Francis Owen (philologist)

Francis Owen (6 September 1886 − 22 December 1975) was a Canadian philologist and military officer. He was Professor of German and Chairman of the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Alberta, and the author of the first complete scholarly work on the history and early culture of the Germanic peoples.

Francis Owen
Dr. Francis Owen.jpg
Born(1886-12-06)December 6, 1886
Saltfleet, Ontario, Canada
DiedDecember 22, 1975(1975-12-22) (aged 89)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
NationalityCanadian
Education
Known forPioneering research on the early history and culture of the Germanic peoples
Scientific career
FieldsPhilology
Institutions

BiographyEdit

Francis Owen was born on 6 September 1886 in Saltfleet, Ontario. Owen earned his bachelor's degree (1907), master's degree (1909) and Education Diploma (1910) from the University of Toronto. In 1907 he was the recipient of the Governor General's Medal. He did post-graduate work in Marburg (1908) and Leipzig (1910), and was an instructor of German at Victoria College at the University of Toronto from 1908-1914.[1]

Owen served in World War I as a lieutenant with the 1st Canadian Division and with the 14th Battalion of the 3rd Brigade of the Royal Montreal Regiment. In 1918, he was part of the training staff of the Young Soldiers’ Battalion.

From 1919 to 1920 he was a modern language instructor for returned soldiers' preparatory matriculation classes at the university. Owen joined the University of Alberta in 1920 as a lecturer in German and was an assistant professor of modern languages there from 1925 to 1926. He earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1926, and subsequently served as an associate professor of modern languages at the University of Alberta.

In April 1932 Owen left Canada for Germany to conduct archaeological research. On this trip he worked with Martin Heinrich Gustav Schwantes of the University of Kiel at sites associated with the Pre-Roman Iron Age.[2] While staying in Germany, Owen experienced Adolf Hitler's rise to power at first hand. Returning to Canada in July 1933, Owen stated that Adolf Hitler had saved Germany from Communism.[3] He subsequently advocated a revision of the Treaty of Versailles in favor of Germany.[4]

Following the retirement of John F. Coar, Owen was appointed Professor of German and of Modern Languages at the University of Alberta.[5]

In April 1936, Owen left on another trip to Europe to conduct archaeological research.[6] Upon his return to Canada in September 1936, Owen foresaw a coming war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.[7] In 1938, Owen wrote a series of articles for the Edmonton Journal analyzing Mein Kampf, where he predicted that Adolf Hitler would start another world war.[8][9][10] As a response to the Nazi threat, Owen became a strong advocate of preparing Canada and the rest of the British Empire for war.[11] In the spring of 1939, Owen predicted a future alliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union,[12][13] and became a strong opponent of the policy of appeasement.[14] Once war was declared by the British in September 1939, Owen supported the war effort wholeheartedly and advocated the immediate destruction of the regime of Adolf Hitler, whom he denounced as a "gangster".[15][16] He correctly suspected that the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact had contained a secret protocol dividing Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence.[17]

As a fierce opponent of Nazism, Owen led the efforts at the University of Alberta to enlighten students about its dangers.[18]

During World War II, Owen was a major (1940–45) and later served as lieutenant colonel officer-in-command (1945–47) of the University of Alberta Division of the Canadian Officers' Training Corps.

From 1947 he served as Head of the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Alberta. An expert on Russian affairs, Owen also taught Russian at the University of Alberta.[19] He was an avowed critic of theories of racial supremacy, declaring that "there is no pure ethnic stock anywhere on the face of the earth."[20]

Owen retired as Professor Emeritus in August 1952. Following his retirement, Owen settled in Hanover, Germany and dedicated himself entirely to continuing his research on the early history and culture of the Germanic peoples. Owen had been interested in this subject since he was an undergraduate student, and had dedicated all of his free time to researching it since 1928, reading hundreds of books and making numerous research expeditions to countries throughout Europe.[21] Drawing upon a combination of anthropological, archaeological, historical and linguistic evidence, Owen's magnum opus was published in 1960 as The Germanic People. It was the first complete scholarly work on early Germanic history and culture ever published.[21][22]

As a researcher, Owen was particularly interested in philology and the Indo-European origins of the Germanic languages. He lectured frequently on Indo-European studies and actively worked towards enlightening the students about the various Indo-European language groups. He was also the author of the novels The Ravens of Wodan and Tristan and Isolde.[23]

Owen's first wife, Eva Violet, died on 2 January 1945.[24][25] In August 1945 he married Doris Garrison Stevens, [26] with whom he had a son, William. Owen died in Edmonton, Alberta on 22 December 1975.[27]

Selected worksEdit

  • The Germanic People, 1960[22]
  • Attila: The Scourge of God, 1960
  • The Ravens of Wodan, 1962
  • Tristan and Isolde, 1964
  • Pytheas of Marseille, 1965
  • The Story of Beowulf and the Saga of the Kensington Stone, 1966

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Francis Owen". University of Alberta Centenary. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Will Continue Research Work". Edmonton Journal. 15 April 1932. p. 18. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Says Hitler Saved Germany From Russian Communism". Edmonton Journal. 24 July 1933. p. 8. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Warns Germany Can Recruit 1,000,000 Men If Need Arises". Edmonton Journal. 11 August 1933. p. 13. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Dr. J. F. Coar Retiring Soon". Edmonton Journal. 2 April 1934. p. 8. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Professor Leaving Friday For Europe". Edmonton Journal. 22 April 1936. p. 15. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Dr. F. Owen Back From German Visit". Edmonton Journal. 19 September 1936. p. 15. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Hitler Moves Along Lines Marked Out 13 Years Ago". Edmonton Journal. 23 September 1938. p. 1. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Hitler Said German Sword Must Get More Land in East". Edmonton Journal. 27 September 1938. p. 11. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Claims Language Minorites One Cause of Present Unrest". Edmonton Journal. 28 September 1938. p. 11. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Says Empire Needs Arming To Save Self". Edmonton Journal. 4 November 1938. p. 13. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Control Hungary Next Goal Of Hitler, Savant Believes". Edmonton Journal. 15 March 1939. p. 1. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "Observer Here Expecting German, Russian Overtures". Edmonton Journal. 16 March 1939. p. 1. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Thinks Chamberlain Vacation Deliberate Action in Crisis". Edmonton Journal. 15 April 1939. p. 10. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ "Declares Allies Are Fighting Hitlerism, Not German People". Edmonton Journal. 12 October 1939. p. 9. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Hitlerism Must Be Destroyed". Edmonton Journal. 21 October 1939. p. 19. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Sees Hitler Facing Defeat Or "Reds"". Edmonton Journal. 20 December 1939. p. 15. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ Prokop, Manfred (2015). "Francis Owen" (PDF). A Cultural History of Alberta's German-speaking Communities Between 1919 and 1939. Huelish. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  19. ^ "Want Ignatieff To Teach Russian". Edmonton Journal. 20 March 1945. p. 7. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ "Scores Irrational Beliefs In Race Superiority Theory". Edmonton Journal. 10 July 1948. p. 26. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ a b "Retiring Professor Plans Research Tour In Europe". Edmonton Journal. 5 July 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ a b Oyler, John E. (April 1962). "The Germanic People". American Anthropologist. American Anthropological Association. 64 (2): 427–428. doi:10.1525/aa.1962.64.2.02a00500.
  23. ^ "Edmonton Man Writes Novel With Old Setting". Edmonton Journal. 18 April 1931. p. 14. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ "Mrs. Owen Victim Of Heart Seizure". Edmonton Journal. 20 March 1945. p. 7. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ "Mrs. Eva Violet Owen". Edmonton Journal. 2 January 1945. p. 14. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ "Owen - Stevens". Edmonton Journal. 18 August 1945. p. 16. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ "Owen, Francis". Edmonton Journal. 24 December 1975. p. 38. Retrieved 30 August 2019 – via Newspapers.com.

Further readingEdit