Tomorrow’s Asian Heritage Month Lecture looks at life of James Endicott

The life and times of Canadian missionary James Endicott will be the focus of York University’s inaugural Asian Heritage Month Lecture tomorrow evening.  

The lecture, which will take place at 6pm in the Moot Court, 101 Osgoode Hall Law School, Keele campus, will focus on the life of the late James Gareth Endicott, a prominent Canadian missionary in revolutionary China. York Professor Emeritus Stephen Endicott will speak about the life of his father in a talk, titled "When China Stood Up: The Experience of Dr. James Gareth Endicott."

A premiere reading of the play "Dragonfly: Scenes from a Screenplay on Dr. James Endicott", by Professor Emeritus Robert Fothergill, winner of a Chalmers Award and a Dora Award nominee, will follow the lecture. Fothergill was a long-time Atkinson faculty member before moving to the Faculty of Fine Arts to become the chair of the Department of Theatre from 1994 to 1999.

Left: R.H. Thomson. Photo from Canadian Theatre

The play reading will feature renowned Canadian actor R.H. Thomson as James Endicott, and the younger Endicott as the narrator.

The Endicott family history is an example of Canada’s long connection to Sichuan Province. James Endicott (1898-1993) was born in Sichuan (the Chinese province where the catastrophic earthquake struck earlier this month) where his father was serving as a Methodist missionary at the time. The family returned to Canada in 1910 and James served in the Canadian Artillery in the First World War. After the war, he attended Victoria College, University of Toronto and followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating in 1925 as an ordained minister of the Methodist (soon to become the United) Church.

James Endicott spent over two decades as a missionary in China where he served as a preacher, language-teaching specialist, author, a relief worker during Japanese bombing attacks, political adviser to Chiang Kai-shek’s New Life Movement and professor of English & ethics at West China Union University.

As a member of the United States secret military intelligence unit in China, from 1944 to 1945, James Endicott came to know, respect and support the Chinese Communists. For the next 23 years, as head of the Canadian Peace Congress, he spoke for understanding of the New China, campaigned for Canadian recognition of the People’s Republic and worked on broader world peace and disarmament issues. In this role, he was often the centre of public controversy.

Right: A 1952 photograph of Canadian missionary James Endicott, with his granddaughter and wife

Senator Vivienne Poy, patron of Asian Heritage Month-Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc., will chair the event and present the first Vivienne Poy Asian Research Award to doctoral student Doris Ha-Lin Sung, a York doctoral candidate in social & political thought.

The lecture is hosted by the York Centre for Asian Research and is sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President, Academic, the Faculty of Arts, the Asia Business & Management Program and the York Centre for Asian Research. (See the May 9, 2008 issue of YFile for an article about Asian Heritage Month.)

Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend. Refreshments will follow the talk and play reading. To register e-mail or call 416-736-5821 to reserve a seat.