History Society is very saddened by the passing of Canadian historian
Desmond Morton. The author of more than forty books on Canadian history,
Morton was a founding member of the Society’s board of directors and a
long-time supporter. He was eighty-one years old.
“Desmond Morton was a champion of Canadian history and a true friend of
the History Society. His loss will be felt deeply,” said Janet Walker,
the president and CEO of Canada’s History Society.
Joe Martin, president emeritus of CNHS, said Morton played a key role in
the early years of the history society, volunteering to serve on the
editorial committee of The Beaver magazine, and supporting efforts to
honour teachers through the Governor General’s History Awards. “Canada
has lost a distinguished scholar, a brave soldier, and a truly
remarkable individual,” Martin said. “He shared his qualities with our
fledgling society, and it is truly the better for it.”
Born in 1937 into a military family, Morton was a graduate of the
Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the Royal Military College of
Canada, Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and the London
School of Economics. He spent a decade in the Canadian Army before
embarking on a career in teaching.
Morton was the Hiram Mills Emeritus Professor in the Department of
History and Classical Studies at McGill University in Montreal as well
as a past director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.
“He ensured McGill was on the map as a leader in Canadian studies,”
Antonia Maioni, dean of the Faculty of Arts at McGill, told the Montreal
In the mid-1990s, Morton played an integral role in the early
development of Canada’s National History Society. He continued to
contribute for decades afterwards, writing for The Beaver (later
Canada’s History) and contributing essays to the Society’s books,
including 100 Photos that Changed Canada.
Canada’s History editor-in-chief Mark Collin Reid said thatworking with
the historian was both a personal and a professional honour. “Desmond’s
contributions to the Society, and to history in general, are immense,”
Reid said. “But for me it was the personal conversations with him that I
will remember. He was a brilliant man with a deep passion for the
history of Canada — and also for storytelling. He knew how to write for
all Canadians, not just academics — which is why his stories resonated
so greatly with our readers.”
Morton was an officer of the Order of Canada and, since 1985, a fellow
of the Royal Society of Canada.
French Canada’s impact
in the First World War
A lecture by Desmond Morton
The McGill Institute for the Study of Canada held a
special event in honour of Dr. Desmond Morton, Hiram Mills Emeritus
Professor and Founding Director of the Institute (1994-2001).
Accompanied by several distinguished speakers, Professor Morton
presented a lecture entitled "French Canada’s Impact in the First World
War". The September 14th event simultaneously celebrated Professor
Morton's invaluable contributions to Canadian Studies, as well as his
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