Despite having a distinguished academic and military career, Frank Parker Day (1881-1950) is best known, especially in recent years, for his book Rockbound. Originally published in 1928, Rockbound leapt back onto the national stage in 2005 when it won the Canada Reads book competition on CBC Radio. At the time of original publication, Rockbound was both acclaimed and reviled. Day’s literary peers and many critics viewed the novel favorably but locals, particularly residents of Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia, the real life island where Day’s novel was set, were outraged. They felt betrayed by Day’s depiction of them as ignorant, immoral and superstitious. Despite this early notoriety, Rockbound remains the most widely read and analyzed of Day’s novels and several initial versions of Rockbound are available in manuscript form in the Dalhousie University Archives Frank Parker Day fonds. In addition to Rockbound, Day published several other important works during his most productive writing period from 1926-1932. These include River of Strangers (1926), Autobiography of a Fisherman (1927), and John Paul’s Rock (1932). Manuscript versions of all these novels are also available in the Dalhousie University Archives.
After completing John Paul’s Rock, Day’s health began to deteriorate. In 1933, he retired from his position as President of Union College, NY and returned to Lake Annis, Nova Scotia where he lived until his passing in 1950. During his retirement, Day wrote the unpublished novels that are included in the Dalhousie University Archives collection.
Rosalie is one of these unpublished novels. Day completed Rosalie sometime either during or shortly after the Second World War, making it possibly one of the last novels that he worked on. While the plot has several gaps and some unexplained appearances of characters from other manuscripts that Day was working on during the period, it stands apart as the most complete work in the collection of unpublished novels. The main character is a young Acadian woman, Rosalie, who flees the confines of a small fishing village and an unwanted marriage at the age of nineteen in search of a more personally fulfilling life. Rosalie’s character arc is a reflection of the time during which the novel is set. She starts materially with nothing, but charm, good looks, boundless energy and intellectual curiosity take her far. She encounters support from complete strangers and ultimately succeeds by virtue of her ability to navigate a slightly broader set of societal constraints placed on women in Canada in the 1930s and 1940s.
The digital edition of Rosalie was transcribed from the most complete version of the typescript (Dalhousie University Archives MS-2-288 Box 10, Folders 7-12) with integration of author notes and shorthand included on the typescript. It also received minor edits for spelling and grammar to make it more readable. Those interested in completing a detailed analysis of the novel, should consult the original manuscript. The intent with this version is to present the story in a legible and accessible format that provides an example of Frank Parker Day’s unpublished post-retirement writing.
Digital Scholarship Librarian
Dalhousie University Libraries