Release Date: April 6, 2004
Media Contact: Jim Duggleby
Phone: (306) 585-5439
Fax: (306) 585-4997
U of R's first president, John Archer, passes away
Dr. John H. Archer - first president of the University of Regina and a prolific author of books about Canada, Western Canada and Saskatchewan and its people - died Monday, April 5 in Regina.

"John was president of the University during the early, formative years," said current University president David Barnard. "As such he was respected both as a scholar and a friend. His commitment to Saskatchewan and to the University made an important contribution to the its academic quality and direction."

Ian E. Wilson, national archivist, said Archer will be missed. "He was a scholar and teacher who shared his love of research and his passion for history and books with a broad audience," Wilson said. 

Archer - after whom the University's main library is named - was born south of Broadview in 1914. Broadview High School, Scott Collegiate in Regina and Regina Normal School prepared him for a rural school teaching career which lasted from 1933 to 1940. He joined the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1940 and served with distinction in the United Kingdom, North Africa and Italy.

After the Second World War, Archer earned a BA (honours history) in 1947 and an MA in history in 1948, both from the University of Saskatchewan. In 1949 he earned a bachelor of library science degree from McGill University, after which he joined Saskatchewan's Provincial Library staff in Regina. He was legislative librarian from 1951-1964, assistant clerk of the legislature 1956-61, and provincial archivist 1957-62. In 1964 he returned to McGill as director of libraries, a post he held until 1967 when he moved to Queen's University as Archivist and Associate Professor of History. He earned his PhD in history while at Queen's.

Archer returned to his native province in 1970 as principal of the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan. In 1974 he was appointed the first president of the University of Regina. After leaving the presidency in 1976, he taught at the University as professor of Western Canadian History and latterly served as historian with the Saskatchewan Archives Board.

Archer served on a multitude of Royal Commissions, advisory councils, special projects, boards of directors and support groups for governments, research organizations, voluntary organizations, the Anglican Church and community groups across the province.

In addition to editing countless volumes for other people, Archer wrote a large number of books, chapters of books, papers, articles, reports and scripts.

He was granted a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) in 1981, and received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1987.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 10, at St. Luke's Anglican Church, 3233 Argyle Road in Regina.

The University of Regina Alumni Association established the Dr. John Archer Scholarship in 1977. The endowed scholarship has grown with donations received annually from Archer, colleagues, alumni and friends. The scholarship supports University of Regina students pursuing part-time study in any undergraduate or graduate program, and is valued at $3,000, presented as four annual awards of $750 each. In total, 87 undergraduate students and three graduate students have been presented the scholarship.

Contributions may be made to the Dr. John Archer Scholarship at the University of Regina, c/o University Relations, 3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4S 0A2.