The death of John Bartlet Brebner removes from the community of Anglo-American historical scholarship a beloved and respected figure who will be especially mourned in the British Association for American Studies, not only because many of us were fortunate enough to come within the circle of his friendship, but because he was, in a sense, the Association's prophet.
“Bart” Brebner was one of those rare individuals whose academic interests and personal career are so satisfyingly interwoven as to result, not only in sound learning, but in wisdom; and he was one of a very small number to acquire such stature in the field of North Atlantic history. Born a Canadian of Scottish ancestry, the son of the Registrar of Toronto University, he served during the 1914–18 War in the British Army. As an ex-serviceman, he went up to St. John's College, Oxford where he read history with G. N. Clark, rowed in the first eight, and saw something of the world of post-war London. After returning to the University of Toronto, one of a distinguished vintage, of young graduate students and lecturers which included Lester Pearson and D. G. Creighton, he joined the staff at Columbia University in 1927; and from this New York vantage point he mastered the broad sweep of Atlantic history.