Gool, Réshard, 1931-1989 : Poet, novelist, journalist, essayist, teacher, editor, publisher and impressario. Réshard Gool was a leading figure in the cultural life of Prince Edward Island from the late 1960s until his death. Born in London (England), the son of South African Indian parents, Gool was educated in Scotland, South Africa, England and Wales before coming to Canada in 1964. He studied and taught at McMaster University, then in Regina and Toronto, before settling in Charlottetown where he joined the Department of Political Science of the University of Prince Edward Island, retiring in 1987. He was married to the Canadian artist Hilda Woolnough.
Gool was the author of two novels. The first, 'Price' (1970), was about his parents' South Africa and it won him the Norma Epstein Award from the University of Toronto and the Bronfman Foundation Award. Initially drafted in the 1950s, 'Price' was published in two different versions during Gool's lifetime and a third revision was completed before his death, 'Cape Town Coolie' (1989). Gool's second novel, 'Nemesis casket' (1979), was published under the pseudonym Ved Devajee. (Another pseudonym he used during his early writing career was Anthony Watson.) Gool's volume of poetry,'In Medusa's eye and other poems', was published in 1972, the same year Gool co-authored with Frank Ledwell a collection of articles entitled 'Portraits & gastroscopes: a collection of Square Deal gastroscopes and personalities'. Gool's writing also earned him an External Affairs Travelling Fellowship in 1976 and a Canada Council Creative Writing Award in 1978-1979.
Gool was an important figure in the Maritime Provinces cultural affairs. He was a publisher and president of the Atlantic Publishers Association. He founded the small press, Square Deal Publications, which published some 25 titles between 1971 and 1978 in Charlottetown. The focus of these publications was Maritime experiences and Maritime writing. Gool was active in promoting the arts on Prince Edward Island and in introducing major Canadian writers from across the country to the Island through poetry readings, literary events and exchanges. Gool travelled extensively and was well-connected with the literary world in Canada.
Among the titles published by Gool as the founder and editor of Square Deal Publications were: 'Three women poets of P.E.I.' 1973, 'Folk songs of Prince Edward Island' 1973, 'Beach pebbles' 1973, 'Tell me the tales' (memoirs of former Prince Edward Island Premier, the Hon. Walter Shaw) 1975, 'Red clay soil: poems' (by A. P. Campbell) 1976, 'Of the swimmer among the coral' (by John Smith) 1976, 'Cavalier carcass' (by Larry Leclair) 1976, 'Small rural schools in Prince Edward Island' (by Edward L. Edmonds and Frederic Bessai) 1977, 'The Green damsel and the silver doctor' (by Leon Berrouard) 1978, 'Eyescapes: drawings' by Hilda Woolnough 1978, and 'Everywhere I've been' (by Carl Sentner) 1980. Gool also contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers.
Gool was co-founder of the Great George Street Gallery, an artists' co-operative, a director of Art-on-Demand Gallery (also referred to as Gallery on Demand or G.O.D.), a free-lance radio journalist and a public speaker. He was a member of Amnesty International, the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, and the Writers' Union of Canada. The home he shared with Hilda Woolnough was well-known for its hospitality to visiting writers and artists, and became a cultural centre on the Island. In 1988 Gool received the P.E.I. Arts Council's award for contributions to Island letters.
Gool was a member of a visible minority in Canada, because of his South Asian heritage. One of his fields of research was Caribbean literature and he was involved in the interests of Black and Asian writers in Canada. His novel 'Price' concerned itself with race relations and politics in South Africa.