McLuhan knew Lloyd Wheeler as a professor in the English Department at the University of Manitoba only for a year or two. Some sources say he came to UM in 1931, but Wheeler’s obituary has him coming to UM in 1933 and in a 1935 letter (cited below) McLuhan specified that he knew him only in his “last year” there, 1933-1934. In any case, it was Wheeler who helped McLuhan to his first job in 1936-1937 as a teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin, where Wheeler had done his doctoral work and begun his own teaching career.1
McLuhan mentioned him in his letter from Cambridge to E.K. Brown when he was looking for a job at the end of his undergraduate career there:
I wish merely to introduce myself as one of the products of some of the leanest years of the Manitoba English Department. The last year was somewhat relieved by the presence of Dr. Wheeler, but I had directed my energies to philosophy, and did my best work for Professor Lodge. (…) I have been advised, and feel personally the desire for some practical teaching experience before undertaking any research. I should be very happy indeed to work under you and Dr. Wheeler. (December 12, 1935, Letters 79)
Here is Wheeler’s obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press, age 34:
Arthur Lloyd Wheeler, formerly of Winnipeg, died in Halifax on June 7, 1970. Professor Wheeler was born in Victoria [in 1898], served in the First World War, taught school in Barkerville, B.C., and studied in Vancouver, Toronto and Madison, Wisconsin, where he began lecturing in English literature. He came to Winnipeg with his wife, the late Helen Bennett of Victoria, in 1933 to join the Department of English at the University of Manitoba. He was chairman of the department from 1946 to 1963 at which time he retired from his post and became Visiting Professor of English at Dalhousie University until 1969. He was laid to rest on Lynn Island, Lake of the Woods.
For a time Wheeler was Chairman of the Radio Broadcasting Committee of the University of Manitoba. A report from him in this capacity was included in The University of Manitoba President’s Report for the Year Ending 30th April, 1946, 106-107.
- McLuhan to his mother from Cambridge, September 5, 1935 (Letters 72): “I am waiting advice from Wheeler at present regarding what U’s in Canada and U.S.A. to apply to, and how to apply to them.” ↩