Hiram Alfred Cody was an Anglican priest, missionary, and prolific Canadian author. He was the only son of Loretta and George Redmond Cody. Cody grew up with the view that small town life suited his temperament. One of his desires was to hunt, to wander through the woods by lake and stream on springing snowshoes visiting his line of traps and bringing home the furry prizes. Cody's early education was in a one-room schoolhouse in Thornetown, New Brunswick. Cody considered becoming a civil engineer, but his father was anxious for him to take Holy Orders. After taking Latin lessons from the rector of the Parish Church at English Settlement, Cody became enamoured of what the church had to offer.
In October of 1893, Cody arrived at King’s College in Windsor, NS, which was a university for religious students. Cody was profoundly influenced by Sir Charles G.D. Roberts. Cody completed his Divinity course in December, 1896 and received his degree in June, 1897. After his ordination as Deacon in Fredericton, New Brunswick on December 20, 1896 he was assigned to the parishes of Greenwich and Westfield with the mandate to work beyond the parish boundaries up and down the River Saint John River. He was to assist, and was meant to succeed the Rev. Dr. D. W. Pickett. As a means of communicating to the people of the parish, he put out a monthly magazine which he called, “The Church Bell”.
As a young Anglican priest, he responded to a call from the Yukon to minister to natives at Whitehorse. Shortly after his marriage to Jessie M. Flewelling, the couple arrived in Whitehorse in the fall of 1905. One of Cody’s many successful novels was An Apostle of the North: Memoirs of the Right Reverend William Carpenter Bompas which recounted his days in the Yukon. While there Cody began to keep extensive journals about his experiences. He served in the ministry for 43 years. Though he had written short stories in his younger years, Cody's focus on fiction came later in his life. H.A. Cody published 25 books, in addition to several poems and newspaper articles. Cody appeared on the best seller lists in the 1920's and 1930's with Robert Service and Ralph Connor.
In 1909, Cody with his wife, Jessie, returned to Saint John, where he took up rectorship of St. James’ Anglican Church in the west end. He spent thirty-three years in the church, remaining there until his retirement.
Cody’s novels and poetry were written and published between 1908 and 1937 during the infancy of Canadian publishing. While more commonly recognized for his work in the ministry than for his writing, Cody was one of Canada's most widely read authors. His publications, like those of the best selling Ralph Connor were amongst the first to be mass-produced in North America due to their accessible prose, Christian themes and appeal to a broad audience. His works popularized Canadian themes and content; several of his later works draw on his boyhood experiences in rural New Brunswick.
In 1927 Cody was appointed Archdeacon of Saint John; he served until his retirement in 1943. Although his health failed drastically throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, he still kept up a busy schedule both in writing and in church affairs.
In 1942, Cody retired from the ministry and started to write his autobiography. He never got to finish it because of a stroke that led to his death on February 9, 1948, in his 75th year. From the little stone church where he had been rector for 33 years, he was taken to Fernhill Cemetery, the habour of the old grey city of Saint John a short distance away.
The following lines sum up his life: “My ideal of life as a boy was one of adventure in which a married man and a clergyman had no part. I have long since found out my mistake, for I have learned by experience that married life, as well as the ministry, will supply adventures sufficient for one lifetime” (qtd. in Jones 11).
These words by The Rt. Rev. Larry Robertson, DD, Bishop of Yukon, best illustrate Hiram Alfred Cody: A Life Remember: "I was elected as Bishop of Yukon in 2010 and one of the first books I read was An Apostle of the North: Memoirs of Bishop W. C. Bompas. I have enjoyed reading many of Cody's "North Westerns" They helped me begin to feel the emotion and excitement of the early days of the Yukon. H. A. Cody still leaves a mark on the Yukon and it's people."