Hiram Alfred Cody

Hiram Alfred CodyPhoto: Codys, New Brunswick weebly
Hiram Alfred Cody
Photo: Codys, New Brunswick weebly

Hiram Alfred Cody (novelist and Anglican clergyman) was born 3 July 1872 in Cody’s, north of Saint John. He was the only son of Loretta and George Redmond Cody. George Cody owned a blacksmith shop, as well as a shingle shop. He was a staunch member of the Church of England and strong supporter of the Conservative government. H.A. Cody published numerous short stories and novels including An Apostle of the North (1908), On Trail and Rapid by Dogsled and Canoe (1911), The Fourth Watch (1911), The Long Patrol: A Tale of the Mounted Police (1912), If Any Man Sin (1915), Rod of the Lone Patrol (1916), Under Sealed Orders (1915), The Unknown Wrestler (1918), Glen of the High North (1920), Jess of the Rebel Trail (1921), The King's Arrow: A Tale of the United Empire Loyalists (1922), The Trail of the Golden Horn (1923), The Master Revenge (1924), Songs of a Bluenose (1925), Fighting Stars (1927), and The Stumbling Shepherd (1929). Much of his work describes “A world in which noble loggers, hunters, and cowboys became embroiled in difficulties that are solved not with violence, but with manly, stoical Christian morality and overwhelming muscular strength at key confrontations with villains” (Conway 224).

Cody grew up with the view that small town life suited his temperament. One of his desires was to hunt, “to wander through the woods by lake and stream on springing snowshoes visiting my line of traps and bringing home the furry prizes” (Jones 11). For his early education, Cody attended a one-room schoolhouse in Thornetown (NB) but soon grew tired of it. George Cody allowed his son to stop going to school on the condition that he work on the farm. It wasn’t long after that Cody realized that life on the farm was no easy task. The backbreaking labours prompted him to go back to school.

The Cody family created their own family paper called The Jolly Band. Each family member had his own section—Cody supplied the local news. It was here that his literary efforts began. When he was a child he would carry around a notebook and write of experiences he had while hunting or fishing. Looking back on this early development, he wrote, “I did enjoy poetry, and this, no doubt, was inherited from my mother, who knew many poems by heart, and was fond of repeating them to us children. I also learned many poems by heart and when working in the field would sound them forth with much pleasure” (Jones 21).

Cody considered becoming a civil engineer, but his father was anxious for him to take Holy Orders. After taking Latin lessons from the rector of the Parish Church at English Settlement, Cody became enamoured of what the church had to offer.

In October of 1893, he arrived at King’s College in Windsor, NS, which was a university for religious students. He later became the editor-in-chief of its newspaper. Known on campus for his exceptional writing, he was described by his classmates as “clean, reliable, earnest and as having been persona grata with the college staff” (Jones 42).

Cody was ordained deacon at Christ Church Cathedral in Fredericton, NB. As a young Anglican priest, he responded to a call from the Yukon to minister to natives at Whitehorse. Shortly after his marriage to Jessie M. Flewelling, the couple arrived in Whitehorse in the fall of 1904. One of Cody’s many successful novels was An Apostle of the North, which recounted his days in the Yukon. In the novel, Cody acknowledges Bishop Bompas as the man who inspired him to write the book. In 1909, Cody and his wife returned to Saint John, where he preached in St. James’ Church. He spent thirty-three years in the church, remaining there until his retirement.

In 1927, Cody was appointed Archdeacon of Saint John. Soon after, his creative works began to portray settings that drew on local scenes and the history of his native province.

Cody emerged at a time, wrote critic Fred Cogswell, when respected men were courageous, open-minded, sincere, and generous to the lower classes. The same ideology held that women had to be pure, brave, and kind to the distressed and needy. The post-war work of Cody was thus driven by this social romance, partly because he saw social change as a threat to his individual values. He published The Stumbling Shepherd (1929) to address this concern. In this book, he raises social problems of his day that the church’s moral leadership could help to alleviate. Many critics, however, felt that his style was ineffective in dealing with the pressing problems facing society. Commentators felt that Cody’s tales never seemed to go beyond stereotypical characters and scenarios: “Cody’s fiction typically owes more to his literary ancestors than to his own immediate observations and experiences” (Cogswell 234). However, within New Brunswick, Cody received praise for describing attitudes and conditions that were true to the New Brunswick of his time.

In 1942, Cody retired from the ministry and started to write his autobiography. He never got to finish it because of a stroke in 1948 that led to his death at the Saint John Hospital. The following lines sum up his life: “My ideal of life as a boy was one of adventure in which a married man and a clergyman had no part. I have long since found out my mistake, for I have learned by experience that married life, as well as the ministry, will supply adventures sufficient for one lifetime” (qtd. in Jones 11).

Jillian Hogan, Spring 2010
St. Thomas University

Bibliography of Primary Sources

Cody, H. Alfred. An Apostle of the North: Memoirs of the Right Reverend William Carpenter Bompas. Toronto, ON: Musson, 1908.

---. The Chief of the Rangers: A Tale of the Yukon. Toronto, ON: Briggs, 1913.

---. The Crimson Sign. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1935.

---. The Fighting-Slogan. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1926.

---. Fighting Stars. New York: George H. Doran, 1927.

---. The Fourth Watch. Toronto, ON: Briggs, 1911.

---. The Frontiersman: A Tale of the Yukon. Toronto, ON: Briggs, 1910.

---. The Girl at Bullet Lake. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1933.

---. Glen of the High North. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1920.

---. If Any Man Sin. New York: Geroge H. Doran, 1915.

---. Jess of the Rebel Trail. New York: George H. Doran, 1921.

---. The King’s Arrow: A Tale of the United Empire Loyalists. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1922.

---. The Long Patrol: A Tale of the Mounted Police. Toronto, ON: Ryerson, 1912.

---. The Master Revenge. New York: George H. Doran, 1923.

---. On Trail and Rapid by Dog-Sled and Canoe: The Story of Bishop Bompas's Life Amongst the Red Indians and Eskimo. Toronto, ON: Musson, 1911.

---. The Red Ranger. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1931.

---. The River Fury. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1930.

---. Rod of the Long Patrol. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1916.

---. Songs of a Bluenose. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1925.

---. Storm King Banner. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1937.

---. The Stumbling Shepherd. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1929.

---. The Touch of Abner. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1929.

---. The Trail of the Golden Horn. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1923.

---. Under Sealed Orders. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1915.

---. The Unknown Wrestler. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1918.

---. The Woodcarver of Saint John. New Brunswick Historical Society Collections 6. n.p.: n.pag., 1955.

Bibliography of Secondary Sources

“Cody, Hiriam Alfred.” Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Toronto, ON: U of Toronto P, 2002. 216.

Cogswell, Fred. “English Prose Writing in New Brunswick: World War I to the Present.” A Literary and Linguistic History of New Brunswick. Ed. Reavley Gair. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead & Goose Lane Editions, 1985. 229-244.

Jones, Ted. All the Days of His Life: A Biography of Archdeacon H.A. Cody. Saint John, NB: New Brunswick Museum, 1981.

MacFarlene, W.G. New Brunswick Bibliography, the Books and Writers of the Province. Saint John, NB: Sun Printing, 1895.

McMann, Evelyn. Canadian Who's Who: Incorporating Canadian Men and Women of the Time. 1910. 5 vols. Toronto, ON: U of Toronto P, 1985.

Thomas, Gillian. “Cody Hiriam Alfred.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Ed. William Toye. Toronto, ON: Oxford UP, 1983. 133.