highest Hindu caste.
Sherbrooke Street and the Cote de Neige Road: Area just east of Westmount. South of Sherbrooke, Cote-des-Neiges (as it is now spelled) becomes Guy.


Ends Rough Hewn

This story appeared in Massey’s Magazine (Oct. 1896): 276-82. (See the head note to “The Mystery of the Red Deeps” for information on this journal.) On the first page, Scott is identified as “Author of ‘In the Village of Viger,’ etc.” Although it is about a crime, this is less a detective story than a study in guilt, and the father dies before he makes the confession that his daughter demands. His son has died as well, and only his sister will ever know of his innocence. So the conclusion suggests that whatever “divinity” shapes his ends is inscrutable.

title: The title is an allusion to Hamlet’s speech (5.2. 10-11): “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, / Rough-hew them how we will . . .”
terrence: Earthly.
nonce: Occasion.
nonplussed: Perplexed (though the word can also mean “unfazed”).
gunwale: Top edge of a boat.
euphuistically: In an elevated manner.
deal: “Fir or pine timber” (C.O.D.).
the fabric of her vision: In a famous speech in The Tempest (4.1.151), Prospero speaks of “the baseless fabric of this vision.”
pallid: Pale.
“There’s a divinity that shapes . . . ”: See note to the title. [Page 156]
to confess and not to confess: An echo of Hamlet’s famous question, “To be, or not to be” (3.1.57).
expiation: Payment or act to make amends.


Their Wedding Eve: A Story of the War of 1812

This story appeared with illustrations in the Christmas number of The Globe (1898): 14-16. It was the first of five stories that Scott published in this annual, including “A Sacred Trust: A Story of the Upper Ottawa” and “How Uncle David Rouse Made His Will” (both included in this collection). As Carole Gerson notes, the Christmas issue of The Globe had become by 1897 “a large, lavishly-illustrated, festive publication with a colourful cover and many photographs (“Christmas” 10). Other notable authors who appeared in these issues include Archibald Lampman, Charles G.D. Roberts, Pauline Johnson, Marjorie Pickthall, and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Scott’s interest in Canadian history is the source of many essays, poems, and stories, and of his work (with Pelham Edgar and William Dawson LeSueur) as general editor of the “Makers of Canada” series (20 vols, 1903-08; Scott wrote the book on John Graves Simcoe). The romantic qualities of “Their Wedding Eve” lead Scott to contrast the heroism of the British and their allies with the villainy of the opposing forces. For a discussion of other representations of the War of 1812 in Canadian fiction, see Carole Gerson (Purer 106-07).

Amherstburg: Ontario town near Windsor.
shanty: Shack.
Pottowattamie: The Potawatomi tribe lived on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan until they were driven west in the seventeenth century. Although they had helped Pontiac fight the English in 1763-64, the tribe sided with the English in the War of 1812.
drugget: Coarse fabric.
Berenice: The name of the wife of the ancient Egyptian king, Ptolemy Euergetes; her hair was vowed to Venus and assumed into the heavens after her death.
Pelee Island: Island in Lake Erie, near Windsor.
Malden: British fort at Amherstburg. [Page 157]
Fort George: British fort near Niagara that was briefly captured by the Americans during the War of 1812.
Colchester: Loyalist town on the north shore of Lake Erie.
leviathan: Biblical sea beast of great size.
cutlass: Short sword with curved blade.


The Stratagem of Terrance O’Halloran

This story was published in The Canadian Magazine of Politics, Science, Art and Literature 22 (Jan. 1904): 283-86. This journal was founded in Toronto by J.G. Mowat in 1893 and ran until 1939. As in “How Uncle David Rouse Made His Will,” Scott uses dialect for humorous purposes, although here the humor depends on ethnic (Irish and French-Canadian) types. Scott’s friend E.W. Thomson often used such ethnic humor in his stories (Gerson, “Piper’s” 141).

Stag Creek: The Stag River flows into the Gatineau just south of Low and Paugan Falls.
cut-purse: Thief.
Township of Low: There is a township of this name near the confluence of the stag and the Gatineau.
drugget: Coarse fabric.
bushel basket: See Christ’s words in Luke 11: 33: “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.” See also Matthew 5: 15.
like a tief in the night: See I Thessalonians 5: 2: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”
potheen: Illicit liquor (usually poteen).


A Sacred Trust: A Story of the Upper Ottawa

This story appeared with illustrations in the Christmas number of The Globe (1906): 40-41, 43. (For information on these Christmas numbers, see the head note to “Their Wedding Eve: A Story of the War of 1812). This [Page 158] fireside tale relies heavily on dialect, coincidence, and the colourful lives of the woodsmen.

the Upper Ottawa: Forming the border between Ontario and Quebec, this river was important to the timber trade in the nineteenth century.
Havana: Cuban cigar.
runway: Incline down which logs descend (C.O.D.).
Kazubazua: Quebec town north of Ottawa.
rollway: Incline down which logs descend (O.E.D.).
Achigan: Lake in Laurentian mountains; Scott uses it for the setting of “In the Year 1806” (in The Witching of Elspie) and “Clute Boulay” (in The Circle of Affection). E.K. Brown notes that it has “an important role” in Scott’s Untitled Novel, and calls this lake “one of the special places for his imaginative life” (xix).
bannock: Bread.
the Pickanock: River (now spelled Pikanok) that empties into the Gatineau at Gracefield, Quebec (Assiniwi 124).
harry: Despoil
dunnage: “Miscellaneous baggage” (C.O.D.).
pannikin: Small can.
demijohn: “Bulbous narrow-necked bottle” (C.O.D.).
a mask of peace: See “At Gull Lake,” I.127: “After the beauty of terror the beauty of peace.”


How Uncle David Rouse Made His Will

This story appeared (with illustrations by Albert H. Robinson) in the Christmas number of The Globe (1907): 32-33. (For information on these Christmas numbers, see the head note to “Their Wedding Eve: A Story of the War of 1812.”) Both the dialogue and the deceptions of Uncle David and Dr. Passmore recall the antics of the King and the Duke in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Mutton Corners: In “Expiation” (in The Witching of Elspie), Mutton Corners is “one of the stations on the Dunham circuit” for Methodist preachers. [Page 159]
Grits: Liberals.
County of Leeds: County near Kingston.
Minerva: Roman name for Athena, goddess of reason.
shad: A kind of herring.
gormed: Foolish (gormless).
guy: Ridicule.
stockin’: Stockroom.
hyperdermott: Injection from hypodermic needle.
sweetbreads: “Pancreas or thymus of an animal used for food” (C.O.D.).
Cataraqui Cemetery: Kingston site of John A. Macdonald’s tomb.
Marythin race: Marathon; long distance race.
Straits Settlement: British colony in southeast Asia.
[Page 160]

Works Cited in the Editorial Notes

Assiniwi, Bernard. Lexique des noms indiens du Canada: Les noms         géographiques. Montreal: Leméac, 1996.

Blackie, John Stuart. Scottish Song: its Wealth, Wisdom and Social         Significance. Edinburgh: Blackwood and Sons, 1889.

Blake, William. The Poetry and Prose of William Blake. Ed. David V. Erdman.         New York: Doubleday, 1965.

Brown, E.K. “Memoir of Duncan Campbell Scott.” Selected Poems of Duncan         Campbell Scott. Ed. Brown. Toronto: Ryerson, 1951. xi-xlii.

Burns, Robert. Selected Poems. Ed. Carol McGuirk. Harmondsworth: Penguin,         1993.

Davies, Barrie, ed. At the Mermaid Inn: Wilfred Campbell, Archibald         Lampman, and Duncan Campbell Scott in The Globe 1892-93. Literature         of Canada: Poetry and Prose in Reprint. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1979.

Doyle, James. “Duncan Campbell Scott and American Literature.” The Duncan         Campbell Scott Symposium. Ed. K.P. Stich. Reappraisals: Canadian         Writers. Ottawa: U of Ottawa P, 1980. 101-09.

Gerson, Carole. “The ‘Christmas Globe.’ Lampman, Scott, Wood, et. al.”         Canadian Notes and Queries 36 (1986): 10-12.

——. “The Piper’s Forgotten Tune: Notes on the Stories of D.C. Scott and a         Bibliography.” Journal of Canadian Fiction 16 (1976): 138-43.

——. A Purer Taste: The Writing and Reading of Fiction in Nineteenth-        Century Canada. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1989.

Gnarowski, Michael. “Notes and References.” Selected Poetry of Archibald         Lampman. Ed. Gnarowski. Ottawa: Tecumseh, 1990. 106-11.

Groening, Laura. “Duncan Campbell Scott: An Annotated Bibliography.” The         Annotated Bibliography of Canada’s Major Authors. Vol. 8. Ed. Robert         Lecker and Jack David. Toronto: ECW, 1994. 469-576.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost: A Poem in Twelve Books. A New Edition. Ed.         Merritt Y. Hughes. Indianapolis: Odyssey, 1962.

New, W.H. Dreams of Speech and Violence: The Art of the Short Story in         Canada and New Zealand. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1987.

Scott, Duncan Campbell. The Circle of Affection and Other Pieces in Prose         and Verse. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1947.

——. The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott. Toronto: McClelland and         Stewart, 1926.

——. Untitled Novel, ca. 1905. Ed. John Flood. Moonbeam ON: Penumbra,         1979.

——. In the Village of Viger. Boston: Copeland and Day, 1896. Toronto:         McClelland and Stewart, 1996.

——. The Witching of Elspie: A Book of Stories. Toronto: McClelland and         Stewart, 1923.

Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. 4th ed. Ed.         David Bevington. New York: Longman, 1997.