Who was Gordon McClure? Now we know!

Have you noticed the newly dedicated tree in Fred Hamilton Park?  It is a beautiful Black Walnut sapling, dedicated to Gordon McClure.

Plaque for tree dedicated to Gordon McClure

Plaque for tree dedicated to Gordon McClure


Native to Ontario, this tree will grow to be 20 to 30 metres tall.  It is being helped along in these early years by neighbour and adopter Jennifer Gordon.

The tree is now in the park thanks to the generosity of Anne Mitchell, Gordon’s wife.  It has been my pleasure to get to know Anne a little bit over this past year and to meet up with her in the park.   Anne graciously agreed to share with us a short bio on Gordon.

Gordon McClure was born March 14, 1929 in Toronto, the youngest of three children.  He grew up in a house on Crawford Avenue.  The Children’s Art Centre, established by Arthur Lismer, was important to Gordon during his childhood.

He went to teachers’ college in Toronto and taught in rural and suburban schools in the area.

Gordon taught developmentally disabled children, studied for his BA from Carleton University and then a Masters Degree in psychology from York University. In 1971 Gordon began his life’s work at the M. F. McHugh School in Ottawa, where he was the founding Principal.  McHugh School served children aged 4 to 21 in eight different hospitals, treatment and correctional centres.

Gordon was also involved with the Council for Exceptional Children and the Ontario Council for Children with Behavioural Disorders.

Gordon retired in 1985 and went back to University to work on a PhD in psychology which he completed in 1993.

Since 1995 Gordon and Anne have lived near Fred Hamilton Park.   Gordon continued to do studies on the effectiveness of treatment programs, working with the Hospital for Sick Children, among others.   Gordon was a peace and social justice advocate and a Quaker.  He was also an active member of the War Resisters Support Program and the Out of the Cold Program.   He and Anne walked through Fred Hamilton Park nearly every day to get to College Street.

In December 2011, with the help of family, Gordon published “It’s Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood:  Stories from my Life.” 

Gordon died peacefully on July 26, 2013 in Toronto.

 – Anne Mitchell –

Gordon McClure with a grandchild
Gordon McClure with a great-grandchild.

I wish I had known him!  If you knew Gordon and have a story to tell, please share it here on our blog!