In Memoriam: Fr. Edward Jackman (1940-2021)

Due to Covid restrictions, Fr. Jackman’s funeral service was held privately on June 24, 2021 at the Metropolitan United Church in Toronto. The service was streamed live and is available for replay.

Edward Jackman was born in Toronto, February 20, 1940.

He was predeceased by his parents, Henry Rutherford Jackman and Mary Coyne Rowell Jackman, and is survived by his siblings, the Honorable Henry “Hal” (Maruja) Jackman, Dr. Frederic “Eric” (Sara) Jackman, and the Honorable Nancy Ruth (Elizabeth). He enjoyed being with his nieces and nephews and their children: Henry (Mia), Duncan (Rochelle) and children Oliver and Elodie, Victoria (Thomas and Vita), Consuelo (Frank, Arthur, Josephine and Harry), Trinity (Griffin and Harry), Tara (Alexander and Jonathan), Tom (Lisa), and Robert (Stefani) and their son, Graydon. Many family gatherings included fun conversations.

Edward leaves Martha Jackson, his loving partner of 34 years.

Edward was particularly proud of his family and had a special affection for the life and work of his maternal grandfather, the Hon. Newton Wesley Rowell (d.1942), was a Methodist layman, a lawyer, Chief Justice (Ont.), politician and statesman.  He will be laid to rest beside his maternal grandparents, Newton and Nelle Langford Rowell.

Edward attended Upper Canada College where he distinguished himself both in academics and in football, a game he continued to love to watch right up until his recent illness. As had been the family tradition, he attended Victoria University in the University of Toronto and graduated with a BA in philosophy in 1962. His love of his alma mater never waned and throughout his life he was a generous benefactor of its programs and scholars.

After his graduation he underwent a time of great spiritual discernment, which was marked by his conversion to Roman Catholicism. This set him on a lifelong journey in service to the church, its history, and its many charitable works. In 1971, he was ordained into the Catholic priesthood and became a member of the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans). For a short time, he served as a librarian in Wa, Ghana, but was forced to return home after contracting malaria. His African experience, however, reinforced his commitment to help the marginalized, the hungry, and all those in need.

Back in Canada he became active in the historical community, joining several societies dedicated to the study of Christian history. From 1980 to 1982 he served as president of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association, and up until his death, continued as its Secretary General, a role in which he, along with his assistant, Valerie Burke, organized, supported, and provided resources to the organization’s scholarly conferences and publications for 40 years. He served as historian for the Archdiocese of Toronto until the 1990s, and during that time wrote and supervised many parish histories, an archdiocesan sesquicentennial project (1991-92), and a two-volume history of St. Augustine’s Seminary. In partnership with McGill-Queen’s University Press, “Father Ed” managed, through the Jackman Foundation, to secure funding for over 100 titles in its Study of the History of Religion Series. In addition, he managed to assist many historians, both junior and senior scholars, to continue their studies, to undertake research, and to publish. He was also an active benefactor of the University of St. Michael’s College and the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies.

Father Ed never forgot his Methodist/United Church roots. He was a supporter of local United Churches and active in the preparation of a major study of the history of the Methodist Church in Canada. Moreover, he became a member and benefactor of the Canadian Methodist Historical Society. Proud of his family’s roots in Sussex, England, he was a principal benefactor of the Petworth Project. At his alma mater, Victoria College, he became an enthusiastic supporter of the REED (Records in Early English Drama) project.  He also had a deep interest in Ireland and became one of the principal supporters and a writer in the two-volume series The Untold Story: The Irish in Canada. The scholarly and Celtic community bestows Father Ed an enormous debt of gratitude for his generosity, kindness, energy, and wisdom.

An ardent supporter of a variety of other faiths and Christian philanthropic endeavours, he was a Chaplain in the Order of St. Lazarus for a quarter of a century and donated regularly to the Toronto Commandery, the École Biblique for the biblical studies in Jerusalem, and many smaller local church groups.

Many will remember Father Ed as an avid patron of the arts. He loved opera and spent most Saturday afternoons listening to live broadcasts from the MET on CBC radio. He was a patron of opera in Toronto, (Opera in Concert, music faculties at several universities, Orpheus Choir, No Strings Theatre for the development of young performers, the National Youth Orchestra, the Regent Park School of Music, among dozens of performing arts groups). Rarely a week went by without Edward and Martha attending an opera event.

His lifelong interest in art began with his family’s friendship with A. Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven and continued throughout his life as a member of the board of the McMichael Art Gallery.

He used his love of colour in his writing and as a designer of flags (vexillology), a lifelong interest that drew him close to the Burkes, a Canadian flag-making family. He will be greatly missed by his long-term personal assistant, Valerie Burke.

Father Ed will be missed by many. There are many stories that will be left untold because, in the true spirit of Christian charity, his generosity was often undertaken privately, without fanfare, and without advertisement. He could honestly say, in the end, citing St. Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2Tm.4.7)

Father Edward Jackman passed away peacefully in his home with Martha and Valerie by his side on Friday morning, June 18, 2021. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the new Vaughan Hospice.

The family and Martha would like to publicly thank his Palliative Care team under the caring direction of Dr. Vincent Maida and the tireless attention from Ramona Ghosh.

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Published on: 22 June 2021
Posted by: ccha