A tribute to Rolph Huband

Canada's History - - CURRENTS - — Laird Rankin, for­mer pub­lisher of The Beaver.

This is­sue of Canada’s His­tory is ded­i­cated to Allen Rolph Huband, pub­lisher emer­i­tus of this mag­a­zine, who died Novem­ber 20, 2016, in Oakville, On­tario.

Huband spent his en­tire ca­reer with the Hud­son’s Bay Com­pany, first in Win­nipeg, then in Toronto, re­tir­ing as vice-pres­i­dent and sec­re­tary. To those who knew him, in what­ever ca­pac­ity, he was al­ways a gen­tle­man — kind, calm, per­cep­tive, smart, and a re­mark­able leader. He could take le­git­i­mate claim to be­ing the ar­chi­tect of many mile­stones in re­cent Cana­dian his­tory, some­thing he would, in his unas­sum­ing man­ner, down­play rather than cel­e­brate. Here are some ex­am­ples:

Af­ter the trans­fer of the com­pany’s head of­fice from Eng­land to Canada in 1970, Huband over­saw the re­lo­ca­tion of its cor­po­rate ar­chives, dat­ing back to the sev­en­teenth cen­tury, from Lon­don, Eng­land, to the Ar­chives of Man­i­toba and the trans­fer of the com­pany’s ten-thou­sand­piece ar­ti­fact col­lec­tion to the Man­i­toba Mu­seum.

He was also deeply in­volved in the com­pany’s three­hun­dredth an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions in 1970, which in­cluded the build­ing of a replica of the ship Non­such, now a star at­trac­tion at the Man­i­toba Mu­seum. It was his ini­tia­tive that es­tab­lished the Hud­son’s Bay Com­pany His­tory Foun­da­tion and cre­ated Canada’s Na­tional His­tory So­ci­ety in 1994 to en­sure the con­tin­ued pub­li­ca­tion of The Beaver (now Canada’s His­tory) and to bring his­tory to a wider au­di­ence.

Not only was he the so­ci­ety’s found­ing chair, he also con­ceived one of the so­ci­ety’s ini­tial pro­grams, the Pierre Ber­ton Award.

Rolph Huband was a man blessed with an un­par­al­leled vi­sion of Cana­dian his­tory. Cana­di­ans, to­day and for gen­er­a­tions to come, will all ben­e­fit from his ex­cep­tional en­light­en­ment and fore­sight.

Rolph Huband, left, and au­thor Pierre Ber­ton, right, in 1994.

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