F.R. Scott was a poet, political activist and constitutional scholar who became known as one of Canada’s great champions for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
As a poet, he was instrumental in shaping a new, fundamentally Canadian literary identity. With the poet-critic A. J. M. Smith, Scott helped found the avant-garde McGill Fortnightly Review (1925-1926), a magazine now synonymous with modernism in Canadian poetry. In 1936 he helped edit the first anthology of modern Canadian poetry, New Provinces: Poems of Seven Authors. In the 1950s and 1960s, Scott became a pioneer translator of Quebeçois poetry. Last but not least, his work was crowned with a Governor General's award for The Collected Poems of F. R. Scott (1981).
His impact in politics, law and social philosophy was also considerable. He was national chairman of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (now the New Democratic Party) from 1942 to 1950; from 1961 to 1964 he was dean of law at McGill; and from 1963 to 1971 he was a member of the influential Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. He earned a with a Governor General's Award for Essays on the constitution: aspects of Canadian law and politics (1977).
He argued several major civil rights cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, including Switzman v. Elbing (1957), Roncarelli v. Duplessis (1958), and Brodie v. The Queen (1961), better known as the Lady Chatterly case. One prominent legal historian described him as an "architect of modern Canadian thought on human rights and fundamental freedoms."