In this lecture on the 100th anniversary of the birth of pioneering Canadian literary critic Desmond Pacey, Professor Tony Tremblay examines Pacey’s contributions to Canadian literature, his work to position UNB as a hub of Canadian Studies, and his efforts to professionalize Canadian criticism, thus removing from it the biases of class, empire, and gentlemanly opinion.

What Pacey brought to his work was the conviction that New Brunswick wasn’t second rate, and that a whole generation of Canadian literary scholars could be trained in the province. Pacey directed his graduate students to studies of Bliss Carman, Charles G.D. Roberts, E.J. Pratt, Elizabeth Brewster, and other Atlantic Canadians, not only pioneering the practice of regional studies in Canada, but also stating explicitly that a national literature in a federation as balkanized as Canada’s was quite impossible, thus turning critical attention to regional and local response. His conception of a fragmented federation, at least culturally and linguistically, was one of the first such views of Canada that is now normative today.