Thomas James Hanrahan CSB (1926-2012)

Father Thomas James Hanrahan CSB passed away in Toronto February 8, 2012. Born in Halifax, James Hanrahan attended high school at St Mary’s College. He entered the novitiate of the Congregation of St Basil in Toronto in 1944. He was ordained in 1952. Father James Hanrahan earned a B.A. and an M.A. in History, and a Licentiate in Medieval Studies at the Pontifical Institute at the University of Toronto. He taught in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia from 1954 to 1960 and 1962 to 1968. Father Hanrahan contributed to the Basilian community, the establishment of St Mark’s College, and to Catholic student activities.

Father Hanrahan was elected to the General Council of the Basilian Fathers. His fourteen-year term included eight years as superior general. He then went to Saskatoon where he served as president of St Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan, and back to Vancouver as principal of St Mark’s College in 1990. He began research on the history of the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Although ill health led to his retirement to Toronto, he returned to the West Coast to pursue research and to encourage the leaders of St Mark’s College theological program and Corpus Christi College Liberal Arts program there.

When I consulted with Father Hanrahan on production of a popular history for the archdiocesan centennial in 2008, he gave me access to his draft chapters. He also shared anecdotes on the ‘characters’ in the archdiocese history, in particular Archbishop William Mark Duke (1928-1964).

One of Father Hanrahan’s last western visits coincided with St Mark’s College 50th Anniversary and the Canadian Catholic Historical Association 75th Annual Conference at the University of British Columbia in June 2008. Father Hanrahan attended the celebration of these events. He enjoyed meeting former colleagues and students and members of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association. We will remember reminiscing with him on that occasion as our professor, our administrator, our fellow researcher and friend.

Jacqueline Gresko
Corpus Christi College, UBC

John Sargent Moir (1926-2012)

Professor Moir was born in Toronto, February 14, 1926 and grew up in Parkdale, the son of Richard and Hazel Moir. Having graduated from Victoria College in 1948 as a successful recipient of a BA in the University of Toronto’s very demanding Honours History program, John’s professors urged him to continue his studies at the graduate level. Under the watchful eye of constitutional historian Chester Martin, John delved into an area of Canadian history that few professional historians had given much consideration—the history of the Christian churches in Canada. Of course, Church histories had been written but generally they were commissioned by the churches themselves, were self-laudatory, or written by clergy or dedicated (and sometimes uncritical) laymen. John wrote an MA thesis on the Christian Guardian, a Methodist weekly, and one of Canada’s premier Protestant newspapers. Although at the time he was an active member in the United Church, John wrote the history with all of the critical and analytic skills he had gleaned from his training at the University of Toronto. He had broken new ground and this was recognized by senior members of the Department.

John, however, did not seem to recognize how innovative he had actually been in pursing Church History in Canada in this way. When he was a doctoral student, under the supervision of eminent historian Donald G. Crieghton who insisted that Moir continue pursuing Canadian religious history — an open field as far as the elder historian was concerned, John’s resultant dissertation on the relationship between the churches and the state in Canada West, set him on the road to being Canada’s pioneer historian of its own religious history—written from the perspective of professional historian. Church and State in Canada West was the first of many of John’s books, articles and collections that explored the development of Christian Churches in pre-Confederation Canada, the history of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the survival of Huguenot Christians in Catholic New France, the development of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, the history of Biblical criticism in Canada, aspects of the life of nearly every Protestant denomination in the county, the editing of letters of Presbyterian missionaries in eastern Canada, and the documents of a Roman Catholic Oblate missionary in western Canada. His work was ecumenical, balanced, well-researched, and open to new questions and pathways for further exploration.

John began teaching at a fledgling Carleton University in Ottawa, in 1956, where he taught for ten years, until an old colleague from Toronto, Professor J Maurice Careless, lured him back to

the U of T and its new Scarborough Campus, in 1965. John remained at Scarborough (now UTSC) until his retirement in 1989. As a teacher of history, John used his skill as a researcher and writer to produce several textbooks and edited collections of documents; he was a professor who believed that teaching and research could be wed effectively to the benefit of both the professor and the student. His graduate students respected his intellect, his dedication to his craft and vocation, and appreciated his frank criticism. Most of all they loved his humanity—the way in which he treated students as whole persons, with complicated and multifaceted lives. He maintained a full teaching load of graduate and undergraduate courses and the supervision of numerous graduate students at the Department of History at the University of Toronto, Toronto School of Theology, the Centre for the Study of Religion at UofT, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He also served a term as President of the Ontario Historical Society and was a co-founder of the Canadian Society of Church History and the Canadian Society of Presbyterian History (a church to which he converted in 1972), and an active member in the CCHA. John was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Presbyterian College (Montreal), the George E. Clerk Medal (1991) from the Canadian Catholic Historical Association, and the Sesquicentennial Medallion from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto.

In retirement he wrote several books and remained active in several academic associations. John died in Hamilton, Ontario, March 9, 2012 after a long and debilitating illness. He is survived by his wife of sixty years, Jacqueline, their eight children, thirteen grandchildren, and three great- grandchildren.

Mark G. McGowan
St Michael’s College, University of Toronto (supervised by John Moir, 1982-1988)

Published on: 29 May 2012
Posted by: amm098