And then the golden moon to light me home--
The crunching snowshoes and the stinging air,
And silence, frost, and beauty everywhere.
(Winter Uplands, 12-14)
Archibald Lampman was born in 1861 in Morpeth, Ontario, a village near Chatham and Ridgetown at the intersection of routes 3 and 17. His family moved to Gore's Landing on Rice Lake in 1867 but he received his education at the Collegiate Institute in Cobourg, Trinity College School in Port Hope, and Trinity College (now University of Toronto), where he edited the college newspaper and graduated in Classics in 1882. After a short time teaching high school in Orangeville, Lampman took a position as a low-paid clerk in the Langevin Block of the Canadian Post Office in the nation's capital at Ottawa, where he stayed for the rest of his life. He married Maud Playter in 1887 and they had two children. However, Lampman grew to love Kate Waddell in 1889, a romance that lasted until his death.
One of the so-called "Confederation Group" of poets (with Duncan Campbell Scott and William Wilfred Campbell), Lampman was influenced by his friends Bliss Carmen and Charles G. D. Roberts. Lampman published two important volumes of poems in his lifetime: Among the Millet and Other Poems (Ottawa: Durie, 1888) and Lyrics of Earth (Boston: Copeland and Day, 1895). A final book, Alcyone (Ottawa: Ogilvy, 1899) came out shortly after his death. It lay to his friend Duncan Campbell Scott to bring out a collected Poems the next year. At first published only owing to a subvention and subscriptions, this book became very successful and was reissued several times afterwards. Some poems, such as "At the Long Sault: May, 1660," remained in manuscript until 1943, when Scott and the critic E. K. Brown edited them.
Lampman is widely regarded as Canada's greatest poet of the nineteenth century. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1895. His manuscripts can largely be found at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Margaret Coulby Whitridge's introduction to the reprint of the 1900 Poems includes a biographical note, and much may be gleaned from his letters and essays, for which see
At the Mermaid Inn, Conducted by A. Lampman, W. W. Campbell, Duncan C. Scott. [Essays having appeared in the Toronto Globe, 1892-93. Ed. Arthur S. Bourinot. Ottawa: Bourinot, 1958.
Archibald Lampman's Letters to Edward William Thomson (1890-1898). Ed. Arthur S. Bourinot. Ottawa: Bourinot, 1956.
Some Letters of Duncan Campbell Scott, Archibald Lampman, and Others. Ed. Arthur S. Bourinot. Ottawa: Bourinot, 1959.
The picture of Lampman is taken from The Poems of Archibald Lampman, ed. Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: George N. Morang, 1900). A cairn commemorating his life can be found at the village church in Morpeth on Route 3.
Given name: Archibald
Family name: Lampman
Birth date: 1861
Death date: 1899