Print preview Close

Showing 13 results

Archival description
University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services William Harding le Riche fonds Series
Print preview View:

Accession B1995-0021

Consists of correspondence; lecture notes on tropical diseases; drafts of addresses and publications including the proposed second edition of HUMAN ECOLOGY FOR STUDENTS OF MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY (1978) documenting Dr. le Riche's activities as an epidemiologist and administrator in the School of Hygiene and the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics; biographies and bibliographies of U of T scientists (1922-1977).

Accession B1989-0046

Consists of biographical files, mementoes, addresses, manuscripts and publications (1950-1988), curricula and lecture notes in epidemiology (1960's to 1976), lecture notes in public health sanitation, international health, and School of Hygiene documenting Prof. le Riche's career in epidemiology in the School of Hygiene and its successor departments. Includes photoprints.

Sound recordings

This series includes 2 interviews with le Riche. One relates to South Africa and discusses his childhood, his early education, his family life as well as his opinions on various aspects of South African history, events and people. A second is an interview with Betty Kennedy done in 1967 discussing the problem of obesity and diet. Finally, the third tape is of a Methodist choir of the Basuto people taped by le Riche during a visit to his homeland. The choir is introduced by le Riche at the beginning of the tape.

University of Toronto

Professor le Riche joined the University in 1957 and served as head of Department of Epidemiology and Biometrics in the School of Hygiene from 1962-1975. With the dissolution of the School of Hygiene, he became a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics in the Faculty of Medicine. He retained that status until his retirement in 1982, when he was appointed Professor Emeritus.

The records in this series document Professor le Riche’s employment at and retirement from the University, along with some of his teaching and administrative activities. The series includes, among others, files relating to teaching of tropical medicine and epidemiology, the proceedings of a review committee on community health (1979-1980), a preliminary report on epidemiology prepared by the Research Advisory Committee working group on epidemiological studies (1984), correspondence with and about Dr. Andrew Rhodes, Director of School of Hygiene (1966-69), Faculty of Medicine committees generally (1957-1961), and admission criteria for medical students. There is also a file on the W. Harding le Riche Award in Medical Research at the University of Toronto.


Photographs document the personal and professional life of Dr. W. Harding le Riche including his time as an epidemiologist in South Africa and in Canada at the University of Toronto. There are early images of le Riche and Grant ancestors, as well as the le Riche family in Pretoria. There are some early photos of the skeleton dig at the Sterkfontein caves in 1936. Portraits and snapshots cover Le Riche’s time as a student at University of Witwatersrand and at Harvard University. Many snapshots document his arrival in Canada and his family’s early years in their adopted country.

Photographs, both amateur and professional document his professional life including attending conferences making speeches and receiving awards. Events at the University are also documented including celebrations around the 50th anniversary of the discovery of insulin in 1971 and general photos of the students and faculty of the School of Hygiene (1960-70s).

Finally, le Riche had a collection of portraits of well know scientists in the public health field who would most likely have been his peers or pioneers in this field of medicine.

Reports and studies

From the beginning of his professional career, Professor le Riche’s undertook a number of health surveys, the earliest in 1938-1939. The earliest surviving project in this series is a health and social survey of the European woodcutters of Veldsmanspad, Knysna, Cape Province, which he undertook between 1945 and 1948.

In Canada, as an expert in the field of preventative medicine, Professor le Riche was frequently called upon to conduct studies and prepare reports on various aspects of the local, provincial and national health care system. Some of his reports resulted from the work he did while a research medical officer (1954-1957) for Physicians’ Services Incorporated of Toronto; others arose from his work for the federal government on the Downtown Toronto Health Attitude Survey in the 1970s.


The addresses in this series span much of Dr. le Riche’s career at the University of Toronto and his post-retirement activities. They cover many of the topics mentioned in Series 6.

Manuscripts and publications

Professor le Riche wrote extensively on health care, preventative medicine, nutrition, disease prevention and related topics throughout his academic and medical career and after retirement. Other interests included immigration, population control, and land use.

This series contains letters to the editor of Globe and Mail and other newspapers and journals, book reviews, manuscripts of published and unpublished articles and books and some offprints. In addition to manuscripts and offprints, the files may contain covering correspondence, notes, commentary, press clippings and reviews. Letters to the editor may also be found in Series 1 (in scrapbooks) and Series 2 (correspondence). The arrangement is chronological in each accession, but material relating to a single manuscript or publication may be spread over several accessions.

Dr. le Riche’s early writings relate to his training as an epidemiologist and his work as a researcher and medical officer in South Africa. He drew heavily on his interest in nutrition amongst the African, Eurafrican and poor rural whites, first in Natal and latterly at Knysna in Cape Province. Once in Canada, he continued to write up the results of his research in South Africa, but also to draw on his work with Physicians’ Services Inc., producing a number of articles and studies on nutrition and prepaid medical care plans.

After joining the School of Hygiene at the University of Toronto, Dr. le Riche’s writings reflected a broader range of issues relating to nutrition, the epidemiology of infectious diseases, a variety of concerns affecting the work of doctors, including doctor-patient relations and, in the early 1960s, the impact of the introduction of the national medical care plan. Other areas of research included cigarette smoking and alcoholism, and tropical diseases and, especially after retirement, immigration, population control and food supply. His major works include Physique and nutrition (1948), The control of infections, with special reference to a survey in Ontario (1966), People look at doctors, and other relevant matters: The Sunnybrook health attitude survey and Epidemiology as medical ecology (both 1971), The downtown Toronto health attitude survey (1974), The complete family book of nutrition and meal planning (two editions, 1976 and 1980), and A chemical feast (1982). His memoirs, in four volumes, were published privately in 1993.


The correspondence in this series has been received in three separate accruals and consists both of personal and professional correspondence. The arrangement is primarily chronological. The correspondence in B2002-0016 is restricted primarily to the years 1933-1935and is all personal; there are two slim files covering the years 1945 to 1991

Correspondence found in B2003-0012 begins with mainly inward correspondence received by Harding le Riche from family members, especially his mother, brothers and friends while away at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg from 1934 to 1936. Included is a course notebook that includes some diary entries for 1933. Up to 1941, personal and professional correspondence is filed separately but after this date it is interfiled.

There is a run of correspondence for the years 1939-1944, the years during which le Riche was completing his medical studies and gaining professional experience. Beginning in 1942, there are a large number of letters from Margaret Cardross; he married her in December 1943. The volume of correspondence picks up in 1945 when he moved to Knysna, Cape Province, where he established the first health centre for Whites and Euroafricans. The number of letters increased whenever he was separated from his wife, particularly while he was taking his doctorate in public health at Harvard (1949-1950) and during the months he was in Canada (September 1951 to March 1952) prior to bringing over his family. After the latter date, the number of personal letters decreases. There is a steady stream of correspondence for the next forty-five years, with the professional component decreasing after le Riche’s retirement in 1984. Scattered throughout these files are many letters to the editor, some of which were published (the published versions can be found in the scrapbooks in Series 1 and in a file, “letters to the editor”, in Series 6). Beginning in 1997, the number of letters on file decreases rapidly, with the last few being from the year 2000.

Correspondence in B2006-0004 is separated between personal and professional. While there is some personal correspondence beginning in the 1930s and onwards, the bulk of the letters date from the mid 1980s to 2004. There are correspondence files for the 1980s and 1990s from specific family members in South Africa including the Corder Family, Jill Hamilton (Margaret LeRiche’s sister), John Grant (Margaret LeRiche’s brother) and Henriette Louw. Starting in 1990, there are more general files containing Christmas letters from family and friends. Professional correspondence in this accession dates from 1998-2005.

Professional activities

Dr. le Riche served as a consultant to many health-related organizations, both government and corporate. The files in this series document his activities with them, his testimony in the Dr. Gerald Green professional misconduct case (1984), and his appearance in 1987 as an expert witness at the inquest into E. coli deaths at the Extendicare nursing home in London, Ontario. This series also documents Professor le Riche’s attendance at some international conferences.

The files may contain correspondence, notes, minutes of meetings, reports and press clippings. In the case of conferences, they may also contain programmes and some of the papers presented.


Harding le Riche received his primary and secondary education in his home village of Dewetsdorp, Orange Free State, between 1922 and 1933. In 1933 he wrote his matriculation exams, receiving a first class pass. In January of 1934 he left the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg to begin studies for what he had long since decided would be his profession, medicine. He received his BSc in 1936. Over the following three years, he undertook three surveys, one of nutrition in Pretoria, financed by a Carnegie research grant; the second, of African school children for the Union Department of Health; and the last, of rural malnutrition for the South Africa Institute of Medical Research. Between 1940 and 1943 he completed medical studies for the degree of MB, ChB at Wits, where he was a
senior demonstrator in anatomy. In 1949 he received his MD on a thesis, “Studies in growth, health and nutrition” at Wits. He was then awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship which
enabled him to study epidemiology and nutrition, maternal and child health at Harvard, which awarded him a Master in Public Health (cum laude) in 1950.

This small series contains some of the certificates he received during his primary and secondary education, his matriculation certificate, and a list of members of the class of 1950 for the Harvard School of Public Health. There is also a file of reports on the progress his future wife, Margaret Cardross Grant, made while a student at Roedean School, Johannesburg, in 1938.

For related correspondence and a photograph, see B2003-0012/005(03).

Family and personal

This series contains material relating to the le Riche family generally, to specific members of it – Harding le Riche’s, mother, siblings, wife, children, and grandchildren, personal information about le Riche himself, and his scrapbooks. The files on Professor le Riche contain biographical information, curriculum vitae, and press coverage of his activities, along with files on honours bestowed, memorabilia, a riding accident, and his trip to South Africa in 1964. B2006-0004/004 contains several certificates of awards both loose and in a large album. This series also includes family documents from 1888-1930s. (B2006-0004/001)

The largest single component of this series is the scrapbooks. They contain press clipping of items of family, academic, and political interest, programmes for and invitations to social and professional events, some photographs, the occasional letter, a large number of first day covers, and memorabilia relating to Professor le Riche’s travels and other activities. The first scrapbook (1945-1946) is filed in B2003-0012/001; the later scrapbooks (1964-1966, 1967-1973, 1973-1978, and 1978-1986) are filed in B2003-0012/002 to /005. Scrapbook for 1966-1968 is filed in B2006-0004/004. Loose items associated with scrapbooks dating from 1967 to 1986 are filed in folders in B2003-0012/ 001, /004 and /005, as appropriate.

The series concludes with an album of 9 records, titled “Beyond Antiquity: A series of lectures on the origins of man by Professor Raymond Dart, Professor Emeritus, University of the Witswatersrand, Johnannesburg, South Africa”, with an accompanying printed outline of the lectures. The series was produced by the South African Broadcasting Corporation in 1966, and le Riche was a contributor to it. Raymond Dart had been a professor of anatomy at Wits when le Riche was a student there, and was just beginning his career as an anthropologist. Le Riche was already interested in the subject and some of his friends visited the Sterkfontein caves in August 1936 with Robert Broom, the country’s leading paleontologist, who, a few days later, discovered the first Australopithecus at the site. Dart became famous for his description of the Taung skull, Australopithecus africannus.


Harding le Riche kept a diary from his early teenage years growing up in South Africa through his move to Canada in 1952 and subsequent life in this country. In these bound volumes, he records personal and family events, activities, early education, his travels, and his post-retirement activities. The diary for 1943-1952 was kept in part by his wife, Margaret Cardross Grant le Riche. These diaries, along with other papers, formed the basis of his memoirs that were published privately in 1993. There are no entries for the period February 1950 to March 1952, the period during which the le Riche family decided to emigrate. This period is, however, well documented in the correspondence files, especially those in B2003-0012. The diary entries conclude on 12 July 1998 except for one trip journal to Iceland in 2003.