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John English Resigns as General Editor


Source: DCB/DBC

On 28 May John English announced to the DCB staff in Toronto that he had submitted his resignation as General Editor to the University of Toronto effective 30 June 2013. He made the decision “with considerable regret because I have enjoyed very much the seven years I have worked with the Dictionary’s superb staff." He noted that, during his tenure, major goals, such as the development of the new website, the release of important new biographies, and highly successful fund-raising, have been achieved, and said that he was pleased to have been a part of these developments.

A long-time reader of and contributor to the DCB/DBC, John provided crucial support before he became General Editor in 2006. His knowledge, insight, and ideas have always been invaluable, as have his ease of manner and his unfailing good humour. John is the happiest of warriors, always smiling, rarely discouraged, completely supportive of this project, and effusive in praise of DCB/DBC staff.

On 1 July John assumed his new duties as director of the Bill Graham Centre for the Study of Contemporary International History at the university. Executive Officer Robert L. Fraser will deal with the general editor’s responsibilities until John’s replacement is appointed.

Please see below for the University of Torontos media release.



June 24, 2013

Changes in Editorship at Dictionary of Canadian Biography

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography (DCB), one of the University of Toronto’s most prestigious humanities projects, will soon have a new director. John English, who has served as general editor since 2006, has resigned to accept a position as the inaugural director of the new Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History, effective July 1, 2013.

The DCB is a free, accessible and authoritative dictionary that reaches beyond academia to the broader Canadian public, providing easy-to-read accounts of the lives of people who have contributed significantly to our country’s developments. Established in 1959 and the product of a U of T–Université Laval partnership that dates back to 1961, the DCB currently includes more than 8,400 biographies in English and French, covering Canadian history from 1000 to 1930. In 2011, the Department of Canadian Heritage made a three-year commitment to the DCB that will enable the research team to advance the biographies beyond the 1930s, providing a fuller historical picture for Canadian audiences.

“Under John’s leadership, the DCB has cemented its reputation as one of Canada’s national treasures cited by many as the finest biographical dictionary in the world,” said David Cameron, interim dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Toronto. In December 2012 the DCB received the Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: The Pierre Berton Award. During English’s seven years as director, many new biographies were completed, the website was relaunched and fundraising successes ensured the continued excellence of the DCB.

“The University of Toronto is grateful to John for his visionary leadership and we are delighted that he will continue to play a key role in the university as director of the new Bill Graham Centre, as well as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs,” said Cameron. “The DCB, with its exceptional team and partnership with Laval, is in a strong position for a transition in its editorship.” Robert L. Fraser, who joined the DCB in 1976 and has been the executive officer since 1994, will be overseeing the operation of the DCB on an interim basis effective July 1, 2013 until a new general editor is appointed.



Kim Luke

Communications, Faculty of Arts & Science

University of Toronto