R. F. Scott

R. F. Scott books and biography

F. R. Scott

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Francis Reginald Scott CC, commonly known as Frank Scott or F.R. Scott, (August 1, 1899 - January 30, 1985) was a Canadian poet, intellectual and constitutional expert. Born and raised in Quebec City, Scott witnessed the riots in the city during the Conscription Crisis of 1917. Completing his undergraduate studies at Bishop's University, in Lennoxville, Quebec, Scott went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and was influenced by the Christian Socialist ideas of R.H. Tawney and the Student Christian Movement. He was married to Marian Dale Scott, an important modern painter in Canada.

Scott returned to Canada, settled in Montreal and studied law at McGill University eventually joining the law faculty as a professor.

The Great Depression greatly disturbed Scott and he and other intellectuals formed the League for Social Reconstruction to advocate socialist solutions in a Canadian context. Through the LSR, Scott became an influential figure in the Canadian socialist movement and a founding member of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and a contributor to the Regina Manifesto. He went on to serve as national chairman of the CCF from 1942 until 1950.

During the 1950s, Scott was an active opponent of the Duplessis regime in Quebec and went to court to fight the Padlock Law. He also represented one of Jehovah's Witnesses, one Frank Roncarrelli, in Roncarelli v. Duplessis all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada a battle that Maurice Duplessis lost.

Scott served as dean of law at McGill University from 1961 to 1964 and served on the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. In 1970 he was offered a seat in the Canadian Senate by Pierre Trudeau but declined the appointment.

He won both the 1977 Governor General's Award for non-fiction for his Essays on the Constitution and the 1981 Governor General's Award for poetry for his Collected Poems. Scott was awarded the Royal Society of Canada's Lorne Pierce Medal in 1962.

As a poet he wrote "A Villanelle for Our Time", to which Leonard Cohen added music for his album Dear Heather.

From bitter searching of the heart,
Quickened with passion and with pain
We rise to play a greater part.
This is the faith from which we start:
Men shall know commonwealth again
From bitter searching of the heart.
We loved the easy and the smart,
But now, with keener hand and brain,
We rise to play a greater part.
The lesser loyalties depart,
And neither race nor creed remain
From bitter searching of the heart.
Not steering by the venal chart
That tricked the mass for private gain,
We rise to play a greater part.
Reshaping narrow law and art
Whose symbols are the millions slain,
From bitter searching of the heart
We rise to play a greater part.

On his passing in 1985, Frank Scott was interred in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.

Scott is the subject of a number of critical works, as well as a major biography, The Politics of the Imagination: A Life of F. R. Scott by Sandra Djwa.


Selected Bibliography


  • Overture – 1945
  • Events and Signals – 1954
  • All the Spikes But the Last - 1957
  • The Eye of the Needle: Satire, Sorties, Sundries – 1957
  • Signature – 1964
  • Selected Poems – 1966
  • Trouvailles: Poems from Prose – 1967
  • The Dance is One – 1973
  • The Collected Poems of F. R. Scott – 1981


  • Celebration: Famous Canadian Poets CD Canadian Poetry Association — 2001 ISBN 1-55253-022-1 (CD#4) (with James Reaney )


  • St-Denys Garneau & Anne Hebert: Translations/Traductions –1962
  • Poems of French Canada – 1977


  • Social Reconstruction and the B.N.A. Act – 1934
  • Labour Conditions in the Men's Clothing Industry – 1935 (with H. M. Cassidy)
  • Canada Today: A Study of Her National Interests and National Policy – 1938
  • Canada's Role in World Affairs – 1942
  • Make This Your Canada: A Review of C.C.F. History and Policy – 1943 (with David Lewis)
  • Cooperation for What? United States and British Commonwealth – 1944
  • The World War Against Poverty – 1953 (with R. A. MacKay and A. E. Ritchie)
  • What Does Labour Need in a Bill of Rights – 1959
  • The Canadian Constitution and Human Rights – 1959
  • Civil Liberties and Canadian Federalism – 1959
  • Dialogue sur la traduction – 1970 (with Anne Hebert)
  • Essays on the Constitution: Aspects of Canadian Law and Politics – 1977
  • Scott, Frank R. (1986). A New Endeavour: Selected Political Essays, Letters, and Addresses, Edited and introduced by Michiel Horn, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-5672-5 (bound). - ISBN 0-8020-6603-8 (pbk).

Anthologies Edited

  • New Provinces: Poems of Several Authors –1936
  • The Blasted Pine: An Anthology of Satire, Invective and Disrespectful Verse – 1957 (with A. J. M. Smith)

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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