George Rigg
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Obituary of George Rigg



His family, friends, and students acknowledge with deep sadness the death in Toronto of Professor A.G. Rigg on Monday, January 7, 2019. George, as he was known universally to those who knew him personally, died peacefully at home, in the presence of his beloved wife Jennifer, after a period of declining health.


George was born on February 17, 1937 at Wigan, Lancashire, where he received his secondary education at Wigan Grammar School, which was known for its strong reputation in Classics. As an undergraduate he attended Pembroke College, Oxford from 1955 to 1959.  Concurrently with his doctoral work at Oxford, he taught at Merton College, when he first met Jennifer, and later at Balliol College, before two years as Visiting Assistant Professor at Stanford University from 1966 to 1968.  In 1968 he took the position of Assistant Professor in the newly formed Centre for Medieval Studies and the Department of English at the University of Toronto, where he taught until his reluctant retirement (then still mandated by law at 65) in 2002. As an emeritus, his generous and energetic mentorship of graduate students continued for many years thereafter.


His exacting philological standards secured his international reputation as a scholar of medieval Latin as well as of Middle English. His magisterial survey, Anglo-Latin Literature, 1066-1422, published in 1992, will remain the definitive reference work for decades to come.  He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1998.


Throughout his career, his students experienced his rare combination of extraordinary erudition, good humour, genuine humility, and quiet empathy.


George’s brilliant academic achievements distinguished but hardly defined him. A lover of cats, of gardening, of good beer, of hand-rolled cigarettes, and of long walks in the country, he was as happy digging potatoes, combing the beaches of Nova Scotia, or potting up bulbs for winter forcing as he was sitting in the Bodleian Library with a fourteenth-century manuscript of Latin poetry.


We are all of us the poorer for the loss of this kind, good, and brilliant man. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Rigg; sisters-in-law, Joanne Hope and Ann Nicholson; and by his nephew, Rupert Hope. Warmest thanks to the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care for their unfailing kindness and support.


The family will receive friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville Avenue) for the funeral service on Saturday, January 19th at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow in the Rosedale Room.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to an animal rescue shelter or a charity of your choice. Condolences, photographs and memories may be forwarded through