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Honorary degree citation - John Rutherford Heron*

By: Muriel Armstrong, June 1972

Mr. Vice Chancellor:

I have the honour to present to you John Rutherford Heron, distinguished man of letters. More precisely, he is a distinguished man of over two hundred million letters.

Mr. Heron, in his day, has been a soldier, student missionary, school principal on' an Indian Reserve, newspaper reporter and editor. For over twenty eight years he has been the author of The Royal Bank of Canada Monthly Letter, and his painstaking research, the timeliness of his observations, and his skill in using words and ideas have built that publication into an influential Canadian institution.

More than seven hundred and fifty thousand of these readable, scholarly, and often inspirational letters are sent each month to individuals, schools, businesses and libraries all over the world. Initially they are published in English, French and Braille, and they have been translated into several other languages. Many have been collected and republished in book form, and widely distributed. What essayist in Canadian history can claim such a large audience? Surprisingly few among that audience, however, know who the author is: it is characteristic of the creator of this publication that is unique among bank letters that he should have refused to permit the letter to carry his name.

His subject matter is diverse. Long before the advent of data banks, Mr. Heron had developed an information system of ten thousand cards on hundreds of topics that ranged from "abacus" to "zoology".

Mr. Heron's contributions have been recognized by his readers:, about seven thousand laudatory letters a year bear eloquent testimony to that. They have also been recognized by various organizations: he is an Honorary Member of the Canadian Forestry Association. The Federation of Ontario Naturalists presented him with the Conservation Award of 1960, and he is a holder of The White Owl Conservation Award. Merit Awards have been conferred on him by such different bodies as the Soil Conservation Society of America and the Quebec Safety League. In appreciation of his contribution to education, the Canadian Public Relations Society awarded him a trophy for outstanding work in adult education; the Canadian Association for Adult Education accorded him the President's Award; and the Provincial Association of Protestant Teachers of Quebec gave him its Centennial Award for Outstanding Service in the Field of Education.

Mr. Vice Chancellor, I am honoured to present to you, on behalf of the University Council, and the authority of the Board of Governors, Mr. John Rutherford Heron, a man of many letters, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased

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