Bob Morgan came to Cape Breton in the early 1960’s to teach history at what was then known as Xavier Junior College.
That institution would eventually evolve, with Morgan as one of the prime movers of that change, into the present day Cape Breton University.
Dr. Robert Morgan passed away at his home surrounded by family and friends in Sydney this past Saturday, June 4, 2011, after a battle with cancer that never darkened his genial and positive character.
Bob Morgan was born in Windsor, Ontario, on October 23, 1938. While completing his master’s degree at Queen’s University, he met his future wife, Barbara “Babs” McKinnon, the first love of his life who introduced him to his second great love, Cape Breton Island.
Along with teaching countless students over a career that spanned five decades, Morgan helped found The Old Sydney Society, was senior historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, and director of the Beaton Institute archives.
He was a tireless and cheerful promoter of every aspect of Cape Breton heritage and culture. One person who knew him said that you could not spend five minutes in Bob’s company without learning some fascinating and enlightening fact about his adopted home you had never heard before.
He wrote numerous books about the island’s history and culture including a history of the struggle for a university in Cape Breton in the book called Perseverance, and Early Cape Breton — From Founding to Famine that featured his major essays, talks and conversations. In 2008 and 2009, he published the two-volume Rise Again! (Breton Books) which was the first full-scale telling of the story of Cape Breton Island in 150 years. While his research was deep and authoritative, Morgan’s writing style was deliberately free of the jargon of his discipline and accessible to the non-academic reader.
And, besides Cape Breton’s history, Morgan was a treasury of knowledge on another passion of his life, gardening.
Morgan leaves behind sister, Rosemarie (Melvin, deceased) Davis of Gladwin, Michigan; and brother, Herbert ‘Bert’’ (Sandra) of LaSalle, Ontario; and nieces and nephews.
Morgan was predeceased by his wife Barbara, and will be buried beside her in Inverness.
His legacy as educator, historian, raconteur, and keeper and advocate of Cape Breton cultural memory will continue.
Cremation has taken place, and after the visitation held at T. W. Curry Parkview Chapel, George Street, Sydney, (2-4 and 7-9 p.m., Monday, June 6), and a funeral Mass celebrated in St. Anthony Daniel Church (Alexandra Street, Sydney) by Fr. Donald MacGillivary at 11 am, Tuesday, June 7, burial will take place in Inverness Cemetery.
Donations may be made to the Old Sydney Historical Society. Online condolences can be sent to TWCurry.com.