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John Francis BOSHER
1929 - 2020
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JOHN FRANCIS BOSHER May 28, 1929 - September 3, 2020 John Francis Bosher FRSC, professor emeritus, York University was born at Resthaven Hospital in Sidney, British Columbia to Grace Simister Bosher of Salford, Lancashire and John Ernest Bosher from Bracknell, Berkshire. John was the first of five children followed by Alan, Elisabeth, Avis and Lorna. He became a King Scout in 1942 and a Pacific Coast Ranger in 1947 under the aegis of Freeman King. Lumbering in the Kootenays paid tuition at University of British Columbia from which he graduated in 1950 with first class honours and a Canadian Government Andison scholarship from the UBC French Department. He got a teachers' training diploma from the UBC Education Department (1950-51) but was saved from teaching by a posting for a junior administrative assistant in the Canadian Civil Service Commission. He took a bus to Ottawa and was hired as a Personnel Selection Officer to Don Gow and Gerry Blackburn in the Hepburn Building on Bank Street. He continued his French lessons at the Rideau and Gloucester Street convents. Civil service business took him to Toronto where he lunched at Murray's in the Park Plaza Hotel and met Margareta Chirovici. They married on October 24, 1952 in Toronto and sailed to London on the HMS Ascania. In London, John met Professor ST Bindoff of Queen Mary College. They walked down Mile End Road stopping at pubs for cricket scores. John explained that he wanted to investigate the French roots of Canada. Bindoff thought John should meet his colleague, Professor Alfred Cobban (1901-68) at University College. Professor ABC Cobban willingly took on the direction of John's thesis insisting that John use his UBC Andison French Government Scholarship immediately to support himself at the Sorbonne (1953-54) to prepare the MA thesis. Professors Cobban and Bindoff put John in touch with their Parisian colleagues, Professors Perroy and Vaucher. John was lucky enough to meet a young Frenchman his own age, Hubert Mondor, who helped him with his grammar. John wrote his thesis under the supervision of Professors Perroi and Vaucher, and in correspondence with Professor Cobban in London. The essay, The Attitude of the Physiocrats toward Great Britain, began as an inquiry into the French free trade movement. He received a degree from the Sorbonne on June 4, 1954 and returned to London where in 1956 the Canada Council awarded him a scholarship for one year. His continued research at the University of London under Professor Cobban culminated in a PhD, in March, 1957 - The Single Duty Project: A Study of the Movement for a French Customs Union in the Eighteenth Century (Athlone, 1964). Until 1958, he was an assistant lecturer at King's College, London, so poor he gathered windfall from vegetable barrows in Covent Garden market. When UBC Dean FH Soward (1899 -1985) sent congratulations to John on his PhD in 1958 he enclosed a cheque for a month's salary and offered John a post in the UBC History Department. In 1959 John, Marga, Sylvie and Lise returned to Canada on the MS Batory from Southampton to Montreal. Before leaving England, Douglas Daikin at the Historical Institute invited John to write Chapter 22 of the Cambridge Modern History - French Administration and Public Finance in their European Setting (1965). Once in Vancouver, John gave a series of lectures on CBC Radio called The French in the Fifth Republic which was the beginning of his thinking on the Gaullist Attack on Canada. He was invited to teach at Cornell University (1967-69). With his second wife, Kathryn Cecil Bosher he drove across the continent in a Hertz van with every book he possessed. John wrote French Finances 1770-1795, (Cambridge,1970); French Government and Society 1500-1850; Essays in Memory of Alfred Cobban, (Athlone, 1973); The Canada Merchants 1713 -1763, (Oxford, 1987); The French Revolution, (Weidenfeld & Nicholson,1989); Men and Ships in the Canada Trade, Negociants & Navires 1660-1760 (1992). In 1976 he was invited to join The Royal Society of Canada FRSC. In 1991-92 he was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. Thereafter he wrote Business and Religion in the Age of New France 22 Studies 1600 -1760, (Toronto, 1994); The Gaullist Attack on Canada 1967-1997 (McGill Queens Press,1998); Our Family and its Past, (2014);Vancouver Island in the Empire [2010] and finally, Imperial Vancouver Island Who Was Who 1850-1950. John Bosher is survived by his wife, Cecil; their son, Hal, his wife, Virginia, and their three children, Keira, Sienna, and Aidan; his first wife, Marga and their two children, Sylvie, and Lise and her husband, Peter, and their son, Ruori; his former son-in-law, LaDale Winling married to the late Kate Bosher, and their son, Ernest; John's brother, Alan; and his sisters, Elisabeth, Avis, and Lorna.

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Published in The Globe and Mail from Sep. 10 to Sep. 14, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
September 16, 2020
I had the privilege of knowing him in person and of being invited at his and Cecil's home both in Toronto and in Ottawa. Wonderful and generous person, and most original thinker and historian. His The French Revolution (1989) was -- and still is -- a great book and no wonder it fell under the axe of the French mainstream intelligentsia.
luca codignola
September 13, 2020
A model scholar, generous with his time and his expertise. We shared an interest in the history of New France. I owe a great debt to him.
Peter Moogk
September 13, 2020
I was very fortunate to be invited to a dinner at John and Cecil's in the beaches and I remember asking John what I thought was a simple question and got a marvelous, detailed, and expansive answer about early Canadian history. I was in awe and still am. I will miss him.
Rodney Blake
September 12, 2020
I never met John myself (that I can recall) but heard many stories from my Dad, Clifford Walker (1st cousin) of John and his siblings. So sad to hear of his passing.
My condolences to all the family.
Stephanie Walker
Nanaimo, BC
Stephanie Walker
September 12, 2020
Never met John, but loved his book Vancouver Island in the Empire (2010) a treasure trove of information & detail for the amateur historian about my home Island, a real working-jobbing-craftsman-historian's construction. S. B. Julian, Vancouver Island.
Sandra B Julian
September 11, 2020
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Pat Jacobson
September 10, 2020
Sincere condolences to the family on the passing of my cousin John. I always enjoyed our visits with John & Cecil both in Ottawa and Oxford; particularly with our discussions of John's research into our family history with our early ancestors in Berkshire, England, and now our current relatives living in Sidney & Victoria BC and other Vancouver Island communities.
Jonathan & late Beverly Slater
September 10, 2020
I am saddened to read that John has passed away. I met John through his Vancouver Island books. We had lunch and coffee several times when he and Cecil lived on Chapel Street - an "easy" walk to LAC where he could continue researching his wide and varied interests. Our one hour coffee sessions always extended to three or four hours as our discussions ranged far and wide. I always came away with new ideas and perspectives. My condolences to the family.
John Gilbert
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