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Vic Loses a Legend

In Memoriam: The Very Rev. Dr. A.B.B. Moore (1906 – 2004)

Arthur Bruce Barbour Moore, beloved president emeritus of Victoria University died on September 9, 2004 at the age of 98.

A.B.B. Moore (right) helps robe
Lester B. Pearson, Vic 1919, as Victoria University's seventh Chancellor on February 4,1952.

At a 1992 testimonial dinner for the “One of a Kind” appeal to restore Old Vic, Moore proclaimed “’If we build it, they will come’ –those vital people who have formed a part of the community that is Victoria. They will come and strengthen the people already here. But also there will come that unseen generation of young people and of scholars who will maintain the traditions of this college…Critical in judgment, sound in scholarship, bold in adventure—this is our Vic.”

Professor Paul Gooch, president of Victoria University, remembered Moore as “a man of great moral integrity and intellectual courage. For two decades while he was president, he touched the lives of countless students who felt singled out by him”. The university has named the Victoria College Building (Old Vic) foyer in his memory and will place a plaque with a quotation from Moore: “Education must take place in a community.”

Arthur Bruce Barbour Moore was born in Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick, on February 4, 1906. He was the fifth son of a Scots-Irish family that had been settled in Canada for five generations. Moore spent his childhood in Quebec ’s Eastern Townships where his father was a minister in a Congregational Church. In 1923, at the age of 17, he entered McGill University as a liberal arts student. In his second year of study he felt the call to Christian ministry and began part-time study at United Theological College in Montreal.  Following graduation from McGill in 1927, Moore took up student missionary posts in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, and Porteneuf, Quebec. In 1930, he finished his post-graduate degree in divinity and began a travelling fellowship at Oxford University. That year also marked his ordination to the Christian ministry, an event which “…shaped my subsequent life. From then on I was a minister of the Church of God. That determined my space and place…its reality never left me.”

A.B.B. Moore and his beloved wife Margaret on the steps of Old Vic in 1992.

Back in Canada after studying and travelling in Europe, Moore took up a ministerial post at Montreal's Amherst Park United Church.  In the fall of 1932, while traveling on a Montreal streetcar, he met Margaret Price, “a young lady for whom I fell flat on my face”. Within a year they were married and settled in a church posting in Howick, Quebec. After a decade of service as a minister in Quebec, Pennsylvania, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, Moore accepted the post of Principal and professor of systematic theology at Saskatoon’s St. Andrew’s College. Four years later, in 1950, the Board of Regents of Victoria University asked Moore to be Victoria’s president and vice-chancellor. When describing his and Margaret’s welcome to Victoria in his autobiography, he recalled that “Names became faces, faces became persons, persons became friends”. During his first month as president, Moore met with every first-year Vic student, a practice he was to continue for many years.

A.B.B. Moore’s tenure as president of Victoria University lasted from 1950 to 1970. During that time library, lecture-room, residence and administration space more than doubled, as did the teaching staff at both Victoria and Emmanuel. Moore initiated and oversaw the building of Margaret Addison Hall, the E.J. Pratt Library and the New Academic Building (later named Northrop Frye Hall). In the 1960s, he played a key role in the discussions that led to the formation of The Toronto School of Theology. Moore was also instrumental in establishing Victoria’s Living Endowment Fund and the annual alumni appeal, known today as the Annual Fund. He is also remembered and admired for his calm negotiating style during the turbulent period of student unrest on the campuses of the 1960s.

Throughout his presidency, Moore remained a dedicated and committed Minister of the United Church. He served as president of the Canadian Council of Churches and, in 1971, was elected the 24th Moderator of the United Church of Canada. Moore’s relationship with Victoria University and the University of Toronto continued after his retirement as president. In 1975, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Victoria University and, in 1977, was installed as Chancellor of the University of Toronto, a post he held until 1980. Moore could often be found on the Vic campus, meeting old friends or attending special events. In 2001, Moore wrote in VicReport, Victoria’s alumni magazine, that “Wherever you are, you remain a part of the community of learning that is Victoria; it is in learning that we open our lives continually to the truth that sets us free.”

After almost 70 years of marriage, Moore was predeceased by his wife Margaret on March 28, 2003.

Victoria University and the University of Toronto are planning a memorial service later this fall. Details will be announced shortly.

If you would like to make a memorial donation to the A.B.B. Moore Scholarship Fund, please call the Victoria Alumni Office at (416) 585-4469, or toll free 1 (888) 262-9775.