Rivers Keith Hicks

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Rivers Keith Hicks

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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.


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