Wrong, George MacKinnon

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Wrong, George MacKinnon

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1860-1948

History

George MacKinnon Wrong, the son of Gilbert and Christina MacKinnon Wrong, was born on a farm at Grovesend, Elgin County, Canada West on 25 June 1860. In 1886 he married Sophia Hume Blake, the eldest daughter of Edward Blake, chancellor of the University of Toronto and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. They had five children, Margaret (Marga), Murray, Harold, Hume and Agnes (Polly). His wife died in 1931 and two years later he married Elizabeth Durgwynne, an Englishwoman with extensive nursing experience who had come to Canada two years earlier.

Wrong was educated at Wycliffe College and the University of Toronto (BA 1883, MA 1886), taking post-graduate work at Oxford and Berlin. He was ordained a minister of the Church of England in 1883 and from 1883 to1892 was lecturer in history and apologetics at Wycliffe College. In 1892 he was appointed lecturer in history at the University of Toronto and promoted to professor and head of the department in 1894. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1927 and was recognized as a superb lecturer. He introduced Canadian history into the curriculum and in 1904 founded the University of Toronto Historical Club, with its dominant interest in public affairs. His three sons were all to be members of the Club, though never at the same time. In retirement, Wrong devoted himself to writing, community and educational causes. In January 1929 he was elected president of the Ontario division of the Canadian Red Cross Society. Later that year he represented Canada at the 3rd Institute of Pacific Relations Conference in Kyoto, Japan.

He founded, in 1897, the Review of Historical Publications Relating to Canada, predecessor to the Canadian Historical Review. In 1905 he helped found the Champlain Society, was its editorial secretary until 1922, and its president from 1924-1928. Besides several text-books on British and Canadian history, he was the author of The Crusade of 1383 (1892), The Earl of Elgin (1906), A Canadian Manor and its Seigneurs (1908), The Fall of Canada (1914), Washington and his Comrades in Arms (1921), The Rise and Fall of New France (1928), Canada and the American Revolution (1935) and The Canadians (1938). He edited for the Champlain Society Sagard's Long Journey to the Country of the Hurons (1939) and was co-editor with H.H. Langton of The Chronicles of Canada (32 volumes, 1914-16). For a complete list of his publications see W. Stewart Wallace, “The life and work of George M. Wrong” Canadian Historical Review, 29, 3 (Sept.1948) 238-239.

Wrong was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1908 and received the honorary degree of LLD from McGill University in 1919 and University of Toronto in 1941. In 1936 his portrait, painted by Sir Wyly Grier, was presented to the Department of History at the University. In 1944 he was elected an honorary member of the American Historical Association, the third person to receive that honour. Professor Wrong died in Toronto on 29 June 1948.

The Wrongs had residences in Toronto at 467 Jarvis Street and later at 73 Walmer Road, where they were generous and hospitable hosts. After the death of Edward Blake, George bought property that included a miller’s house on a pond at Canton north of Port Hope. In the summer of 1929 he offered to sell the rights to the mill and dam to his former pupil, Vincent Massey, but no agreement was reached until the early 1930s, when George was suffering financially from the stock market crash. Vincent Massey then erected his residence, Batterwood, on the property.

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