Edwin Austin Hardy

E.A. Hardy, detail from Twenty Club portrait, Kawartha Lakes Museum & Archive

E. A. Hardy (1868 – 1952) was an educator and secretary of both the Ontario Library Association and Canadian Authors Association. In 1935, for services to education in Canada, Hardy was awarded Officer Order of the British Empire.


While he lived in Lindsay, he campaigned for the town to start a public library and pass the by-law that brought free library access to Lindsay. In 1898, Hardy’s letters to the Canadian Post pointed out that adding a library to a town was attractive to new citizens and “that many a family has passed by one town and gone to another on account of its schools or some other excellent feature.” He appealed to Lindsay’s sense of family:

It is a serious problem to train up a family, and our streets at night afford only too good evidence that the problem is not being solved in many a home. No doubt home is not as attractive in many cases as it might be, and a large supply of good books, free of access to all members of the family, would go far to make home decidedly more attractive. In more than one case, if a boy had his choice between the streets and a good book he would take the book.

Canadian Post, 1898

Hardy’s passion for public libraries and success with bringing a library to Lindsay became well known, inspiring other municipalities across Ontario. His championship has been written about extensively by Lorne Bruce in Free Books for All: the public library movement in Ontario 1850-1930 (1994) and in Hardy’s own book, The Public Library: its place in our education system (1912).

Hardy, The Public Library: its place in our education system (1912)

Although Hardy believed this to be ideal layout for a public library, James Bertram, who was personal secretary to Andrew Carnegie, did not. Bertram deemed the round rooms to be a waste of space. Lindsay’s half-circle design was one of the last with a rounded room and is one of the few such buildings still standing.

Hardy’s passion for libraries didn’t stop with Lindsay. Hardy is credited for the idea of what became the Ontario Library Association, a network of libraries across the province for the purpose of educating library workers. He served as president of the organization in 1925-26.


Hardy’s work for the creation of Selections from the Canadian Poets (1909) is held at the Thomas Fisher Rare Library at the University of Toronto, including correspondence with Lucy Maud Montgomery:

The [Thomas Fisher Rare Library] holds a wonderful Montgomery letter within the Edwin Austin Hardy Papers. Hardy was an Ontario teacher and school administrator, and secretary of the Canadian Authors’Association. His collection consists primarily of correspondence pertaining to an anthology of Canadian poetry he was editing – Selections from the Canadian Poets, published in 1906 – and his secretarial duties for the Association. In what appears to be a response to a letter Hardy wrote to Montgomery – most likely after the publication of Anne of Avonlea (1909), given Montgomery’s letter is dated late September 1909 – she writes that a novel of ‘Anne the College girl’ will most likely never materialize. For one, Montgomery claims she does not have the ‘sufficient experience of college life’ to write about it. More to the point, she also writes that ‘after thinking and writingAnne
for over three years I’m actually sick of her.’

“Strength in Numbers: the CanLit community” by Natalya Rattan and John Shoesmith, 2020

Of course Montgomery did go on to write more about Anne, but it’s worth noting that she felt what many writers feel, especially those who write long series, and it’s interesting that she confessed this feeling to Hardy.

In 1935, the Montreal branch of the Canadian Authors Association had been running a successful annual poetry contest. They appointed a committee to see if publishing a periodical would be financially feasible. Disappointed by the results, they decided to not go through with the project. Hardy heard about this and urged the national executive to take on the project as a means of doing something for the entire membership. They agreed and the first issue of Canadian Poetry magazine was published in 1936. The magazine continued to be published until 1968 when it merged with Canadian Author and Bookman. (“A Union of the Inkpot: the Canadian Authors Association, 1921-1960” by Christopher M. Doody, 2016)


The following is from the book Hardy and Hardie: past and present (1887), in which Claude H. Hardy recorded the history of the extended family and gives a thorough biography of E.A. Hardy:

Edwin Austin, b. at Laconia, N. PI., 30 Aug. 1867 ; m. 6 Jul. 1891, Annie Florence Everett.

Hardy was a small boy of three years when he moved with his parents to Guelph, Ont., Canada, where he started on his educational career as a youngster at school. From the very first day of attendance upon instruction it was apparent that this lad would make a name for himself educationally, for books and everything literary appealed to him. But he was destined to be more than a scholar. His love of people and his genius for leadership and organization have made him a “man among men” and one of Canada’s leading educators.

For sixteen years he was English Master at the Lindsay Collegiate Institute at Lindsay, Ont. Since 1910 he has been on the faculty of the Jarvis Collegiate Institute at Toronto, and is Head of the Department of English. Although he has given more than forty years of his life to educational work, and has earned retirement from active service, he is looked upon by his associates as one of the most vigorous and dynamic personalities of the profession today. He has been honored on many occasions, as will be seen in a summary of his career below. He recently retired as editor of The Bulletin, the official publication of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and the following tribute was paid to him in the February, 1935, issue :

After eight years as editor of the Bulletin , Dr. Hardy retired. At the December Meeting of the Federation he was unanimously and enthusiastically made Honorary Life Member on the Executive. No honor was ever more deserved. No man in Ontario has done more during the past forty years to raise the status of the teacher with the public and to give teachers increased respect for their own profession. He was one of the first to obtain the doctor’s degree in Pedagogy. He was one of the first to realize the value of organized co-operative effort. He was one of the founders of the Toronto Teachers’ Council of our own Federation and of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. Of each of these organizations he became president. He has become known far beyond our own Dominion and since 1927 has been Treasurer of the World Federation of Education Associations. In every province and in many countries he has represented the teachers of Ontario with a dignity and a charm that reflected most favorably on his own province.
At all times he has wisely advocated the closest co-operation between teachers and trustees and the Department of Education. The Fireside Conference of last winter was a unique and successful demonstration of his resourcefulness in this direction.

His wide interests have indirectly helped the profession, no less effectively perhaps, than his more direct activities. He has been Secretary and President of the Ontario Library Association, National Secretary of the Canadian Authors’ Association, and President of the Toronto Branch of that association, President of the Ontario Sunday School Association, and Chairman of the Council of the Ontario College of Art. A few days ago Yorkminster Baptist Church where he has been active as associate S. S. Superintendent for more than 25 years elected him a life deacon.

In all his work his method has been “suaviter in modo, fortiter in re.” His courtesy in debate has not diminished his resolution in the advocacy of policies he approves. He has done much in the past but he always presses on towards a higher mark. For the profession he has a fair vision which it would be well for us all to capture : a Headquarters Building, a professional library, a Travel Bureau, a monthly Bulletin, higher qualifications for secondary teachers, a full-time secretary for our federation. How he has survived his many duties is a source of wonder to those who know best what hard work some of these duties involve. May he long continue to give inspiration to his fellow teachers. May the new editors catch something of his fine spirit.

Dr. Hardy, in addition to his keen interest and active participation in educational and religious affairs, has found time to become actively engaged in other worthwhile pursuits. He is an author and literary critic. He has written several articles for magazines and periodicals in Canada, Great Britain and the United States. He is editor of Selections from Wordsworth and Tennyson. For ten years he was educational editor of the Toronto Globe. He is a member of the Incorporated Society of Authors, Playwrights and Composers of Great Britain. He is a member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, vice-president of the Ontario Branch of the English-Speaking Union, vice-president of the Canadian Branch of the League of the Empire, vice-president of the Community Welfare Council of Ontario, member of the Magna Carta Association, member of the I. O. O. F., and vice-president of the Hardy Family Association.

Mrs. Hardy graduated from Moulton’s Ladies’ College at Toronto, and before marriage was a teacher. She has been actively engaged in Girl Guide work, in women’s work of various kinds, social and political, and is devoted to gardening.

Children, born at Lindsay, Ontario :
i. Florence Spaulding, b. 20 Sept. 1894. She attended the University of Toronto, and graduated in arts and medicine. In 1917 she married Mr. Garnet E. McConney, a member of a family resident in the Barbados for centuries, and of Scottish descent. Dr. McConney practices medicine, and is on the staff of the Women’s College Hospital at Toronto. She is actively engaged in educational and religious work. Children :
ii. Dorothy Stanton, b. 26 Dec. 1898. She is a graduate in arts from the University of Toronto and from Oxford University, London, Somerville, College. In 1924 she married Clarence Walford Murphy, Flight Lieut., R. N., and resides in Putney, London, England.

Hardy and Hardie, past and present by Hardy, H. Claude (Harrison Claude), 1887- (internet archive: https://archive.org/details/hardyhardiepastp00hard/page/358/mode/2up?q=%22edwin+austin%22)

Hardy’s impact on education in Lindsay was so profound that after Hardy left Lindsay parents sent their girls to the Moulton Ladies College.

Hardy was one of the founders of the Twenty Club, an exclusive organization in Lindsay consisting of only twenty members at a time, each of whom would take turns researching, writing and presenting an educational article. The Twenty Club was established in 1892 and remains active today.

From the Cambridge Street Baptist Church history:

In 1904 Mr. A. E. Hardy severed his connection with the Lindsay Collegiate (and the Lindsay Baptist Church), to become the Principal of Moulton College for girls. Such was his reputation in Lindsay – relates Mrs. Fred Bruce – that her mother, a staunch Methodist, sent her to Moulton, the Baptist School, because the well-known Mr. Hardy was principal. He shortly left there and became eminent in collegiate circles in Toronto. For his great educational services, he was awarded the O.B.E. in the Queen’s Honour List.

Dr. Hardy returned to Lindsay as speaker for the 50th Anniversary of the Twenty Club, which he had founded. As a former Deacon and Sunday School superintendent here, he spoke on the 75th Church Anniversary to combined Morning Congregation and Sunday School.


While in Lindsay, the Hardys lived on Peel Street near the Cambridge Street Baptist Church.

Lindsay Daily Post, 4 Nov 1952, courtesy Kawartha Lakes Public Library


Selections from the Canadian Poets (1909)

The Public Library: its place in our educational system (1912)

Talks on Education (1923)

The Ontario Library Association: an historical sketch (1926)

Further Reading:

IN ONTARIO. 1880 – 1920″, 1989.


Christopher M. Doody; “A Union of the Inkpot: The Canadian Authors Association, 1921-1960”, 2016.

Note: a different E.A. Hardy was a professor of agriculture in Saskatchewan.

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