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Archibald MacMurchy

MacMurchy, Archibald, M.A., Toronto.—The subject of this sketch, the well known and much respected rector of the Toronto Collegiate Institute, and one of the foremost educationists of the province, was born in Scotland, on a farm by the sea shore, called Stewartfeld, not very far from the beautiful town of Campbelltown, in the Cantire peninsula of Argyleshire. When very young he was sent to the parish school near by the family home, and lived his early life amid the rugged hills and scented heather of his native Highlands, with the roar of the sea in his ear and its bracing ozone in his lungs. His parentage on both sides was Highland, his father’s people being farmers, and for years furnishing ministers, elders, and church workers to the ecclesiastical establishment of Scotland. The deeply-embedded influences arising from devotion to such work, which has done so much for Scotland and for Scotland’s sons, left their impress upon the young lad’s mind, and was an important factor, in later years, in the building up of his character. When quite young he came to Upper Canada with his father’s and his grandfather’s family, the latter consisting of eleven sons, all eager and able to subdue the wilds of Canada. Of these sturdy, young men, one son, the Rev. John MacMurchy, was for years the much loved minister of the Eldon congregation; while the others became prosperous farmers and useful citizens in various parts of the province. The subject of our present sketch was early drawn to the educational profession, in which he has honourably and usefully been engaged for years. When quite a young lad he began teaching in. one of the rural schools of the province, at which work he remained until 1854, when he entered the Normal school, Toronto, then under the able management of the late T. J. Robertson, assisted by the Rev. Wm. (now Doctor) Ormiston, of New York. This training school for teachers he attended for twelve months, in order to qualify himself for his profession. After receiving his certificate, he opened and taught the first public school in the town of Collingwood, and in 1856 matriculated at the University of Toronto; taking honours in several departments. Daring his university career, he taught for a time in the Provincial Model school, Archibald MacCallum, M.A., being headmaster, and while at college was able to take first-class honours in mathematics, English branches, French, the. sciences, and logic. Throughout his course he was a first-class honour man in mathematics, in which department he shone, and in it graduated with first-class honours and a medal. In his university career some of his fellow-un4ergraduates and friendly competitors were the late Chief Justice Moss, recently deceased; the able litterateur, William J. Rattray; the present Chancellor of Ontario, J. A. Boyd, M.A.; and Thomas Hodgins, M.A., Q.C., Master in Chancery. On graduating, Mr. MacMurchy devoted himself with great earnestness and assiduity to his life-work as an educator, his academic standing and honours in sciences, mathematics, and moderns, as well as his sterling character, serving him in good stead. In 1858 he was appointed mathematical master in the Toronto Grammar school, at that time under Dr M. C. Howe, and succeeded to the rectorship in 1872, on the retirement from ill-health of the Rev. Dr. Wickson. In this important position, as head of the leading educational institution in the provincial school system, Mr. MacMurchy has done excellent work, as the record of the institute shows, in the honours taken by the pupils at the matriculation examinations of the various Canadian colleges and universities. His thorough scholarship, varied professional attainments, and careful training has enabled the institute to turn out numbers of young men who have made, and are making their mark in Canadian public, professional and mercantile life, and fitted many others to fill their individual spheres in Canadian society with credit to themselves, and with reflected honour and credit on the institution in which they received their education. But besides Mr. MacMurchy’s own special school-work, he has found time to serve the profession with great advantage in other fields. For years he was a member of the Senate of Toronto University, as the representative of the teaching profession of the province, and has been an active worker in the Ontario Teachers Association, of which he was at one time president. While filling this office Mr. MacMurchy delivered two able inaugural addresses on the subject of "Religious Education in Schools," which have awakened the public conscience to a lively sense of duty on this important subject, and have led to an imperfect solution of the problem, in the issue by the Ontario government of a volume of extracts from the Bible recommended for use in schools As an author, in his own department of mathernatics, he has also ably served education, and given to it a number of works in elernentary and advanced arithmetic, which have met with great acceptance from the profession. Besides receiving authorization, in 1870, for these works in his own province, their sterling worth has won for them anthorization in the neighbouring province of Quebec, and their introduction and use elsewhere. In 1875 he also prepared and published a valuable book of "Exercises in Arithmetic," which has been of much service to educationists and of real value to pupils. In these educational ventures it is due to Mr. MacMurchy to say, that to the joint English author of two of his early publications, he has most honourably made large annual payments, derived from the sales of these works; an innovation as creditable as it was handsome. Mr. MacMurchy’s enthusiastic interest in the educational profession has also led him, for many years back, to assume the financial responsibility and care of carrying on a well-known and high-class professional serial, the Canada Educational Monthly, of which he is now understood to be editor. It is not permitted us to say much here of Mr. MacMurchy in private life; but his many and ardent friends bear eager testimony to the warmth, heartiness, and fidelity of his friendships, and to the uprightness and sterling worth of his personal character. Those who know him only in the class-room, in which he very properly is a strict, and some would commendably say, an old fashioned disciplinarian, miss, in the severe rector, the more genial side of his character, which is exhibited to friends and intimates. In private life, he is beloved for his warm-hearted, true, and affectionate manner, his wide sympathies, his shrewd knowledge of men and the world, and his vast fund of political professional, and social humour. The latter is ever chastened by a religious cast of mind, which gives elevation to his character and is the mainspring and source of his charity and sense of brotherhood. In religion, Mr. MacMurchy, is a Presbyterian; of the Old Kirk section of that body, and is an elder and an active and useful member of the congregation worshipping in Old St. Andrew’s, Toronto. He is also superintendent of the Sunday school of this church. and has acted in that capacity, in connection with other churches, during the past sixteen years. In church matters he has always taken a lively interest, and at various times has represented congregations in the minor courts of the church as well as in the Presbyterian General Assembly, to which he has been repeatedly elected by various presbyteries. In politics he is a staunch Conservative. Mr. MacMurchy has also given his services to the nation in connection with the volunteer militia of the country. In 1860, when an undergraduate of Toronto University, he joined the university corps of the Queen's Own Rifles, and was present at the affair with the Fenians at Ridgeway, on the 2nd of June, 1866. Subsequently he entered the Military school at Toronto and won a 2nd class certificate, after obtaining which he acted for some years as lieutenant of the Toronto Garrison Artillery. In 1859, Mr. MacMurchy married Marjory Jardine, daughter of James Ramsay, of Linlithgow, Scotland, who came to Toronto in 1850. Mr. Ramsay belonged to a branch of an old Scottish family. Mr. MacMurchy has three sons and three daughters, who inherit the virtues, as well as the intellectual attainments of their worthy parents.

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