Doug Beardsley Scholarship

Doug Beardsley (1941 - )

Growing up in Montreal, Doug was befriended by a small group of like-minded high school friends who  were as curious as he was about literature, history, museums, classical music, jazz architecture, art, wine, women,  and the nightlife of Old Montreal. While working at Eaton’s he took to walking Sainte Catherine Street on his lunch hours, ending at Classic’s Book Store owned by Louis Melzack. After several visits Mr. Melzack asked what he wanted. Doug said he didn’t know as he was just starting to build a library.  Louis offered to choose a book a week if Doug would buy it, read it, and return the following week with a brief comment on the book and its author.  This introduced him to Poe, Melville, Frost, Wilde, Conrad, James, Yeats, Eliot, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy.  Doug’s library grew and he grew with it.  A year later, Doug met Irving Layton in Burton’s Bookstore and Irving invited Doug to audit his poetry workshop classes at Sir George Williams College (now Concordia University). This led to a deep friendship with Layton that lasted until Irving’s death.

When Doug arrived in Victoria in August 1974, after five years in Europe, he had only a formal grade 10 education. He was 33. Doug discovered that the University of Victoria had a Mature Student Programme for anyone over 23 years of age. He took the two hour exam and enrolled in the Creative Writing Department, chaired by Robin Skelton.  After 18 months he received his B.A. in Creative Writing, First Class with Distinction, and won the Petch Memorial Award. 

Doug received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship, two Ontario Graduate Scholarships and a Secretary of State Language Bursary to attend York University in Toronto, where, nine months later, he graduated with a Masters Degree in English. Soon after, he won a Canada Council Award to work on a new book of poems set on the West Coast and he returned to Victoria.

In 1976-77, Doug worked with the four Saanich Tribes, writing and editing a monthly newsletter.  He taught in the UVic Department of English from 1981-2006.  In his retirement he earned a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from Saint Bede’s Anglican Catholic Theological College.

Doug has published 14 books of poetry and prose, and had work appear in periodicals in Canada, the U.S., England and India.  His work has been described as a place where “history and myth fuse with the present” and “contemplative poetry at its finest… a poetry that celebrates the mystery, in human terms.” He has written over 250 book reviews and given over 130 readings. In 2016 he won a BC Arts Council Award to write a prose memoir of the nine mentors who have most influenced his writing life. He has been nominated for the BC Book Prize for Poetry, and had trees planted in Israel on two occasions in recognition of his services to Holocaust remembrance. He is a member of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada and has done volunteer work for Literacy Victoria and Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS). All Doug’s papers are now at the UVic library in Special Collections.

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