Grace Irwin and Margaret Clarkson

I just read in the Vic Report (Winter 2009), 18 that Grace Irwin (1907-2008) has gone to be with the Lord. She died September 16, 2008. After graduating from Victoria College in 1929, she served for 38 years as "a charismatic teacher of classics at Toronto's Humberside Collegiate Institute." In addition to her teaching, she was also an amateur actress into her nineties and an authoress, penning excellent lives of John Newton and Lord Shaftesbury. I distinctly remember reading her fascinating autobiography a few years ago when my family and I vacationed at Port Elgin on Lake Huron.

She also pastored Emmanuel Evangelical Church in Toronto for many years, after retiring from teaching. The church had been founded by H.H. Kent, a student of T.T. Shields (did all the men in those days have the same letters for their Christian names?)--and while I would disagree with her taking on such a role--she leaves behind a tremendous legacy in the city of Toronto.

Her memorial service was taken in part by one of her nephews, the well-known Christian publisher John Irwin, who referred to an occasion when Grace addressed an audience in the University of Toronto’s magnificent Convocation Hall.

“Grace stood at the podium and announced that Erasmus had written long ago what she wished to say to those who now packed Convocation Hall. For several minutes she read, or rather recited from memory, with great expression, Erasmus's Latin preface to the New Testament.”


For a great picture of Grace Irwin, see

Also recently deceased is the great hymnwriter, Margaret Clarkson (d. March 17, 2008), aged 93. I still remember hearing her lecture on hymnody at Central Baptist Seminary, where I taught first, in the 1980s.