The Mulgrave Road: Selected Poems


80 pages
ISBN 0-919001-23-8





Edited by Andy Wainwright, and Lesley Choyce
Reviewed by Martin Singleton

Martin Singleton was a poet living in Toronto.


This handsome volume brings readers the best of a very fine poet. The introduction by Harry Bruce, the poet’s son, provides a warm personal touch, balanced by Andy Wainwright’s more objective mini-biography in the afterword. Between is work of consummate skill.

As well as the previously unpublished “The Standing Woods” and several uncollected poems, this volume contains selections from five of Bruce’s books. Wild Apples (1927) presents the young poet merging strict form with growing philosophical awareness. Tomorrow’s Tide (1932) moves further into human relationships, most especially those who work for “the daily bread of no renown.” The selection from Gray Ship Moving (1945) explores the lives of four young Canadian lieutenants in World War II and manifests the poet’s narrative skill, already suggested in the earlier work. The unfortunately brief excerpt from The Flowing Summer (1947) uses narrative to explore one of Bruce’s favourite topics, memory, as a young Toronto boy spends a summer at his grandfather’s Nova Scotia home.

The Mulgrave Road deservedly won a Governor-General’s medal in 1952, and much of the present volume makes the earlier book available to contemporary readers. Although emphasis is placed on “the rumour of sea on stone,” the emotions evoked transcend the regional. The poetry ranges from sonnets to free verse that works because the poet has first taken the pains to learn more traditional forms. It is a magnificent book. Choyce and Wainwright have performed a signal service for Canadian literature. The Mulgrave Road deserves to be read, studied, but most of all enjoyed for years.


Bruce, Charles, “The Mulgrave Road: Selected Poems,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,