Biography of James McIntyre
James McIntyre (baptised 25 May 1828 – 31 March 1906), called The Cheese Poet, was a Canadian poet.
McIntyre was born in Forres, Scotland and came to Canada in 1841 at the age of 14. He worked as a hired hand to begin with, performing pioneer chores that formed the basis of a number of his works. Later, he settled in St. Catharines, Ontario, where he dealt in furniture. There he married and had a daughter and son. He later moved to Ingersoll, Ontario, then a town of 5,000 on the banks of the Thames in Oxford County, the then-heart of Canadian dairy country. He opened a furniture factory on the river as well as a store which sold furniture, along with such items as pianos and coffins.
He was well-loved in the community, from which he often received aid in hard times, due in part to his poesy and oratorical skills -- he was called on to speak at every kind of social gathering in Ingersoll. The region seems to have inspired him, and it was in celebration of the proud history of Canada, the natural beauty and industry of the region, and especially (as noted above) its cheese, that the majority of his oeuvre was written.
McIntyre was uninhibited by minor shortcomings -- such as his lack of literary skills. The Toronto Globe ran his pieces as comic relief, and the New York Tribune expressed amusement, but their mockery did not dampen his enthusiasm. He is assumed to have continued writing until his death, in 1906.
McIntyre was forgotten after his death for a number of years, until his work was rediscovered and reprinted by William Arthur Deacon -- literary editor of the Toronto Mail and Empire and its successor the Globe and Mail -- in his book The Four Jameses (1927).
In recent years a volume of his work, Oh! Queen of Cheese: Selections from James McIntyre, the Cheese Poet (ed. Roy A Abramson; Toronto: Cherry Tree, 1979) collected his poems together with a variety of cheese recipes and anecdotes. However, the greatest boost to his fame probably came from a number of his poems being anthologized in the collection Very Bad Poetry, edited by Ross and Kathryn Petras (Vintage, 1997). This included his masterpiece and possibly best-known poem, "Ode on the Mammoth Cheese Weighing Over 7,000 Pounds," written about an actual cheese produced in Ingersoll in 1866 and sent to exhibitions in Toronto, New York, and Britain.
An annual poetry contest is held in Ingersoll, Ontario, to honour McIntyre. The contest is sponsored by The Ingersoll Times and the Corporation of the Town of Ingersoll, and includes a cheese-themed poetry competition.
James McIntyre's Works:
Musings on the Canadian Thames (1884);
Poems of James McIntyre (1889)
Oh! Queen of Cheese: Selections from James McIntyre, the Cheese Poet (1979)
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia James McIntyre; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.
James McIntyre Poems
Oxford Cheese Ode
The ancient poets ne'er did dream That Canada was land of cream, They ne'er imagined it could flow In this cold land of ice and snow,
Ode On The Mammoth Cheese
We have seen the Queen of cheese, Laying quietly at your ease, Gently fanned by evening breeze -- Thy fair form no flies dare seize.
If you are sulky, Nova Scotia, We'll gladly let you float away From out our Confederation; You sicken us with sily agitation.
Our muse it doth refuse to sing Of cheese made early in the spring, When cows give milk from spring fodder You cannot make a good cheddar.
People Will Talk
Dressing in fashion will be called vain, And they'll call you a dowdey [sic] if you are plain ; But do what is right, lot that be the test Then proudly hold up your head with the best- For people will talk.
Irish Poets: Oliver Goldsmith
Goldsmith wrote Deserted Village, Now again reduced to tillage; Once happiest village of the plain, Place now you look for it in vain;
Prophecy Of A Ten Ton Cheese
In presenting this delicate, dainty morsel to the imagination of the people, I believed that it could be realized. I viewed the machine that turned and raised the mamoth cheese, and saw the powerful machine invented by James Ireland at the West Oxford companies factory to turn the great and fine cheese he was making there. This company with but little assistance could produce a ten ton cheese. Who hath prophetic vision sees
When this country it was woody, Its great champion, Mrs. Moody, She showed she had both pluck and push, In her work, roughing in the bush.
American Poets: Longfellow
Like fruit that's large and ripe and mellow, Sweet and luscious is Longfellow, Melodious songs he oft did pour, And high was his Excelsior.
Agricultural, Implements And Machinery
Poor laborers, they did sad bewail, When the machine displaced the flail ; Theres little work, now, with the hoes, Since cultivators weed the rows.
Joseph Howe, none higher stood than thou, Thou wert a man with lofty brow ; D'Arcey McGee, so brillant and free, From Green Isle you came, 'oer the sea.
Scotland has produced three great shepherds Talford, the inventor of Suspension Bridges, Ferguson, the Astronomer, and Hogg the Ettrick shepherd, the great song writer.
Canadian Sports And Games And Plays
Burns sang of joys of Hallowe'en, But in Canada is oft seen By far more jolly times than these, At logging raising, paring bees,
Lines On A Canadian Hunter
Of Kentucky's great hunter bold, Old Daniel Boon, oft tales are told ; Of wild beasts he had no fear, But dangers loved, that pioneer.
The farmers now should all adorn
A few fields with sweet southern corn,
It is luscious, thick and tall,
The beauty of the fields in fall.
For it doth make best ensilage,
For those in dairying engage
It makes the milk in streams to flow,
Where dairymen have a good silo.