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Thursday July 9, 2015


Distinguished Professor Emeritus
of History, Concordia University,
died on July 5, 2015, at his
home in Montreal.
   Born in 1919, in Winnipeg, into
the large Adamson clan, Alan
was educated at the University
of Manitoba and Birkbeck,
University of London.
   He lived a rich, productive and
varied life. In the early 1940's, he
was executive assistant to John
Grierson, then Commissioner of
the National Film Board. He
enlisted in the army, where he
was pulled out of basic training
to put his film-making skills to
use directing combat training
films. After VE Day he became
director of research and a
lecturer at the Workers'
Education Association in
Toronto, and later assistant
director of Voters' Research
Institute in New York and San
   Before joining the history
department at Sir George
Williams University (which later
became Concordia), he held
teaching posts at the Institute of
Modern Languages in Prague
and at Saskatoon Teachers'
College, during which tenure he
was a founding member of the
   A historian by training, Alan's
passionate belief in the
importance of the liberal arts
was reflected in the breadth of
his teaching and publications. His
first book, Sugar Without Slaves,
was a pioneering work on the
society and political economy of
British Guiana; his last, Mr
Charlotte Brontë, was a
biography of Arthur Bell Nicholls
Like his historian friends George
Rudé and Eric Hobsbawm, he
was a proponent of 'history
from below,' focusing on the
role of common people.
   A compassionate and principled
man, Alan never complained
when a medical accident
rendered him blind several years
ago. He was a fine and original
historian who was admired
by his students and friends
for his intelligence, fairness,
appreciation of literature and
music and his lively and
humorous conversation. He was
also an excellent athlete, a near
scratch golfer and a serious
   He is survived by Judy, his
beloved wife and soul mate of
nearly 50 years, and his much
loved son, Nicholas (Alexandra
Clark), his twin grandchildren,
Andrew and Bronwyn, whom he
adored, his brother, Patrick,
sister, Virginia Immerglück, and
brother-in-law, Steven Coull,
many nieces and nephews, and
an extended family of friends
He is predeceased by his
brothers, Christopher and
   A celebration of his life will take
place in the autumn.
   Thanks to the palliative care
team at the CLSC Metro and to
NOVA nurses, Carole and
Helène. In memoriam donations
may be made to NOVA,

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