The Ice House Gang, also known as the McCord Hall writers, the Tuesday Night Group, or simply Tuesday Night, was an influential creative writing collective active in Fredericton from 1967 to 1983. It was established by Dorothy Livesay, a writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick’s Fredericton campus, to offer a space for UNB students and faculty with creative passions to collaborate and workshop their fiction and poetry.
The group initially met in Livesay’s apartment on a weekly basis before creative writing professor Kent Thompson took over leadership. Meetings were held at various members’ homes until they eventually chose the quaint McCord Hall as their permanent location. The building, constructed in 1851, had various uses over the years, but was originally an icehouse, which inspired the group’s name, coined by well-known writer and poet Alden Nowlan.
The Ice House Gang’s inclusive nature played a significant role in its enduring success, welcoming writers from diverse backgrounds. Although initially formed for professors and students, the group expanded to include writers from various professions. Over its 16-year existence, an estimated 160 to 200 individuals attended at least one meeting, with around 80 becoming regular members and 50 publishing their work.
Members would gather in McCord Hall and share their work aloud, focusing more on voice and vision than detailed critique. This nurturing environment inspired experimentation in different forms, such as Robert Gibbs’ transition from poetry to short stories. The group also provided discipline for members, encouraging them to write consistently in preparation for meetings.
The Ice House Gang’s popularity coincided with the rising interest in creative writing in Fredericton and the broader Maritime region. The establishment of an MA program in creative writing at UNB in 1970 further attracted aspiring writers. New Brunswick Chapbooks, a small publishing venture, featured works from twenty local authors, half of whom were group members. Additionally, the Maritime Writers’ Workshop, the first of its kind east of Toronto, was founded in 1975 by members Nancy Bauer and Mary Lund.
Although the group ceased meeting in 1983 with the intention of reuniting, the gatherings never resumed. Nonetheless, the Ice House Gang’s impact on New Brunswick and Canadian literature remains significant through the published works of several members, the ongoing Maritime Writers’ Workshop, and the use of McCord Hall as a creative writing classroom at UNB.
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