In Memoriam: Richard Simeon 1943–2013

Image of Richard SimeonMembers of the Weatherhead Center community and the Canada Program were saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Simeon, the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies and Canada Seminar Chair in 1998 and again from 2006 to 2008. Professor Simeon, a political scientist at the University of Toronto, died on October 11, 2013, at the age of seventy.

As the Mackenzie King Chair of the Canada Program, Professor Simeon was a tremendous force in exploring comparative ideas centered on Canada and the United States. Richard’s intellectual inquiry went beyond his discipline, as evidenced by the seminar series he developed to present prominent Canadian scholars and public figures, and through two faculty conferences, “Recognizing, Managing and Accommodating Difference” (2007) and “The Democratic Deficit” (2008).

Richard forged lasting connections with numerous students in the four courses he instructed through the Department of Government, most notably, the popular undergraduate class, Fire and Ice, which offered a study of political, economic, and cultural similarities and differences between the United States and Canada; and the graduate course, Institutional Engineering in Divided Societies, which investigated how societies characterized by deep ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic differences seek to design institutions, constitutions, and political practice in ways that promote social order and stability, democracy, and social justice.

Richard and his wife MaryEtta Cheney enjoyed living at Currier House, and for their two years in that faculty residence, celebrated Canada’s Thanksgiving by hosting the House’s students for dinner.

MaryEtta fondly recalls their time in Cambridge: “The Harvard years were wonderful for both of us. Richard really enjoyed developing the program and he also enjoyed teaching—we stayed in contact with many of the students and with other visiting professors.”

As accurately described in a tribute on the University of Toronto website, Richard was “an inspiring teacher and mentor, and friend to all who knew him.”

The University of Toronto tribute, in full, is at: