Father Francis Bolger, iconic P.E.I. historian, dies at age 92

Francis Bolger, a priest considered the dean of P.E.I. history, died on Thursday.

'He made history, and our own history, respectable'

A well-known historian and priest, Father Francis Bolger, has died. (University of Prince Edward Island)

Francis Bolger, a priest considered the dean of P.E.I. history, died on Thursday at age 92.

His family said he died of a heart attack.

Father Bolger was both a character and an icon.- Ed MacDonald

Bolger was born in Stanley Bridge, on P.E.I.'s North Shore, and ordained in the Roman Catholic church in 1951.

Father Charlie Cheverie, who knew Bolger for decades, says he will be remembered as someone who was full of love. 

"You never walked away from him with any kind of a sadness or any kind of a negative disposition," said Cheverie. 

'Legend in the classroom'

As well as being a priest, Bolger was well known as a P.E.I. historian and professor, first at St. Dunstan's University and then at the University of Prince Edward Island.

"Father Bolger was both a character and an icon," said Ed MacDonald, chair of the UPEI history department.

"I had him in 1976 as a prof when I was at university and he was already a legend by that time. He was a legend in the classroom."

'He made history'

As many as 300 students would crowd into Bolger's classes, MacDonald said, but he had a knack for knowing everyone's name, and often even a little bit of their family history.

"It's the God-given right of every Islander to know the business of every other Islander," Bolger was known for saying.

Bolger authored school textbooks on P.E.I. history, and was the first professor to teach a course in Island history at UPEI. MacDonald said it was a struggle to convince university administrators to allow it.

"He made history, and our own history, respectable for Islanders, and for that he deserves to be remembered,"  MacDonald said.

Bolger was awarded the Order of P.E.I. in 2004.