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George Stephen Vickers, was born on 19 December 1913 in St. Catharines, Ontario, the son of William Vickers and Jane E. Vickers (nee Rooke). After attending St. Catharines Collegiate Institute, he entered McMaster University and took his B.A. (Hons.) in English and History in the spring of 1936. While at McMaster, he also took a few courses in Fine Art, where he met Elizabeth Smith. In the fall of 1937 he entered the graduate program in Fine Art at Harvard University. In the summer of 1939, he sailed to Europe to begin his doctoral studies but had to return with the outbreak of World War II. On 3 June 1940, he married Elizabeth Smith, and until 1942, they lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where their daughter, Hannah, was born. They would have a son, Daniel, in 1952.
In 1942, they returned to Canada, where Stephen became a machinist in Hamilton and then joined the Canadian Signal Corps. Between 1943 and 1945, he served as a corporal at Camp Vimy in Barriefield, Ontario, mainly as an instructor. At the war’s end he was discharged, and he returned with his wife and daughter to complete his Ph.D. at Harvard. In 1946, however, he was offered a permanent position in Fine Art at the University of Toronto. He dedicated his career to teaching – both graduate and undergraduate – and to building the Fine Art Department at Toronto. He also played a role in designing the first secondary school program in art history for the province of Ontario and was the primary author of Art and Man (1964), the first high school textbook in art history published in Canada. He retired in 1980. On 1 November 1993 he was struck by a car near his home. Two days later he died of a massive coronary at St. Michael’s Hospital.