H8829 Colonel, the Honorable George Francis Gillman Stanley, CC, CD, DPhil, FRSC, FRHSC (Hon)

1907 – 2002

George Stanley was born in Calgary. After graduating from the University of Alberta with a BA, he became the 1929 Rhodes Scholar from Alberta, attending Keble College in Oxford. He  played for the Oxford University Hockey Club, which won the Spengler Cup in 1931.  He earned a BA, MA, MLitt and DPhil at Oxford, and wrote The Birth of Western Canada: A History of the Riel Rebellions. 

Returning to Canada in 1936, Dr. Stanley was appointed professor of history at Mount Allison University, and joined the military as a lieutenant in the New Brunswick Rangers as an infantry training officer. He went back to England in WWII, becoming Deputy Director in the Historical Section at Canadian Army Headquarters in London.  He was discharged as a LCol in 1947.

Dr. Stanley joined UBC as the first ever chair in Canadian history in Canada.  He joined the militia in 1948 and remained in the Reserve of Officers until 1967.  Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1949 to research Canadian government policy dealing with Native people, he joined the RMC History Department the same year, where he remained for the next twenty years.  

As Head of History at RMC, Dr. Stanley served as first Dean of Arts for seven years from 1962 to 1969, and taught the first undergraduate course in military history ever given in Canada. He also wrote his ground-breaking textbook, Canada’s Soldiers, 1604-1954: The Military History of an Unmilitary People,1954. While at RMC, he was largely responsible for enabling the Pipes and Drums to be equipped with their full Highland regalia, including the Mackenzie tartan.

Dr. Stanley served on a number of committees while at RMC, including the Canadian Historical Association (President), the Massey Commission's Committee on Historical Sites and Monuments, and the Archaeological Sites Board of Ontario. In 1964, as Canada sought a new national flag, Stanley made a proposal based on the RMC flag, with the maple leaf replacing the RMC crest. His proposal formed the basis of the new flag inaugurated in February 1965. 

In 1969, Dr. Stanley returned to Mount Allison University to become founding director of the new Canadian Studies program there, the first of its kind in Canada.  He continued his committee work: on the advisory panel of the Symons Commission on Canadian Studies, as a founding member of the Atlantic Canada Institute, a member of the Federal Government Advisory Board on Canadian Military Colleges, a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian War Museum, and as Honorary Colonel of the Royal New Brunswick Regiment, to name a few.

In 1975, Dr. Stanley retired from teaching. He was appointed Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, serving from 1981 to 1987, during which time he received both Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II.  In 1985, as general editor over five authors, he brought out The Collected Writings of Louis Riel in five volumes.  He donated his book collection and papers to the University of Calgary. 

Dr. Stanley was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1976, and promoted to Companion in 1994.  He was the recipient of twelve honorary degrees in addition to his five earned degrees. He and his wife Ruth had three daughters and two grandchildren. He died in 2002, and was buried with full military honours in Sackville, NB.

Plaque Inscription:

Soldier, Military Historian, Educator, Canadian Flag Designer, New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor
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