Call Number: Mss 16, Pc 16, Tc 76 (A.80-53, A.88-52,
Title: Bertram Brooker fonds.
Dates: [18-], 1905-1989.
Extent: 1.31 m of textual records. -- 17 photographs.
-- 6 tapes.
Biographical sketch: Bertram Brooker was born
in Surrey, England in 1888. He immigrated to Portage la Prairie,
Manitoba with his parents in 1905. At age seventeen he worked in
the kitchens and in the timekeeper's office of the Grand Trunk Pacific
Railway. Later he managed a movie theatre in Neepawa and did newspaper
work in Portage and Winnipeg. In 1921 he moved to Toronto to assume
a career in advertising and freelance journalism. Brooker began
writing his first novel at the age of nine, and as early as 1910
he was writing and directing several of his own plays. His literary
achievements include Think of the Earth (1936), Tangled
Miracle (1936) and The Robber (1949). He won the first
Governor General's Award for fiction in 1936. Although he was the
author of nine books as well as texts on advertising and writing,
Brooker is perhaps best known as an artist. He began painting in
the 1920s and formed close ties with LeMoine Fitzgerald and most
of the members of the Group of Seven. Apparently influenced by Fitzgerald
and Lawren Harris, he became a pioneer in abstract painting.
Custodial history: The fonds was donated to University
of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections in several instalments
by the Brooker family beginning in 1980.
Scope and content: The collection contains correspondence,
diaries, unpublished manuscripts, and copies of published writing.
The twelve folders of correspondence, although primarily incoming,
include exchanges between Brooker and other artists such as LeMoine
Fitzgerald, William Arthur Deacon, and Pelham Edgar. His diaries
consist mostly of fragmented excerpts of short, intermittent periods
in his life. The heart of the collection is a core of his literary
works, most of which have never been published. Most consist of
original and second drafts showing evolutionary changes, corrections,
and notations. There are thirty-five plays, portions of novels,
seventy-five short-stories, essays (most of which are unpublished),
and a considerable amount of poetry. Most of the poetry has been
published by Professor Birk Sproxton in a book by Turnstone Press
titled Sounds Assembling (1980). Several of the poems are
in multiple drafts, though only a few are dated. Brooker's published
writings on advertising remain with the family. Art work is not
included in the collection. The balance of the manuscript collection
consists of newspaper clippings, photographs, an account book, and
other miscellaneous items. The collection also contains Brooker's
private research library consisting of approximately 300 volumes,
many of which are carefully annotated.
Restrictions: There are no restrictions on this
Accruals: Further accruals to this fonds are anticipated.
Finding aid: A printed finding aid is available
in the Archives reading room and an on-line finding aid is available
at the link below:
16, PC 16, TC 76 (A.80-53, A.88-52, A.03-119).