Fonds MsC-196 - Colin Stuart fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Colin Stuart fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title is based on the creator of the fonds

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  • [ca. 1950?]-2019 (Creation)
    Stuart, Colin

Physical description area

Physical description

25.5 m of textual records
25 photographs : b&w prints
120 photographs : col. prints
79 photographs : col. negatives
1 photograph : b&w negative
5 photographs : col. Slides
2 audio cassettes : 1/4" tape
1 micro cassette : 1/4" tape
1 computer disk
2 computer disks : 3.5" floppy

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(20 Jan 1949-21 May 2018)

Biographical history

Colin Christopher Stuart was a Canadian poet closely associated with the West Coast poetry movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the 'New American Poetry' anthologized by Donald Allen.
A shy and withdrawn child prodigy, Colin was one of the five children of W.M.P. (Manfred) Stuart and Bessie Dolina Stuart (nee Macaulay). He grew up in Vancouver and Burnaby, composing poetry and playing the bagpipes in the Vancouver Kiwanis Boys Pipe Band, with which he competed at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival.

He attended Simon Fraser University at an early age, was present at the 1965 Berkeley Poetry Conference and graduated from SFU with a degree in English literature. He began a graduate degree at SFU, which he did not complete, but was awarded a Canada Council grant for further studies in poetics and for a time did graduate work in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1974 he attended the British School of Classical Studies in Athens.

His early writing was published in numerous Canadian and American poetry magazines of the 1960s and early 1970s, including TISH, Talon, Capilano Review, Pacific Nation, Skree, Iron, Writing (George Straight Writing Supplement), Fathar (Bolinas), and Boundary 2 (Buffalo). His critical and poetic work responded to a number of influences: Black Mountain poetics, Post-structuralist philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, English romanticism, French symbolism, and Islamic religious writings. In addition to Blaser’s mentorship, Stuart’s work was supported by broad community of artists and writers: Laura Baird, John “Jack” Clarke, Pierre Coupey, Susan Knutson, and Duncan McNaughton.
By the mid/late 1970s he seemed poised to establish himself as a leading younger Canadian poet but suffered setbacks in his personal life, including a falling-out with his one-time mentor and SFU graduate supervisor, the poet Robin Blaser. He halted the volume of his poems Talonbooks was preparing for publication in the early 1980s, and in later years became isolated from former friends and colleagues, suffering from mental and physical health issues, addiction, brushes with the law, and homelessness on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Though he continued to write, he avoided any further publication in his lifetime. He died in Vancouver's West End in 2018 at the age of 69, leaving a large archive of his life's work - manuscripts composed over a period of fifty years.

Custodial history

The majority of this collection was collected and collated by Colin Stuart's friends and family over a number of years. It was donated to Simon Fraser University Special Collections and Rare Books in 2018, with an accrual following in 2019.

Scope and content

This fonds contains textual and photographic materials related to the life and literary work of Colin Stuart - a poet most active in the Vancouver literary scene in the 1960's and '70's. Personal setbacks limited the publishing of his poems, so the bulk of this fonds consists of multiple loose copies and drafts of an extensive body of work that spans almost 4 decades.

The contents of this archive have been divided into six series: Series 1: Manuscripts, drafts, and notes ([ca. 1964]-[before May 2018]).; Series 2: Correspondence (1964-2005); Series 3: Notebooks (1967-2018); Series 4: Photographs ([after 1973]-[2000?]); Series 5: Education and administrative ([195-]-1995); Series 6: Works by Duncan McNaughton and others ([ca. 1974]-2019). Series 1 has been divided into the following sub-series: Sub-series 1: Manuscripts and complete poems (1967-[200-]); Sub-series 2: Partial manuscripts, drafts, and notes ([ca. 1964]-[before May 2018]).

Notes area

Physical condition

Some documents were refrigerated due to suspected mold.

The condition of many documents within the fonds is heavily soiled with a variety of dirt, food stains and liquid damage.

Immediate source of acquisition


The Archivist has maintained the original order of Stuart's partial drafts (Series 1, Sub-series 2); however, the majority of the collection has been re-ordered. Original file titles, where available, have also been retained. However, if a file title was not included, the Archivist assigned a file title according to the contents of the file. The donor’s family has provided some file notes and descriptions that detail the original arrangement of this collection, which can be found on file.

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Restrictions on access

Some files contain personal or legal information for which researchers will be required to consult with the Archivist in order to access. These files are marked with red sticker dots at the file and box level, as well as with notes in their individual AtoM entries. Some files are completely restricted until a specified date. Please consult with the Archivist for more information.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

A file list is available. The donor’s family has provided some file notes and descriptions that detail the original contents of this collection, which can be found on file.

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One accrual was received and processed following the initial deposit. Further accruals may be possible.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Bulk of original processing begun by LB, ending on 17 JUN 2019. Completion of project and 2nd accrual processed by JMH beginning 17 JUN 2019.

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


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Physical storage

  • Archival box - standard: MsC 196 - Boxes 1-45