Eccles, William John

William John Eccles, historian (b at Thirsk, Yorkshire, Eng 17 July 1917; d at Toronto 2 Oct 1998). A graduate of McGill University, Eccles taught at the universities of Manitoba (1953-57) and Alberta (1957-63), before being appointed professor of history at the University of Toronto where he taught until 1983. Eccles was primarily responsible for reviving English Canadian interest in early Canadian history. His first book, Frontenac, The Courtier Governor (1959), established him as a major revisionist, and in subsequent works, Canada Under Louis XIV, 1663-1701 (1964), The Canadian Frontier, 1534-1763 (1969), France in America (1972) and Essays on New France (1987), he developed his unique vision of early Canadian society.

According to Eccles, early French Canada was formed chiefly by the values of the 17th-century French nobility, which was sustained by its membership in the seigneurial class and military establishment. Each successive work developed his theme of the uniqueness of Canadian society on an ever-larger canvas. Despite the fact that he had refused to allow his name to stand for election to the ROYAL SOCIETY OF CANADA, in 1979 that body awarded him the Tyrrell Medal in recognition of his contribution to Canadian history writing.