Ivan Owen McFarlane 1936-2020

Ivan Owen McFarlane 1936-2020

Ivan Owen McFarlane



On February 16, 2020, the Massey College community lost a dear friend. After a short illness, Ivan McFarlane left us. But he left us many gifts as well. Ivan was a founding member of the Quadrangle Society which is now a thriving and important part of the Massey community. As a Senior Fellow, he was the inaugural chair of the Community Liaison Committee that focuses on better connecting the different College constituencies. Both of these initiatives are illustrative of what Ivan did so well – build community, connect people who might not otherwise meet and foster inclusion and understanding.

With his dear departed Harriet, Ivan opened his home to many a Junior Fellow over the years (and Senior Fellows, Quadranglers, alumni… you get the picture) for food, laughter and incisive curiosity about our work, our politics and our efforts to engage in the world. Ivan had boundless curiosity and a deep commitment to egalitarianism, inclusion and robust conversation. With grace and kindness, he and Harriet welcomed strangers into their home and fostered those qualities in others, building community within our communities.

Ivan was a man of prodigious academic chops – he was a graduate of Kingston College, Jamaica; Trinity College at the University of Toronto (BA, 1964); Carleton University (MA, 1969); York University (MEnv, 1972); OISE (MA, 1982); University of Toronto Law School (MSL, 2007); OISE/University of Toronto (PhD, 1995) – but he was also a bon vivant who shared his love of the good life with the love of his life, Harriet, for many happy years. Together they were enthusiastic Massey College book club attendees and devoted members of the Massey and Trinity college communities. He was a dapper figure in the quadrangle, a fedora on his head and Harriet by his side, telling stories and checking in with the many Junior Fellows who were fortunate to experience his mentorship. Whether over dinner or one of his favourite single malts, you might have had a challenge getting a word in edgewise but you would also feel seen and heard by Ivan – he always remembered what your latest projects were and inquired as to their progress.

Ivan was a lifelong learner but he taught us so much about how to approach life with clarity, love and inquisitiveness, and of course, how to foster community. It is a wonderful legacy and while we will miss him dearly, we will also honour him in our continued efforts to make Massey inclusive and dynamic, with high academic standards and joie de vivre. Thank you, Ivan. Thank you.

A service and celebration of Ivan’s life will be held in the spring; details will be available in due course.