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Fonds Level Description

Accession Number: 01-003


Thomas H. B. Symons fonds. Additions. -- 1929-1999. -- 7.7 m of textual records. -- 13 photographs.

Biography / History

Thomas H.B. Symons was born at Toronto, Ontario on May 30, 1929, son of Harry Lutz Symons and Dorothy Sarah Bull. He was educated at Upper Canada College, University of Toronto (B.A. 1951), and Oxford University (B.A. 1953, M.A. 1957). He married Christine Ryerson on August 17, 1963 and with her had three children: Mary, Ryerson and Jeffery. Professor Symons has held many posts as an educator over the years, including Assistant Dean of Men, Trinity College and Instructor of History, University of Toronto 1953-55; and Dean, Devonshire House, University of Toronto 1955-63. However, his most notable post was as the founding President and Vice-Chancellor of Trent University, 1961-72. Symons has also held many presidencies, chairmanships and memberships in various organizations, mainly dealing with the topics of education, Canadian studies, native rights and human rights. From 1971 to 1973, Symons was the President of the Canadian Association in Support of Native Peoples. He is the author of several reports and articles and has contributed chapters to many books including: "Political Education in Canada" 1988; "Archives Libraries and the Canadian Heritage" 1983; "A Century of Canada's Arctic Islands, 1880-1980" 1981; "A History of Peel County" 1967; and "Native Rights in Canada" 1970. Professor Symons currently resides in Peterborough, Ontario. (Taken from: "Canadian Who's Who, 1993." Toronto: University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 1993.)

Custodial History

This fonds was created by and in the custody of Thomas H.B. Symons before it was donated to Trent University Archives.

Scope and Content

Fonds consists of personal records of Thomas H.B. Symons relating to his career and to his family. Included are records of his wife, Christine Symons, his children, Mary, Jeffrey, and Ryerson Symons, his father, Harry Lutz Symons, including his father's manuscript for "Three Ships West", and his mother, Dorothy Sarah (Bull) Symons. Also included are materials relating to Professor Symons' activities on various boards and committees, addresses, articles, manuscripts, typescripts, and correspondence, documents and notes concerning Trent University, Association of Commonwealth Universities, Celanese Canada, Science Council of Canada, Department of External Affairs, Royal Society of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, etc.. Also included are photographs of Thomas H.B. Symons, Christine Symons, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.


Title based on the creator of the fonds.
This fonds was donated by Thomas H.B. Symons.
Some of the correspondence in the fonds is in French.
Restrictions: Permission of Thomas H.B. Symons and the University Archivist required. Boxes 21 and 22 closed until 2026.
Finding aids: Y
This fonds along with 82-001 and 97-019 is an addition to 78-003.
For related records see: 82-015, 86-029, 86-030, 86-031, 86-032, 87-009, 88-016, and RG 1.
This fonds was originally accessioned as 81-005 and 87-003.

Finding Aid

Box 1

Personal records
1. Biographical information, C.V.
2. Wills, 1970, 1971, 1983; codicils, 1986 - Tom and Christine Symons; passport, 1981; wedding invitation - Tom and Christine Symons, 1963
3. Memberships and subscriptions, 1974-1976
4. Charitable donations, 1960-1973 (a sampling only)
5. The Friends of Zac Phimister, charitable donation, 1968
6. Books given as gifts
7. Shares, investments, etc., ie. Debord Circus, James Morrison Brass Co., etc., 1964-1969
8. Correspondence and information on University Halls of Residence, 1957-1961
9. as above
10. "The Residence Hall and the University" for the Queen's Quarterly, 1958
11. Sabbatical leave from Trent University, 1967; leave of absence from Trent, 1971
12. Career opportunities, including invitations to consider presidential positions at various universities, Board of Governors positions, council appointments, director appointments, etc.
13. Appointment to the Order of Canada, 1976-1977
14. The Distinguished Service to Education Award of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, 1982
15. as above
16. Honorary degree, University of Prince Edward Island, 1983
17. Honorary degree, University of New Brunswick, 1972
18. Personal correspondence, 1921, 1964-1966
19. Personal correspondence, 1967-1969
20. Personal correspondence, 1970
21. Personal correspondence, 1971
22. Personal correspondence, 1972
23. Personal correspondence, 1973
24. Personal correspondence, 1974
25. Personal correspondence, 1975
26. Personal correspondence, 1976
27. Personal correspondence, 1977
28. Personal correspondence, 1978
29. Personal correspondence, 1979
30. Personal correspondence, 1980
31. Personal correspondence, 1981
32. Personal correspondence, 1982
33. Personal correspondence, 1983
34. Personal correspondence, 1984
35. Personal correspondence, 1985
36. Personal correspondence, 1986
37. Personal correspondence, undated
38. Invitations; programs; letters of congratulations, condolence, thanks, etc., 1963-1969 (Note: No attempt has been made to maintain all the letters of congratulations, condolence, or letters regarding Symons' donations; those letters which have been saved have been done so at random)
39. as above, 1970-1972
40. as above, 1973-1974
41. as above, 1975-1976
42. as above, 1977-1978
43. as above, 1979-1980
44. as above, 1981
45. as above, 1982

Box 2

(Personal records, continued)
1. Invitations, etc., 1983
2. as above, 1984
3. as above, 1985
4. as above, 1986
5. as above, undated
loose in box: 3 personal calendars, 1979, 1980, 1981

Box 3

(Personal records, continued)
11 daily journals, 1964-1974

Box 4

(Personal records, continued)
1. Family greeting cards
2. DEACCESSIONED: Mary Symons (daughter of THBS), correspondence, notes, school reports, etc., 1965-1986
3. DEACCESSIONED: Ryerson Symons (son of THBS), correspondence, notes, school reports, etc., 1974-1985
4. DEACCESSIONED: Jeffrey Symons (son of THBS), correspondence, notes, school reports, etc., 1969-1986
5. Dorothy Sarah (Bull) Symons (mother of THBS), correspondence, 1964-1983
6. Harry Lutz Symons (father of THBS), correspondence, biographical sketch, etc., 1971-1983
7. "Cuba from Within", notes for two articles by Harry L. Symons, c.1920
8. Two stories by "Windup" by Harry L. Symons, c.1929
9. Draft textual material for "Ojibway Melody" by Harry L. Symons, c.1944
10. Draft material for booklet on Ontario Agriculture by Harry L. Symons, c.1945
11. Notes for two talks by Harry L. Symons, 1947
12. Talk by Harry L. Symons to the Durham County Club of Toronto, 1948
13. Pointe-au-Baril Islanders' Association, 1950
14. "Seventh Heaven" typescript, by Harry L. Symons, 1958
15. Arrangement with the publisher for the paperback editions of "Fences", 1974
16. Manuscript material for "Friendship" by Harry L. Symons, n.d.
17. Correspondence, notes, and draft manuscripts regarding "Three Ships West" by Harry L. Symons, 1939-1949
18. Original manuscript of "Three Ships West" by Harry L. Symons, 1939
19. Manuscripts concerning "Three Ships West" by Harry L. Symons
20. "Columbian" manuscript by Harry L. Symons, 1943
21. Rough notes and research material for "Columbian"

Box 5

Speeches, notes for remarks, notes for discussion, articles and papers, addresses, workshop participation, etc., 1957-1980

Box 6

as above

Box 7

Trent University - miscellaneous correspondence, etc., 1962-1986

Box 8

Trent University - correspondence, specific subjects
1. Atlantic College, Wales, 1964-1971 (re establishment of Trent)
2. Official opening ceremonies, October 17, 1964
3. Presentation of 100,000th volume to the Trent library, October 22, 1968
4. Dedication of Founders Walk, October 28, 1978
5. Opening of Chemistry building, 1969
6. Opening of Staging building (Biology, Psychology), 1968
7. Opening of Lady Eaton College, 1969
8. Visit of the Commissioner of Official Languages, 1980
9. Visit of Dr. D.J. LeRoy as the Ashley Fellow, 1979
10. Modris Eksteins, correspondence re History faculty position, 1969-1971
11. History 10, 1968-1971
12. History-Politics 400 seminar, 1967-1972
13. Lectures in religion, 1968
14. Arrangements to found a Native Studies Programme, 1968-1971
15. Draft proposal for prospectus and syllabus for Canadian Studies 403, 1979-1980 ("Aspects of Canadian Intellectual and Cultural Life")
16. Seminar on National Unity: "Quebec: Province or Nation", held at Trent, 1978
17. Seminar on Science and Research in the Yukon and the North West Territories, held at Trent, 1979
18. Guest lecture to Politics 301, 1980
19. Guest lecture to Geography of Canada class, 1980
20: Talk to History 403 seminar: "Trent and the Canadian Intellectual Tradition", 1981
21. Reception for Trent alumni at Marchbanks, 1980
22. Medical community reception at Trent, 1969
23. Ottawa dinner and reception, 1969
24. Reception for part-time students, 1968
25. Reception for prize-winners and scholars at Trent, 1968
26. Visit of the Bishop of Peterborough, 1968
27. Trent University Development Funds, 1968-1969
28. Discussions and arrangements with the Flavelle Foundation, 1970-1972
29. Rt. Hon. Lord Thomson of Fleet, correspondence, 1966
30. Notes for remarks presenting Trent's Brief to the Ontario Committee on University Affairs, 1970
31. Rowat-Hurubise Commission (Commission on the Relations between Universities and Government), 1969
32. "The First Three Years", 1963-1966
33. "A review of the goal-setting processes of Trent University from 1961 to 1979", a paper presented by Maria D. Zinck for the Dept. of Educational Theory, University of Toronto, 1980
34. Thesis of Irene Matthews for EdD., O.I.S.E., re Trent, 1980
35. Student demonstration at Trent, 1968
36. Trent University, the Peterborough community, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, 1966
37. Robertson Davies correspondence, 1968-1969

Box 9

Peterborough and area - related records
1. Miscellaneous correspondence, notes, etc., 1967-1984
2. Edgar Boland correspondence regarding "History of the Diocese of Peterborough", 1973-1976
3. Downtown redevelopment, Peterborough, 1965-1971
4. Some links with the labour community, Peterborough, 1968-1969
5. The Mayor's Committee on Growth, Development, and Employment, Peterborough, 1977
6. Greater Peterborough Economic Council, 1978-1982
7. as above
8. Restoration of Hutchison House, Peterborough, 1975-1978
9. Opening of the 10th anniversary exhibition "Peterborough Collects" at the Peterborough Centennial Museum, 1977
10. Opening of the Cobourg Horse Show, 1970
11. Seminar on Development and Planning in the Peterborough Community, organized for the visit to Peterborough of the Duke of Edinburgh's Fifth Commonwealth Study Conference, 1980
12. Canadian Club of Peterborough, 1972-1976
13. Academy Theatre, Lindsay, 1964-1971
14. Otonabee Region Conservation Foundation, 1972-1974
15. as above, 1975-1979

Box 10Folder
1-5. Statistics Canada: National Advisory Committee on Educational Statistics, and, Evaluation Advisory Committee on the Education Statistics Program, correspondence, minutes, etc., 1985-1986
6-7. Journal of Canadian Studies, correspondence, etc., 1970; 1975-1980
8-23. Commission on Canadian Studies, correspondence, etc., 1972-1982, plus undated

Box 11

Association of Commonwealth Universities, minutes, correspondence, etc. 1964-1978 (Note: Folder 8 includes a photograph of THBS and two unidentified people)

Box 12

as above, 1976-1982

Box 13

as above, 1983-1985

Box 14

as above, 1985-1989, plus undated

Box 15

Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Canada, on matters relating to education, correspondence, documents, etc., 1976-1983

Box 16

Upper Canada College, correspondence, etc., 1958-1979

Box 17

as above, 1977-1986

Box 18

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), 1976-1981

Box 19

as above, 1980-1984

Box 20

as above, 1983-1986

Box 21 & Box 22

Celanese Canada, including materials relating to Internationalist Fellowship, 1996-1999, and Social Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors, 1985-1999; also, correspondence, documents, etc., 1979-1999 (Note: Boxes 21 & 22 closed until 2026)

Box 23

1-5. Canadian Council on Social Development, correspondence, etc., 1965-1976
6-16. Canadian Conference on Social Development, correspondence, etc., 1973-1976

Box 24

1. Association for Canadian Studies, 1979-1982
2. C.M. Hincks Treatment Centre, correspondence, etc., 1966-1972
3. Calgary Institute for the Humanities, Visiting Fellow, 1977
4. Canada Studies Foundation, correspondence, etc., 1979-1981
5. C.A.P.S. (Canadian Association for Planning Students) Conference, on "Canadian Content in Planning Education", 1977
6. Canadian Federation for the Humanities, 1985
7. Canadian Northern Studies Trust, correspondence, etc., 1984-1986
8. Committee of Presidents of Universities of Ontario, 1970-1971
9. Conference on Higher Education in Canada, 1977
10. Conference on Philosophy in Canada, 1979
11. Creation 2, 1971
12. Destiny Canada Destinee Conference, 1977
13. Rt. Hon. J.G. Diefenbaker, correspondence, 1968-1970
14. Hon. Leslie Frost, correspondence and manuscript re the Scugog portage book, 1971
15. Harvard Club of Toronto, 1967-1970
16. John A. MacLaren Newspaper Awards, adjuducation of, 1973
17. Lakefield College School, correspondence, etc., 1968-1979
18. Laurentian University, correspondence, 1973
19. World University Service of Canada, correspondence, etc., 1971-1979
20. Native Canadian Centre, 1976-1978
21. Northern Corridor Development Committee, correspondence, etc., 1967-1968
22. Ontario Committee on the Costs of Education, meeting, 1972
23. Ontario Advisory Committee on Confederation, colloquium on the first report, 1978
24. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, advisory role, 1979
25. "Options" - Conference on the Future of the Canadian Federation, 1977
26. Sir Sandford Fleming College, correspondence, etc., 1968-1983
27. Social Science Federation of Canada, re meeting, 1986
28-29. St. Francis Xavier University, correspondence re meeting, etc., 1972-1973
30. University of Manitoba Distinguished Professors Selection Committee, 1983-1984
31. "The Twig", yearbook of the University of Toronto Schools, 1962 (article re THBS and Trent University)
32-38. Canada Council, appointment to, etc., 1976-1978

Box 25

United World Colleges, correspondence, etc., 1972-1981

Box 26

as above, 1981-1985 (Note: Folder 15 includes 4 photographs: 4 are of THBS in a classroom in Waterford, 1984; 1 is of THBS with 4 others in Swaziland, 1984; and one is of THBS, Christine Symons, and one unidentified man in Waterford, 1984)

Box 27

as above, 1985-1986 (Note: Folder 5 includes a photograph of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Corrado Belci, and one unidentified man). (Note: Folder 6 includes 2 photographs: one is of THBS and 3 unidentified people; one is of THBS, Christine Symons, and one unidentified woman)

Box 28

1-5. Department of External Affairs: Advisory Committee on Academic Relations, correspondence, etc., 1976-1982
6. Commonwealth Standing Committee on Student Mobility, correspondence, etc., 1981-1986
7-9. Canadian Association in Support of Native Peoples (CASNP), formerly Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada (IEA), minutes, correspondence, etc., 1968-1976
10. British-North American Committee, correspondence, photograph, etc., 1984-1985 (Note: this folder includes a photograph of THBS and Christine Symons aboard the Matchez)
11-15. Heritage Ontario Congress, minutes, correspondence, remarks, etc., 1971-1974
16-18. Cultural Diplomacy: Colloquium at the University of Leeds on UK-Canada relations, correspondence, manuscript draft, etc., 1980-1981

Box 29 & Box 30

Ontario Arts Council, minutes, correspondence, materials relating to "To Know Ourselves" (T.K.O.) committee, 1967-1983
Box 31Folder
1-5. Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC): Canadian Commonwealth and Fellowship Committee, minutes, correspondence, etc., 1983-1986
6-10. AUCC: Selection Committee for Canadian Studies Visting Professor in Japan, and, Canadian Studies Fellowship in the United Kingdom, correspondence, etc., 1977-1985
11. AUCC, correspondence, minutes, etc., 1968-1986
12-17. University of Toronto: Log book "Fartle's Close", Uxbridge, Ontario, 1961-1962 (references to Devonshire House); articles by THBS: "Devonshire House", "The University in Summer", "The Planning and Operation of Some New Residential Colleges at the University of Toronto"; report of the Higher Education Group to the Dean of Graduate Studies, 1957-1976
18-21. Trinity College, Toronto, correspondence, minutes, etc., 1963-1978
22-24. Oriel College, Oxford, correspondence, etc., 1964-1986
Box 32

Ontario Human Rights Commission, minutes, conferences, correspondence, etc., 1970-1979; also includes Special Advisor on Human Rights to the Secretary of State for Canada, 1982-1984 (Note: Folder 14 includes a photograph of Valerie Kasurak)
Box 33Folder
1-2. Conference of Independent Schools, consultant to, correspondence, etc., 1984-1986
3-6. Royal Society of Arts, correspondence, etc., 1964-1975
7-9. Royal Society of Canada, correspondence, "Arctic and Canadian Culture" colloquium, etc., 1977-1982
10-11. First Canadian Conference on Multiculturalism, correspondence, paper, etc., 1973
12. Order of St. Lazarus: Commission on Canadian Unity, correspondence, minutes, etc., 1976-1978
13-18. Science Council of Canada, consultant to, correspondence, presentation, minutes, etc., 1978-1984
19-20. Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies, paper given, correspondence, etc., 1979-1986
21-24. Australia-Canada Colloquium, Canberra, correspondence, paper, etc., 1981-1985
Box 34 & Box 35

French language issues, including the following: Franco-Ontarian Community (1971-1978), Cornwall School Question (1972-1975), Sturgeon Falls School Question (1971), Ministerial Commission on French Language Education in Ontario (1966-1973), Ministerial Commission on French Language Secondary Education (1971-1972), Languages of Instruction Commission of Ontario (1973), and miscellaneous correspondence (1973-1983)
Box 36

1. Advisory Committee on Cultural Policy to the Secretary of State for Canada, correspondence, etc., 1979-1980
2. Amnesty International, correspondence, etc., 1973-1980
3-8. Impact Research - Study on Native Employment in Government, correspondence, report, etc., 1975-1977
9-12. John Graves Simcoe Foundation, correspondence, etc., 1969-1976
13-16. Ontario Medical Foundation, minutes, correspondence, etc., 1975-1976
17. Inter-Council Coordinating Committee (Ministry of State. Science and Technology. Canada), minutes, notes, etc., 1980
18-19. Progressive Conservative party politics, correspondence, etc. relating to the PC party, political issues, etc., 1969-1985 (Note: Folder 18 also includes a photograph of a large formal gathering of people seated at long dinner tables; a speaker stands at the front of the room)
Box 37

Miscellaneous non-personal correspondence, 1961-1979
Box 38

as above, 1980-1982
Box 39

as above, 1983-1986, plus undated