The Amaranth was New Brunswick’s first literary magazine “of both quality and duration” (Parker 90). Edited by Robert Shives of Saint John, the magazine ran from January 1841 to December 1843, with thirty-six monthly editions consisting of approximately thirty pages each (Rice 1). Shives’ intention with the magazine was to “provide high-quality articles in order to raise the cultural taste of the Province” (Parker 90-1). These articles included both original works as well as reprints from foreign papers.
In May 1841, Shives claimed that he had more than enough original articles ready for print, and, by April 1842, he was boasting that several of his regular contributors were being reprinted in American and colonial papers. Some of Shives’ contributors included Moses Henry Perley, Emily Elizabeth Beavan, Douglas Huyghue, and William Burtis (Parker 90-1). Huyghue’s “Argimou: A Legend of the Micmac,” printed in serial form from May to September 1842, is considered the Amaranth’s “most ambitious contribution to Maritime historical romance” (Parker 96). Likewise, Perley’s five “Sporting Sketches of New Brunswick,” published starting in March 1841, made him “the most popular writer on hunting and kindred subjects in British America” at the time (Howe 199). Though both Beavan and Burtis were given little acclaim for their work in comparison, they each provided a number of valuable contributions (Howe 200). However, most submissions—besides Huyghue’s serial and Perley’s sketches—were not the type of writing Shives had originally been looking for, as he was more interested in local histories and descriptions. Shives had appealed to his patrons for “articles descriptive and historic of New Brunswick,” but “none appear to have been offered,” as most issues featured romance and sentimentalism (Howe 205).
In 1843, at the close of the second volume, Shives ceased publication of the Amaranth. There are several theories as to why, including Jonas Howe’s suggestion in a 1902 issue of the Acadiensis that “a wave of commercial depression swept over the province in 1842, and no doubt Mr. Shives’ business felt its effects” (205-6). However, the most commonly accepted reason was put forth by James Hogg in an August 1845 issue of the New Brunswick Reporter and Fredericton Advertiser. There, Hogg suggested that the magazine’s failure was due to the “remissness of those who subscribed to pay” and the “paucity of those literary contributions upon which it depended” due to the loss of several promised contributions in the mail (158).
The Amaranth was one of the first magazines of its kind in New Brunswick, and it paved the way for the publication of more literary material in papers like Hogg’s New Brunswick Reporter and Fredericton Advertiser (est. 1844). The Amaranth also served as a model for Edward Manning and Robert Aiken’s Guardian, A Monthly Magazine of Education and General Literature, which ran from January to September 1860 (Parker 92). Of such periodicals, Howe writes in 1902 that “[they] are the best methods of arousing the latent literary aspirations of a community, and recording and rescuing from oblivion interesting historical facts which have been adopted, and it is hoped that our province will not again be without one or more of these interesting publications” (206). The Amaranth and those literary publications immediately following it established a foundation for the many local periodical publications that have existed in New Brunswick since that time.
Mikala Gallant, Spring 2012
St. Thomas University
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Hogg, James. “Fredericton and Its Prospects.” New Brunswick Reporter and Fredericton Advertiser [Fredericton, NB] 15 Aug. 1845: 158.
Howe, Jonas. “The Amaranth.” Acadiensis 2.3 (July 1902): 198-207.
Parker, George L. “Literary Journalism Before Confederation.” Canadian Literature 68 (Spring/Summer 1976): 88-100.
Rice, Richard. “Shives, Robert.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. 10. Toronto, ON: U of Toronto P, 1972. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. 2003. U of Toronto/U Laval. 26 June 2020