Fonds 1561 - Kenneth W. McNaught fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1561


Kenneth W. McNaught fonds


  • 1909-1997 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

2.49 m of textual and graphic records and publications (10 boxes and 2 items)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Kenneth William Kirkpatrick McNaught was born in Toronto on November 10, 1918, the son of William Carlton McNaught and Eleanor Sanderson. Both his father, a graduate of University of Toronto (BA, 1911) and mother were writers. Carlton McNaught worked for a number of years with newspapers in Toronto and with the Calgary Herald, was a writer and account executive for an advertising firm, and later did editorial work for the Ryerson Press in Toronto. Eleanor Sanderson, “the clever young Canadian writer”, was one of the first women reporters for the Toronto Star. His grandfather was Colonel W. K. McNaught, a member of the Ontario Legislature (ca 1910) and member of the Hydroelectric Power Commission of Ontario (ca 1916).

Kenneth McNaught attended Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941, Master of Arts degree in 1946 and Ph.D. in 1950. His doctoral dissertation “James Shaver Woodsworth: 1874-1921. From Social Gospel to Social Democracy” reflected his life long belief in social democracy and participation in public life. Frank Underhill, his thesis supervisor, became his mentor and “academic model”. His thesis led to the publication of his first book, a biography of Woodsworth in 1959 entitled A prophet in politics.

Prof. McNaught joined the faculty of the University of Toronto in 1959 following his resignation in protest over the firing of a colleague, Prof. Harry Crowe at United College, Winnipeg (now the University of Winnipeg). His involvement in the “Harry Crowe Case” was early evidence of his strong feelings towards academic freedom and justice. He was awarded tenure in 1962 and elevated to the rank of professor. During these 25 years, he taught predominately Canadian history, and influenced such future historians as Michael Bliss and Ramsay Cook. He retired in 1984 as professor emeritus. A few months before his death on June 2, 1997, he received the Order of Canada. Michael Valpy, columnist for the Globe and Mail, in commemorating his life described him as a “Red Tory” “that uniquely Canadian political persona compounded of collectivism, conservatism, and monarchism”.

“ He was modestly delighted to be the Red Tory icon of a younger generation”.

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of 2 accessions. The first is much larger than the second.

B1997-0031 (1909-1997, 9 boxes and 2 items): This accession contains correspondence, manuscripts of published and unpublished articles, books and papers, offprints, notes, lectures and works of art organized into nine series. Series I provides some documentation of his early student life as well as a comprehensive curriculum vitae, prepared in 1991. Series II to V are predominantly correspondence, both received and sent, documenting his personal and professional life from his student days at the University of Toronto through his career as University professor in Winnipeg and Toronto. The most comprehensive evidence of his range of writing and social activist activities will be found among Series II General correspondence which spans some thirty-seven years. Articles and correspondence regarding his involvement in the “Harry Crowe Case” will be found in Series III. Series IV and V supplement Series II with correspondence, reports and notes relating to specific activities at the University of Toronto such as the supervision of graduate students and participation in campus groups such as the Faculty Committee on Vietnam and the University League for Social Reform. Some additional teaching materials for courses in history will be found in Series VIII.

Series 6 and 7 relate to scholarly writing and contain predominantly copies of articles and correspondence relating to books published. Unfortunately, few manuscripts for these publications have survived.

The two watercolours in Series 9 provide another dimension that has been overlooked in biographies produced to date – that of amateur artist. The bulk of his original artwork remains with his family as a lasting testament to a multi-faceted and talented scholar.

B1999-0006 (1997, 1 box): Manuscript of chapters 1-14 of personal memoirs of Kenneth McNaught. Handwritten pages. Manuscript was basis for book of his memoirs to be published by UofT Press in Spring 1999.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions governing access

Series 5 Subseries 2 is restricted. All other series are open

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Finding aids

Finding aid for accession B1997-0031 is linked below.

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