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Author Bio for Adam, Graeme Mercer
The 1880s were Adam’s most prolific years as an author and publisher. With an eye to the main chance he capitalized on interest in travel and produced books ranging from summaries of Henry Morton Stanley’s work in Africa to tourist handbooks such as Canada, historical and descriptive, from sea to sea (1888) and Illustrated Quebec . . . (Montreal, 1891). He contributed to George Monro Grant’s Picturesque Canada . . . (1882–84), and he subsequently oversaw the production of an American edition. He played an important part in the publication of Toronto, old and new . . . , issued in 1891 as a memorial to the 100th anniversary of the founding of Upper Canada and to its capital. In the same year, Adam published his revision of the Life and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald . . . (1883) by Joseph Edmund Collins, bringing it down to Macdonald’s death. Somewhere along the way, this remarkably productive man edited a Handbook on commercial union: a collection of papers read before the Commercial Union Club, Toronto . . . (1888), with an introduction by Smith, and a biographical compilation, Prominent men of Canada . . . (1892). In 1893 he issued, in collaboration with Principal George Dickson of the school, a history of Upper Canada College.
Before leaving Canada again, in 1892, Adam produced three remarkable monographs. In 1885 he wrote The Canadian north-west: its history and its troubles . . . , a substantial work which gives an account of the territories from “the early days of the fur-trade to the era of the railway and the settler,” including “incidents of travel in the region” and, most important, “the narrative of three insurrections.” The accounts of the journeys of Alexander Henry the elder, Samuel Hearne, and Alexander Mackenzie are lively and well informed. His responses to the events of 1869–70 and 1885 are predictable, but they are balanced, and, like his travel accounts, well informed. Two years after The Canadian north-west, he produced An outline history of Canadian literature (Toronto and Montreal), a first of its kind in Canadian literary studies; with only 54 pages and appended to the somewhat longer An abridged history of Canada by William H. Withrow, the work’s short entries, in many cases scarcely more than bibliographical listings, attempt to give some idea of the shape and depth of the literary life of the country. Travel literature and the literature of settlement assume a large place, but belles-lettres find their place, too, with entries for writers from Rosanna Eleanora Leprohon [Mullins] to Sara Jeannette Duncan* and from Charles Sangster to Charles George Douglas Roberts. Moreover, the entries include fairly comprehensive listings for French Canadian writers. Finally, in 1887 Adam collaborated with Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald in producing a conventional romance, smoothly conceived and as smoothly executed, entitled An Algonquin maiden: a romance of the early days of Upper Canada (Montreal and Toronto); it was issued (as Adam himself modestly noted) “not only in Montreal, but in London and New York.”
From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
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