Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This thesis provides a biography of the professional life of Angus McGill Mowat (1892-1977). Mowat was the Librarian of the public libraries in Trenton, Ontario (1922-1928); Belleville, Ontario (1928-1930); Windsor, Ontario (1930-1932); and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (1932-1937) before becoming Inspector of Public Libraries for Ontario in 1937. Mowat's position as head of the Public Libraries Branch of the Ontario Department of Education changed during his tenure, and he was Inspector of Public Libraries (1937-1947, exception 1940-1944 when he served a second tour of duty in the Canadian Army), Director of Public Libraries (1948-1959), and Director of Provincial Library Service (1959-1960). Mowat retired in 1960 from the Department of Education but continued to develop library service to Indians on Ontario reservations until 1965.;The research provides a general account of Mowat's career as a librarian; a general account of English language Ontario public library development during the period 1920-1960; a general account of the Public Libraries Branch of the Ontario Department of Education during the period 1920-1960; and describes the conditions of Ontario library leadership during the period 1920-1960. Mowat's influence was pervasive, and his dynamic popular appeal suggests that change in the quality and nature of Ontario public library service between 1920 and 1960 became increasingly the product of his leadership.;Although Mowat was indeed influential, a great many of the programs and policies pursued by the Public Libraries Branch had been initiated prior to Mowat's appointment as Inspector of Public Libraries. Mowat's unquestioned leadership was, in part, a consequence of a distinctive personal style, and, in part, a consequence of his ability to respond to needs which Ontario librarians perceived and expressed. His official and personal efforts in establishing the first public library on an Indian reservation in Canada (Moose Factory, Ontario) bridged jurisdictional problems between provincial and federal governments and led to the current level of provision of public library service on reservations throughout Canada. Mowat was a vital, highly individual presence in the Ontario library scene, whose legacy is perhaps best understood within a framework of personal excellence.



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