Thomas Symons

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Thomas Symons

President and vice-chancellor of Trent University
In office
Personal details
Thomas Henry Bull Symons

(1929-05-30)May 30, 1929
Toronto, Ontario
Died1 January 2021 (aged 91)
Peterborough, Ontario
Spouse(s)Christine Ryerson
ChildrenMary, Ryerson and Jeffery

Thomas Henry Bull Symons CC OOnt FRSC (30 May 1929 – 1 January 2021[1]) was a Canadian professor and author in the field of Canadian studies.


Born in Toronto, Ontario, he was the son of writer Harry Lutz Symons and Dorothy Sarah Bull, and the brother of writer Scott Symons.[2] He attended Upper Canada College until 1942, and graduated from the University of Toronto Schools.[3] He subsequently studied at the University of Toronto (B.A. 1951), Oxford (B.A. 1953, M.A. 1957) and Harvard University.

He was the founding president of Trent University, serving as its president and vice-chancellor from 1961 to 1972.[4] He served as chairman of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1975 to 1978, where he "helped lead major advancements, particularly for the LGBT community".[5]

Between 1980 and 1986 he served two three-year terms as chairman of the board of the United World Colleges.[6]

He was the chairperson of the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service.[7]

On 17 August 1963, he married Christine Ryerson. They had three children: Mary, Ryerson and Jeffery.[4]

His contributions to university leadership, Canadian studies, Commonwealth studies, United World Colleges, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, and other fields were discussed in Ralph Heintzman (ed), Tom Symons: A Canadian Life, published by University of Ottawa Press.[8] His leadership in universities and in Commonwealth Studies was discussed in Donald Markwell, "Instincts to Lead": On Leadership, Peace, and Education (Connor Court, 2013).[9]


  • Meta Incognita: A Discourse of Discovery - Martin Frobisher's Arctic Expeditions, 1576 - 1578 (1999)
  • To Know Ourselves: The report of the commission on Canadian studies (1975)



  1. ^ Thomas H.B. Symons made his mark on Peterborough and the world
  2. ^ "His life was his art. Alas, it was not a masterpiece". The Globe and Mail, February 27, 2009.
  3. ^ Heintzman, Ralph (2011). Tom Symons: A Canadian Life. ISBN 9780776607658.
  4. ^ a b "Thomas H.B. Symons fonds". Trent University.
  5. ^ "Thomas Symons (obituary): Scholar, Educator, 91". The Globe and Mail. January 5, 2021. p. B16.
  6. ^ Peterson, Alexander Duncan Campbell (2003 - 2nd Ed.) Schools Across Frontiers: The Story of the International Baccalaureate and the United World Colleges
  7. ^ "Message from the Chair". Archived from the original on 2008-10-05.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-02-22. Retrieved 2016-12-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Fellows". Royal Society of Canada.
  11. ^ "Honorary Fellows". Oriel College, Oxford. Archived from the original on 2011-05-26.

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