McCann, Lawrence (Larry) On June 18th, 2020 Larry McCann passed away in Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital, with his adoring children at his bedside. Born in Victoria on 2nd June to Mary Olive Esme McCann (Thompsett) and John Bernard McCann, Larry grew up in Oak Bay where he was often seen delivering papers with his dog Lady, or playing street hockey with his neighbourhood friends – the fondly remembered ‘Mitchell Street Blue Bombers’.

Passionate about sport, Larry played for a number of local teams and was actively involved in school life at Oak Bay High School. He then attended the University of Victoria, where he developed an interest in Geography and also met and married Susan Skinner in 1967 (d. 2014). Larry earned his doctorate at the University of Alberta in 1972 and taught briefly in the Geography Department at the University of British Columbia before moving on to Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. There he spent 17 years, (the last five as Edgar and Dorothy Davidson Professor of Canadian Studies), before returning to UVic. for two decades before retirement in 2012.

In Sackville, Larry and Susan welcomed daughter Meaghan and son Hugh into the family. In welcoming academic and local communities, including that of Sackville’s St Andrew’s Church, Larry and Susan forged many cherished and life-long friendships across the Maritimes.

Larry was a proud father and a dedicated husband who always put his family first. He immensely enjoyed spending time with them. This often meant travelling with them through Atlantic Canada, Vancouver Island, and Europe, Asia and South America.

The author of some 70 scholarly works, McCann was a significant contributor to Canadian Studies. He will be remembered particularly for conceiving and editing Heartland and Hinterland a ground-breaking interpretation of Canadian geography (1987, 1992 and 1998); for his pioneering use of business records in the interpretation of Canada’s regional structure; and his lovingly-crafted 2017 account of the Victoria suburb of Uplands. His interdisciplinary leadership and contributions to understanding Canada were recognized by the award of the Massey Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2001.

Larry is fondly remembered by students across the country, as a great listener and for the wisdom that he conveyed.  His creative approach to teaching, which involved frequent field trips through the streets of Oak Bay and Uplands, inspired countless students to pursue careers in Geography.

A dedicated contributor to the Victoria community, Larry served on many local societies including the Advisory and Design panel for the Municipality of Oak Bay and the city of Victoria’s Heritage planning group. He led the bid for the Uplands neighbourhood to be designated in 2019 a National Historical Site of Canada and Imagining Uplands is a legacy and gift to Victoria’s residents and scholars everywhere. To ensure that his many years of meticulous work on local history benefitted the community, he donated his research materials to the archives of the Municipality of Oak Bay.

He will be deeply missed by numerous friends who were a source of great comfort and companionship over many years of walks, golf games, shared meals, cups of tea and ginger treats. All who knew him will remember his kindness and generosity.

Larry is survived by son Hugh McCann, daughter Meaghan (McCann) Stevens, grandson Ty Stevens, sister Norlene [Nonie] (McCann) Swinnerton and her husband Guy, niece and nephew Sian (Swinnerton) Svendsen and Gareth Swinnerton.

By request, a private family event will take place at a later date. Messages of condolence and fond memories may be sent to the family to

McCall Gardens

  • Bill DeGrace

    I only found out about Larry McCann’s passing in the most recent issue of the Mount Allison Record. Dr. MCann, as I knew him in the mid 1970s, was a supporter of my interest in built heritage and encouraged me to continue studies in the field. He was generous with his time and inspired his students with new perspectives on the study of geography. My belated condolences to his family.

  • Jack Bryden on behalf of the Victoria Historical Society

    Through his teaching and writings, Larry helped many British Columbians understand the story of their Province and inspired many to follow in his footsteps. He will be missed but not forgotten.

  • Cataline Fric

    Larry McCann, an all time favourite professor during my time at the University of Victoria. Larry is someone who I’ll never forget. As my studies in Urban Geography at the University went on, inspiration only grew and grew from being surrounded by this wise one. Larry was creative in his teaching and every class I enrolled in, involved many field trips throughout Victoria, a city I admire so dearly. Through Larry’s direct wisdom, I came to appreciate both the natural and built landscapes, and the harmony that can exist between both.

    Thanks to Larry, I’ll never forget the following:
    – My bulging black field notebooks…
    – Giving me permission to leave a final exam halfway through…
    – The look on his face when he learned I would be pursuing education rather than urban planning following my undergrad…

    Larry McCann once wrote to me saying that out of the tens of thousands of students he had taught over his career, I was easily in his top ten. Well, I must admit, Larry McCann was easily one of my top three teachers and I am forever grateful that I was able to be his student.

  • Kevin Murdoch

    I am so sorry to hear of Larry’s passing. I have enjoyed our many chats over the years on all kinds of issues, and our shared love of first-person histories and accounts. He was truly a kind and generous man, and I mean that sincerely, not just a platitude in his passing. In my experience, his first thought on any issue seemed to be how to help and what he could give to make a situation better. Whether gifting his time, experience, knowledge, materials… it was always thought of others first that I remember.
    I am very thankful for all he contributed to Oak Bay over the years, contributions that can be honoured in future… but mostly I am thankful I had the pleasure of knowing Larry personally. My condolences to family and close friends and all those he touched over the years that will be heartbroken with his passing.

  • Martin Segger

    The epithet “gentleman and scholar” is too often flippantly applied. But Larry was truly exemplary of the real meaning of term. And for me, it was an honour and privilege to have known him as both. His dedication to his students was legendary. His pioneering scholarship was recognized internationally. His friendship was treasured by all who knew him.

    My condolences to the family who will feel his loss deeply. I will value my memories of the various enthusiasms we shared over the past 20 years.

  • Cara Segger

    My deepest condolences to all of Larry’s family. He was my thesis supervisor and mentor. Larry believed in me and gave me confidence and freedom to weave my own life story into my MA thesis research, which elevated both. I was blessed to have Larry in my life.

  • Paul Parker

    Larry was an inspiration!
    My condolences to the whole family and circle of friends.
    I was a student of Larry’s at Mount Allison where he taught Canada: Heartland and Hinterland even before there was a text. A true gentleman and scholar. His spirit and curiosity live on.

  • Maureen

    I’m so sorry to hear this. Dr McCann inspired so many of us to pursue Urban Planning. His thoughtful, calm, genuine nature (and great sense of humour) drew a following – we took ALL of his classes. We loved his field trips (often getting concerned/curious neighbours asking what on earth we were doing), and were challenged with constant essays. His true interest in community and history showed, his empathy for people and design was clear. He will be missed by many,

    – Maureen

  • Brian Killin

    My condolences to Larry’s family. I used his texts for many years in my Geography classes.

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