Sir Charles G.D. Roberts Home

G. D. Roberts Home

Sir Charles G.D. Roberts Home

Constructed from brick in 1829, this Canadian interpretation of an English Georgian rectory was initially inhabited by Archdeacon Coster.

The Rectory

It was later home to Canon Roberts and his renowned literary family, notably Sir Charles G.D. Roberts (1860-1943). Charles, alongside his cousin, poet Bliss Carman, are celebrated as pioneers of English poetry in Canada. The garden was a favorite spot where they often engaged in their writing endeavours.

Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1877-1953), another acclaimed author and significantly younger, was born here. He was the father of the esteemed modern Canadian artist Goodridge Roberts (1904-1974).

G.D. Roberts Home
“The Old Rectory Home of the Roberts Family built in 1834, Fredericton, New Brunswick. 1930” NBM 1987-17-561

Although the house, situated at 734 George Street in Fredericton, has been affected by recent alterations that don’t align with its original design, it continues to stand as one of the most significant structures in New Brunswick. 

Sir Charles G.D. Roberts
Sir Charles G.D. Roberts

Charles G.D. Roberts was born on 10 January 1860 in Douglas to Emma Wetmore Bliss and George Goodridge Roberts. He was the eldest of six siblings: Jane Elizabeth Gostwycke (Nain), Goodridge Bliss, William Carman, George Edward Theodore Goodridge (Thede), and Fanny, who sadly passed away during infancy. The Roberts family settled in Sackville, where his father took on the role of rector at St. Ann’s Church. In 1873, the family relocated to Fredericton after Canon Roberts was appointed rector of Christ Church Parish Church (St. Anne’s).

During his teenage years in Fredericton, Charles received a significant education. Alongside his cousin, Bliss Carman, he attended the Collegiate School, mentored by the renowned headmaster and scholar George R. Parkin. Charles’ academic journey continued at the University of New Brunswick, where he graduated in June 1879 with top honours in various subjects, including a scholarship in Latin and Greek. During his time at UNB, he penned several poems, notably “Memnon,” which was featured in “The Century” in 1879.

Upon graduating, Charles headed to Chatham to lead the grammar school. By fall 1879, his first poetry collection, “Orion and Other Poems,” was published. In the subsequent year, instead of heading to Oxford University, Charles chose love, marrying Mary Isabel Fenety, with whom he would have four children. His academic pursuits didn’t stop, and he secured an M.A. from UNB in 1881.

By 1882, Charles was back in Fredericton, leading the York Street School. However, Toronto soon beckoned, and the Roberts family relocated. Charles had a brief stint as editor of “The Week” before shifting to teaching at King’s College, Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1885. His decade there was marked by prolific writing, resulting in numerous publications. By 1895, Canada started recognizing Charles as an upcoming literary figure, culminating in his election as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1890.

The subsequent 35 years were a whirlwind of activities for Roberts, with most of his time spent outside Canada. He relocated to New York City in 1897, leaving his family behind. Between 1907-1925, Europe beckoned, and he made London his base. His diverse roles included freelancing, editorial positions, army stints, lectures, and extensive travel across Europe, Britain, and the U.S.

In 1925, Charles returned to Canada, making Toronto his home and immersing himself in the country’s literary circles. He supported emerging Canadian writers, held notable positions, and was recognized with various awards, including being knighted in 1935. After the passing of his first wife, he remarried Joan Montgomery in October 1943.

Charles G.D. Roberts passed away a month later, on 26 November 1943, leaving behind an indelible mark on Canadian literature.

Source: UNB Library

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