Rowland McMaster, a distinguished academic and long-time member of the English Department at the University of Alberta, died peacefully on Saturday, July 20 at the Edmonton General hospice.
Born in Australia in 1928, and raised in Port Credit, Ontario, he took his three degrees in English at the University of Toronto before going on to teach at Acadia University. From 1958 until his retirement in the 1990s, he was a formative member of the Department of English, laying the foundation for its graduate program. Beloved and admired by generations of students, he taught Currents of Thought in the Nineteenth Century, Chaucer, and the English novel, as well as the first-year survey course, supervising many theses on Dickens, James, Joyce, Tennyson, Browning, and other major figures of English literature.
His numerous publications include editions of Dickens's Great Expectations and Little Dorrit (in the Macmillan series headed by Northrop Frye), books on Trollope, Thackeray, and the English novel, and dozens of articles in learned journals. He was the editor of English Studies in Canada for a number of years. His academic honours include winning the university's major Research Prize, and election as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
He was a lifetime photographer, and will be remembered especially for his portraits of the celebrated Canadian author Sheila Watson. He was also a gifted dramatic reader, and students have been dazzled by his renderings of the voices of Magwitch, Sergeant Buzfuz and other Dickens characters, as well as Harry Bailey and other Chaucer characters.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Juliet McMaster; his children Geoffrey (named after Chaucer) with Gail, Loren with Matt, Rawdon with Stanis, and Lindsey with Rob; and his grandchildren Liv, William, and Lucas.
The family plan a private ceremony this week, and a public memorial in the fall.
Those who would like to contribute to a bursary in Rowland's name could send cheques to The Development Office of the U of A, made out to "University of Alberta: Bursary in honour of R.D. McMaster."
Published in Edmonton Journal on Jul. 23, 2013.