This Week in History


An Educator Through and Through

For the week of Monday, January 11, 2016

On January 11, 1864, Henry Marshall Tory was born in the small town of Guysborough, Nova Scotia. Tory would become a great academic and a champion of higher education and research in Canada.

Dr. Tory, ca. 1914-19
© Library and Archives Canada
Tory studied to be a Methodist minister, but upon graduation he became a mathematics and physics lecturer at McGill University in Montréal. While there, he established the McGill College of British Columbia, overcoming regional rivalries as to where the college would be built. Tory then formed a provincial university in Alberta. The University of Alberta (U of A) opened in Edmonton in 1908 with no official building and only 45 students, but quickly grew under his leadership. Tory was intensely committed to his post and often opened his home to students and faculty for academic discussions.

In 1916, Tory joined the Canadian Forces as a colonel. He went to England to set up “colleges” on military bases for soldiers to begin or to continue university studies. Known as “Khaki College,” Tory also tackled illiteracy among the ranks by offering basic education. Veterans returned to Canada with recognized university credits.

Sussex Street, Ottawa, showing the NRC building
© Library and Archives Canada

In 1928, Tory left his presidency at U of A to become the first president of the National Research Council (NRC). He was a driving force behind the NRC’s establishment of laboratories, and made the council’s work more relevant to Canadian needs by urging more agricultural research.

After retiring from the NRC, Henry Marshall Tory became the founder and first president of Carleton College (now Carleton University) in Ottawa in 1942. He held the post until his death in 1947. Tory was designated a person of national historic significance in 1949 and is commemorated by a plaque on the Academy Grounds in Guysborough, Nova Scotia.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Research Council of Canada. The National Research Council Laboratories is a federal heritage building. To learn more about Canada’s scientific history read Harriet Brooks: A Woman of Science, Married to the Rocks, and One Very Scholarly Scot! In the This Week in History Archives.

Follow us on Twitter @Parks Canada! Also, visit the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

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