Fonds RBSC-ARC-1847 - Susan McCaslin fonds

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Susan McCaslin fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on provenance of fonds.

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1.98 m of textual records and other materials

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Name of creator

(1947 -)

Biographical history

Susan Elizabeth McCaslin was born June 3, 1947. In 1969 she received her BA in English Literature from the University of Washington. She continued her education completing a MA in English Literature from Simon Fraser University in 1973, her graduate thesis focused on Nineteenth-Century Poetry, Poetics, and Edgar Allan Poe. In 1984, she received a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in English Literature, Twentieth-Century Poetry and Vernon Watkins.

McCaslin held several teaching roles at various institutions and taught workshops and programs independently. Between 1969 and 1984 she was a Teaching Assistant (SFU, 1969-71; UBC, 1984-1985), Sessional Lecturer (UVIC, 1973-1974, UBC 1977-1981), Instructor (Trinity Western College, 1974-1976), Substitute Teacher (Surrey School Board, 1976-1977) and Assistant Professor (Trent University, 1984) within English Departments. From 1984 to 2007 she was an English and Creative Writing Instructor at Douglas College in New Westminster and Coquitlam, B.C. She taught a variety of first and second-year courses and was active on committees, task forces and Boards at the College. McCaslin also developed, organized and facilitated various workshops between 2008 and 2009, including “Magical Mystics Tour”, “Into the Mystic”, and on the songs and poetry of Leonard Cohen, among others.

Susan McCaslin’s literary pursuits began at an early age, she has authored numerous poems, essays, book chapters, reviews, non-fiction works, children’s books, and edited several poetry anthologies and collections. She has received several literary awards and recognition, within competitions and for her published works, including the Alberta Book Publishing Award (2012), and finalist for the BC Book Prize.
In 1969, McCaslin was introduced to Mary Olga Park, a contemporary Christian mystic living along the Burrard Inlet in Port Moody, BC. Park served as McCaslin’s spiritual mentor and friend until Park’s death in 1985. Mary Olga Park’s poetry, writing and focus on mystical and esoteric streams of Christianity encouraged McCaslin on her poetry path. McCaslin’s poetry has evolved to a more inter-spiritual and global perspective of the sacred, influenced by her studies in Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sufism, Indigenous traditions and Chinese and Japanese literature.

She has maintained memberships in several writers associations, community organizations and professional societies. She was on the Board of Directors of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada (2001-2003) and Event Magazine (2006-2017). She maintains a membership with the Federation of BC Writers, League of Canadian Poets, and The Writer’s Union of Canada. She currently resides in Fort Langley, BC, where she initiated the Han Shan Poetry Project in 2012 combining her interest in poetry and environmental activism. The project gathered Canadian poets, scientists, musicians and visual artists to draw public attention and protect a rain forest near the Fraser River. McCaslin continues to write and is currently working on various projects to be published.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds reflects Susan McCaslin’s professional career as a writer, poet and teacher as well as her personal interests and involvement in societies, community initiatives, and organizations between 1960 and 2023. Records in the fonds relate to McCaslin’s literary work and publications in various independent volumes, edited works, chapbooks, anthologies, non-fiction monographs, magazines, small press publications, newspapers, University annuals, and religious and arts quarterlies among others. Publicity materials relating to her literary work, tours, reviews, presentations, performances and instructional sessions developed by McCaslin are included in the fonds. The fonds also includes materials created and received through McCaslin’s personal collaborations with fellow artists and authors, community work relating to the environment and her involvement with religious communities and other subject areas. Record types consist of written and email correspondence, chapbooks, zines, published works, magazines, newspaper clippings, promotional and reference materials, drafts, planning documents, reviews and feedback, awards, pamphlets, catalogues, newsletters, communications, posters, bus panels, photographs and other material. The fonds is divided into three series: Publications and Finished Works, Professional, Personal and Administrative Records, and Literary Promotion and Publicity.

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Physical condition

Staples and other damaging attachments were removed during processing for preservation purposes. Materials originally stored in binders and plastic sleeves have been removed and stored in files.

Immediate source of acquisition

The fonds remained in the custody of Susan McCaslin, who donated the materials to Rare Books and Special Collections in January 2023.


The archivist retained the original physical order established by Susan McCaslin and the above series reflect the groupings of materials identified by the creator. The creator arranged files and publications alphabetically and separated them according to type, activity or subject matter. File titles provided by McCaslin have been retained.

The original donation contained a substantial amount of published materials. Published works including chapbooks, zines, small press-publications, magazines, and independently published works have been retained within the fonds. Other materials published through larger publishers, voluminous materials, or large items have been removed from the fonds and catalogued separately. These books and published works can be found in the RBSC Catalogue.

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The Mary Olga Park fonds donated by Susan McCaslin can be accessed: Park was a friend and spiritual mentor to McCaslin from 1969-1985, Park’s records were transferred and remained with McCaslin until she donated the materials to Rare books and Special Collections in 2017.

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General note

Includes the following photographs: RBSC-ARC-1847-PH-01 to 16

Physical description

Also includes: 16 photographs: col., 2 videocassettes, 2 CDs, 3 audio cassettes

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Finding aid created by Marion Arnott February 2023.

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