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Fonds Level Description

Accession Number: 05-012


Thomas H.B. Symons. Meta Incognita fonds. -- 1990-2000. -- 60 cm of textual records. -- 30 photographs. -- 1 audio cassette.

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.)

Meta Incognita was a project initiated to bring new light to the Arctic voyages of Martin Frobisher and to show the significance of these voyages for the histories of North America and Britain. With the guidance of the Meta Incognita Project Steering Committee, an Archival Research Task Force (ARTAF) researched archival documents in Britain and Europe and compiled their research into a two volume publication, "Meta Incognita: A Discourse of Discovery: Martin Frobisher's Arctic Expeditions, 1576-1578." The publication was edited by the chair of the Steering Committee, Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, and was published in 1999. (Taken from Meta Incognita: A Discourse of Discovery: Martin Frobisher's Arctic Expeditions, 1576-1578. Vol. 1. Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1999).

Custodial History

This fonds was created by and in the custody of Thomas H.B. Symons before it was forwarded to Trent University Archives in 2000.

Scope and Content

Fonds consists of correspondence, reports, notes, papers, and research material relating to the Meta Incognita project.


Title based on the creator and contents of the fonds.
Fonds acquired from Thomas H.B. Symons in 2000.
Restrictions: Permission of Professor Symons and the University Archivist required.
For related records see: 03-012.

Finding Aid

Box 1

Meta Incognita Symposium, held at Trent University May 1-4, 1997: papers, correspondence, notes, publicity. Also included in Box 1 Folder 3 are two photographs of the Meta Incognita Steering Committee, taken at Trent University and including Professor Symons

Box 3

Meta Incognita: correspondence, research material, reports, notes 1990-1991

Box 4

as above, 1991-1992

Box 5

as above, 1991-2000
Note: Folder 15 includes 28 photographs taken at Meta Incognita meetings in Iqualuit, November 1997 (photographs include Professor Symons)
Note: Folder 15 includes one audio cassette entitled "Re: Frobisher Voyages, Trent University, 7 May 1997, CBC-R, Peter Gzowski" (Copyright restrictions apply)