Hereward Roy Senior, 1918 – 2013
Royalists throughout Canada were saddened to learn of the death of Dr Hereward Senior on 21 June 2013 in Montreal at age ninety-four and a half. For the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust it is a particular loss because he was one of its original Trustees and was well known to many of his colleagues.
Hereward Senior’s public image was synonymous with the cause of monarchy. As a general historian, by then a rare enough type of scholar, he understood the importance of monarchy in human experience. Coming to Canada as an outsider from the United States gave him a more objective understanding of monarchy’s role in this country’s history and in the shaping of Canadian identity and nationality. “Canadian history itself would be subversive in a republican Canada” he often joked. As for constitutional considerations, he maintained “Making an elected president chief of state is like giving the office of referee to the captain of the strongest team”.
As an academic Hereward Senior’s real interest in people and the pleasure he took in encouraging students to expand their views made him an influential professor. Through his lectures and his writings he created a kind of school of monarchy. Young people from the generations exposed to his views in sessions at McGill, in his unfailingly hospitable home or through his books and articles now frequent the corridors of power. His well articulated royalist position gained wider exposure through the magazine Monarchy Canada for which he wrote regularly from 1975 to 1998. His articles, columns and reviews from its pages together with those of his late wife Professor Elinor Kyte Senior were collected and published in 2009 as In Defence of Monarchy.
No ivory tower philosopher, Hereward Senior did not scorn to enter the public lists as an advocate of the Crown as well. He became the Monarchist League of Canada’s first Montreal chairman in 1971 and held the position until 2002 As academic and active monarchist he gave media interviews, spoke at dinners, debated, addressed meetings and was guest speaker at conferences. He revived the McGill University Mock Parliament and was Honorary Chairman of the Queen’s Birthday Parade in Toronto, bringing the Compagnie franche de la Marine from Montreal to take part in it in 1990.
The latter act was not only typical of the man’s generosity it also highlighted the other strain he had found integral to the country he adopted and took up arms in defence of in World War Two; for along with Hereward Senior’s royalism went a love of French civilisation. His most important influence on the Monarchist League was to get the League to take a positive stand on French Canada about which it had not in those first days made up its mind He won his battle and the League embraced what was then known as B and B – bilingualism and biculturalism.
When the Monarchist League established the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust in 1994 Professor Senior’s activities were gradually transferred to it, a happier fit given the Trust’s more educational role. He served as a Trustee from 1994 until his death. Whether as academic or polemicist, Hereward Senior never failed to advocate his royalism in a balanced and tolerant manner, chivalrous even in the high degree of respect accorded the positions of opponents. He brought dignity and the poise of the veteran to every event he took part in. He received Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals. It is hard to think of a worthier recipient.
The Canadian Royal Heritage Trust