Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
August 2004

Biographies of Prominent Quebec and Canadian

Historical Figures


Robert Alexander Falconer



Damien-Claude Bélanger,

Department of History,

McGill University


Clergyman, biblical scholar, and educator, was born at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He was educated at Queen's Royal College, Trinidad, at London University, at Edinburgh University, and at Marburg University, Germany. Falconer spent much of his youth in West Indian island of Trinidad, where his father, a Presbyterian clergyman, had been posted. After completing postgraduate work in Germany, he was ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church in 1892. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed lecturer in New Testament Greek in Pine Hill College, Halifax. In 1895 he was made professor of New Testament Exegesis and was appointed principal of the college in 1904. Three years later, Falconer was appointed president of the University of Toronto, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1932. Selected in the wake of a royal commission recommending the complete reorganization of the university, he thoroughly reformed its structure during his twenty-five year presidency. He was awarded a CMG in 1911 and a KCMG in 1917. A popular public speaker, Falconer received a number of honorary degrees over his long and distinguished career. Elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1916, he became its president in 1932. He was active in the movement to unite the Presbyterian Church of Canada with Canada's Methodists and Congregationalists. Troubled by Canada's progressive Americanization, much of Sir Robert Falconer's work stressed the importance of maintaining Canada's distinct identity and her connection to Britain. He delivered a series of lectures in Great Britain on Canadian-American relations in 1925, and was a regular participant in the biennial conferences on Canadian-American relations organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. An ardent imperialist, Falconer was active in the Round Table movement.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College