Canadian poet has poem at Arlington Cemetery

A reader asked if there was any interest in Canadian poet Edna Jaques whose anniversary of her birth is coming up on Jan. 17. She was born in 1891 and died in 1978.

I’m game.

Jaques wrote a poem “In Flanders Now” in response to “In Flanders Field” and that poem is in the chapel at the Arlington Cemetery.

Not a lot of information on her though.

Please contribute more about Jaques if you know anything  about her or her work.


12 thoughts on “Canadian poet has poem at Arlington Cemetery

  1. Not so forgotten after all it appears !…
    “John Laing Singers site Nov. 10, 2011 ” Sunday, 13 November, my new song, In Flanders Now, will be premiered at the 10 a.m. Remembrance Service at the Church of the Ascension, Hamilton Ontario. It is a setting of a very moving poem by Edna Jacques which was written in 1920 in response to the well-known “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.
    –In ‘Beside Still Waters’, her poetry collection of1939, a note says 1918 for the “reply”. (Replying to McCrae’s simple lines was an armchair activity as early as 1916 in Britain and after Easter 1917 when the USA finally joined in, even after the war was over.)
    ‘Beside Still Waters’ 1939, one of her published collections, says the poem was written in 1918, a very narrow window of time with Armistice Nov. 11.
    What’s fascinating is that she wrote homespun poems covering both world wars some likely never collected for books. the great Nellie Mooney McClung was a friend and admirer…

    • How’s that for timing as a Blog host ?!
      – The big publishing takeover just announced includes her
      publisher Thomas Allen & Son – ” largest family-owned and
      -operated publisher in Canada. Over the years, it has
      published such literary lights as Canadian poet Edna Jaques,
      feminist and parliamentarian Nellie McClung, Winston Churchill,
      Stephen Leacock, Foster Hewitt and William Lyon Mackenzie
      King. ..” end quote.
      [Sorry about double dipping pasting above —“Beside Still Waters’
      1939, one of her published collections, says the poem was written
      in 1918”—]

    • The cutline under the cairn group photo identifies them as
      Mrs. Jean Knott, pres. of Grey Co. Rally
      Mrs..Helen Pearse, Women’s Editor of the Owen Sound Sun-TImes (remember them?)
      Nellie McClung Jr.
      Miss Edna Jaques, poetess and firnd of Nellie McClung Sr.
      Mrs. Gordon MacPhatter, Honorary President of F.W. ( ). (Mrs. Mac Phatter was a member of the Bothwell Corner’ss W.I.
      The HS&MBC/Parks Canada site Designations of Persons of National Significance says chosen in 1954, plaque installed 1957 – not sure if this Cairn was original site…

      – W.I. means the wonderful ‘Women’s Institutes’, whose Tweedsmuir scrapbooks are a goldmine of local information. Tweedsmuir referring to Susan Lady Tweedsmuir I think ,
      her husband a much-loved Scottish Governor General who suddenly died in office in Canada early in the Second World War His nom de plume was John Buchan…”39 Steps’ and all that..


    Dear singer of the mountain and the plain,
    Brave champion of the lowly sons who toil:
    Your little songs are never sung in vain,
    But dearly lov’d by children of the soil.

    Your simple songs of home and fire-side,
    Among the poor out-shine all fancy art.
    Our mystic poets — what have they beside
    One simple song which thrills the human heart?

    Just turn deaf ears to those who dare to slur
    The sweet discerning beauty of your mind.
    Such envious tongues will only cause a stir
    To place you higher, leave you more enshrined.

    Who writes a silly riddle in a rhyme,
    Is hindering the podding thoughts of men.
    This busy world has very little time
    To spend on solving riddles of the pen.

    Be like the meadowlark you so admire
    And sing us songs we love by far the best:-
    That purest love grows by the humble fire,
    The truest heart beats in the lowly breast.

    I hope this short epistle reaches you!
    I dearly hope these timid lines of mine
    Give you more courage and the praise that’s due
    A loving heart, a spirit pure and fine.

    From Arnold Barclay 1936

    • Wonderful, many thanks. Who was Mr. Barclay – an ancestor ? –
      and where was this published ? Do you have a date for her
      ‘Reply’ c1918 to John McCrae’s poem from Punch, Dec.8/15 issue?

      It’s bizarre that Legion clubs go on about that American woman’s
      poem, misreading ‘In Flanders Fields’ as a call to decorate herself
      with posies, while Ms Jaques was responding, as did American men,
      to his pleal to take up the torch from the Fallen soldiers and fight on
      until victory is achieved.
      Jaques is sometimes trivialized but her “down home” poems reflected
      the thinking of her times. Even ones about Britain in wartime. Have
      now a couple of her books and some loose clippings of poems
      – and apparently some never achieved publication.

      Thanks, Kathy for hosting this little fan club – and remember she’s
      Ontario born and like so many interesting women of the era made
      her name in the newer provinces.


      • Arnold Barclay who in the early 1930’s lived in Tyndall Manitoba. He married Georgette Beaupre of Mont Joli, Quebec daughter of Etienne Beaupre of Mont Joli and his spouse whose maiden surname was Gagnon. He flew with the RAF and was shot down over Leipzig,Germany. My uncle Arnold wrote many poems, painted, and enjoyed photography. He was born in England, either like my father in Barrow-in-Furness of Lancashire or in Sheffield. My given names are Jacob James Joseph Barclay, born in Winnipeg, 25.1.1934. I arrived in Israel in the autumn of 1958 after having been in Belgium for two years. My postal address is POB 1414, 91013 Jerusalem, Israel. I shall be pleased tor reply to the person who posted this notice I found this Saturday, 8 February, 2014
        My email is

    • Dear Miss Rumleski,
      I have found websites listing the year of my uncle Arnold Barclay’s birth as 1907 and not 1908 as I had assumed from a census record, therefore I assume that the only way to know which year is correct would be for you to contact his son Ian Barclay. The military records I located state 1907 as the year. If correct, he was born exactly one year and 6 days after my father.
      The source I had from England on the internet included his place of birth which was where by father was born at 20 Parade Street in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire.
      Cordially yours,
      + Bishop Jacob Barclay in Jerusalem
      Friday, 7 March, 2014

  3. So Arnold Barclay, UK borrn c1920s, prairie-raised, poet and fan of Miss Jaques, is your uncle /fathers’ sib
    “Uncle Charles” KIA over Germany pre-’43 with the Royal Airforce of the UK.
    – -Checking our war dead on the ‘Virtual War Memorial’ (run by our government through Vets Affairs) we find
    ‘ In memory of Sergeant Charles Barclay who died on April 20, 1918 Service Number:11450 Age: 33
    Army Unit:Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment) Division:4th Bn
    .Additional Information: Birth:April 24, 1884 Arnprior, Ontario, Canada
    Brother of Mr. W. F. Barclay, of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
    Cemetery: ROCLINCOURT MILITARY CEMETERY; Pas de Calais, France Grave Reference:V. C. 8.’
    = JJJB, Does this CEF ‘Fallen’ interactive identity file tie in with your Manitoba family heritage ?
    And may we assume Arnold knew Edna personally, not just from her newspaper published works ?
    Was his own poetry published there too – ‘daily poem” being a popular newspaper feature in those years.
    Well Kathy – you’ve reached back to prairies and over to Israel with this poetic “name drop”. Perhaps it
    Might even reach Arnold’s son or his children or even grandchildren..

  4. This is an addendum pertaining to my uncle Arnold Smedley Barclay, whose date of birth I located after sending my e-mail message for Miss Kathy Rumleski. He was in fact born in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, 29 November in 1908 and lived there with his eldest brother and my father at 20 Parade Street. His second given name is due to his maternal grandmother’s maiden name, Imogene Smedley, (1848-1938) daughter of Henry Smedley and his spouse Selina née Skidmore of Brammmall Lane Gardens, Ecclesall, Bierlow in s.w. Sheffield,. I had long ago located the sailing date and arrival of the ship on which my grandparents and their three sons left Liverpool on the S.S. Megantic and arrived at Montreal. I do not know where they first took up residence in Canada prior to moving to Manitoba, This much stated here is in order to correct the absence of details referring to the actual date in 1908 of my uncle’s birth which was not “c1920s”.
    With my appreciation for the text of the poem you have placed on the internet thanks to my cousin. I regret that there is no photograph. He was very noble and dignified..
    + Bishop Jacob J.Barclay

  5. Checking that name on our wonderful interactive ‘Virtual War Memorial ‘of Canada
    we find: In memory of Flying Officer Arnold Smedley Barclay who died on February 20, 1944
    Military Service:Service Number:J/24738Force:Air Force
    Unit:Royal Canadian Air Force
    Division:640 (R.A.F.) Sqdn.Additional Information:
    Cemetery: BERLIN 1939-1945 WAR CEMETERY, Germany
    Grave Reference:8. E. 16.
    Commemorated on Page 242 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance.
    Digital Collection – Do you have photographs or personal memorabilia relating to
    Arnold Smedley Barclay that you want included in our digital collection?
    Send us your images Burial Information:
    Cemetery: BERLIN 1939-1945 WAR CEMETERY Germany
    Grave Reference:8. E. 16.
    This means there is an opportunity for someone to post a photo from their own files the family
    may not be aware of

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