Passings: Robert Murdie


Professor Emeritus Robert “Bob” Murdie, who spent almost his entire career with the Department of Geography at York University, passed away at the age of 84.

After joining York’s Department of Geography in 1968, Murdie enjoyed a long career as a dedicated teacher, an enthusiastic graduate supervisor, and a leading figure in Canadian urban and social geography – focusing especially on social housing and immigration studies by providing insight into the immigrant housing experience in Canada and the challenges experienced by newcomers.

Bob Murdie
Bob Murdie

“His work on social and economic indicators within the various neighbourhoods of metropolitan Toronto placed him squarely in the vanguard among those who laboured to bring depth and clarity to our understanding of the spatial dynamics of city growth,” says John Urquhart Marshall, a former Department of Geography colleague of Murdie’s. “Equally valuable are his later contributions regarding the impact of municipal policies upon housing development and immigrant absorption.”

“He did extraordinary research about urban housing markets. In 1992, he was one of the first to call attention to growing waiting lists for Toronto social housing, as tenants could not afford alternative rental or owned accommodation and stayed longer than any policymaker had anticipated,” says Professor Emerita of Geography Valerie Preston. “He did seminal research about the housing trajectories of immigrants and refugees that is incredibly timely right now.”

Murdie’s research interests led him to travel to various cities in Europe and to spend time as a guest researcher in Sweden and Amsterdam.

He also was enthusiastic about furthering others’ work and – in particular – enjoyed mentoring and encouraging his graduate students.

“He was a wonderful friend, a keen researcher and a superb teacher. He enriched the lives of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students in the Geography Department,” remembers Professor Emeritus William Found, a colleague of Murdie’s at York for over 50 years.

If desired, donations in his memory can be made to the Woodgreen Foundation, SPRINT Senior Care, the Temmy Latner Centre or a charity of choice.