Sad news: MCHS teacher Bob Hill passed away on June 18, 2015

Bobby Hill playing lap steel while recording Echoes From the Wheel Club, 2010. Photo by Craig Morrison. Source: legacy.com Book of Condolences

Bobby Hill playing lap steel while recording Echoes From the Wheel Club, 2010. Photo by Craig Morrison. Source: legacy.com Book of Condolences

Bob Hill. Source: MCHS 1953-64 yearbook

Bob Hill. Source: MCHS 1953-64 yearbook

Bob Hill. Source: MCHS 1962-63 annual

Bob Hill. Source: MCHS 1962-63 annual

Graeme Decarie writes:

Bob Hill died yesterday. He was pretty despondent last time we wrote. He spoke of ‘health issues’. In fact, he’s been unwell for a good, ten years, mostly because of cancer.

I was sorry to hear it. We were pretty good friends, partly because each of us had a lot of trust and confidence in the other – though both of us were too busy to see each other most of the time.

“He was an excellent teacher.”

[End of text]

Remembering the Richard Riot in song

A March 17, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Remembering the Richard Riot in song: Bob Hill wrote a song about Maurice Richard the night of the riot that became a smash [hit].” The article includes a link to an online video featuring Bob Hill.

Obituary

Obituary for Bob Hill at Montreal Gazette website

The obituary at the above-noted link reads:

HILL, Robert Jr. “Bobby”

Robert “Bobby” Hill Jr. was born in Twin Butte Alberta, son of the late Robert and Bryde Hill, brother of the late Bryde (Binky) Hill, Dorothy Hill, Patricia Walker and Marjory Doman.

Hill graduated from the old West Hill High School in the Notre Dame de Grace (NDG) neighbourhood of Montreal.

Bobby Hill was a pioneer of Canadian country music on radio, television and in live performance throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, he wrote and recorded “The Ballad of Rocket Richard” following the Forum Hockey Riot.

Hill went on to achieve recognition as a performer of Jewish folk music, performed in seniors residences and hospitals for more than three decades. On Monday nights, he regularly performed on steel guitar at the Wheel Club in NDG.

Robert received a PhD with Great Distinction in History from McGill University in 1970, writing his thesis (and later a book) on Robert Sellar, the editor of the Huntingdon Gleaner newspaper. Hill taught History at the high school and CEGEP levels for over thirty years.

A long time resident of NDG, Hill led a one-man crusade to keep the neighbourhood clean by the simple act of picking up trash in the streets and lanes around his home, a campaign which was recognized by the Borough of CDN/NDG with a Certificate of Merit.

Robert Hill is survived by his wife Pernella Pollard Hill, children Robert Hill Jr., Ted Hill, Kari Hill, and April Hill, and grandchildren Zack Hill, Ella and Tobin Hassalback, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins residing in the United States.

Viewing at Urgel Bourgie Funeral Home, 2630 rue Notre Dame West, Montreal, Quebec from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday, June 26.

The Funeral Procession will depart Montreal at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, June 27 to the Hillside Cemetery, Hinchinbrooke (near Huntingdon) Quebec, where the Funeral will be held.

Please consult and sign virtual register at www.urgelbourgie.com

[End of text]

The notice at the Urgel Bourgie Funeral Home website (above) notes: “Robert (Bobby) Jr Hill À Montréal, est décédé le 18 juin 2015, à l’âge de 82 ans, Monsieur Robert Andrew Hill, époux de Madame Pernella Pollard.”

Remembrances at legacy.com

Remembrances of Bob Hill at legacy.com can be accessed here.

Among the remembrances is one (June 26, 2015) from Mary Lynne Dewhurst (MCHS 64) of Scarborough, Ontario:

“I’m sad to hear of Mr. Hill’s death. He was my homeroom teacher 62/63 and much beloved by his students. I saw him most recently performing at the Wheel club and was amazed at his stamina.”

Message from Scott Munro and other MCHS students

On December 11, 2014, Jaan Pill and Scott Munro forwarded the following message to Bob Hill:

Hi Graeme

If it’s possible, would you be able to pass along to Bob Hill the following message from Scott Munro (MCHS 63):

“He taught us grade 10 history, the focus being American history and World history. His detailing of the American governmental system, and reasoned observations on China are items that remain firmly in mind to this day, as though I can still recall him speaking to us in class. His course was an eye opener for me, and I would just like him to know that, so please forward my remarks to him. I also remember him bringing his guitar to class, singing ‘Gordie Howe was the greatest of them all’. He didn’t impress me quite as much with that one because I was a dyed in the wool Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau fan but I’ve driven through Floral, SK, so I understand.”

Can you pleases extend a hello and “all the best to you, Bob Hill” from me as well.

Best,

Jaan

[End of text] 

 

7 replies
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    The obituary rounds out aspects of Bob Hill’s life that I only knew in a vague kind of way. Indeed, a remarkable individual!

    Reply
  2. David Warr
    David Warr says:

    That is sad. I looked up to Mr Hill. He was the reason why I became a teacher. I saw him and his band play at the Montreal Board of Trade a few times. I had him as a history teacher at MCHS and again at Macdonald College. Some of you may remember him bringing in his guitar a few times.

    Reply
  3. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    The image of Mr. Hill with his guitar has certainly stayed with me.

    I recently borrowed, from the Toronto Public Library, a book by Bob Hill based upon his PhD research:

    Voice of the Vanishing Minority: Robert Sellar and the Huntingdon Gleaner, 1863-1919 (1998):

    http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM477032&R=477032

    A blurb for the book, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998, notes:

    “In his newspaper and his book, The Tragedy of Quebec, Sellar lamented the exodus of Quebec’s English-speaking farmers from the Eastern Townships, attributing it to the frenchification of the region. His provocative views were shared by grass-roots supporters in Ontario and the Prairies but were largely dismissed as Anglo-Protestant francophobia and bigotry. Drawing on Sellar’s diary, the Gleaner, and a wealth of other original materials, Robert Hill recounts Sellar’s one-man crusade for English rights in Quebec, a crusade for which he endured obloquy, legal harassment, physical violence, arson, clerical condemnation, loss of family, and the indifferent support of the people he was championing. Exploring the earliest origins of ‘English exodus’ and the English-speaking minority rights battle in Quebec, Voice of the Vanishing Minority makes for timely reading in light of recent developments in Quebec.”

    Reply
  4. graeme decarie
    graeme decarie says:

    That’s a pretty accurate description. Bob was never a one-man crusade on the issue. I knew a great many who were involved. and, yes, we all suffered obloquy (even from each other. I ‘m one of the stars of a book by an anglo fanatic. The book is called Bastards. And I’m one of them. Actually, I never knew the guy. Nor did he know me.) And we all knew physical violence, threats, arson and, most sadly, the indifferent support of the English-speaking people.

    One member of our boys who worked very hard on the issue was Keith Henderson. I realized early on that the anglo population wasn’t going to do anything to save itself. All they did in the end was to call each other names.

    Bob’s book is a very good one.

    Reply
  5. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    The book, and your own experiences, over the past fifty years in Quebec, helps me, as a person who left Quebec in the late 1960s, to gain a better understanding of the political events and processes that were transpiring.

    I was interested to learn, from your comments, that Keith Henderson worked very hard on the issue. I note from the 1961-62 yearbook that Keith was keen about public speaking, debating, and similar pursuits. I would picture that his experiences in high school would have been a good foundation for the efforts he was involved in later.

    Reply
  6. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    At a June 26, 2015 Facebook post, Sonia Shron (MCHS ’63) has commented:

    “I’m sorry to hear of Mr. Hill’s passing. He was my history teacher (along with Mr. Hanna) and I really enjoyed his classes, especially when he brought his guitar and sang.”

    Reply

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