Queen's University

Third volume of official history of Queens to be written

Historian Duncan McDowall will write the third volume of Queen's official history. The book will be published in time for the university's 175th anniversary in 2016.

The university has commissioned the third volume of Queen’s official history to be published in time for the university’s 175th anniversary in 2016.

In making the announcement, Principal Daniel Woolf noted that “while we shouldn’t be fixated on our past, we certainly have a lot to celebrate as one of Canada’s oldest and most respected universities. As we enter a period of renewed academic planning, it is fitting that we look back at the values we consider important, and how the university has defended those values and evolved within them.”

Historian Duncan McDowall will write the third volume. Dr. McDowall is quite familiar with Queen’s having earned bachelor and master’s degrees from the university in the 1970s. His great, great, great grandfather, Rev. Robert McDowall, was one of the local citizens who pushed for a charter for a Presbyterian college in Kingston in the early 19th century.

“I am honoured and excited to be selected for this project,” he says. “At the same time, I feel a bit of trepidation about the challenge that lies ahead. This immense project will require a lot of work digging for documents, finding people to interview, and reconciling the various perspectives.”

Dr. McDowall will spend a lot of time in the Queen’s University Archives examining the exhaustive university records. “That might seem old fashioned but people leave paper and it’s the best record of an institution,” says Dr.

Queen’s University, Volume I, 1841-1917: And Not to Yield was written by Hilda Neatby and published in 1978. Dr. McDowall will pick up the history where historian Frederick Gibson ended the second volume, To Serve and Yet Be Free, which was published in 1983. The third volume will cover the period from 1961 to 2004.

Dr. McDowall, author of many books on a variety of topics, earned the National Business Book Award in 1994 for his history of the Royal Bank of Canada, Quick to the Frontier.

“As a Queen’s grad, Professor McDowall knows the university and has the same alumnus loyalty that many of us do,” says Principal Woolf. “He’s a well-regarded specialist of institutional history who has published extremely interesting reads on topics that some might regard as dry.”

The project has been made possible by a generous donation from the Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund. As a result, the history will require no contribution from the university’s operating budget.

“We are grateful that the trustees of the Richardson Fund agreed that the project fits the fund’s mandate of supporting activities around Canadiana. Otherwise, this project could not have proceeded given the financial challenges right now,” says Principal Woolf.

Dr. McDowall will hold the title of ‘University Historian’ while he completes the project over the next three years and will also be an adjunct professor in the Department of History.

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Last updated at 11:58 am EST, Fri December 24, 2010
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