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Henry Bertram Mayo (known as Bert to family and friends) was born in Fortune on June 17, 1911 to John Lake Mayo and Lydia Haddon. He also had two sisters: Margaret and Ruby. He was a grandson of Henry J. Haddon, the town’s first Postmaster and Justice of the Peace.


Starting in 1929, he spent two years working with the Newfoundland Fisheries Research Board, after which he began university studies.


In 1935, he attended Memorial University College and won a scholarship to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in England. His original plan was to study Marine Biology, but he became depressed by the political turmoil of 1930’s Europe and shifted to Political Science and Economics. He thrived at Oxford, calling it “a paradise of bookstores, seminars and lectures.”


In 1938, Bert married Jean West from Manotick, a suburb of Ottawa, Ontario. They later had four sons: Timothy, Nicholas, Daniel and Alexander.


He worked in Newfoundland before working at the political science department of the University of Alberta in 1940.


He served in WW2 as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the war, he earned his D.Phil (Doctor of Philosophy) at Oxford, after which he returned to the University of Alberta in 1947, where he served as department chair as well as a teacher.


He wrote his doctoral thesis in 1948, “Newfoundland and Canada: The Case for Union Examined” in which he wrote that Confederation with Canada would bring benefits and problems.


He played a lead role in establishing CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers) in 1951 and served on its first exe­cutive committee.


In 1955, Bert published “Democracy and Marxism”, and in 1960 his major work, “An Introduction to Democratic Theory”, which became a standard text. Bert believed that politics should not be government based on idealistic theories but about citizens in open discussion, reconciling different interests and agreeing on policies.


In the following decades, Mayo was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, served as the first president of the Canadian Political Science Association, and lectured at several universities in Canada and the United States, including an appointment as senior professor and chair of the political science department at the University of Western Ontario in 1960 and Carelton University in Ottawa in 1968. He also headed regional government studies for Niagara and, in 1974, for Ottawa-Carleton.


In 1976, he led the creation of “Report of the Ottawa Carleton Review Commission”


He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1977, after which he took to sailing on a wooden ketch to Nova Scotia, the Great Lakes, Florida, and even his province of Newfoundland & Labrador


He died on January 15, 2009, at age 97, making him Canada’s oldest Rhodes Scholar and political scientist at the time. Described as a secular humanist, his last wishes were to be cremated with no funeral.


He enjoyed an international reputation as a political philosopher and received multiple honorary degrees. “Henry, who was dubbed ‘dean of our profession,’ had a remarkable career, but was modest when it came to his own accomplishments, choosing instead to focus his atten­tion on others,” said Elliot Tepper, a Carleton colleague and longtime friend. “He was a brilliant man, a good storyteller and had a great sense of humour.” Willard Mullins, another Carleton colleague, also sang Henry’s praises. “He wrote in a variety of fields and he always wrote concretely and clearly. It was said of Henry that he recognized academic humbug and was able to cut through it, and for that we’re all indebted to him.”

Partial list of works by H. B. Mayo


“Newfoundland and Confederation in the Eighteen-Sixties” Toronto, Canadian Historical Review, 1948

“Marxism a Philosophy of History” Toronto, Canadian Historical Review, 1953

"Democracy and Marxism" New York, Oxford University Press, 1955

“An Introduction to Marxist Theory” New York, Oxford University Press, 1960


“An Introduction to Democratic Theory” New York, Oxford University Press, 1960

“Report of the Ottawa-Carleton Review Commission” Ottawa, Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs, 1976


Cuff, Robert, Poole, Cyril F., Smallwood, Joseph R. (1991) “Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, Volume 3 [Extract: letter M]” Harry Cuff Publications Ltd., p. 485


Memorial University of Newfoundland - Digital Archive Initiative, Memorial University - Centre for Newfoundland Studies p. 485

CAUT (2009, February), “Founding CAUT Member Passes Away” CAUT Bulletin Archives 1996-2016

(2009, January) “Obituary of Henry-Bertram Mayo”, Ottawa Citizen


Project Muse (2022, May 13) "Searched for: all of the terms [ h. ] [ b. ] [ mayo ] in author name"

Retrieved from:

H. B. Mayo. (2007, August 18). In Wikipedia

Special thanks:

Laurie Jaeger

Executive Assistant

Office of the Dean, Faculty of Public Affairs

Carleton University

Ottawa, ON


Timothy Wakhanu Khaemba

Ottawa Public Library


Caroline Lachance

Research Officer

Canadian Association of University Teachers

Ottawa, ON


Kylie Patrick

Assistant Director, Donor Impact

Carleton University

Ottawa, ON

h_ b_ mayo - MUN gazette June 18, 1976 photo.JPG

Mayo, circa 1976


Source: Scott, John A. (1976 June) "Orations: Spring Convocations, 1976", The Gazette, p. 5

MAYO_Henry Bertram_2009_1_15.JPG

Mayo, circa 2009


Source: "Obituary of Henry-Bertram Mayo",

Ottawa Citizen, January 18, 2009


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