UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

My View

Save the Memorial Library at Mount Allison University

By Eugenia Coates

The administration at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., is planning to demolish Memorial Library to make way for a new centre for fine and performing arts. Memorial Library was built and dedicated in 1927 as a cenotaph to honour the students and alumni who gave their lives in the First World War. Friends and family of the war dead donated about 80 percent of the construction funds with the expectation that this solid stone building would be a lasting monument.

When the Wesleyan Methodist Conference of Great Britain established this university in 1839 with the support of local businessman Charles Allison, the school was committed to providing an education that would shape young people’s moral growth while developing their minds and bodies. It is therefore not surprising that many young scholars rallied to the call of country during the hostilities that became known as the Great War.

The Methodist Church supported the war efforts. Its general superintendent, Samuel Dwight Chown, characterized the war as “a world struggle for liberty against military despotism.” His words, echoed by university leaders, encouraged an unusually high number of students to head to the battlefields of Europe.

By October 1915, campus newspaper The Argosy was reporting the first casualties. By 1916, one third of the student body had gone overseas. By the end of the Great War, the number of dead had climbed to 73, a large toll considering the enrolment in those years was only a few hundred students.

Later, during the Second World War, Mount Allison students and alumni again responded to Canada’s call for combatants. By the end of that war, an additional 90 names would be added to Mt. A’s list of war dead. Some of the dead were United Church ministers serving as chaplains. Many more were United Church members. Allisonians paid a high price fighting for the freedom that we all enjoy today.

Following the First World War, the university wanted to commemorate the contribution made by Allisonians overseas. In 1919, the Methodist Church led the efforts to raise money for the Memorial Library. The church’s original subscription appeal reads as follows: “Those who have been saved the horrors of the battle front should have hearts moved with gratitude toward the men who have suffered and died in their stead. The Mount Allison boys who are out there ‘in Flanders Fields’ to stay deserve all the honors a grateful country can bestow on them. . . . If your friend has suffered, if your boy has died, how could you better honor his memory than to have his name placed where it will go down through the years cherished and revered by successive generations of grateful students.” Family and friends responded generously.

The university administration says it would cost an additional $5 million to save Memorial Library, a figure they have yet to substantiate. Jack Diamond of the Toronto architectural firm Diamond and Schmitt completed a facilities master plan for the Mt. A campus in 2002 and recommended that Memorial Library be incorporated into the new fine and performing arts centre. This would respect the memorial and maintain the architectural integrity of the campus core.

To learn more about Memorial Library and how you can voice your concern about its proposed destruction, please visit www.eastmarket.com/smash.

Eugenia Coates is a member of Jolicure United and lives in Point de Bute, N.B.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image