Elizabeth Brewster, 1922-2012
On December 26, 2012, poet, writer, retired Department of English professor, and our friend Dr. Elizabeth Brewster passed away at the age of 90 in Saskatoon. Professor Brewster was born in Chipman, New Brunswick on August 26, 1922. She earned her BA from the University of New Brunswick in 1946, her MA from Radcliffe College (Harvard) in 1947, a library science degree from the University of Toronto in 1953, and a PhD from Indiana University in 1962. She worked in libraries at Queen's University, Carlton University, Mount Allison University, the Legislative Library in Fredericton, and the University of Alberta. She taught English at the University of Victoria (1960-1961) and the University of Alberta (1970-1971) before taking a position at the University of Saskatchewan in 1972, where she remained until her retirement in 1990. Her teaching focused on English-Canadian Literature and on Creative Writing.
Her career as a writer began at the age of twelve, when she had a poem published in the St. John Telegraph. While still in high school she sent some poems to a poetry contest and as a result met P.K. Page, who was one of the judges; the friendship that ensued lasted until Page's recent death. While at the University of New Brunswick she was one of the founders of The Fiddlehead, now the longest- running of English Canada's literary magazines. Her first chapbook, East Coast, was published by Ryerson in 1951. She published seven books of poems, a novel, and a short story collection before moving to Saskatoon and published ten more books of poetry and five works of prose following her move, principally published by Oberon Press. Brewster has published three selections of her poetic work: Passage of Summer: Selected Poems (1969); Selected Poems of Elizabeth Brewster, 1944–1984 in two volumes (1985); and Footnotes to the Book of Job, which includes new poems as well as selected poems from three books published after 1985. She also published two novels: The Sisters (1974) and Junction (1982), as well as two poetic memoirs, The Invention of Truth (1991), and Away from Home (1995). She identified with Eastern Canada in her memories of her past; her writings of the Prairies were from the perspective of an outside observer seeking reference points. Brewster was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of New Brunswick; was nominated for a Governor General’s award; received the award for Lifetime Excellence in the Arts from The Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, a Saskatchewan Centennial Medal, a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, was a Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets, and was a member of the Order of Canada.