Frank Ledwell was born in St. Peter’s Bay on April 14, 1930. He completed a BA in History at St. Dunstan’s University and followed it with theological studies leading to his ordination as a Catholic priest in the early 1950s. He left the priesthood in 1969. He was principal of St. Dunstan’s high school in the early 1960s when he was selected by St. Dunstan’s University to fill a vacancy in the English Department. He completed a Master’s in English at Notre Dame University in Indiana and, in 1965, he returned to St. Dunstan’s University to begin work in his true vocation, teaching writing.
He continued to teach writing when St. Dunstan’s and Prince of Wales College became the University of Prince Edward Island in 1969. Throughout his career as a professor of English Literature and Creative Writing he guided and encouraged many hundreds of students to find and refine their voices as writers of poetry, prose, and persuasive essays. He served as Chair of the Department of English from 1970 to1973 and as Dean of Arts from 1979 to 1983.
Frank Ledwell was a highly respected writer of poetry and prose who captured the spirit of Prince Edward Island and transformed it into words. He chronicled his memories of the Island’s past people and stories, especially those he had known. After retiring from university teaching in 1996, he braved the stage to develop as a performer, reading his poems and telling his stories with audiences from schoolchildren to seniors, especially with the trio, Crowbush. Always a vocal and active supporter of Island writing and publishing, he was the first recipient of the Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Literary Arts and was PEI’s Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2007. He received the Order of Prince Edward Island in 2006.
Frank and his wife Carolyn (Duffy) raised six children, Jane, Patrick, Emily, Thomas, Daniel, and Christian, who all grew up devoted to books and words and music and the arts. Professor Emeritus Frank Ledwell passed away on Thursday, August 14, 2008. The well-loved English professor and poet died at his home of 35 years on the Loyalist Road, PEI.