Monday, January 11, 2021

Thomas B. Symons, Canadian Studies founder, 1929-2021 RIP

Briefly a professor of history, Tom Symons, who died recently at 91, was principally known as an academic leader, a Red Tory progressive, and as the founder of Canadian Studies. He was the principal author of To Know Ourselves (1970), the report of the Commission on Canadian Studies. He also launched the first Indigenous Studies program at a Canadian university, according to the Globe and Mail obituary

As the longtime president of Trent University, where a college is named for him, he had a clear vision of what it should be:

“At a time when higher education is moving toward mass production, huge institutions, huge classes, and depersonalization of the whole process of higher education, this university is moving in the other direction. [We want] as small classes as we can possibly manage, toward as much opportunity as possible for faculty and students to know one another and work together, and toward the best possible opportunities for the individual student to develop in an individual way.”

A good idea while it lasted. 

I see from the obituary he was a grandson of William Perkins Bull, possibly forgotten author of a raft of local histories of Peel County and surroundings, including one of my favorite alltime history titles: From Paganism to Davenport United.

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