Claude Bissell

Title:  Claude Bissell fonds

Date(s) of creation: 1932-1990

Physical description:  18.62 metres of textual and graphic records

Admin. history/Biographical Sketch: Claude Thomas Bissell was born in Meaford, Ontario on February 15, 1916, one of 10 children. He received his early education at schools in Toronto including Runnymede Collegiate Institute. He entered the University of Toronto (University College) with the Edward Blake Scholarship in English and History, and continued to win scholarships which helped to fund his academic career.  He graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts (1936) and Master of Arts (1937).  He then attended Cornell University in Ithaca , New York where he received a PhD in 1940. In 1941 he returned to the University of Toronto as lecturer in English at University College.  He served overseas from 1942 to 1946. At the end of hostilities he was returned to England where he joined the staff of Khaki college, a program that allowed Canadian veterans to resume their interrupted academic careers. It was during his years in England that he met and married Christine Gray in September 1945.

On his return to Canada in 1946 he joined the Department of English at the University of Toronto.  He was promoted from lecturer to assistant professor and made dean in residence at University College in July, 1946.  In 1948 he was appointed assistant to President Sidney Smith and four years later, vice-president.  He left the University in 1956 to take the position of President of Carleton University in Ottawa. When Sidney Smith resigned to become Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1958, Prof. Bissell was appointed President of the University of Toronto.  He served as president until 1971.  He continued to lecture and write, publishing most notably a two volume biography of Vincent Massey, and his memoir of his years at the University of Toronto entitled Halfway up Parnassus (1974).  He died in Toronto on June 21, 2000.

Scope and content:  

Personal records of Claude T. Bissell documenting primarily his academic career at the University of Toronto as professor of English and administrator in positions of Vice –president and President at University of Toronto, and president of Carleton College, Ottawa (now Carleton University).  Includes undergraduate and graduate term papers as student at University of Toronto and Cornell University, diaries and journals covering the period from 3rd year as an undergraduate at U of T. to the end of his presidency (1934-1971). Also included arecorrespondence, manuscripts of published and unpublished works, files relating to his external activities such as chair of the Canada Council (1960-1962), as advisor to the editorial board of Encyclopedia Brittanica (1957-1960) and literary consultant to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (1972-1975). Some records relating to his activities following his resignation as President.

Access/Use: Restricted: personal correspondence and diaries closed until June 22, 2010. All other records are open.

Finding aids:  Finding aid on-line for B1993-0015 . All others available in Reading Room.

Related records in a different fonds:

Accruals:   Further accruals not expected.

Corresponding accessions: B1984-0036/  B1984-0042/  B1986-0011/ B1986-0023/ B1987-0038/ B1987-0041/ B1988-0091/ B1989-0031/ B1993-0015/ B2001-0019/ B2001-0032/ B2003-0017