Obituary of Dr. Hubert Eric Morgan
Dr. Hubert Eric Morgan, 79, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, passed away April 8, 2020 in the Halifax Infirmary following a stroke. Born in Toronto, Ontario, he was the son of the late Eric E. and Norah (MacGowan) Morgan. Hubert grew up moving progressively further west with his family until he finished high school in Quesnel, BC in 1959, receiving the lieutenant governor’s medal for highest marks. In 1999, he was proud to attend the 40th reunion of his graduating class, trekking across Canada on Via Rail to attend. He started an undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia in Zoology, but then discovered “Chaucer and the boys” and switched to English. During that time he also discovered Sylvia Gairns, with whom he would spend 55 years of wedded bliss. His studies took him to the University of Washington in Seattle for an MA and PhD, and then to Jesus College, Oxford for a BLitt in English, following which he joined the Faculty of Arts, Department of English, at Dalhousie University and continued teaching there until his retirement in 2004. He specialized in Old and Middle English and Old Norse, Beowulf and the Icelandic sagas, and in later years took a great interest in the works of Thomas Raddall. He served on the Dalhousie Senate, and was an advisor on the Joint Council during the founding years of the Early Modern Studies Programme at Kings College.
He had a marvellously dry sense of humour. When his department first introduced teaching evaluations, Hubert got two from the same class that said, “This professor has no sense of humour,” and, “This is the funniest professor I’ve ever had.” On the Dal Faculty Association picket lines in 1989, he passed the time co-writing, with a member of the Russian Department, a number of limericks summarizing great classical works of fiction.
Hubert was a wonderfully kind and gentle man. Cats, in particular, would always gravitate to him. Nuns sat next to him on trains. While he at times enjoyed the image of the “absent-minded professor,” he was a man of many stories and many skills. He worked on the railroad, and as a logger in the forests of BC. He did his own roofing, plumbing, wiring, car repairs, dry stone walling, carpentry and more, and took pleasure in teaching these things to his children and grandchildren. His grandchildren now sleep in the beds he built for his daughters. He played the violin, painted watercolours, skied, and sailed the lake at his cottage at Cooks Brook. He and Sylvia were founding members of the Welsh Cultural Society of Nova Scotia. For many years, they were members of SERVAS, an organization dedicated to world peace through mutual cultural understanding by linking international travellers with families who freely hosted them for a few nights. This, together with their sabbatical adventures in England, France, and Austria, and their work with refugee families and new arrivals to Canada, gave them a network of friends all over the world. During the last year of his life, while Hubert was largely housebound by complications related to prior illnesses, cards and communications from good friends near and far brought them joy.
He is survived by his wife, Sylvia Marjory Phyllis (Gairns) Morgan; daughters Gwynedd (Andrew) Pickett and Rhiannon Morgan, Halifax; brother John Morgan, Tavistock, Ontario; grandchildren Niall, Galen, Zoë, Tallis, Rowan. Sadly, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, no public funeral or reception will be held. Memorial donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society or a charity of your choice.