Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
August 2004

Biographies of Prominent Quebec and Canadian

Historical Figures


Francis Reginald (Frank R.) Scott




Damien-Claude Bélanger

Department of History

McGill University

Jurist and poet, was born at Quebec. After graduating from Quebec High School and Bishop's College, Lennoxville, Quebec, he studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. He returned to Canada in 1923 and taught briefly at Montreal's Lower Canada College before enrolling in McGill University's Faculty of Law. Influenced by English-born Professor H. A. Smith, Scott took a keen interest in constitutional law. It was during this time that Scott founded the McGill Fortnightly Review with fellow poet and literary critic A. J. M. Smith and began to introduce his poetry to a wider audience. After graduating from McGill, he practiced law in Montreal for a time and helped found the Canadian Mercury, the McGill Fortnightly Review 's ephemeral successor. Scott joined McGill's law faculty in 1928 and became its dean in 1961. He would remain at McGill until his retirement in 1964. In 1932 Scott participated in the founding of the League for Social Reconstruction, an organization of radical intellectuals intended to be a Canadian version of the British Fabian Society, and was active in the founding of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). With Frank Underhill, Scott helped draft the CCF's Regina Manifesto and was one of the editors of the left-of-centre Canadian Forum in the thirties. Scott was the CCF's national chairman from 1942 to 1950 and was active in the creation of the New Democratic Party in the early sixties. In the early forties, he participated in the founding of two literary journals, Preview and Northern Review . He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1947 and went to Burma in 1952 as a UN technical assistant. Hoping to foster mutual understanding between English and French Canada, Scott translated a great deal of French Canadian poetry into English, co-edited Quebec States her Case in 1964, and was a member of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. A civil libertarian, Scott was involved in the legal challenge against Maurice Duplessis' Padlock law that sought to eliminate communism from Quebec (see Switzman v. Elbing and the Attorney-General for Quebec). He was also involved in the Roncarelli case to safeguard the rights of Jehovah's Witnesses in Quebec in the 1950's. He was awarded the Governor General's Award for non-fiction for his Essays on the Constitution (1977), a collection of essays on Canadian constitutionnal law. A progressive intellectual who sought to draw Canada away from Britain's orbit, Scott's continentalism found its clearest expression in Canada and the United States, a 1941 pamphlet written after a year spent as a Guggenheim Fellow at Harvard University.


© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College