George Peter Richardson was born in Toronto on January 6, 1935, the son of George Grainger Richardson and Margaret Louise Everett. His early education was spent at Upper Canada College where he graduated in 1952. As an undergraduate at the University of Toronto he studied architecture, receiving a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1957. This was followed by two years of work in the Design Department of John B. Parkin Associates.
In the fall of 1959 he returned to university, this time to study divinity at Knox College, an affiliated college in the University of Toronto. He graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1962. As he completed this degree he began to apply to graduate schools in both the United States and Britain to study for a doctorate degree. In April 1962 he was accepted into the Faculty of Divinity at Clare College, Cambridge University in England. By this time, he had married Nancy Jean Cameron (1959) and started a young family. He received his PhD in 1965.
Following his return to Canada, he was appointed Campus Minister (unordained) at the Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto. In 1969 he received his first academic appointment as Assistant Professor, Theological Studies at Loyola College (now Concordia University) in Montreal. During that period he also served as Assistant to the Dean of Arts (1971-1972), and Assistant to the Academic Vic-President (1972-1973). In 1974, he returned to Toronto to join the University of Toronto and was appointed associate professor of religious studies and Chairman of the Division of Humanities at Scarborough College.
In 1977 he was appointed Principal of University College on the St. George Campus, a position he held until 1989. During this period he was also involved in various University-wide committees relating to planning, research and budgeting. He also sat on several search committees to select deans of the Faculty of Architecture, and Faculty of Arts and Science as well as chairs of departments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Within the Department of Religious Studies, he was active on committees relating to the development of graduate and undergraduate programmes.
As busy as Prof. Richardson was with his administrative responsibilities, he maintained a steady stream of articles, papers and presentations of scholarly work. He was involved in the writing of 13 books either as sole author, editor, or co-editor, and has published more than 150 articles. Among the earliest of these was the publication of his thesis in 1969 (reprinted in 2005.) From 1986-1996 he was Managing Editor of Studies in Religion, a scholarly journal published by the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion, and was editor from 1990-2005 of the monograph series Studies in Christianity and Judaism/Etudes sur le christianisme et le judaïsme.
In addition to scholarly works, Prof. Richardson has prepared many informal works and presentations relating to religious studies and architecture to general audiences at churches such as the Yorkminster Park Baptist Church and the Temple Emmanu-El and other community groups.
His continuing interest in architecture has led to a wide variety of activities, including site architect at archaeological excavations in Israel, a government appointment as Chair, Joint Practice Board (Ontario Association of Architects and the Association of Professional Engineers) and several publications including City and Sanctuary: religion and architecture in the Roman East (2002) and Canadian Churches, an architectural history (2007). From 1994-2000 he served as a member of Board of the Ontario Heritage Foundation where he participated as member and/or chair of committees relating to revenue generation, audit and properties.
Following his retirement in 2000 Professor Richardson was appointed professor emeritus. He has continued to be in demand by organizations seeking his expertise in religious studies. From 2002-2005 he was a member of the Board of Visual Bible International, Inc. (VBI) in which he advised producers of a film on the Gospel of John and other projects.
Prof. Richardson continues to work and live in Toronto.