Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Tom Symons: A Canadian Life

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Tom Symons: A Canadian Life

Article excerpt

Ralph Heintzman (ed.), Tom Symons: A Canadian Life (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2011), 466 pp. Cased. $36.95. ISBN 978-0-7766-3043-4.

Tom Symons is probably best known as the founding president of Trent University (1962- 72), and as the author of To Know Ourselves: The Report of the Commission on Canadian Studies (1972-84). As this collection of 20 essays shows, however, he played a much wider role in the cultural and educational life of Ontario and Canada in the1960s and 1970s when Canada was redefining its national and cultural identity. One of the contributors, former Ontario cabinet minister Charles Beer, places Tom Symons as 'part of a team of Ontario academic and public servant thought leaders who ... played a ... role ... that was essential in dealing with the constitutional issues Canada then faced' (p. 91). Other members of that 'team' who have contributed to this volume include Madam Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Tom McMillan, Ivan P. Fellegi, John Fraser, Harvey McCue and Walter Pitman.

Early recognition of his leadership skills at the University of Toronto where he was appointed Dean of Devonshire Hall at the age of 26, led to Tom Symons being appointed chair or a member of the commissions and boards that addressed issues such as Canadian studies, national unity and linguistic rights, human rights, the National Library, historic sites and monuments, the National Atlas of Canada, and Native and Northern Studies. He was also founding chair of the National Statistics Council, founding vice-president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and a member of the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee. …

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