Kirkconnell, Watson

Watson Kirkconnell, translator, poet, university administrator, Baptist lay leader (b at Port Hope, Ont 16 May 1895; d at Wolfville, NS 26 Feb 1977). Master of more than 50 languages and dialects, Kirkconnell introduced English-speaking Canadians to the literature of "New Canadians" through his own English translations. More prolific than original, he dealt eloquently and clearly with broad themes in more than 170 books and brochures of poetry, literary criticism and social commentary.

During WWII he was the architect of the government's "Nationalities Branch" (1940), later the Citizenship Bureau; the Humanities Research Council (1943); and the Baptist Federation of Canada (1944). After decades as a professor in Manitoba and Ontario, he became a formidable president of Acadia University (1948-64). Although he was intolerant of biblical fundamentalists and mistrustful of communists, his infectious generosity towards all others influenced many Baptists and Anglo-Canadians.