The Ontario Historical Society celebrates the life of Duncan Coulter McKillop, a long-time OHS member and heritage activist, who passed away on April 27, 2015, at the age of 92. Duncan was born in St. Thomas, Ontario, in 1923, and studied history, economics, and political science at the University of Western Ontario. He then graduated with a law degree from Osgoode Hall and went on to practice law in St. Thomas for over 40 years. After his retirement, he went back to university and pursued a graduate degree to improve his research skills in aid of his love for local history.
Duncan was a founding member of the board of directors of the Tyrconnell Heritage Society (THS), which incorporated through affiliation with the OHS in 1994. THS saved and magnificently restored the historic 1851 Backus-Page House and now operates it as a museum, open to the public.
In addition to being a life member of the OHS, Duncan was also a founding member of the Elgin-St. Thomas Archives Association and was instrumental in helping Elgin County establish its archives. He was a member of the London and Middlesex Historical Society, the London and Southern Ontario Branch of the United Empire Loyalists, and the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. He was involved in compiling the names of the 1877 Historical Atlas of Elgin County by lot, concession, and township. Some of his other projects included reviewing local diaries, letters, and ledgers. He also studied, and was considered an expert on, Colonel Talbot and his land transactions.
Duncan served as the provincial director for The Ontario Genealogical Society between 1974 and 1977.Duncan was a strong supporter of both local history and the OHS. For example, he wrote with L. Jane Hughes and presented a paper entitled “Anna Jameson and the First Nations: Fiction versus Fact” at the OHS’s Celebrating One Thousand Years of Ontario’s History Symposium in 2000. The OHS salutes the dedication and enormous contribution of a tireless advocate for the preservation of Ontario’s local history, the late Duncan McKillop.