Scott, Duncan Campbell

Scott, Duncan Campbell (1862 - 1947)


Born in Ottawa in 1862, educated at Smith's Falls, Ontario, and Stanstead, Quebec, Scott obtained a position at 17 years old as a clerk in the Indian Branch of the federal government and before his retirement in 1932 had risen to become deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs.  From 1893 to 1947 he published nine volumes of poetry:

  • The Magic House and Other Poems. Ottawa: J. Drurie, 1893. B-10 0402
  • Labor and the Angel. Boston: Copeland and Day, 1898. PS 8487 .C6L3
  • New World Lyrics and Ballads. Toronto: Morang, 1905. PS 8487 C6N4
  • Via Borealis. Toronto: W. Tyrrell, 1906. cap RBSC
  • Lundy's Lane and Other Poems. New York: G. H. Doran, 1916. B-11 6556
  • Beauty and Life. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1921. PS 8487 .C6B4
  • Poems. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1926. PS 8487 C6A17
  • The Green Cloister: Later Poems. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1935. PS 8487 C6G7
  • The Circle of Affection and Other Pieces in Prose and Verse. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1947. PS 8487 C6C5

as well as two books of short stories and a play. As the literary executor of Archibald Lampman, Scott edited, published and popularized his poetry. The two men had jointly published essays in a Toronto Globe column in 1892-93. Scott was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1899, and he acted as its president in 1921. The University of Toronto and Queens' University gave him honorary degrees in 1922 and 1939. He married Belle Warner Botsford in 1894 and they had one daughter, who died in 1907. After his wife's death in 1929, he remarried Elise Aylen in 1931. His death came at 85 in 1947. See also

  • Campbell, Wilfred. At the Mermaid Inn, conducted by A. Lampman, W. W. Campbell, Duncan C. Scott. Being selections from essays on life and literature which appeared in the Toronto Globe, 1892-1893. Ed. Arthur S. Bourinot. Ottawa, 1958. PS 8369 .C3
  • The Poet and the Critic: A Literary Correspondence between D. C. Scott and E. K. Brown. Ed. Robert Law McDougall. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1983. PS 8487 .C6Z542
  • Some Letters of Duncan Campbell Scott, Archibald Lampman and Others. Ottawa: Arthur S. Bourinot, 1959. PS 8349 .B6
  • More Letters of Duncan Campbell Scott. Ottawa: Arthur S. Bourinot, 1960. D-10 448

While Scott portrays the native cultures of Canada with some sympathy in his poetry, the legacy of his work in the Department of Indian Affairs is not positive. He, along with his colleagues and the politicians of the day, defended the residential school system, the suppression of native cultural practices, and the assimilation of native people into the Canadian population as a whole, though he himself had no power to vote on issues pertaining to Indian Affairs in parliament. It is reasonably clear that he thought he was acting in the best interests of the native Canadians, helping them escape lives of poverty, though history has shown that the decisions had in many cases a strong negative impact. See E. Brian Titley’s study A Narrow Vision: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Administration of Indian Affairs in Canada (1986) for an in-depth examination of these issues.

Given Name
Duncan Campbell
Family Name
Birth Date
August 2, 1862
Death Date
December 19, 1947
  • Civil Servant

Literary Period
Literary Movement