Passings: Professor Emeritus Michael Goldrick

A field of flowers at sunset

Professor Emeritus Michael Goldrick died on Tuesday, Dec. 4 in Burnaby, B.C., not far from the house where he was born on April 1, 1933.

Michael Goldrick
Michael Goldrick

Prof. Goldrick is remembered as a highly principled person who cheered his peers with his big laugh and caring nature. He spent his life teaching, engaged in politics and working for people and social causes.

He received a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of British Columbia, a master’s degree from Queen’s University, and a PhD from the London School of Economics. Early in his career, Prof. Goldrick appreciated and recognized the struggles of the working class. He was a logger in B.C., a kitchen helper on cross-country trains, and a labourer in the Arctic building the DEW Line.

His first professional jobs were as an executive assistant to Ottawa Mayor Charlotte Whitton and later as a Director of the Toronto Bureau of Municipal Research. Goldrick spent most of his academic life at York University teaching political science and environmental and urban studies.

“Michael Goldrick was a very congenial colleague and a fine scholar with a strong commitment to social justice and community democracy,” recalls Robert Drummond, professor emeritus in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

Professor Emeritus Fred Fletcher, who met Prof. Goldrick when he joined York’s Department of Politics in 1971, remembers him as an “exceptional source of thought and activism.”

“Michael Goldrick was a scholar who combined theory and practice effectively, bringing his experience in municipal politics into the classroom (and his published work) and bringing his knowledge of urban policy into his activism,” says Fletcher. “He was a force for good in the community and at York. In addition, he was a wonderful colleague, interested in and supportive of the work of other members of the department…he was friendly and positive, even when commenting on challenging urban issues. Michael will be remembered for his work on many issues that are still relevant, such as affordable housing.”

Stefan Kipfer, associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, was once Prof. Goldrick’s student. “I took his two-part, cross-faculty graduate/undergraduate course on urban politics and planning in Political Science and Environmental Studies in 1990-1991,” he recalls. “I have had the privilege of teaching this course myself in our Faculty for the last two decades.” Kipfer remembers Prof. Goldrick for his “intellectual generosity as well as his detailed and critical knowledge of urban planning and municipal politics in Canada.”

Prof. Goldrick’s served as an alderman for Ward 3 in Toronto for six years. His main contributions included building affordable housing and providing neighbourhood services. He initiated a project to secure a public land bank to create dedicated space for affordable housing. This led to the creation of the largest single redevelopment site in the centre of any North American city in the 20th century – the St. Lawrence development. Prof. Goldrick is recognized as the prime author of the city’s new housing policy and his critical role in bringing the St. Lawrence development to fruition.

Prof. Goldrick’s work continued after his retirement and was actively involved with the Breezy Bay farm group on Saturna Island in B.C. He remained focused on supporting community issues with the group, and one of the most memorable initiatives was his work as chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission where he ensured residents living on Saturna Island had the public right access to the ocean and cliffs.

He enjoyed carpentry, opera, long-distance running, and marathon cross-country skiing. Goldrick is remembered by his wife Marjorie Griffin Cohen; his sons Chris Darcy Goldrick (Emmanuelle Latraverse) and Tim Darcy Goldrick (Kayla); stepson Sam Cohen (Nikki Marks); stepdaughter Sophie Cohen (Brian Ptashnik); grandchildren Catherine-Anne Goldrick, David Goldrick, Zane Darcy Goldrick, Devlin Ptashnik, Sukey Ptashnik, Zoe Cohen, Clara Goldrick, Talia Cohen, and former wife Penny Goldrick; nieces Amanda Goldrick-Jones, Gabrielle Jones, Cynthia Johnston, and nephew Jamie Jones.

Donations honouring Prof. Goldrick can be made to Normanna Long Term Care,