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Alan Macpherson

Alan Macpherson

Born In: Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Born: September 28th, 1927

Passed in: London, Ontario, Canada
Passed on: October 26th, 2018

Dr. Alan Gibson Macpherson, born 28 September, 1927 in Edinburgh, Scotland to Andrew Gibson Macpherson and Ethel Olive Macpherson (nee Whayman) passed away peacefully in the company of family on October 26, 2018 in London, Ontario. He was 91 years old. He was predeceased by his parents and his sister Olive Macpherson (1931-2002), and is survived by his wife of 54 years, Dr. Joyce Macpherson (nee Brown); son Ewan Andrew Macpherson (Nancy Davis) and grandchildren Jessica and Aaron, of London; and daughter Anne Sarah Macpherson (James Spiller) and granddaughters Aelis and Tamsin, of Rochester, New York. He was a proud alumnus of the University of Edinburgh [M.A. (Hons.), 1950] and McGill [Ph.D. 1969], and taught at St Andrews (1953-56), McMaster (1956-59), Central Michigan (1960-61), and the University of Rochester (1961-66) before joining the Department of Geography at Memorial University in 1966, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1993. His doctoral work examined systems of land tenure in the Scottish Highlands in the 1700’s, his subsequent academic work in historical geography and historical demography concentrated on North Atlantic migration and settlement, and among other endeavors he was the editor of three volumes (one co-edited with Joyce) published by Memorial's Department of Geography concerning the history and historical and physical geography of Newfoundland. He devoted much of his retirement to researching the life of William Eppes Cormack (known for his walk across Newfoundland in 1822 and for his involvement with the Beothuk). This research was incorporated into two articles prepared by his colleague Dr. Ingeborg Marshall and published in “Newfoundland & Labrador Studies” in 2016 and 2017. As Seanachaidh (Historian) of the Clan Macpherson Association, he consulted and published extensively on Clan history, and assisted Macphersons worldwide with their genealogical inquiries. In 1966 the Association published his history of the Clan, “The Posterity of the Three Brethern” (now in its 5th edition, 2004). His monograph, "A Day's March to Ruin: a documentary narrative of the Badenoch Men in the 'Forty-Five and biography of Col. Ewan Macpherson of Cluny, 1706-1764", begun in 1953 and based on decades of archival work, was published in 1996. Alan was an avid CBC Radio listener, a long-time Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra subscriber, a diligent reader of scientific biographies, and a devotee of the literary worlds of JRR Tolkien, Edith Pargeter, Patrick O’Brian, and latterly, JK Rowling. He loved exploring Newfoundland’s historical and natural heritage, tending, harvesting, and eating vegetables and berries from his garden, walking the trails around St. John’s’ ponds and lake with his friend and neighbour, Bruce Shawyer, and hiking over Signal Hill on his birthday. His family takes comfort in the rich legacy of research and scholarship he leaves to his academic community, his Clan, and his family, and in his lifetime of generous concern for, and correspondence with, relatives, friends, and students alike. His family is also deeply grateful to the staff of the Huronview (Clinton, ON) and Henley Place (London, ON) homes for the skilled and compassionate care they provided in his final months. In accordance with his wishes, his remains have been bequeathed to the Western University Medical School; a celebration of Alan’s life will take place at a later date. Donations to support the Clan Macpherson Museum would be most welcome.

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