JULY 3,1913 -JANUARY 6,1986
Mason Wade did as much as anyone in the past forty years
to introduce English Canadians and Americans to the history of
He did that principally through his French
Canadian Outlook (1946, still in print) and the 1100 pages of The
French Canadians, 17G0-19G7 (1955 and 1968). Those two influcntial books accompanied Wade's career as author or editor of
seven other books, recipient of the Donner Medal in 1977, president of the Canadian Historical Association in 1964-1965, history
professor at the University of Rochester (1955-1965) and the
University of Western Ontario 0965-19721, and recipient of
honorary degrees from the Universities of Ottawa, Laval,
Vermont, and New Brunswick.
Wade did not begin his career in Qu6bcc studies, nor get
there through the normal route of graduate study. He published
four books before he was thirty years old. His Margaret Fuller
(1940, still in print) was still called "the best existing biography"
by the 1978 Radcliffe Biography of that nineteenth-century fcminist. His Francis Parkman (19-12, still in print) led him, like his
subject, from New England to French Canada. By 1955 a Gugcnhcim grant, an M.A. from McGill, service at the American
embassy in Ottawa, scholarly articles, and the two books on
French Canada took him to the University of Rochester.
Certain themes run throughout Wade's work on French
Canada. For one thing, he was, as Guy Frbgault characterized
him, an arbitre honnSte between what Wade called "the scpnratc
histories of two peoples who have jointly made a nation." Being
an American outside that French vs. English conflict helped
make that possiblc. Yet, whether because of his Catholic faith or
his roots in what was in those days a very francophone New
England or the American predisposition for the underdog, Wade
more frequently took the French side over the English one.
A second theme was his conception of French Canada.
While Qu6bcc was its center, i t also included Acadia and the Qu6-