Terry Copp was born in 1938 and grew up in the Montreal suburb of Notre Dame de Grace. He attended Sir George Williams University (now Concordia) where he earned his bachelor’s degree. His career as an educator began prior to graduation when, in his third year, a teaching position at the University. As a condition of his employment, he was required to graduate before the beginning of classes in September and enroll in the Master of Arts program at McGill. After his year of teaching at Sir George Williams, he taught history at Westmount Junior High School. While there, he became concerned about the conditions at a local residential house where a number of his students lived, known as Weredale House. When he had a letter outlining his views published in the Montreal Star, many supporters of Weredale were upset and Copp left his position with the school board.
Copp completed his MA in 1961 and soon after was accepted into the PhD program at McGill. After a realization that his thesis would not work out, he took a job at a high school in Lindsay Ontario as an emergency replacement geography teacher. After this, was offered a full-time position teaching history at Loyola College and part-time teaching courses at McGill. He became a full-time faculty member at Loyola for the 1965/66 academic year while still teaching the Canadian history survey at McGill.
In 1968, Copp married and became a father to two step-children and later a third. In 1970, he took a position at Sir George Williams, which led to a year-long position as visiting professor at the University of Victoria. While in this position he was able to complete much of the manuscript for what became The Anatomy of Poverty: The Condition of the Working Class in Montréal 1897-1929, which was published in 1974. In 1975, Copp and his family left Montreal when he took up a position at Wilfrid Laurier University. In 1980, Copp’s research interest shifted from labour history to military history. He has published extensively in this area of study, including the five-volume Maple Leaf Route series with Robert Vogel, and numerous articles in Canadian Military History and other journals. In 1991, Copp and Marc Kilgour were awarded a grant from the Security and Defense Forum to finance what became the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies.
Copp has been involved in numerous projects outside of the university. He has served as a research director and on-camera historian for the television documentary series “No Price Too High”, which was produced in response to the controversy caused by the CBC’s “The Valour and the Horror”. He was involved in the Canadian Battle of Normandy Foundation raising money for a Canadian Memorial Garden and student bursaries.
Copp retired in 2005 and is currently professor emeritus of history and director of the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. He also writes a series of feature articles that have been published in Legion Magazine since 1994.