Peter Michael Toner

Professor Emeritus in History

Convocation Ceremony: October, 2008

Peter Michael Toner is one of UNB Saint John’s longest serving faculty members. Since arriving in 1970 he has made contributions to the university in all areas of academic life.

He was one of the first appointments in History and played a key role in the formation of the History program.  He is an acknowledged expert in the field of Irish Canadian History.  As one colleague observed, he “single handedly created the field of Irish Canadian history of New Brunswick” and this work has resulted in a series of edited books, journal articles, conference papers and archival collections.

Dr. Toner’s research has always been revisionist, challenging traditional norms and stereotypes and it continues to be so even to this day.  In recent years, Dr. Toner’s research has gone through a renaissance. He has been invited to give several addresses to national and international conferences on Irish history, he was consulted by the Canadian National Library/Archives about the digitalization of the 1901 Irish Census and just last year he was appointed as an International Research Fellow, at the Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies, University of Ulster, Colraine, Northern Ireland.

As a teacher, Peter Toner has had a great impact on his students and he was one of the most popular professors on campus with his dry wit and somewhat gruff style.  It was because of him that many students over the years have been drawn to BAs and even post graduate degrees in History.  As Dr. Greg Marquis, a current History professor at UNB Saint John, has said, “Taking courses from Peter Toner is one of the reasons that I am an historian.”

Finally we can not ignore the service that Peter Toner has provided to this institution and to his discipline of history.  He was the recipient of the 1989 UNB Merit Award, one of the few members of the Faculty of Arts at UNB Saint John at the time to receive this honour for his contribution to the university. He has sat on the editorial boards of several prestigious academic journals such as Acadiens is and The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, and served as a reviewer for several others.  He has been asked to adjudicate grant proposals for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and to act as an External Examiner for graduate theses in History at universities across the country.

Dr. Toner has served as an active member of the UNB community over the past 38 years.  His contributions in terms of teaching, research and service have helped to develop the culture and reputation of this institution and he is a deserving recipient of the title of Professor Emeritus.