Kerby, Dr. George William
• 1125 - 7th Avenue SW
George Kerby’s parents were United Empire Loyalists who emigrated to Canada in the mid-1800’s. Kerby was born in 1860 at the family farm in Lambton County, Ontario. After spending his youth working on the farm and with his schooling, he served the Methodist church as a probationary missionary in various parts of Ontario. Eventually, Kerby graduated from the University of Toronto, and was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1888. He spent the next several years preaching in parishes throughout Ontario as well as travelling across the country twice as a missionary.
During a speaking tour (for which the eloquent young minister was frequently in demand) Kerby received a telegram from Calgary asking him to travel west to the frontier. The year was 1902, and Calgary had been growing steadily, but was still small and relatively unimportant, compared to the large centres in central Canada. Kerby and his wife, Emily, however, heeded the call of adventure and west, much to the chagrin of many of his colleagues, one who wrote, "Kerby’s gone to that God-forsaken place and will never be heard from again."
Kerby’s first parish was a new sandstone building in downtown Calgary. The church was Methodist, until, with the 1925 union, it became the United Church. His eloquence and his passion for ministering caused a swell in the ranks of his congregation, which he served until 1910, when he was invited to become principal of the newly formed Mount Royal College.
He provided Mount Royal College – an intermediate college – with dynamic leadership for over 31 years. Desiring liberal cultural education for both genders, Kerby prepared for his task by touring over 65 colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada, opening Mount Royal in 1911 with "general arts courses…on English, commercial and stenographic work, music, elocution, physical culture, household and domestic science." In addition to his formal responsibilities, Kerby was also active with many community organizations.
Emily was active in the community as well, establishing the first Y.M.C.A. in Calgary, serving as both president of the Women’s Canadian Club and vice-president of the National Council of Women. She died only nine days short of 50th wedding anniversary. Kerby followed in 1944, after being awarded honorary degrees from the Universities of Alberta and Victoria, as well as serving as Honourary Lieutenant Colonel and Honourary Chaplain during the opening years of World War II.