Merrill Denison

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Merrill Denison (23 June 1893 — 13 June 1975) was a Canadian playwright.[1] He created many dramas which were broadcast during the early days of radio, and was the art director of Hart House Theatre, Toronto, Ontario.

Early life[edit]

Denison was born in Detroit and raised in Ontario,[2] the son of Canadian author, dressmaker, theosophist, Whitmanite, and feminist Flora MacDonald (Merrill) Denison and American garment salesman Howard Denison.[3][4] He studied architecture at Columbia University, then at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and finally at the University of Toronto.[5]


Instead of making a career as an architect, Denison began working as the art director of Hart House Theatre in Toronto. In 1926 he married Jessie Muriel Goggin. Denison soon began to write comedies, some of which were conceived at his summer home in what would later become Bon Echo and performed in the Tweed Playhouse in Tweed, Ontario.

The Romance of Canada, a series of historical plays written by Denison, were broadcast as radio dramas in 1931 and 1932 by CNRV.[6] During the decades that followed he prepared many plays for broadcast in the United States.

Increasingly interested in business history, during the 1950s and 1960s Denison wrote several histories of Canadian corporations, including Harvest Triumphant: The Story of Massey-Harris and The People's Power: the History of Ontario Hydro (1960)[7]

In 1959 Denison donated his family property to the Province of Ontario for development into Bon Echo Provincial Park.[8]


  • The Unheroic North: Four Canadian Plays (1923)
    • Brothers in Arms, the Weather Breeder, From Their Own Place, and Marsh Hay.[8]
  • Henry Hudson and other plays: Six Plays for the Microphone (1931) from the 'Romance of Canada' series of radio broadcasts
  • The Raid on Grand Pre (1931) from the 'Romance of Canada' series of radio broadcasts
  • America in action: twelve one-act plays for young people, dealing with freedom and democracy. (1941)
    • The U.S. vs. Susan B. Anthony, and Haven of the Spirit.

Books and papers[edit]

  • The educational program (1935) - a discussion of facts and techniques in educational broadcasting
  • An American father talks to his son (1939)
  • Klondike Mike: An Alaskan Odyssey (1943)
  • Prodigy at sixty (1943)
  • Canada, our dominion neighbor (1944)
  • Harvest Triumphant: the Story of Massey-Harris (1949)
  • Bristles and brushes: A footnote to the story of American war production (1949)
  • The Barley and the Stream: the Molson story (1955)
  • The power to go: the Story of the Automotive Industry (1956)
  • The People's Power: the History of Ontario Hydro (1960)
  • Canada's first bank: A History of the Bank of Montreal (1966–67) (in two volumes)


  1. ^ Mel Atkey. Broadway North: The Dream of a Canadian Musical Theatre. Dundurn; 30 October 2006. ISBN 978-1-4597-2120-3. p. 45–.
  2. ^ Dick MacDonald. The Media Game. Content; 1972. p. 11.
  3. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography: MERRILL, FLORA MacDonald (Denison)
  4. ^ That Inferiority Complex: An Address by Merrill Denison, F.R.S.A.
  5. ^ John Campbell. The Mazinaw Experience: Bon Echo and Beyond. Dundurn; 15 July 2000. ISBN 978-1-55488-337-0. p. 93–.
  6. ^ William H. New. Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. University of Toronto Press; 2002. ISBN 978-0-8020-0761-2. p. 306, 930.
  7. ^ Hydro: The Decline and Fall of Ontario's Electric Empire. Between The Lines; 2004. ISBN 978-1-896357-88-1. p. 9–.
  8. ^ a b Cynthia Sugars. The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature. Oxford University Press; 1 December 2015. ISBN 978-0-19-049400-1. p. 571–.

External links[edit]