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Robert Service (Amazing Stories)

Robert Service (Amazing Stories)


A Great Canadian Poet's Romance with the North

Robert William Service lived a life of adventure. Best known for his world-famous poems such as the Shooting of Dan McGrew, he drew much of his inspiration from the great Canadian North. Despite his many adventures in Europe and around the world, the Yukon remained a strong influence on the poet until his death in 1958.


At the age of 13, Robert Service had a burning desire to be a sailor. He fantasized about being a mariner on the high seas, and spent every Saturday down at the docks, admiring the ships. His parents, however, set out to defuse this passion. When they insisted he would have to stay in school for another year, he vowed to be a terrible student. And he was.

Robert made a point to arrive late to class. He ignored the lessons and drew caricatures of the teachers. When a teacher would ask him a question, he would give sassy answers to make the other students laugh. His defiant behaviour made him a thorn in the side of authority, and the boy was on the fast track to being expelled.

Then one day, a simple childhood prank on his drillmaster, Sergeant William Walker, became the final straw. A retired soldier with 22 years experience in the Northumberland Fusiliers, Walker was a strict disciplinarian who had no time for jokes. But Robert didn't care. When he was made master of his class's drill company for the day, he decided to have some fun. In a deep voice, he commanded his classmates to quick march, and then marched them straight into the school washrooms. Everyone laughed - everyone except Sergeant Walker.

Robert's actions merited a visit to the headmaster, who simply said to the boy, "Perhaps it might be better if you ceased coming."

So, at the age of 14, Robert's formal schooling ended. His teachers predicted he would be a failure in life, but Robert Service went on to become the most successful - and likely the richest - poet of the 20th century. 

About the Author

Elle Andra-Warner is a journalist, author, and photographer who lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Estonian by heritage, she was born in a post-war Estonian displaced persons camp in Germany and came to Canada as a young child with her parents. A graduate of Lakehead University, Elle specializes in writing creative non-fiction, about everything from people to travel, history, culture, kayaking and aviation. Her weekly newspaper column about people is in its tenth year of publication.

And as a travel journalist and photographer, her feature articles appear in publications world-wide. Elle is also a communications consultant, speechwriter, and workshop facilitator. When she's not researching, writing, or travelling, she enjoys relaxing at the family's lakeside log cabin near Nakina or exploring northwestern Ontario.

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