Passings: Professor Emeritus Gordon Darroch

A field of flowers at sunset

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies sociology Professor Emeritus Gordon Darroch, born in Calgary in 1940, died peacefully in the company of his family at Kensington Hospice in Toronto on Aug. 3.

In 1967, Prof. Darroch accepted a faculty position in the Department of Sociology at York University, where he built a career as a social historian. He was a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and completed his master’s and doctoral degrees at Duke University.

Gordon Darroch

Widely recognized for his expertise in the statistical study of census data, Prof. Darroch served as the principal investigator and team leader of the Centre for the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure Project at York University from 2002-08. Acknowledged as a pioneer in the development and dissemination of national historical micro-data, he published numerous studies of social mobility in Canada. He was the co-director of the academic journal Histoire sociale/Social History from 1988 to 2004, and the editor and prime mover behind the publication of The Dawn of Canada’s Century: Hidden Histories (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014), which is a major collection of Canadian population studies of the early 20th century.

Prof. Darroch’s dedication to pedagogy as well as to scholarship led to two teaching awards: the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ Award for Outstanding Contributions to University Teaching (1992-93) and the Ontario Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (1993-94). He also received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at Duke University’s Canadian Studies Centre in 1991-92.

Service to the academic community was important to Prof. Darroch and when the need arose, he was always willing to step into administrative roles. Of these, perhaps he most enjoyed serving as the director of the Institute for Social Research (ISR) and as the director of York University’s graduate program in sociology.

A devoted husband of nearly 57 years, he was never happier than when spending time with his immediate and extended family and his wide circle of friends and colleagues. He had a wry and witty sense of humour, a generous and compassionate nature, and an insightful and wide-ranging intellect. In every endeavour and relationship he tried to be considerate and thoughtful, the very qualities he most admired in others.

He held a deep love for the outdoors, having spent many formative summers at family cottages and as a camp counsellor. He took great joy in passing on his canoeing skills to his sons on camping trips through Killarney Provincial Park, and later in restoring an old single-room cabin into what is now a comfortable family cottage full of treasured memories.

Prof. Darroch is survived by his wife, Ann; his two sons, Michael (Michele) and Christopher (Heidi); and his three grandchildren, Liz, Rachel and Nicholas. He will be missed by his family, friends and colleagues at York University.

The family extends their thanks to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the Odette Cancer Centre, the palliative care team from the Temmy Latner Centre, and the extraordinary staff of the Kensington Hospice.

A celebration of Prof. Darroch’s life and achievements will be held in early fall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Indspire, the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care or the Kensington Hospice. Prof. Darroch’s colleagues are also working to establish a memorial tribute at York University of a commemorative bench. To make a gift in his memory, visit or call 416-650-8210.