Hugh MacLennan

(March 20th, 1907 — November 9th, 1990)

John Hugh MacLennan was a Canadian author. He is sometimes credited for directing Canadian literature as we now know it by writing a novel about Canada by a Canadian author. That book was Barometer Rising.

MacLennan was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. As a child, he experienced the Halifax Explosion, which he later wrote about. For nine years, from twelve to twenty-one, he slept in a tent by choice to avoid his father’s strict nature.

MacLennan was well educated, both at home and abraod. He studied in Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Oxford University in England, as well as at Princeton University in the United States. He returned to Canada and took a job teaching at Lower Canada College in Montréal — the only job he could get during the Great Depression. He complained about being too educated for his position, and later mocked the college in The Watch that Ends the Night.

He published several novels in the ensuing years, and later left Lower Canada College to teach at McGill University. In his lifetime, he won five Governor General’s Awards for Fiction as well as winning several other awards and positions. He was also made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Hugh MacLennan is a book author.

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Barometer Rising


It’s a book about many things: Canada’s struggle for identity as a sovereign nation with a complex relationship to Britain and British politics, the psychological and physical impacts of war, the differing attitudes of different strata of society towards the war overseas. I always find Can Lit particularly provides an atmosphere where this kind of multi-layered complexity flourishes. This is a review of Hugh MacLennan’s Barometer Rising.