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Victor Suthren (born March 2, 1942) is a Canadian writer, sailor and historian.
The unusual name Suthren is an anglicization of the Old Norse/Icelandic word 'sudraenn', meaning of or from the south, and suggesting a Norse family origin in the Orkneys, Shetland or Faeroe Islands. A native of Montreal, Quebec, of modern Northumbrian and Northern Welsh grandparents, he was educated at Bishop's (BA, Psychology/History,1965, where he was active in judo and dramatics, and received the Golden Mitre award for contributions to university life), McGill (Qualifying Year, Anthropology, 1966), and Concordia (MA, History,1970) universities. His student summers were spent in the Naval Reserve, where he was a Cadet Captain and commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant RCNR in 1964, and with the Fort Henry Guard in Kingston, Ontario (1964-1967).
After contract historical work for National Historic Sites following completion of graduate school he formally joined the Canadian Public Service in 1971, initially as an historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. He served as Director General of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa from 1986 to 1997, having joined the museum in 1975, and although successful in raising the profile and attendance of the museum left when it was evident his efforts to introduce exhibits on the Holocaust, other genocides and the wider issues of human conflict and prejudice, including Canada's own record, and following the example of Britain's Imperial War Museum, would nevertheless be defeated for political and other reasons. The controversy nonetheless helped lead to the creation of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, and plans for a National Holocaust Memorial to be built beside the Canadian War Museum. He was appointed to a term (1997-2014) as an Honorary Captain in the Royal Canadian Navy by the Minister of National Defence the year he left the museum, and since his departure from the museum has been a full-time writer and occasional historical adviser and on-screen presenter for film and television productions.
He is the author of thirteen books, including several works of historical non-fiction, and his seven sea adventure novels, the Paul Gallant Trilogy and the Edward Mainwaring series, now also are published as e-books. His most recent book was 'The Island of Canada', published in 2009, and he currently (2015) is writing a new biography of the Welsh Atlantic pirate Bartholomew Roberts (1682-1722).
With the Navy he trained in RCN ships in the Arctic and Atlantic, and subsequently has voyaged as a "tall ship" seaman, beginning in 1967 with the Canadian Grand Banks schooner "Bluenose II", in the Atlantic, Great Lakes, Caribbean Sea and across the Pacific to Hawaii, the last in 1999 as crew/lecturer in the Australian replica of James Cook's 1768 ship, HM Bark "Endeavour". While at the museum and later for the Navy (until 2012) he organized and led historical naval pageants at Halifax, Summerside, Charlottetown, Toronto, Kingston, Amherstburg/Put-in Bay(Ohio) and Niagara-on-the-lake, involving combinations of sailing vessels, replica longboats, and civilian naval and military "re-enactors". He currently (2015) sails on the St Lawrence and Rideau waterways and occasionally advises on adventure sailing projects.
He has been granted the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD), and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 1995 he received an Eagle Feather granted by the Mi'kmaq First Nation of Mi'kma'kik/Prince Edward Island.
He lives with his artist wife Lindsay Scott Suthren (married 12 July 1969) in an 1850s cottage in the historic Rideau Canal village of Merrickville, Ontario, where he serves as a town councillor, and is the father of 3 grown children (Amy Parsons, Caedi Suthren and Scott Suthren) and grandfather to five grandchildren. His current* and past memberships include:
Board, Bytown Brigantine Incorporated*;
Board, Friends of the Rideau Canal*;
Canadian Nautical Research Society*;
Captain Cook Society (UK)*;
Les Amis de Bougainville (Tahiti)*;
Polynesian Voyaging Society (Hawai'i);
Royal Canadian Legion*;
Fellow, Company of Military Historians (1978);
Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (1980);
Fort Henry Guard Association of Canada*
Northeast American Society for 18th Century Studies;
Naval Association of Canada; and
Savoy Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Ottawa.
His hobbies include sailing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and amateur theatrical performance.
Paul Gallant series
Set in mid-18th century
- The Black Cockade (1977) (ISBN 0-8125-8862-2)
- A King's Ransom (1980) (ISBN 0-8125-8866-5)
- In Perilous Seas (1983) (ISBN 0-8125-8868-1)
Edward Mainwaring series
Starts in 1739
- Royal Yankee (1987) (ISBN 0-586-20429-6)
- The Golden Galleon (1988) (ISBN 0-312-02216-6)
- Admiral of Fear (1991) (ISBN 0-340-63840-0)
- Captain Monsoon (1993) (ISBN 0-312-08728-4)
- "The War of 1812" (1999)(ISBN 0-7710-8317-3)
- "To Go Upon Discovery: James Cook And Canada" (2000) (ISBN 1-55002-327-6)
- "The Sea Has No End: The Life of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville" (2004) (ISBN 1-55002-519-8)
- "The Island Of Canada" (2009) (ISBN 0887624065)
Victor Suthren, "A Museum of Tolerance", Maclean's Magazine, March 17, 2003.