The Historica-Dominion Institute has announced that James Harley Marsh will retire effective March 31 after 33 years as editor-in-chief of The Canadian Encyclopedia. In the course of his remarkable career, Mr. Marsh – the founding editor of the Encyclopedia – oversaw the publication of several print editions of The Canadian Encyclopedia (with over 700,000 volumes sold); the translation of the Encyclopedia into French, the integration into its content of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, and the adaptation of the Encyclopedia first to CD-ROM and then online.
Today, more than six million people visit The Canadian Encyclopedia website every year. Most recently, in conjunction with a leading Canadian software developer, Mr. Marsh initiated a successful mobile version and the app ‘Toronto in Time’ (available in IOS and Android), which extends the concept of an encyclopedia in the digital age.
“Without Jim, the Encyclopedia in its present form literally would not exist,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President of the Historica-Dominion Institute. “On behalf of the millions of Canadians who use it as well as all of us at the Institute, we are profoundly grateful and wish him the very best in retirement.”
Mr. Marsh was also project manager and principal author for a number of content initiatives undertaken with HDI. They include websites on the War of 1812, a Black History Portal, Canadian Citizenship, Voting, Asia-Pacific, and Champlain in Acadia. He is the author of more than 100 newspaper articles on Canadian history and several books on Alberta history.
“My hopes for the future of the Encyclopedia remain much as they were when I set down our goals in 1980,” said Mr. Marsh, “that is, to provide Canadians with the most comprehensive reference work on all aspects of Canada, and to adhere to the editorial values of authority and balance that date back hundreds of years to Diderot and beyond. I felt that if we sought this goal earnestly we could present a lasting portrait of Canada that would help define who we are.”
“I am grateful to Mel Hurtig and Avie Bennett as my two publishers. They gave the initial opportunity and then continued support over so many years,” added Mr. Marsh. “The thing of which I am most proud is that I helped to create a community of staff and authors devoted to helping Canadians learn about their amazing country.”
Mr. Marsh is recipient of a number of honours, including the Order of Canada and the Centenary Lorne Dawson Chauveau Medal of the Royal Society of Canada. He will remain on the masthead of the Encyclopedia as Editor Emeritus and will be available to HDI on a consulting basis through the coming transition period.