Vincent Massey Tovell (1922-2014)

Vincent Massey Tovell (1922-2014)

29  July 1922 – 6 May 2014

It is with great sadness that I have to tell the Massey College community of the death on May 6th, early yesterday evening, of one of its greatest citizens and Senior Fellows, Vincent Massey Tovell, O.C., in his 92nd year. Vincent was both a generous benefactor and loyal friend of the College through several decades and perhaps no Senior Fellow in the 50-year history of the college was more active in support of the Junior Fellowship. It included the endowment of the annual dictionary gift to those Junior Fellow alumni who return at each Fellows’ Gaudy to celebrate their doctorates. On behalf of the college, I have conveyed our profound sympathies to Senior Fellows Peter Tovell, John Massey and Raymond Massey, all nephews of Vincent Tovell, and all members of Corporation through their association with the Massey Foundation.

Vincent had a long and distinguished career after graduating from the University of Toronto in 1946 with subsequent studies at Columbia University. It was as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto that Vincent first started his legendary collaboration with his beloved Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, starting in 1942 on radio right up to his retirement in 1987 as head of all science and arts programming on television. Named after his famous uncle and the founder of this college, the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, Vincent Tovell was instrumental in the founding of the Canada Council and played pivotal roles at the National Theatre School, the National Ballet School, the Canadian Conference of the Arts and the National Gallery, amongst many other arts institutions. At the CBC, and in different ways, he was a crucial mentor and champion of the careers of both Glenn Gould and Adrienne Clarkson. At Massey, he created The Fellows’ Fund which is deployed for a variety of college happenings, including visiting lectureships, the aforementioned dictionaries, and even a series of free concerts by rising young Canadian artists to honour the opening of the new opera house in Toronto and its builder, Senior Fellow and Canadian opera Company director Richard Bradshaw.

The college has been honoured by the Tovell and Massey families by being asked to organize a memorial celebration of the life of Vincent Massey Tovell on Wednesday June 11th at 3 p.m. It will be held in the Quadrangle, weather permitting, or else in the Common Room and Upper Library.

John Fraser