A Long Eclipse: The Liberal Protestant Establishment and the Canadian University, 1920–1970


240 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-2805-9
DDC 378.71




Alexander D. Gregor is director of the Centre for Higher Education
Research and Development at the University of Manitoba and co-editor of
Postsecondary Education in Canada: The Cultural Agenda.


A Long Eclipse provides a very useful addition to our understanding of
the Canadian university during the last century and of the country’s
social and cultural development more generally. The author’s primary
focus is the “Liberal Protestant Establishment,” which is generally
agreed to have dominated Canada’s mores and institutions until the
latter third of the 20th century.

Following a solid review of related literature, Gidney outlines the
previously prevailing assumption that the dominating influence of
Liberal Protestantism within the universities had been largely truncated
by the 1920s. Her investigation goes on to show that, in a wide range of
subtle and collateral ways, the diminution of the influence in the
curriculum was counterbalanced by a persistent presence outside the
classroom per se: in behavioural codes, residence life, student
organizations, mission enterprises, and the like. Of particular interest
is the role played by institutional presidents, who—as members of that
establishment themselves—saw Liberal Protestantism as the foundation
for a coherent moral and intellectual structure for the academy. The
influence of administrators began to wane by the 1960s, although the
author detects an intriguing residual influence in that decade’s
student activism.

A Long Eclipse is very much a scholarly work, with fully a third of its
length given over to appendixes, endnotes, and bibliography. Its primary
readership will be scholars from the fields of higher education,
Canadian social history, and the history of Canadian religion.


Gidney, Catherine., “A Long Eclipse: The Liberal Protestant Establishment and the Canadian University, 1920–1970,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/14489.