Bruce is one of eight children born to Joyce and Ralph Hunter.
1964 Bottom row: Shirley Ann, Bruce, Susan, Maureen. Back row: Terry, Michael, Allan. Missing is older brother David (Edgar) his parent's child before they married and who was given up for adoption. Bruce's poem "Benchmark" is about the search for David who reconnected with his birth mother shortly before she died.
Deafened as an infant and afflicted with low vision much of his adult life, Bruce worked as a gardener, labourer, equipment operator, and Zamboni driver before returning to school in his late twenties. While working those jobs, his poetry won him a scholarship to study creative writing at the Banff School of Fine Arts with W.O. Mitchell. Bruce went on to study film and literature at York University graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Honours.
1958 Bruce's younger sister, Susan aged 2 and a half, with Santa. Bruce's poem "Christmas, 1959" was inspired by this photograph.
New Year's Eve, 1958/59. Bruce's parents and friends often socialized at the Lido Cafe during the 50s.
In his teens and early twenties, Bruce worked as a casual labourer, equipment operator and Zamboni driver before taking an apprenticeship in horticulture and studying at Olds and Vermillion Colleges.
He wrote poetry in his spare time, attending writing courses at Malaspina College and later Mount Royal College. In 1978, his poetry won him a scholarship to attend the Banff School of Fine Arts to study with W.O. Mitchell, Sylvia Fraser and Irving Layton among many others.
In 2007, Bruce was Writer in Residence at the Richmond Hill Public Library; in 2002, he was Writer in Residence at the Banff Centre for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta.
In the early 1980s, he served for four years as poetry and poetry reviews editor and columnist for Toronto-based Cross Canada Writers' Quarterly. He also taught creative writing at the Banff Centre and York University. Bruce has given readings and workshops in venues across Canada.
Now retired from teaching, Bruce writes full-time in addition to hosting readings and workshops on creativity and disability.
His poems, short stories, essays, reviews, and interviews have appeared in over seventy publications.
His fiction and poetry have been broadcast regionally and nationally on radio and translated into Italian, Mandarin and Romanian.
Bruce is a long-time member of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA), the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the League of Canadian Poets, the Writers' Guild of Alberta, and the Writers' Union of Canada.
After graduating from York University in 1983, Bruce returned to Banff to teach with W.O. Mitchel and taught creative writing at York University with Don Coles.
From 1986 to 2012, Bruce taught a broad range of English and Liberal Studies courses at Seneca College. He also initiated and taught the poetry and spoken word workshops, both centred on a pan-cultural curriculum.
The Begg Family
Bruce's paternal great-grandfather Robert Anstruther Begg with his father Alexander Begg founded the historic Dunbow Ranche at the confluence of the Bow and Highwood Rivers in 1886.
Robert Begg and his wife Lavinia are shown here outside High River circa 1908 with their children Norah and and Alexander (Sandy). From the Glenbow Archives. (Image: Four people in a horse-drawn buggy: a man with a mustache wearing a bowler, holding the reins, a woman in a tall flowered hat wearing a spring coat with two children in frilly hats, their legs covered with a plaid blanket. A wooden-spoked buggy wheel dominates the foreground.)
Bruce's great grandmother, Lavinia (Golding) Begg, and her horse Copenhagen at Dunbow Ranche, circa 1908 at Davisburg (near present-day DeWinton, Alberta) off Macleod Trail on Dunbow Rd.
The skirt she is wearing is for riding side-saddle. She was the sister of Martha (Golding) Worden who with her husband Hiram G. Worden were the principals in Worden Bros. Bakery and Fruit Market. This picture inspired the character of Bean in In the Bear's House.
Bruce’s great-great grandfather Alexander Begg (born 1825 Watten, Caithness, Scotland – died 1905, NYC) was present at the Red River uprising in 1869 and is author of The History of British Columbia from its earliest discovery to the present time, first published in 1894.
Alexander Begg, his wife Emily and ten of their eleven children including Bruce's great grandfather Robert Anstruther Begg are buried in the Anglican cemetery in Oriilia, Ontario. A statue to the memory of Emily Begg erected on the waterfront in Orillia still stands as does their historic home at 67 Neywash Street.
Read Alexander Begg's biographical note on Dictionary of Canadian Biography.