Horn, Michiel 1939-

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HORN, Michiel 1939-

PERSONAL: Born September 3, 1939, in the Netherlands; immigrated to Canada, 1952; naturalized Canadian citizen, 1958; son of Daniel (an architect and forest service official) and Antje Elisabeth (Reitsma) Horn; married Cornelia Schuh, December 29, 1984; children: Daniel Andre, Patrick Benjamin. Ethnicity: "Dutch." Education: University of British Columbia, B.A., 1963; University of Toronto, M.A., 1965, Ph.D., 1969.

ADDRESSES: Home—18 Walder Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4P 2R5, Canada. Office—York University, 2275 Bayview Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4N 3M6, Canada; fax: 416-487-6852. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Bank of Montreal, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, bank officer, 1956-58; York University, Glendon College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, lecturer, 1968-69, assistant professor, 1969-73, associate professor, 1973-82, professor of history, 1982—, department chair, 1982-93, associate principal of the college, 1978-81, director of Canadian Studies, 1986-89. Member of advisory committees for North York Historical Board and for a local architectural conservancy.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Canada (fellow), Canadian Association of University Teachers (member of executive committee, 1973-75), Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (chair, 1976-77), York University Faculty Association (chair, 1972-73), Massey College Common Room Club, Glendon Squash Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1963-64; grants from Canada Council, 1974-75. and Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 1986-89, 1990-91; Book Award, Canadian Association of Foundations in Education, 2000; Milner Memorial Award, Canadian Association of University Teachers, 2002.


The League for Social Reconstruction: Intellectual Origins of the Democratic Left in Canada, 1930-1942, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1980.

A Liberation Album: Canadians in the Netherlands, 1944-45 (based on the film Liberation!), edited by David Kaufman, McGraw-Hill Ryerson (New York, NY), 1980.

(With Edgar McInnis) Canada: A Political and Social History, Holt, Rinehart & Winston of Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

Years of Despair, Grolier (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986.

Becoming Canadian: Memoirs of an Invisible Immigrant, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

Academic Freedom in Canada: A History, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.

Author of the booklet "The Great Depression of the 1930s in Canada," Canadian Historical Association (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1984. Contributor to books, including Dutch Immigration to North America, edited by Herman Ganzevoort and Mark Boekelman, Multi-cultural History Society of Ontario (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983; and "Building the Co-operative Commonwealth": Essays on the Democratic Socialist Tradition in Canada, edited by J. William Breenan, Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1984. Contributor to periodicals, including Canadian Forum, Journal of Canadian Studies, Dalhousie Review, BC Studies, and Canadian Historical Review.


(And contributor) The Dirty Thirties: Canadians in theGreat Depression, Copp Clark (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1972.

(With Ronald Sabourin) Studies in Canadian Social History, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1974.

(And author of introduction) Frank R. Scott, A New Endeavour: Selected Political Essays, Letters, and Addresses, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986.

Academic Freedom: The Harry Crowe Memorial Lectures, York University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1987.

The Depression in Canada: Responses to Economic Crisis, Copp Clark Pittman (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988.

WORK IN PROGRESS: York University Remembered: A History; literary translations from Dutch into English, focusing on the novels of Maarten 't Hart.

SIDELIGHTS: Born into a middle-class Dutch household that contained six sons, Michiel Horn was uprooted in 1952 when his parents decided to move to British Columbia to start life anew. Their purpose was primarily economic and, looking back at the experience in his 1997 memoir, Becoming Canadian: Memoirs of an Invisible Immigrant, Horn was ambivalent about the decision. As quoted in a Canadian Forum review by Clyde Sanger, he had "no significant complaints" about having become a Canadian, but wrote, "All the same, had I been given my druthers in 1952, I would probably have chosen to stay in Baarn." Horn expressed skepticism about immigration for the purpose of gaining a better livelihood. In his experience, such experiments were far from guaranteed to work. His own father, an architect in Holland, had to settle for being a minor bureaucrat in a provincial Forest Service in Canada, Sanger explained. Immigration to escape political, ethnic or religious persecution, Horn felt, was much more valid motivation.

Horn's professional reputation has been based on his decades of solid historical work, his specialties being Canadian society and politics of the 1930s and 1940s and, additionally, the role of Canadians in liberating the Netherlands during World War II. One of these works is The League for Social Reconstruction: Intellectual Origins of the Democratic Left in Canada, 1930-1942. Despite its forbiddingly scholarly title, it was received as a readable, instructive, and even entertaining book on Canadian social history by that nation's mainstream media. According to Kenneth McNaught, a reviewer for Quill & Quire, the League for Social Reconstruction was a Depression-era progressive movement with borderline socialist leanings, often compared to the Fabian Society in England. The League had its origins in the work of certain professors at the University of Toronto and at McGill University in Montreal, and their work for the cause was professionally perilous in a time and place where academic freedom was hardly a sacred ideal.

"Horn is at his best depicting [the professors'] work," noted McNaught; "and the story of these dedicated crusaders for social justice is an exciting one." Calling the book "carefully written" and "balanced," McNaught stated that Horn had "widely adopted a social as well as intellectual approach and this should make the book of interest to anyone concerned with our social-political history." Books in Canada reviewer Albert Moritz commented favorably on Horn's "basically narrative and even anecdotal" approach and his rich use of researched detail, and added, "Horn's strength is the complete and affectionate depiction of this group, mixed with clear accounts of its thought and a sharp but genial eye for shortcomings and flaws." A Choice reviewer praised the book, declaring that "the title is about the only dull phrase" in this work. The Choice reviewer continued, writing that The League for Social Reconstruction "is . . . written with intelligence, vivacity, even charm." Recommending the volume as an introduction to the history of Canada in the 1930s, the reviewer cited Horn's expertise and called the opus one of the finest on its topic. It was an achievement, the reviewer concluded, that should grace the shelves of every library in North America with any claim to an interest in the subject of Canada.

Paul J. Stortz reviewed Becoming Canadian in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, noting that a strength of the book is how it "introspectively challenges how effortlessly Horn became a 'productive' citizen of Canada, and how comfortable he was in assuming that role. . . . Throughout the biography, Horn relates impressions and experiences which he and others in his life denote as Canadianisms—conservative instead of risky approaches, accommodation, tolerance, social infrastructures, and federal policies of multiculturalism, being able to paddle a canoe—but the definition of Canada, cogently queried especially in the final chapter, ends up fundamentally elusive, in a sense as quixotic as the country itself."

In writing Academic Freedom in Canada: A History, Horn drew on archival research at more than twenty Canadian universities, as well as six public archives. He traces academic freedom from 1860 to present time, including, for example, previously unpublished data about why certain academics were fired or forced to resign, and how others were retained but kept under control. He cites individual cases and issues including resistance to Darwin's theories, capitalism, the roles of women and minorities, and the influence of biblical criticism. A writer for Creative Resistance online noted that Horn also looks at modern challenges to academic freedom, including "political correctness." "He shows," wrote the critic, "how the seeds of today's changing demands on universities can be found in the vicissitudes of the past, and contends that Canadian academics owe it to their fellow citizens to use their freedom for the common good."



Horn, Michiel, Becoming Canadian: Memoirs of an Invisible Immigrant, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.


American Historical Review, October, 1981, p. 958; December, 2000, review of Academic Freedom in Canada: A History.

Books in Canada, June-July, 1981, Albert Moritz, review of The League for Social Reconstruction: Intellectual Origins of the Democratic Left in Canada, 1930-1942, pp. 20-21.

Canadian Forum, December, 1980, p. 38; June, 1997, Clyde Sanger, review of Becoming Canadian, pp. 40-41.

Canadian Historical Review, March, 1989, pp. 117-118; March, 2001, Paul Axelrod, review of Academic Freedom in Canada, p. 187.

Canadian Public Administration, summer, 2000, David M. Cameron, review of Academic Freedom in Canada, p. 218.

Choice, March, 1981, review of The League for Social Reconstruction, p. 1013.

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, July, 1999, Paul J. Stortz, review of Becoming Canadian, p. 548.

Quill & Quire, February, 1981, Kenneth McNaught, review of The League for Social Reconstruction, p. 46.

University of Toronto Quarterly, winter, 2000, T. H. Adamowski, review of Academic Freedom in Canada, p. 294.


Creative Resistance,http://www.creativeresistance.ca/ (March 26, 2004), review of Academic Freedom in Canada.