Reflections on Western Education’s first educational psychology chair

By: Gerry Rucchin
September 11, 2018

Western University and the Faculty of Education have been part of the McMurray Family. Photographed at Raven Lake are Carol (McMurray) Lever (left), Mark McMurray (left middle), Grant McMurray (centre), and Dave McMurray (right). (Photo courtesy of Dave McMurray)

Western University and the Faculty of Education have been part of the McMurray Family. Photographed at Raven Lake are Carol (McMurray) Lever (left), Mark McMurray (left middle), Grant McMurray (centre), and Dave McMurray (right). (Photo courtesy of Dave McMurray)

There’s Faculty of Education history at Raven Lake, which is located in the Muskoka area of Ontario.

Slabs of the original gymnasium floor have been in the cottage of the Faculty of Education’s first educational psychology chair, J. Grant McMurray, for the last 50 years.

Now, just after the one-year anniversary of his death at 92 years of age, McMurray’s sons Dave and Mark reflect on their father’s legacy at the Faculty of Education, how the gym floor found its way to their cottage as well as their careers after they graduated from Western.

Grant McMurray – first educational psychologist

Grant McMurray was a pioneer in educational psychology. He was the first head of psychological services and research at the North York Board of Education. In 1965, he joined the Faculty of Education as the first Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology.

Mark said his father was involved in recruiting faculty members, which created a sense of community within the faculty.

“Dad found a way to befriend himself and as a result of that, dad ended up with a nice network of colleagues that enriched his life and enriched the family,” said Mark.

He added their father loved a good joke, loved to laugh and was approachable. He later married Madeline Hardy – a former Director of Education of the former London Board of Education.

After 24 years of service, Grant retired in 1989.

“Education was part of who he was. He loved to teach. I think he saw his research as a necessary evil and I like to think people would see him as an important founder of curriculum for educators at the faculty,” said Mark.

Purple and proud

Not only was Grant a faculty member but a piece of the faculty has also been part of the family story since the early 1970s. Dave said being in the right place at the right time was how the gym floor made it to their family cottage. The gymnasium floor, which was made of tongue and groove one-inch maple, was located a few doors from Grant’s office. When the floor was being replaced, Grant heard the workers cutting the floor into slabs. Realizing the floor was going into the garbage, he knew he could find a home for some of it.

“He was able to load those slabs on a boat trailer and we subsequently took them across the lake in a tin boat,” added Mark. “The summer project was replacing the floor in one of the cabins that at that time was a boat house and then subsequently became a sleeping cabin.”

Western and the Faculty of Education has been a family affair. Both Dave and Mark followed in their father’s footsteps and attended Western. Dave studied at the Faculty of Education after receiving a bachelor degree from Trent University in Environmental Science.

After completing his Bachelor of Education, Dave taught for 35 years, including internationally for 16 years.  He had been a school administrator for the last seven years of his education career.

Dave is currently semi-retired and does consultant work for an International School Accreditation Organization. He conducts audits to ensure international standards, such as curriculum, inclusiveness and access to learning are being met.

Mark studied Geology at Western and has a Master of Science degree from the University of Waterloo. He has worked in the oil and gas industry across exploration, production, research and investment banking. His employment has taken him to Australia, Central and South America, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan and Europe. He’s been semi-retired in Calgary since 2014 and is an independent board director for two private energy companies.