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The Pelham Edgar Distinguished Visitor Endowment

Pelham EdgarEstablished in 2004 by Dr. Johanna L. Metcalf  Vic 5T7 to fund visiting scholars and scholarly activities particularly in the humanities, and for the overall enrichment of the Vic One experience.

Oscar Pelham Edgar (1871-1948) was a teacher and an academic. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of James David Edgar and Matilda Ridout. He married Helen Madeline Boulton in 1893. She died in 1933. He married Dona Gertrude Cameron Waller in 1935. They had one daughter, Katharine Jane. He died in Canton, Ontario.

Edgar was educated at Upper Canada College. He received his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1892 and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland in 1897. He began his teaching career as modern-language master at Upper Canada College (1892-1895). He was appointed to the staff of the Department of French at Victoria College, Toronto, as Lecturer in 1897, then as Head from 1901 to 1910. He also began to lecture in the Department of English in 1902, later transferring permanently to the latter, where he held full professional rank until 1938 and served as Head for 28 years.

Edgar was a member of the Athenaeum Club, London, England; of the Canadian Society of Authors where he served as Secretary; of the Tennyson Club, Toronto, where he served as President; of the Modern Language Association, Ontario, where he served as President; of the Ontario Education Society, where he served as Secretary from 1908 to 1909; and of the Canadian Writers' Foundation which was founded by Edgar. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1915 and received its Lorne Pierce Medal for distinguished service to Canadian literature in 1936.

Edgar published many reviews and articles, along with three monographs: A Study of Shelley with Special Reference to his Nature Poetry (1899), Henry James, Man and Author (1927), The Art of the Novel from 1700 to the Present Time (1933). He also contributed a chapter on Canada to The Cambridge History of English Literature (1916), and acted as Canadian advisor for the Dictionary of National Biography (1911). Some autobiographical material was published posthumously under the title Across my Path (1952), edited by Northrop Frye.



While a student at Victoria College, Dr. Johanna Metcalf met Oscar Pelham Edgar’s daughter, Jane Conway (nee Edgar) and they quickly became dear friends. Dr. Metcalf established this endowment as a way to pay tribute to the Edgar family and the work and legacy of Dr. Pelham Edgar. Dr. Metcalf was a Victoria College alumna and a generous supporter of the Vic One program.

Pelham Edgar Visiting Lecturers in the Humanities:

2023-2024 ~ Sarah Polley

2022-2023 ~ Sheila Heti

2021-2022 ~ Eleanor Wachtel

2020-2021 ~ Ian Williams

2019-2020 ~ George Elliott Clarke

2018-2019 ~ Tanya Talaga

2017-2018 ~  Marni Jackson

2016-2017 ~ Sandra Martin

2015-2016 ~ Ray Robertson

2014-2015 ~ Camilla Gibb

2013-2014 ~ Jane Urquhart

2012-2013 ~ Linden MacIntyre

2011-2012 ~ Johanna Skibsrud

2010-2011 ~ Margaret Atwood

2009-2010 ~ Norman Jewison

2008-2009 ~ Elizabeth Hay

2007-2008 ~ David Gilmour

2006-2007 ~ John Bemrose

2005-2006 ~ Ann-Marie MacDonald

2004-2005 ~ J. Edward Chamberlin & Lorna Goodison


Photo Credit

  1. Pelham Edgar: Victoria University Library (Toronto)