Garner, Hugh (1913–1979) By Sharpe, Emily Robins
Hugh Garner was a British-Canadian writer, journalist, and editor. His fictional writings reflect on the experiences of marginalized individuals, echoing his own early experiences of poverty and unemployment. Garner and his family moved from Batley, England, to Toronto, Ontario, when he was six years old, and settled in the working-class neighbourhood of Cabbagetown. The Great Depression forced Garner to leave high school in search of work to support himself and his family. He held a wide variety of jobs, working as a bicycle messenger, a factory labourer, a newspaper copy boy, and even riding freight trains across North America to pursue short-term and seasonal farm jobs. Politicized by these experiences, Garner volunteered in the Spanish Civil War, serving with the Abraham Lincoln Battalion of the communist International Brigades. After the Fascist victory in 1939, he enlisted with first the Royal Canadian Artillery and then the Royal Canadian Navy in World War II. With the war’s conclusion he returned to Toronto where he made a career of his writing, managing to support his wife, Alice Gallant, and their two children, Barbara and Hugh Jr, through the publication of short stories, novels, plays, radio and television scripts, and articles, and through his editorial work at Saturday Night Magazine and New Liberty Magazine.