Hemingway in Canada

Updated on May 8, 2019
Stephen C Barnes profile image

Stephen is a serious history and literature buff who enjoys researching and writing about the lessor known stories of famous authors.

The old Toronto Star building where Ernest Hemingway worked as a reporter in the early 1920s.
The old Toronto Star building where Ernest Hemingway worked as a reporter in the early 1920s. | Source

Hemingway's First Stay in Canada

Ernest Hemingway first came to Toronto in 1920, and though he began working for the Toronto Star that same year it was not this job that brought him to the Canadian City; in fact, the reason had nothing to do with journalism or writing.

In 1919 Hemingway was giving a talk to a women's group in Petoskey, Michigan about his experiences with a Red Cross ambulance unit in Italy during World War I. One of the attendees at this talk was Toronto resident, Harriet Connable. She was very impressed with the young Hemingway and approached him with an offer. Harriet and her husband Ralph, who ran the Canadian division of F.W. Woolworth's department stores, were looking for a companion and mentor for their disabled teenage son. Hemingway would stay with the boy in the Connable's Toronto mansion while the couple vacationed in Palm Beach, Florida. Hemingway would be paid $50 per month, and would have plenty of free time to dedicate to his writing. He took the position.

Being a man who knew how to create his own opportunities Hemingway, on arriving in Toronto, convinced Harriet Connable to get him an introduction at the Toronto Star. Through Harriet, Hemingway met and befriended Star writer and editor Greg Clark, who, in turn, introduced him to Star Weekly chief Cranston. The Star published four of Hemingway's pieces, for which he received half a cent a word. For his fifth story he received the all important byline. Hemingway did well at the Star weekly and his rate quickly doubled to a cent a word.

Though Hemingway was enjoying his time in Toronto, by the spring of 1921 he was getting antsy to move on. So, in mid May of that year, around the opening of trout season, Hemingway, always the fishing fanatic, quit his job with the Star, thanked the Connable's for the opportunity, and headed back to Petoskey, Michigan.

Ernest Hemingway with his first wife, Hadley Richardson.
Ernest Hemingway with his first wife, Hadley Richardson. | Source

Michigan and Paris

Shortly after his return to Michigan, while on a trip to Chicago, Hemingway met Hadley Richardson. After a brief courtship, and against the strong objections of Hadley's family, the coupled married on September 3, 1921.

In October of 1921 Hemingway, now married, bored with his job writing for the in-house magazine of a Chicago financial institution, and getting nowhere with his creative writing, wrote to the managing editor of the Star Weekly looking for his job back. The Star, happy to have Hemingway back, reached a deal with the writer whereby he would work as their European correspondent. In December of 1921 Ernest and Hadley set off for Paris.

Ernest, Hadley, and their first son, John, in Paris, 1924.
Ernest, Hadley, and their first son, John, in Paris, 1924. | Source

His Return to Canada

Though Hemingway lived in Paris from 1921 to 1928, he did return to Toronto for a brief period In 1923/24. While in Paris Hadley had gotten pregnant but did not want to have her child there, so Hemingway returned to Canada with Hadley in September 1923. On October first he signed a yearlong lease on a two bedroom apartment on the top floor of a four story building, now known as The Hemingway, on Toronto's Bathurst street. He did not stay that long, however.

On October 10, 1923 Hadley gave birth to the couple's first son, John, at Wellesley hospital. Hemingway was, unfortunately, not there for his son's birth; he was on a train from New York, where he had been covering the arrival of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, for the Star. In January of of 1924, less then four months after his second arrival in Canada, Hemingway and his young family returned to Paris.

The Hemingway Condos, named for American Author Ernest Hemingway, at 1597 - 1599 Bathurst Street, Toronto, where the famous author once rented an Apartment for a brief period in 1923/24.
The Hemingway Condos, named for American Author Ernest Hemingway, at 1597 - 1599 Bathurst Street, Toronto, where the famous author once rented an Apartment for a brief period in 1923/24. | Source

Though his second stay in Toronto was brief it was significant. Not only did it see the birth of his first son but Hemingway also befriended Canadian novelist Morley Callaghan, and Canadian broadcasting icon Gordon Sinclair, a fact attested to by a plaque affixed to the wall on the outside of the building where Hemingway and his young family lived for such a short time such a long time ago.

Bibliography

Kalinowski, T. (April 8, 2019) Ernest Hemingway's Former Toronto Home up for Sale. www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2019/04/08/ernest-hemingways-former-toronto-home-up-for-sale.html

Hufford, B. (October 21, 2006) Hadley Richardson Hemingway Mowrer. www.findagrave.com/memorial/16268914/hadley-heminway-mowrer

Schiller, B. (2012) How Hemingway Came of Age at the Toronto Star. ehto.thestar.com/marks/how-hemingway-came-of-age-at-the-toronto-star

Paris Insiders Guide (2010 - 2019) Ernest Hemingway's Paris - In the Footsteps of History. www.parisinsidersguide.com/hemingways-paris.html

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Stephen Barnes

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      • Stephen C Barnes profile imageAUTHOR

        Stephen Barnes 

        5 weeks ago from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

        Hi Shirley, I'm pleased you enjoyed the article, and glad that you were able to find something in there that you did not already know, as, judging from your article, there isn't very much.

        I thoroughly enjoyed your article and learned a great deal from it. Though I knew something of Hemingway's activities in Spain, and much more about his part in the Cuban Revolution, there was a great deal there that I was not previously aware of. I will have to keep checking back to your website to see what other interesting stories you publish there.

      • profile image

        Shirley Freitas 

        5 weeks ago

        Delightful article and photos. I knew of Hemingway's two stays in Toronto but had never heard the story about the Connables and their son. It's also a revelation that the apartment building is named after him.

        I recently created a web site with an article about Hemingway's politics (more radical than is commonly known) and death (decades of hounding by the FBI increased after the Cuban Revolution and his refusal to denounce it). My article has nothing about his Canadian connection, though!

        You can read it at www.necessarystorms.com. Any comments or criticisms, positive and negative, are much appreciated.

      • Stephen C Barnes profile imageAUTHOR

        Stephen Barnes 

        8 weeks ago from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

        Thank you Liz. I was not aware of the Canadian connection myself until I saw the listing for the sale of his apartment, and thought there might be something interesting there, and sure enough, it was a very interesting story indeed.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        2 months ago from UK

        This is an interesting and well-written article. I was not aware of the Canada connection before I read this fascinating article about Hemingway.

      • Stephen C Barnes profile imageAUTHOR

        Stephen Barnes 

        6 months ago from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

        To be honest Mary I didn't know this either until I saw the for sale listing for his one time Toronto home. It was this that got me looking into Hemingway's time in Canada. I had thought myself a huge Hemingway fan: I had visited his home in Key West, Florida, drank Mojito's at his preferred hotel in Cuba, and have read most everything he has written, yet did not know that he once lived in Canada.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        6 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        I never knew this. I will have to see this place as it is only 6 kms. away from me. Thanks for posting this.

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