Fonds 1736 - Peter H. Russell fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1736


Peter H. Russell fonds


  • 1955-2018 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

18.00m of textual records
0.07m of graphic material
10 audio CDs

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Peter H. Russell was born in Toronto on November 16, 1932. He received his early education at University of Toronto Schools (1946-1951) and studied philosophy and history at the University of Toronto from 1951 to 1955. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford University from 1955-1957. He continued his studies in philosophy, politics and economics graduating with a BA in 1957.

Following graduation and his return to Toronto, he was employed as an assistant at Gilbert E. Jackson & Associates. He moved to Montreal that same year to take a position with Aluminum Company of Canada. In July, 1958 he resigned his position in the Personnel Department to join the University of Toronto as a lecturer in the Department of Political Economy.

Prof. Russell progressed through the ranks as a faculty member, advancing to Assistant Professor in 1962, Associate professor in 1965 and full professor in 1968. At the same time as he was appointed full professor, he was also appointed acting Principal for Innis College for one year. In 1971 he was confirmed as principal for a five year term. During his career at the University of Toronto, Prof. Russell participated in other university committees, including, among others, Chair of the Academic Appeals Board (1981-1983) and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Political Science (1987-1993).

While undertaking these administrative responsibilities, Prof. Russell continued to research, teach and publish. In the mid 1960’s he was a Research Fellow, Dept. of Government at Harvard University and was visiting professor from 1969-1971 at Makerere University, Uganda. This latter involvement led to an effort to develop a project between Makerere University and University of Toronto in the early 1990s. He was also visiting fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (1976-1977), Australian National University (1986 and 1994), and European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy (1993). His involvement in numerous professional associations such as the Canadian Bar Association, Canadian Political Science Association, Royal Society of Canada, to name just a few, included sitting on boards and committees, planning conferences, producing studies and reports. His publications include 13 books, dozens of articles in scholarly journals, and chapters in books. As an expert in judicial, constitutional and Indigenous politics , he was in demand by both government and special interest groups as a consultant, advisor and researcher. In particular, he worked for the Dene Nation Southern Support Group, the Royal Commission on certain activities of the RCMP, the Government of Canada’s Task Force to review comprehensive native land claims, the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee of Ontario, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Ipperwash inquiry (Ontario), to name just a few. He was also Canada’s ‘Envoy’ to the Deh Cho Dene in the NWT.

In addition to his academic and professional duties, Prof Russell was also active in local community groups such as the Wychwood Park Rate Payers Association (President 1974-1976), the Legal Aid Committee of Ontario (1976-1988) and University Settlement House (1976-1985), Chairman of the Churchill Society for Parliamentary Democracy and founding president of RALUT (Retired Academics and Librarians of the University of Toronto and CURAC (College and University Retiree Associations of Canada).

For this work and his academic achievements, Prof. Russell received numerous awards and recognition such as Officer, Order of Canada (1986), Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (1988), Honorary Doctor of Laws, from University of Calgary (1990) and University of Toronto (2001) and Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Guelph.

Prof. Russell was appointed University Professor in 1994 and retired in 1996. He continued to write and lecture from his home in Toronto until his death on January 10, 2024.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The Peter H. Russell fonds is comprised of three accessions: B2005-0001, B2017-0006, and B2019-0008. The records span over 60 years and document Prof. Russell’s academic career primarily with the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto and as a recognized expert in the field of judicial, constitutional, and Indigenous politics.

Arranged in fourteen series, the records consist of correspondence, both personal and professional, manuscripts of published and unpublished works, addresses, talks and reviews, teaching and research materials. In particular, these records document the development of his expertise through the preparation of manuscripts, research, teaching and communication with colleagues at universities in Canada and internationally. Material also reflects Prof. Russell’s advocacy and active engagement in a number of national issues.

Correspondents in accession B2005-0001 include members of the Canadian judiciary such as Justices D. C. McDonald, Bora Laskin, Bertha Wilson, and Alan Linden, and politicians such as Bob Rae, Ian Scott, Ed Broadbent and Stephane Dion.

Both Series 6 (Professional activities and addresses) and Series 11 (Articles, reviews, published addresses and referee comments), contains samples of talks and addresses delivered to prominent bodies such as the Toronto Club, the Canadian Club (Toronto and Winnipeg), to university audiences and local community groups such as Learning Unlimited.

His public service activities with Indigenous groups, such as the Dene Nation, and with related governmental bodies, such as the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Ipperwash Inquiry, are documented in Series 5 (Consultation and public service). In addition to his academic activities, material from accession B2005-0001 in this series includes records relating to his community involvement with the Wychwood Rate Payer’s Association, the Bathurst-St. Clair Task Force, Legal Aid Committee, Ontario Liberal Association and University Settlement, among others.

Finally, material in this fonds provides significant coverage of Prof. Russell’s participation in associations and organizations such as the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy (Series 7) University of Toronto Faculty Association (Series 8), the College and Retiree Association of Canada (Sub-series 10.1) and the Retired Academics and Librarians of the University of Toronto (Sub-series 10.2).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

The following records are restricted:
Series 3 (Correspondence – General):

  • B2017-0006/02(04)

Series 4 (Correspondence – Individuals):

  • B2005-0001/025 - /026
  • B2017-0006/004 - /006
  • B2019-0008/002(17) – (27)

Sub-series 5.1 (Consulting and public service):

  • B2017-0006/007 (04) – (05)
  • B2019-0008/003(16)

Sub-series 5.4 (Ipperwash Inquiry):

  • B2017-0006/011 - /013

Sub-series 5.5 (Deh Cho Files):

  • B2019-0008/006(04) - /008(26)

Series 7 (Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy):

  • B2017-0006/020(01) - /022(08)

Series 8 (University of Toronto Faculty Association):

  • B2017-0006/022(09) - /027(07)

Series 9 (University of Toronto):

  • B2017-0001/024(08)
  • B2017-0001/025(02)
  • B2017-0001/025(07)
  • B2017-0001/025(10)

Sub-series 10.1: College and Universities Retiree Association of Canada (CURAC)

  • B2017-0006/026(10) - /029(03)
  • B2019-0008/013(19) - (20)

Sub-series 10.2: Retired Academics and Librarians of the University of Toronto (RALUT)

  • B2017-0006/029(04) - (10)

Series 11 (Articles, reviews, addresses and referee comments):

  • B2005-0001/060 and /061
  • B2017-0006/033(29) - /034(06)
  • B2019-0008/014(18) – (26)

Series 13 (Teaching):

  • B2005-0001/068(05)
  • B2005-0001/069(01) – (08)
  • B2017-0006/038(01) – (09), (11) – (12)
  • B2019-0008/017(01) – (02)

Series 14 (Research):

  • B2017-0006/040(06) – (09)
  • B2017-0006/041(01)
  • B2019-0008/017(11)

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related accessions: A1986-0042, Records of the Department of Political Science

Notes area


Significant updates were made to the original B2005-0001 finding aid in November 2017 to accommodate material from the B2017-0006 accession, and again in 2020 to accommodate material from the B2019-0008 accession. Notes are included in series descriptions to describe these changes. Additionally, the original B2005-0001 finding aid is available upon request.

Alternative identifier(s)


B2005-0001, B2017-0006, B2019-0008

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Description control area

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Rules and/or conventions used

Dates of creation revision deletion

  • Original finding aid by Garron Wells, November 2005
  • Finding aid and AtoM description updated by Daniela Ansovini, 2017
  • Finding aid and AtoM description updated by Lindsay Harker, 2020
  • Edits made to update preferred term for Indigenous people, D. Ansovini, Dec. 2022




Accession area

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