Fonds F2074 - Hicks Family Fonds

Identity area

Reference code



Hicks Family Fonds


  • 1898-1979 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.60 m of textual records
4 photographs

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Rivers Keith Hicks (RKH), university professor, was born in 1878 in Highbury Terrace, London, England, to Rivers Hicks (1854-1940) and Edith (Barcham) Hicks (1857-1904). The family moved soon after to Surrey. He was brother to Graham Barcham (b. 1879), Peter Rivers (b.1881), Ruth (b.1882), Edith (b.1883), Gilbert (b.1885), Louisa (b.1887), and John (b.1891).

RKH was educated at Cranleigh School, Surrey, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he took the Mathematics tripos in 1901. He was assistant master at Routenburn School, Ayrshire, 1901, Cranleigh School, 1901-4, and Highgate School, London, 1904-7.

In 1907, RKH came to Canada and was an assistant master at Upper Canada College until 1911. He obtained an MA from Harvard in 1912. He was an instructor at Harvard and Dartmouth during that time. He returned to Canada to become an associate professor of French at Queen’s University, Kingston, in 1916. He left in 1925 to serve as special investigator for the Canadian Committee on Modern Languages and helped produce the two-volume report Modern Language Instruction in Canada (1928).

In 1927, RKH became Professor of Modern Languages at Trinity College, Toronto, and was named the first W.R. Brock Professor of French. He taught old French, philology, Renaissance literature, and eighteenth-century Literature. He became Registrar in 1943 and Dean of Arts in 1949, holding both positions until 1953. He wrote a number of textbooks, including The Reading Approach to French (1930), A New French Reader (1937), an abridged version of Prosper Mérimée’s Columba (1931), and an abridged version of Valentine Bonhoure’s Le Trésor de Châteauvieux (1935) as well as several standardized grammar tests incorporating the new approaches advocated in the committee’s report. He published an English translation of the first French play ever produced in Canada in 1608, Marc Lescarbot’s Théâtre de Neptune (1947). He also published an English translation of French-Canadian folk songs, Douze chansons canadiennes (1958). He had an interest in poetry and drama, serving as an honorary president of the Trinity College Dramatic Society, a member of the Board of Syndics of Hart House Theatre, and a director of the Crest Theatre. He died on 27 March 1964 in Toronto.

In 1911, RKH met Marjorie Ogilvy Edgar (1886-1951), daughter of Sir James David Edgar (1841-1899) and Matilda Ridout (1845-1910). They married in 1913. Marjorie was an amateur actress and writer, and an avid golfer and badminton player. She died on 21 May 1951 in Toronto. They had five children: John Edgar, Anthony Rivers, Douglas Barcham, Maud Jocelyn, and Michael Keith.

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Edgar Hicks, chartered accountant, was born circa 1914. He attended Lakefield Preparatory School and Upper Canada College and as a teenager worked as a caddy in Jasper, Alberta. He attended the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario until 1941. He worked for the Bank of Montreal, 1931-1932, and for Welch Anderson, Chartered Accountants, 1932-1939, before working for Tropical Oil Company in Colombia, 1939-1941. He developed an interest in aviation, joining the RCAF. He married Catherine (Kiki) Bethune. They had eleven children. He died in 1999 in Chemainus, British Columbia.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Anthony Rivers Hicks, naval officer, business executive, was born ca.1916. He attended Upper Canada College and entered Trinity College in 1933, graduating with a BA in 1938. He was in active service with the Royal Canadian Navy from August 1940. Later in life, he became an executive with the Sun Life Company and lived in Montreal. He married Jeanne Sargent and they had two children. He died in 1998 in Montreal.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Douglas Barcham Hicks, diplomat, was born in 1917. He attended University of Toronto Schools and the University of Toronto, graduating in 1939 with a BA. He was employed by the Department of External Affairs beginning in 1944 and served in important diplomatic posts in a number of African states in the 1970s, including high commissioner to Ghana, 1968-1971, and ambassador to Ethiopia, 1975-1978. He married Elizabeth Maud Stones and they had four children, three daughters and one son. He died in 1984 in Ottawa.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Maud Jocelyn Hicks, broadcaster, teacher, and writer, was born circa 1925. She attended Havergal College, 1942-1943, and then Trinity College, 1945-1946. She married John Smart and then John MacLean. She had three sons. She died in 2008 in Oakville.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Michael Keith Hicks, clergyman and civil servant, was born ca.1927. He attended University of Toronto Schools and then Trinity College, obtaining a BA in 1949 and an MA in 1950. He worked for the government of Canada and lives in Ottawa with his wife Barbara Findlay. They have three daughters.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

A portion of the records are of uncertain provenance and were first recorded in the Trinity Archives in 1985. They comprise a journal of RKH and an analysis of a pass course from 1951 as well as the personal records and correspondence of his son John Edgar Hicks. Another set of documents was received from Michael Keith Hicks in 2003. These are described in the original donation documentation as the ‘papers of R. Keith Hicks’, comprising a box of correspondence, papers, scrapbooks, and diaries.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of textual material and photographs relating to the Hicks family. Some material relates to the university career of RKH and includes research notes, articles, translations, book reviews, and poetry in the field of French literature. The majority of the material includes draft copies of RKH’s memoirs as well as diaries that he kept in the years leading up to his retirement in 1953 until his death in 1964. Some of the material relates to RKH’s personal life, including family correspondence, Christmas poems, and records pertaining to the life and amateur pursuits of Marjorie Ogilvy Edgar Hicks, including a scrapbook and two drafts of various chapters of an incomplete historical novel. Some material relates to the education and career of RKH’s son, John Edgar Hicks, including family correspondence and financial documents.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The arrangement is artificial. Records were kept in chronological order where applicable.

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Public domain

Language of material

  • English

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Uploaded finding aid

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Notes area


An oil portrait of Rivers Keith Hicks (Art Inventory 621), painted by his friend Aba Bayefsky in 1959, was donated to Trinity College in 2002.

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Institution identifier

Trinity College Archives

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  • English



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