6 A.E. Kerr and the Veterans, 1945-1951

Finding a new president, 1945. Dean of arts and science, George E. Wilson. Second World War veterans and their influence. Dalhousie’s space problems. Erecting the Arts and Administration Building. Trying to get and keep good professors. Board and president, powers and boundaries. A Faculty of Graduate Studies, 1949.

If the papers surrounding the appointment of Carleton Stanley in 1931 are thin, those on the appointment of his successor in 1945 are almost non-existent. The board struck a small committee in February 1945 to gather information about a new president. Then there is silence. That may have been owing to a dearth of candidates. Was R.B. Bennett’s prediction right: how will you find a competent man to be Dalhousie president? Warren Publicover, past president of the Dalhousie Club of New York, asked, “What kind of a spineless boot-licker do they expect to put in the office – I can only think of someone like — who is Heepish enough to take the job.” The Uriah Heep candidate was not identified. Stanley had said the same to the board on 23 January: “What sort of a rubber stamp do they think the President of a University should be?” The board was not looking for a rubber stamp; nevertheless, a university that fires its president cannot avoid a consequent reputation. The Stanley affair was known far and wide, and it did Dalhousie no good. It was also expensive. It cost the Board $5,000 a year, the income for a professorship, just for Stanley’s pension.[1]

Stanley and his family moved slowly out of the big presidential house, selling pictures, furniture, rugs, chunks of his vast library as they went. He had no idea where they were going other than to their cottage on St. Margaret’s Bay. He had been offered a temporary appointment at United College, Winnipeg, to replace Arthur Phelps in English, on sabbatical, but it carried a mighty teaching load of sixteen to eighteen hours a week. Stanley declined that in May 1945, but he accepted another offer a few months later. He was to be a professor at United College until he retired to Uxbridge, Ontario in 1953.[2]

While it searched for a president, the Dalhousie Board of Governors was in a mode now called damage control. The full board was given little information; thirty-three people (together with wives or husbands) do not easily keep secrets. The nominating committee and the executive kept close the names of candidates. A meeting of the full board was called for May, it was presumed to meet a candidate, and then abruptly cancelled. This candidate was one the board was serious about, and whom it brought to Halifax: Dr. James Doull (BA ’11, MD ’14), director of preventive medicine and public health at Western Reserve University, Cleveland. According to McGregor Stewart, Doull was much the best candidate available, though Stewart regretted that he was a little old for the job. He was the younger brother of Mr. Justice John Doull of the Dalhousie board. He came in May 1945 to see and discuss; then he backed off, though not definitely. Colonel Laurie telegraphed him in July, asking if the board should consider him for the presidency. Though Dr. Doull now turned down Dalhousie’s offer, he seemed well disposed, believing President Stanley’s opinions “rather extreme,” and the board not amiss in resenting his methods. At Laurie’s request Doull wrote both the Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations to explain that Dalhousie was now on track again, and that it had given Stanley “very handsome treatment” after his resignation.[3]

Alexander Enoch Kerr, 1898-1974
The new president was Alexander Enoch Kerr (BA ’20), the forty-seven-year-old principal of Pine Hill Divinity School. His elevation to the Dalhousie presidency came as a surprise to many, not least to himself. Shortly after Doull’s refusal in July 1945, Laurie phoned Principal Kerr to say he was coming to see him at Pine Hill. Kerr’s wife asked what Laurie could want, and her husband’s reply was that Dalhousie had probably found its new president and Laurie, as a courtesy, was coming to tell him who it was. Kerr was stunned when Laurie broached the prospect of none other than himself becoming Dalhousie’s president. Kerr had few social or academic connections with members of the Dalhousie board. He would face a huge shift in scale: Pine Hill had perhaps forty students in 1945, plus King’s students sharing residence; Dalhousie had 650 and would double that in September 1945. But intrigued by the offer, Kerr talked to his board; then, with uncertainty about the wisdom of what he was doing, he accepted.

Of the four Dalhousie presidents from 1911 to 1980, A.E. Kerr is the least accessible to the historian. He seems to have left no personal papers or letters beyond those found in the files of his office. There is nothing, either, to indicate why the board chose him. He had a reputation at Pine Hill for economy and rectitude; given the circumstances of 1945 that may have been recommendation enough. As Beecher Weld wryly observed, “a clergyman couldn’t be a liar.”[4]

Other Dalhousie presidents stand on their own several merits; their papers allow them to be seen more in the round. A.E. Kerr can best be described by drawing the world from which he came. He was born in Louisburg, Cape Breton, in 1898. His father, Rory Kerr, had been raised on a farm at St. Ann’s, having only a few months’ schooling. Rory Kerr’s life was fishing, sailing, farming, building boats and barns, that clutch of skills so frequently met with in the Maritimes of the nineteenth century. He married, took up a little farm, and built a small schooner to deliver pit props to Sydney coal mines, and bring potatoes and turnips to Cape Breton from Prince Edward Island. The family, three children already, moved to Louisburg in 1895, when the little port (ice-free, unlike Sydney) was booming with coal exports. There on Ellwood Street, Alexander Enoch was born into a household of hard work and piety, surrounded with echoes of the Gaelic from grandparents on both sides. Family worship on Sunday nights was conducted by both mother and father. The Bible was sometimes read in Gaelic, and prayers always. It was well known to Presbyterians that God understood the Gaelic better than any other language.[5]

In that Louisburg society, education was the hope of the common people. Two of Kerr’s sisters became school teachers; a brother became a locomotive engineer then railway official; Alex and a brother ended at university. Alex was a pugnacious little debater. A visitor at the Kerr dinner table undertook to prove the world was flat by drawing the inference from the Lord’s Prayer. “Thy will be done in earth,” not on earth. Alex, in Grade 10 in Glace Bay at the time, said there was nothing to that argument; in Greek, from which the text came, both “in” and “on” were the same. Rory Kerr laughed delightedly at this.[6]

Alex took his senior school grades in Glace Bay, getting the highest marks in Grade 12 in the school. That was the summer of 1914, when his father died at the age of sixty. Alex worked for two years at the cable station; in 1916 he had enough money to go to Dalhousie for two years, before joining the Royal Air Force in 1918. He was overseas when the war ended, and came back to Dalhousie for his BA in 1920.[7]

Kerr took theology at Pine Hill and at Union Seminary, New York. Ordained a Presbyterian minister, he was assistant minister at St. Andrew’s, Sydney when he met and married Nessie Beaton. She was a jewel. A lady to her finger tips, she had social skills her husband never commanded. With a word or a gesture, Nessie Kerr could make the most bashful visitor feel at ease. She sincerely wanted to please people, and she succeeded. Kerr’s ministerial career went very well: whether in Montreal, Vancouver, or Winnipeg, he was a popular preacher wherever he went. In 1939 Pine Hill brought him to Halifax as its principal and teacher of systematic theology. His reputation as principal was as a narrow administrator, not spending any more money than he could help. His youth in Louisburg and pastoral work in north-end Winnipeg had shaped that. He was not bookish. He seems not to have much liked libraries or understood them. They may have intimidated him. As for librarians, they were hired hands who ordered books, catalogued, tidied, and dusted them.[8]

Kerr was a teetotaller and a strong one. Although there had been whisky in his Louisburg home, it was medicinal whisky, to be taken as such and not enjoyed. Kerr’s dislike for alcohol was so intense as to suggest something deeply engrained from childhood experience, beyond his control, a compound of loathing and fear. That did not mean that he castigated drunkards; his Christianity triumphed over his instincts. No lush need fear Alex Kerr; what they got was sympathy. There is a singular example of the difference between those two teetotallers, Kerr and Laurie. A Dalhousie rink manager of the 1950s was a drunkard; Kerr, who could not stand drinking, was charitable; Laurie, who did not mind people having a drink (though a teetotaller himself), would not have an alcoholic on the staff.

Another curious example of the contrast between chairman and president was the case of A.K. Griffin, professor of classics. He had become a widower and after the war wanted to marry his graduate student, Julia Swanburg. Laurie was appalled; professors ought not to marry students, especially one thirty years the professor’s junior. The president, however, was sympathetic, saying that Griffin was a lonely man. “But,” spluttered Laurie with vehemence, “the man’s got a radio, hasn’t he?” Griffin and Julia Swanburg were married and proceeded to have four children.[9]

Despite these social sympathies of the president, those Dalhousie faculty who knew Kerr at Pine Hill were shocked by his appointment as president. Stewart Bates, the William Black professor of commerce, had been called to Ottawa in 1942, Stanley resenting the way the Canadian government “picked off man after man that we had appointed to accounting.” In April 1945 Bates told Laurie he was returning to Dalhousie. The day he arrived in Halifax he learned of Kerr’s appointment to the Dalhousie presidency. That night he phoned his Ottawa chief, the deputy minister of finance, W.A. Mackintosh, and said he wanted any job going in Ottawa that Mackintosh could find; he was not going to stay at Dalhousie under Alex Kerr. G.V. Douglas, Carnegie professor of geology, a Stanley loyalist, tried to move to McGill in 1945, but found that impossible to effect, so remained at Dalhousie, an irritant to the new president.[10]

Photograph of A.E. Kerr, President, 1945-63, in his office in the Macdonald Library.
A.E. Kerr, President, 1945-63, in his office in the Macdonald Library. A popular Presbyterian (later United Church) minister, he was a hard-working but not popular president of Dalhousie. He would encounter some intransigence from faculty in the 1950s.
A Dean for Arts and Science, 1945

Adjudicating between Professor Douglas and President Kerr was George Wilson of History, the new dean of arts and science. It was an office with an old name but a new purpose, its history not a little curious. The first dean of Dalhousie College was Howard Murray, appointed by Senate in 1901 to save an aging President Forrest from having to track down and not infrequently capture Dalhousie students bent on mischief. A burly, genial professor of classics, Dean Murray was in charge of student discipline, helped after 1912 by Senate’s delegating to the Dalhousie Student Council responsibility for minor infractions. Eventually Murray was called the dean of the university, his authority and function different from the other deans of law, medicine, and dentistry. He died in September 1930 and no new dean was appointed until after Carleton Stanley fired Murray Macneill, the registrar, in 1936. He then needed an arts and science supervisor, not for student discipline but to run meetings of Arts and Science professors, and decide domestic details of curriculum and examinations. Such was the work of Dean C.B. Nickerson who died in 1940; after that Stanley was his own dean of arts and science. The last meeting of the Arts and Science Faculty that Stanley attended was partly taken up with the questions of a dean. Wilson proposed that faculty nominate its own dean, or at least elect someone to act as chairman. Stanley, his own man to the end, insisted there was nothing for a dean or chairman to do in the coming months, and so persuaded the faculty to agree to exactly that, nothing.

But in September 1945 came a new president much less sure of himself than Stanley, lacking Stanley’s brilliance, and needing to learn almost everything about running a university, its Faculty of Arts and Science especially. He needed someone to organize its meetings, deal with its academic concerns, find and recommend staff. On 10 September 1945, at his family farm in Perth, Ontario, Wilson received a telegram from Kerr: “Am taking you up on promise to help make Dalhousie Arts best in Canada. Will you accept deanship?” Wilson accepted on two conditions: that there be “perfect candour and confidence between us” and that the Arts and Science Faculty be consulted before he was appointed. “The morale of the Arts faculty is very low,” said Wilson. “It is not necessary to explain why. If the faculty is consulted about the new dean it will have a most satisfactory effect.” Nine days later the faculty voted unanimous concurrence. Thus began Wilson’s ten years as Dalhousie’s dean of arts and science.[11]

Low morale was due in part to the war, but more to a steady decline in appointments and funding across the previous twenty years. Wilson pointed this out to President MacKenzie in 1930, but the penury of the 1930s, the stresses created by the war and by Carleton Stanley, made it difficult to revive the spirit of the faculty. The new dean in 1945 was to be part of that process. Wilson, although not a great reformer, was a considerable humanist and teacher. At Dalhousie since 1919, he had become fond of the place and its people.

Wilson had grown up on the “Scotch Line” in Perth, Ontario, and went to Queen’s. He did history slowly, as if it were to be his life’s work, which indeed it was. A big man, over six feet, and strongly built, he spent the long summers working on his parents’ farm. He was a farmer who looked like a Roman senator; his Dalhousie lectures were carved with dignity and authority, and he wore his black academic gown like a toga. As for research, it was to him mostly self-glorification. “Produce and advertise instead of digest and live” was his contrast between research and teaching. He aimed to make his knowledge as comprehensive as possible, not only to distill it for students but to climb farther up Parnassus. As he told President MacKenzie in 1930, “I do not care who was the first white child born in Halifax. What I want to do with students is to make them historically minded, and show them that history is really a subject for the mind and not for the memory.”[12]

Wilson tramped Europe with friends and with Baedeker. Every three or four years, he fell upon Europe “like a thirsty man who has to get enough to drink to carry him through.” In May 1934 he spent a marvellous day at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, one of the great Cistercian abbeys destroyed by Henry VIII in 1529. As he walked Wilson tried to reconstruct the world of the abbey as it was before Henry VIII’s spoliation. The more he tried, the more he felt his ignorance. “I have become more and more sceptical,” he wrote Carleton Stanley, “about our real knowledge of history. I feel how true is Faust’s remark… that history is a book sealed with seven seals.”

He tried to open it, by any means available. He would sit on the Acropolis of Athens, looking across towards Thebes, and reflect about the eighty generations since Socrates. Religious power fascinated him, hence his appreciation of Napoleon’s remark that religion was a marvellous policeman. Chartres Cathedral he would visit with the utmost reverence, not only for the church’s God but for the majesty, the beauty with which the church was wrought and the power it represented. He would sigh deeply; Chartres consoled him for the wickedness of history. Like Gibbon, Wilson believed history to be the record of the crimes, follies, and lusts of mankind; but the instinct to create beauty was mankind’s form of redemption. His own character was shot through with these alternations: delight in the world and sadness at what too often went on in it; sentiment and scepticism, both deepening as he became older. He was in many ways a monk, and gave his life to absorbing knowledge and giving it back to students. He had enormous influence, and more than one student worshipped at his feet. He never forgot that history really happened, and that men and women made it happen. History was never an abstraction, always a reality.[13]

This was the man who was Dalhousie’s dean of arts and science just as the big wave of veterans was returning to campuses all across Canada. Canada’s population in 1945 was 12 million. Of that, almost 10 per cent were abroad, a million men and fifty thousand women. After the surrender of Germany in May 1945, and before the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945, most of the veterans were already on their way home. The great majority returned to former employment or used re-establishment credits to start new businesses; but about 15 per cent applied for training at university or elsewhere, many of them in university for the first time.

Photograph of George Earle Wilson, Professor of History, 1919-69.
George Earle Wilson, Professor of History, 1919-69, Dean of Arts and Science, 1945-55. This fine portrait was taken by an admiring alumnus, R.H. Campbell (MA ’39) and dates from the mid-1950s.

The Coming of the Veterans
The federal government announced its policy early in the war, by order-in-council in October 1941, subsequently incorporated in the Veterans’ Rehabilitation Act. It provided $60 a month to support veterans who wished to attend university or do other training, $80 a month for married veterans, with additional modest provision for dependants. The government also paid fees. Both grants and fees lasted for the length of the veterans’ overseas service. It was a system that compared favourably with those in other Commonwealth countries and the United States, better in fact than most.

It was an idea that the National Conference of Canadian Universities (NCCU), established in 1911, had tried to persuade the Borden government to accept in 1918. The government then said it could not afford it. But in the 1940s both government and Parliament were more generously disposed, and Canadian casualties overseas, although heavy, were not so high proportionate to Canada’s population as in the First World War.

The force behind the veterans’ grants for university education was the NCCU’S Committee on Post-War Problems, created in 1942 and chaired by Larry MacKenzie, then president of the University of New Brunswick. MacKenzie had returned to Dalhousie as a student in 1919 to discover he would have to pay for his own education. That he did; but he felt the government could have been more generous. He got back at them in the Second World War.[14] Of the 15 per cent of veterans who sought further training under the act, about half, some fifty thousand, decided to go to university. Some wanted to complete work already started, but most veterans were beginning university for the first time, some with only junior matriculation. The Ontario universities, where senior matriculation was the rule for admission, usually waived that for veterans if they had junior matriculation.

The veterans surprised nearly everyone. Although university administrators had much to do with getting the government committed to university grants to veterans, some were uneasy at the prospect of Canadian warriors, battle-hardened in manners and morals, transferring their war experience to essays, examinations, and academe. There were fears that lazy servicemen might live at taxpayers’ expense, doing the minimum to keep a college nirvana going. Those fears were a chimera. It was true that veterans familiar with English pubs or continental bars found their absence in Canada old-fashioned. But that was the way Canada was. University residences were also still governed by rules established on the principle of in loco parentis; most of the veterans had been away from home for years and were well past needing or wanting parental control. One member of the Mount Allison Board of Regents was dismayed to be offered a beer when visiting a veteran in residence at Sackville; on the other hand, Larry MacKenzie, president of the University British Columbia by 1944, went the other way, and would actually ask for a beer when visiting veterans at Acadia Camp.[15] But for the great majority of veterans their real thirst was for knowledge and training. Books on reserve at Dalhousie’s Macdonald Library for English 2 or History 1 were more precious than Oland’s beer, and harder to get. In class veterans asked questions, respectfully enough but persistently – questions driven by intense curiosity and with a wealth of experience and maturity informing them.

In the years from 1945 to 1950 the veterans made the going. Dean Wilson, pacifist on principle, was not always comfortable with them. He suspected their aims were as much acquisitive as academic, professionals on the make at government expense. So indeed some were, but there was more to it than that. Most veterans were acutely conscious of the meagre income and lack of independence they had had before the war; for many from rural and small-town Nova Scotia, it was the chance of a lifetime to break out of a recurring circle of low education and poverty. Veterans sought a new life on a new basis, and that fierce search could be for them, and for the professors who taught them, a moving and wonderful experience. Every week they were conscious of how the plane of their intellectual horizons reached out farther. Moffatt Hancock, professor at the Law School from 1945 to 1949, remarked of the veterans, “They had a sense of humour and a sense of scepticism, they were delightful, keen, sharp, hard working.” For students and professors, it was a time without equal.[16]

Photograph of Professor Burns Martin’s class in English about 1947, mostly veterans.
Professor Burns Martin’s class in English about 1947, mostly veterans and apparently all male, reacting to Martin’s wit in replying to a student’s question. Note the jackets and ties (with one exception) and the polished shoes.

C.L. Bennet, George Munro professor of English, was supervisor of Dalhousie’s veterans’ programs, and a New Zealand veteran from the First World War. He recalled a compulsory English class composed mostly of long-serving veterans, conducted under every possible disadvantage of accommodation, part of a professional program; their marks were mostly solid middle ground, but the questions and classroom contributions came from everyone as from a group of selected honour students. One student under the pen name “Omhpos,” wrote a summary of Milton’s life and thought in heroic couplets. “City after Rain” in the Dalhousie Gazette was Halifax in modern poetry:

Hushed lies the city
After the rain.
Blurred lights slide down the wet streets…
Then comes the fog – creeping –
Up from the harbour.
Gently it blows out the lights…

The veterans’ ability was frequently revealed where least expected: in the cultural subjects, literature, history, political science. Veterans found that great writers were great because they had something powerful and permanent to say. Nor was Latin excluded. The high school students’ objection to Latin at Dalhousie was, “Why?” The veterans did not ask why. Years of military discipline had perhaps expunged such fundamental questions about regimens, military or academic. They asked, “How do I learn it?” As Bennet said,

[The veteran] has found out not only how to learn and to think but also how to judge and decide for himself… What he has lost in the ability to memorize, he has gained in understanding; what he may lack in dexterity, he makes up for in grasp… he knows what he knows, and wastes little time in betraying what he doesn’t know.

If a veteran failed two of his classes his government subsidy stopped until the failure was redeemed, at his expense of course. In all of this Bennet was patient, understanding, and generous. The veterans liked him so well they presented him with a gold watch at the veterans’ annual smoker in February 1948, at the officers’ mess of the Halifax Rifles. The prohibition writ of Dalhousie’s president did not run there. It was a rare evening, war stories and songs from two wars, “Tipperary” (and others) from the First, and the best one from the Second, the German “Lili Marlene.” Translated long since, troops on both sides of the war had marched to it. It spoke to longings in all soldiers. Bennet was admirable on occasions like this.[17]

If the veterans were influenced by Bennet and other Dalhousie professors, they in turn profoundly affected Dalhousie, especially young Dalhousie students. The contrast between the Dalhousie of 1944-5 and 1945-6 was, as one student put it, “electric.” Dalhousie’s enrolment in 1943-4 was 654, the lowest it had been since 1919-20, when it was 621. In 1944-5 it rose by 9 per cent, but in 1945-6 the increase was a huge 62 per cent. Some 1,153 students registered in the fall of 1945, of whom the veterans were nearly half. They were still 40 per cent of the student body as late as 1950. Veterans transformed the place; discussions and bull sessions in Roy Atwood’s “gym store,” as it was called, became as important as lectures. Essays, lab projects, lectures were discussed, hashed out there. Dalhousie was not exactly a hotbed of socialism, but more articulate and committed veterans talked about it, discussing aspects of the welfare state that they had observed abroad, sometimes translated into ambitions at home for the CCF. Canada’s socialist party came second in the Ontario provincial election of 1943 and took power in Saskatchewan in 1944. In the 1945 general election the CCF polled almost 16 per cent of the Canadian popular vote, despite the King government’s appeal, “Vote Liberal and keep building a New Social Order in Canada.” Many veterans were after just that; some had no great love for the King government other than as the purveyor of their education.[18]

Dalhousie’s Space Problems
Dalhousie’s big increases in enrolment posed tremendous problems of space. In 1944, anticipating such difficulties, the NCCU got the federal government to accept direct dealings between the universities and the Crown Assets Allocation Committee of War Assets Corporation. Each university set about scrounging wartime buildings as fast as it could. At UBC whole west-coast army camps were transferred to the campus. Dalhousie’s requirements did not require such drastic solutions. Brooke Claxton, minister of national health and welfare, asked Colonel Laurie in August 1945 if Dalhousie might want to acquire buildings from HMCS Cornwallis, the naval base on Annapolis Basin; but Dalhousie had access to other buildings nearer at hand. On 1 June it got buildings built by the navy during the war on Dalhousie land as barracks for the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, at the corner of Oxford and Coburg streets. A typical wartime H-shaped building, it would be used for Geology and Engineering. Dalhousie also got the building the navy had put up on the site of the pre-1931 gymnasium, used as a mess hall by naval officers in training at HMCS Kings. For single veterans’ housing Dalhousie wanted part or all of Cathedral Barracks, built by the federal government on land donated by the city, the Sacred Heart Convent, and the Anglican Cathedral, for the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. When it was vacated in the spring of 1946 it was turned over to the federal Department of Public Works to administer. Dalhousie hoped to lease certain buildings; the Nova Scotia Department of Public Health wanted the same ones, especially the officers’ and sergeants’ mess. The Nova Scotia government got what it wanted, for its nurses in training; Dalhousie got four barrack blocks, a mess building, and an administration building, for some 165 single veterans.

Photograph of an afternoon lecture in biology, probably by Professor Hugh Bell
An afternoon lecture in biology, probably by Professor Hugh Bell in 1948. Note the segregation of the women students, and at the front of the class.

These facilities did not come for nothing. The Department of Public Works thought Dalhousie should pay $15,000 per annum rent, which, together with costs of operation, came to $21,000 a year. Student fees would cover only $7,500 of this. President Kerr complained to Ottawa, via Senator Gordon Isnor, that Dalhousie should not be expected to pay $13,500 of its own money for veterans’ housing. That was apart from the fact that students’ tuition covered only a proportion of the university’s costs – 68 per cent in arts and science, 35 to 40 per cent in medicine and dentistry. The answer of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to both those questions was to allow to all universities the percentage of any university deficit that the numbers of veterans bore to total student enrolment. There was a maximum, however: $150 per student. By 1948-9 the Department of Veterans’ Affairs was providing 11 per cent of Dalhousie’s income, nearly as much as the Atlantic provinces’ provincial grants to medicine and dentistry. Endowment added 23.4 per cent. Fees still made up 46.3 per cent of Dalhousie’s income.[19]

Cathedral Barracks was not without its problems, but C.L. Bennet reported a fairly good first year in 1946-7, despite some incidents over the Easter weekend in April 1947. The Dalhousie Student Veterans’ Association promised Bennet that such incidents would not be repeated, that future breaches of residence discipline would be dealt with “swiftly and summarily.” That reflected not only military experience, but the determination, characteristic of student veterans, not to allow anything to get in the way of the remaking of their lives. A loud radio, too much hilarity, was apt to get short shrift in the form of peremptory knocks on thin walls with instructions to “Cut it out!” Veterans may not have been strong on the “pray” in Dalhousie’s motto, but the “work” they took at full stride. As accommodation Cathedral Barracks left something to be desired, but it was evidence of real need that Dalhousie retained one building of that complex as late as December 1951.[20]

If housing for single veterans was in short supply in Halifax, it was much worse for married ones, especially those with families, who needed more than just a room and a cafeteria. Kerr went to Ottawa to see C.D. Howe, minister of reconstruction, about what to do. Howe said it would cost more to move buildings than they were worth. Kerr asked, “What would you do, Mr. Howe, in our place?” Howe said, “I would get Mulgrave Park in the north end. Those apartments are for married workers at the shipyard, whose work is now largely at an end.” Early in the war three buildings had been put up as emergency accommodation for shipyard workers, on north Barrington Street, just across from the shipyard. In 1946 Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation subsidized the conversion of Mulgrave Park into married veterans’ apartments, some sixty units in all. What was convenient for shipyard workers in 1943 was not quite so for student veterans in 1947, who had to live beyond the end of the Barrington tramline, a long way from Dalhousie. The university originally took a three-year lease on Mulgrave Park; despite the distance, student demand was such that Dalhousie had to keep its lease going for nine years. By 1957 none of the Dalhousie students and their families in Mulgrave Park were veterans, but as late as February 1958 the Dalhousie Student Council appealed to the city (to whom the buildings finally reverted) to allow some students in Mulgrave Park to finish their year.[21]

In March 1946 the Dalhousie Gazette ran a poll on student veterans’ cost of living at Dalhousie. Of 485, some 40 per cent responded:

Single Married Married with 1 child
No. students answering 149 26 22
Current monthly expenses $57 $99 $110
Additional expenses per month $33 $51 $51
Total $90 $150 $161
Total less DVA allowance -60 -86 -101

To the question, “Have financial difficulties seriously hindered your studies so far?” only 8 per cent of single veterans so indicated. The percentage was higher among married ones: 15 per cent, and for those with one child, 18 per cent. For those few with two or more children, the percentage was between 27 and 33. Clearly in 1946 the great majority of Dalhousie veterans were managing well enough on what the government was providing for their university education.[22]

Photograph of the Dalhousie Gazette office and staff, February 1947.
The Dalhousie Gazette office and staff, February 1947: l. to r., back row, A.W. Moreira, Kenneth Boyce, R.C. Tuck; front row, William Kelly, J.D. Lusher, A.A. Lomas, J.R. MacCormack (who has identified those named here). Note the pin-ups from Esquire.

King’s Repossesses its Buildings
By the fall of 1945 HMCS Kings had become King’s College once more. From 1923 to 1939 King’s had held, fairly consistently, 7.5 per cent of the total of Dalhousie students, 12 per cent of those in arts and science. During the war, this dropped to 3 per cent. During the years 1946 to 1950 it averaged 7 per cent, declining slightly in the years to 1955.[23]

All King’s students paid their fees to Dalhousie, which in turn remitted them to King’s less a proportion kept back by Dalhousie for the heavy cost of science classes. The veteran students enrolled at King’s had their fees paid to Dalhousie by Ottawa, and the same principle applied. Although Dalhousie kept back 16 per cent of the fees for science classes in 1946-7, it still calculated it lost money with King’s students. In 1946-7 the average cost of an arts and science student to Dalhousie was $229; since King’s students that year totalled 126, they cost Dalhousie $29,000, less $4,000 in fees held back for science classes. Thus the net cost to Dalhousie of educating King’s students was about $25,000. This Dalhousie calculation, made in 1949, did not take into account the cost to King’s of educating Dalhousie students, but with only a modest array of staff and classes, the cost to King’s was a good deal smaller.[24]

These worrying calculations might not have been made at all had President Walker of King’s been mild and cooperative. He was neither; he was tough and intransigent. What particularly aggravated President Kerr was his insistence on what came to be called the DVA supplementary grants. These were grants paid by Ottawa to the universities to supplement the extra costs, over and above fees, that they were forced to incur for educating veterans. This came to be $150 per student. Thus the supplementary grant for 1947-8 for the twenty-four veterans at King’s was $3,600. But King’s had not incurred supplementary costs; Dalhousie had. King’s in 1944-5 contributed nine members to the common Arts and Science pool of staff, and in 1947-8 only eight. Dalhousie, on the other hand, went from fifty- one in 1944-5 to 108 in 1947-8. Dalhousie also provided all the veterans’ advisory personnel and administrative staff, and not improperly claimed the $3,600 for itself. President Walker said that money belonged to King’s. The twenty-four veterans took 120 classes, of which seventy-nine were given by Dalhousie and forty-one by King’s; Kerr therefore, in order to make peace with President Walker, offered a pro rata split of the $3,600 – $2,600 to Dalhousie and $1,000 to King’s. In the light of all the facts, said Kerr, this was generous. Dr. Walker replied tartly that if he were to make such a recommendation to the King’s board, “he would be laughed out of court.” Kerr discussed this impasse with Milton Gregg, minister for veterans’ affairs in Ottawa. Gregg knew something of both veterans and universities; he was a VC from the First World War, a Dalhousie student, then president of UNB from 1944 to 1947. He made it painfully clear that Dalhousie and King’s would have to sort out their own quarrel. Finally, in July 1950 Dalhousie agreed to accept a 50/50 split of the DVA supplementary grant insofar as it affected veterans at King’s. It had taken three years to come to this solution.[25]

Behind Walker’s bitterness was his belief, shared by others at King’s, that Dalhousie had been surreptitiously working for twenty-five years to “absorb her [King’s] and her funds.” Outspoken on the subject, he declared publicly that the Dalhousie-King’s Association was “the fag-end of an experiment that failed.” There may have been truth in that summary conclusion, but it did little good to say so. Walker’s relations with President Stanley had been unfriendly, sometimes poisonous. When something had been concluded not to Walker’s liking he was apt to say he had not received the correspondence. Stanley told McGregor Stewart in 1941, “Yes, King’s is chilling.” Probably King’s enjoyed greater advantages from its association with Dalhousie than vice versa, but King’s resentment of the 1923 terms overshadowed proper appreciation of the benefits. King’s really wanted a form of equality with Dalhousie and it was unrealizable. That may have been at the bottom of the many demands of, and complaints against, Dalhousie. King’s could not be satisfied.

Dalhousie’s policy was appeasement, even if contrary to the 1923 terms. Its concessions over twenty-five years were considerable. If the 1923 Association was failing, it was because one institution carrying 10 per cent of the load wanted recognition of equality with the other carrying the 90 per cent. President Walker was on leave in the year 1952-3, and died suddenly in December. During that time Dalhousie and King’s agreed to more flexible rules, set up in the new Terms of Association of November 1954. But problems would arise even under this new agreement, suggesting that the difficulty was not just President Walker, but endemic in the union of two bodies with such disparity of resources.[26]

In all of this President Kerr seems to have played a constructive role, relying on the advice of Colonel Laurie, who was not only chairman of the Dalhousie board, but as a wealthy Anglican was associated with King’s as well. Kerr’s administration of Dalhousie was apt to be close-fisted; money did not grow on trees in Louisburg, and the best rule for administering anything was to be canny about the use of its money. A curious example of Kerr’s canniness with money was when his old car needed a new tire. Not wanting to pay the regular price, he got Dalhousie’s business manager, D.H. McNeill, to phone Imperial Oil’s tire section to ask for a “fleet” price. “You can phone from my office,” said Kerr helpfully, never one to underestimate the value of secrecy. “How many tires do you want?” Imperial Oil asked McNeill. He was forced to admit that President Kerr wanted only one. Imperial Oil refused point blank. Kerr was upset at having to pay full price; McNeill was so embarrassed he called Imperial Oil later to explain the pressure he was under.

Guarding Dalhousie’s finances as if they were Kerr’s own was not such a bad rule; certainly the board liked it. In March 1949, in appreciation of the president’s work, and now receiving increased financial support from governments, they offered him a new Pontiac. Ten months later they raised his salary from $10,000 to $12,000 per year, as of 1 January 1950.[27]

In financial matters Kerr was apt to believe that he was translating his experience (and success) at Pine Hill over to Dalhousie. But Dalhousie was a very much bigger operation and it took some time to grasp the magnitude of the shift. McNeill suspected that he never did altogether. Nor could he quite escape the narrow, pinched views of men and money he had grown up with. But he learned something as he went. If he was very much his own man in many things, he worked well with the financial men of the board, and learned from them.[28]

But if he learned finance from board members, he found it difficult to improve his social skills. Kerr was kind in his stiff, ministerial way, helpful to those in trouble, as if coming from a well-disciplined professional sense of duty. But generosity of spirit he had not, nor did he learn much from his wife, who was splendidly endowed with it. Nessie Kerr loved life, enjoyed social occasions, warmed and nourished her family (and others), gave freely of herself, her time and energy. Veterans and veterans’ wives thought the world of her. She was Kerr’s better half in every sense of the expression; those who knew her believed her possessed of tremendous strength and resilience.

The 1947 Expansion Campaign and the new Arts and Administration Building, 1949-51
The expansion campaign of 1947 was not Kerr’s doing. It was a reenergizing of the one launched in the spring of 1939 which had been halted by the war. It had been due for revival in 1945, but had never started, for the board believed Carleton Stanley an impossible president for a financial campaign. Finally it was launched in January 1947 under the chairmanship of J. McGregor Stewart, the driving force behind the ousting of Stanley. It was to run for five years and was for $3 million, the largest sum Dalhousie had ever undertaken to raise.

It had several aims. An Arts and Administration Building was the first. The Law (Temporary Arts) Building that housed Arts was bursting at the seams and would become the home of the Law Faculty as soon as a place could be found for the Arts Faculty. That new Arts Building would also be what President MacKenzie and Frank Darling had planned, thirty years before, as the centrepiece of the Studley campus. A men’s residence was another desideratum. There was one of a sort: the mess hall built by the navy for officers in training on the site of the old gym. As the Gazette remarked, men lived there and ate there; there was nothing further to be said. By 1950 half the $3 million had been raised, and by 1954 most of the balance, although not in ways the board had anticipated.

Photograph of the the Law (Temporary Arts) Building about 1950.
The Law (Temporary Arts) Building about 1950. The Cobb-Darling combination at its most harmonious, it was built in 1921 and used by Arts until 1952. Law then occupied it until the completion of the Weldon Building in 1967. It afterwards became, as it still is, the University Club.

To design the new Arts and Administration Building the board wanted the best architects possible. In February 1948 its Building Committee reported that their unanimous choice was Mathers and Haldenby of Toronto, who had designed several successful University of Toronto buildings. Their fees would be 6 per cent of overall cost. They came to Halifax in May 1949 and declared that Dalhousie had “the one unspoiled campus in Canada.” That hyperbole ignored UBC but it implicitly acknowledged the new building’s commanding presence. Plans available by September 1948 estimated the cost at $1,568,029. That was a nasty surprise. In November 1946 Senate had allotted $750,000 of the $3 million campaign money for the A. and A. Building, as it was called. G.V. Douglas, Carnegie professor of geology, protested that the new estimate was more than double Senate’s allocation and threatened a motion in Senate against spending such an inordinate sum. Dean Wilson pointed out to President Kerr in May 1949 that such a motion would also be supported by those who wanted a new building, but feared that capital cost and upkeep would be such a drain on Dalhousie’s resources that a first-class faculty, adequately paid and staffed, would be impossible. Although Wilson himself believed that staff was more important than buildings, he dissuaded Douglas from pressing his motion. The board took the view that the building ought to be proceeded with anyway, that Dalhousie’s policy “could not be guided with pessimism as to the future.”[29]

The chairman of the board’s Building Committee was a veteran of the two wars, Brigadier H.V.D. Laing, CBE, Dalhousie’s 1921 Rhodes scholar, and now vice-president of National Sea Products. He was adamant that no local architect should design such an important building, though he had to accept a local supervisory architect, Leslie Fairn. Fairn was not perfect, and there would be strains with him; but as Laing put it later, having gone through the mill with him, one was at least “prepared for his deviltry.”[30]

The A. and A. Building was a large four-storey building (counting the ground-level basement), with the main storey reached from the east by two broad flights of stairs. There were two substantial wings, with a tall tower standing above the centre. The board liked the design very much, although the central tower was of some concern since it added $30,000 to the cost. The whole building was an attempt to create a colonial-style edifice in keeping with the rest of the campus, but on a much larger scale. Here was missing the poetic sweep of Frank Darling, the ingenuity of Andrew Cobb; it was a large building for a large purpose, but it topped the hill at Studley without being its crown. The tower seemed either too long or too short, its proportions unsatisfying. There were rude remarks about it from the moment it was finished in 1951. Inside, however, the building was spacious, with wide halls and good rooms, and the view from the faculty room at the top (the southwest corner), or any of the third-floor faculty offices on the south side, was one of the best in the city, out to the sea horizon beyond Mauger’s Beach Lighthouse and York Redoubt.

It was the view that Dean Wilson’s office took in, some two floors and a long corridor away from the president’s office. It was so chosen for its distance, physical and intellectual. Nevertheless, theirs had been a fruitful relationship. In the beginning President Kerr had a lot to learn about Dalhousie and knew it. He had the good sense to lean on his dean of arts and science as his main support until his own legs were stronger. He learned to be generous with younger staff. When David Farr, a young lecturer in history in 1946-7, found himself needing a summer job in 1947, Kerr found him work clearing up odds and ends at the bottom of the library stacks, and at pay 10 per cent higher than he had been earning as lecturer. Farr was on his way to Carleton University; Kerr was willing to match Carleton’s salary, but he couldn’t match Carleton’s promise of permanency.

A very hard worker, Kerr used that talent to conceal other weaknesses. Several times in the spring of 1947 he looked all in. He and his dean of arts spent much time together, and in 1948 Wilson introduced Kerr to the history of Paris by spending a few days walking it with him. In the long summers Wilson would write reflective letters from his farm in Perth, revealing his and Dalhousie’s concerns in the late 1940s.[31]

One of Wilson’s pet abominations was any form of military training included as part of a liberal education. Some believed, he said, that anything could be stuck into an arts program. “What would Vince [MacDonald, dean of law] say if we suggested Psychological warfare instead of torts or what would Grant [dean of medicine] say if we suggested Propaganda instead of anatomy?” But apart from resisting such hideous innovations, Wilson impressed upon the president how important it was to get and keep good professors. A case in point was Wilson’s friend J.G. Adshead, professor of mathematics at King’s. Some of Adshead’s recent graduates were being paid much more than the $3,000 King’s paid him. Adshead had a first-class honours from Cambridge, was an excellent teacher, and had administrative talent to boot. If President Walker of King’s could not pay him more, he should transfer to Dalhousie. He did, in 1947

Staff, Old and New
Wilson felt, as President Stanley had, that the Department of Mathematics had been unsatisfactory for some years. Part of the difficulty may have been with Murray Macneill’s preoccupation, until 1936, with being registrar; but the fact was that not enough good professors had been appointed. It was a general difficulty across the whole Faculty of Arts and Science. In Medicine and Law, it was facts and knowledge that came first, and such professors were paid as outside competition in those professions required. But in Arts, said Wilson, what mattered was spirit and energy. He wanted Dalhousie to recover the reputation it had once had for great teaching. Perhaps, he suggested, it never quite deserved that reputation, but whatever it was, he wanted it back. Three things were necessary in new staff: that a professor be master of his subject; that he be a scholar outside his subject – universities in Canada were full of illiterate specialists; and that a professor have character.

The last was the hardest of all to find. President MacKenzie used to say, said Wilson, the search was hopeless, that Dalhousie would have “to be satisfied with respectability.” Wilson sought more; he wanted professors who had their own inner light. “What you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you say,” was one of his favourite quotations. Nevertheless, he recognized that Dalhousie would be lucky to get and hold good younger men. Hire good ones, he would say, but don’t count on their staying more than a few years. Get the best you can from them while they are young and energetic; if then they go to Toronto, McGill, or UBC, recognize that Dalhousie was a good jumping-off point. By and by Dalhousie will look good on their C.V. too.[32]

By the late 1940s the demands on Dalhousie’s staff in Arts and Science was punishing; with so much teaching, correcting exercises, there was no time for anything else. Dalhousie needed to lessen teaching loads and increase academic salaries. To Wilson that was more important than a new Arts Building. Some of these problems were subsumed in discussions with R.A. MacKay, Eric Dennis professor of political science. Wilson had been listening to MacKay’s plans for a Social Sciences division for twenty years. He liked MacKay but distrusted his judgment, for he was never realistic enough. He wanted time for research and money to go with it. MacKay hated being what he called “a drudge undergraduate teacher.” But to do what MacKay wanted meant hiring another professor in political science, unpopular with other departments which needed new men more than Political Science did.

In that debate between Dalhousie and MacKay lay a gap in educational philosophy. MacKay was only four years younger than Wilson, but in wanting a Social Sciences division he was a decade ahead, well aware that American granting agencies liked the concept and that it promised funds and scholarships. The value, present and future, of MacKay’s approach eluded Wilson and in the end eluded Dalhousie too. The truth was that a Social Sciences division was simply beyond Dalhousie’s reach, financial as well as philosophical. MacKay exhausted Wilson’s patience, got an offer from the Department of External Affairs, and left in August 1947.[33]

It was difficult to replace him. The Department of Political Science staggered on with special lecturers for two years, while Wilson searched for a good man, with help from his old friend, R. MacGregor Dawson, now professor at the University of Toronto. Dawson recommended J.H. Aitchison, nearly finishing his PH.D. at Toronto, at thirty-nine years of age, an exceptional teacher and a very hard worker. Dalhousie would be lucky to get him. McMaster wanted him too, and badly, Dawson said. Don’t delay. And be sure to offer him $4,000 with a promise of going soon to $5,000. Aitchison came in 1949, perhaps on Dawson’s private urging, and was everything Dawson said he was. Best of all he stayed, and came to be a tower of strength in Arts and Science.[34]

Photograph of J.H. Aitchison
J.H. Aitchison, Eric Dennis Professor of Political Science, 1949-74.

Philosophy had not been a tower of strength. Herbert Leslie Stewart had come in 1913 at the age of thirty-one, a first-class mind, with a book and several articles already to his credit. He commanded a considerable range of information, assimilated with awesome ease. He had a quick and versatile pen, and enormous energy and dedication to writing and publication. He was the founding editor of the Dalhousie Review and carried it on his shoulders for twenty-five years, from 1921 to 1946. Released from that, his publications went up even further. He had lectured weekly on CBC radio on world affairs in the 1930s, and was a popular lecturer at luncheons in downtown Halifax. His reputation inside and outside Nova Scotia was considerable. If an informed radio listener in Toronto were asked in the 1930s to name a Dalhousie professor, it would have been H.L. Stewart.

All that came at a heavy price, both for his family (he was always at his typewriter), and for the Department of Philosophy at Dalhousie. In senior classes his skills could be deployed among small groups of good students, though even there his philosophy was old-fashioned, dealing with issues popular at Oxford forty years before. But in first-year philosophy, from which everything really started, his reputation was terrible. He was a tough marker; but unlike many such, who repaid their students with stimulating lectures, Stewart gave his first-year students only the bare minimum. He would arrive at Dalhousie with minutes to spare, rush into his office, grab the relevant lecture from a drawer and proceed to class, where he simply read it. Even his jokes were predictable; if a student had the previous year’s notes, or as some alleged, the previous generation’s, she or he had no need to come to Stewart’s lectures. They could be read at home. As Dean Wilson put it to President Kerr, philosophy at Dalhousie had had a “forced exile of at least thirty years.”[35]


n 1947 Stewart was sixty-five and thinking of retiring. Dalhousie wanted a first-class philosopher to replace him. Wilson sounded out a Dalhousie graduate whom he had long been in touch with, T.A. Goudge (’31), teaching at the University of Toronto, but Goudge preferred staying where he was. So Dalhousie fell back upon their second choice, a young Rhodes scholar from Queen’s, George Parkin Grant.

Grant came from a well-known Canadian family. His grandfather, George Monro Grant, had done much to re-establish Dalhousie in 1863 and in 1877 became principal of Queen’s, well-loved and vigorous, until his death in 1902. G.P. Grant’s father was W.L. Grant, principal of Upper Canada College from 1917 to 1935; his maternal aunt was Alice Parkin Massey. G.P. Grant duly graduated from Queen’s in history in 1939 with a Rhodes scholarship. In 1947 he was not yet an accomplished scholar – he was only thirty years old – but in Dalhousie’s view, which meant that of Dean Wilson and his old friend in Toronto, President Sidney Smith, Grant had the ability to become one. He was not even a philosopher, but was working on a theology PH.D. at Oxford. Nevertheless, based on Sidney Smith’s recommendations, Dalhousie was confident that Grant would be an excellent teacher and would restore philosophy at Dalhousie to its rightful place as in the great days of Lyall and Seth. Grant was offered an assistant professorship at $3,000 and took it.[36]

Grant came to Dalhousie as a huge breath of fresh air. His tremendous vitality fuelled his intellectual enthusiasms at centrifugal velocity. His first-year philosophy classes had no set texts; his lectures were open and searching discussions. He also liked to meet students on their own ground, so there was after-class talk in the gym store, over Atwood’s thin coffee and watery soup. He raised as many questions as he answered, and soon had a large and devoted following.

Dr. Lothar Richter also had a following at the Institute of Public Affairs. It had been established in 1937 with Rockefeller money; by the time that ran out in 1943, Richter, who had carefully husbanded his grants, had generated local support. A Bureau of Industrial Relations, made up of Maritime business leaders, was established in 1943 with an annual budget that carried the overhead of the institute. Public Affairs, a quarterly established in 1937-8, was by 1943 self-supporting with 1,600 subscribers and 1,100 further copies purchased by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Department of Education, and others. Cooperation with Maritime governments, provincial and municipal, was effected by two further step-children, the Maritime Labour Institute and the Municipal Bureau of Nova Scotia.

Richter was one of the few Dalhousie professors who deliberately reached out to the community around him, and he had a powerful influence on veterans, many of whom attended his noon-hour lunch-and-learn talks on public affairs. The idea that learning could be usefully put to work in the Nova Scotian community was immensely attractive; the institute’s philosophy was essentially that private enterprise could profitably work with state enterprise.

The Institute of Public Affairs was on the Dalhousie campus and used the Dalhousie name, but it functioned as a quasi-independent organization. Richter and Stanley had been quite content to have it that way. Richter regarded it, as President Kerr noted disapprovingly, “as an autonomous department within the University.” Kerr wanted it brought directly under Dalhousie’s control. What irked him was Richter’s habit of calling conferences, inviting speakers, without first consulting the president. Although Richter professed never to “ignore the interests of the President of the University… he persistently does so,” said Kerr. J. McG. Stewart, who had helped to set up the institute in the first place, resisted too heavy a hand with it, especially since he liked Richter and appreciated what he was trying to do. Before anything had been decided, Richter died. Riding his bicycle from Dalhousie one morning in November 1948, he drove into the side of a truck, and died three days later of a brain haemorrhage.[37]

There was, literally, no one to replace him, no one who could match his talents, knowledge, his tremendous range of Maritime contacts, and the respect he enjoyed. After reorganizing the institute after his death and putting it more directly under the university, Dalhousie struggled valiantly to keep Richter’s principles and practice going. But there was only one Richter, and many years in the future, after a succession of hard-working heads, it would become Henson College.

President Kerr’s desire for more central control, illustrated by his relations with Richter; seem also to have inclined him towards cultivating the board more than the Senate. Wilson had done what he could to bring President Kerr into the world of scholarship and learning; but apart from acquiring expertise in finance, Kerr remained largely as he was, not growing greatly in sagacity or knowledge, and increasingly wanting to be his own man.

Powers and Boundaries of the President

The board may have contributed to strengthening the president’s role by attempting, in May 1946, to define it. Carleton Stanley had exploited the president’s undefined power; a year after the contretemps with Stanley, the board felt it was time to set down the president’s functions as nearly as possible in black and white. The president was responsible for the general supervision of the university, which comprehended its teaching and administrative staff, as well as the student body and extra-curricular activities. He was a member of each faculty and entitled to act as its chairman, though he usually delegated that function to the dean. The president had the power to delay any action by Senate or faculty or committee thereof that he believed injurious to the university, pending a decision by the Board of Governors.

The board usually, but not always, backed the president. In 1950 President Kerr was nominated moderator of the General Council of the United Church to Canada. Colonel Laurie seems to have found nothing wrong with it, and the matter was handled at a board meeting on 29 May 1950 as if requiring no discussion. The president was not even asked to leave the meeting. But George Farquhar, Alumni member of the board, was not having it. He thought President Kerr ought long ago to have intimated to the United Church that he could not accept such a nomination. Kerr dearly wanted it, however, and had even discussed arrangements for his replacement at Dalhousie while away on moderator’s duties. The president claimed that when he accepted the presidency in 1945 the first condition was that he retain his rights as a minister of the United Church, and that that assurance had been given. Farquhar denied, however, that the “headship of one of the great ecclesiastical bodies of Canada was even remotely contemplated.” Six weeks later the president announced he would not accept the nomination.[38]

Thus there were limits to what the board would allow the president to do outside the university; inside, the Senate was the main curb on the president’s authority, and while there had been rumblings in 1949 over the cost of the new A. and A. Building, Senate was still tractable. The president had been heavy-handed about alcohol on campus. He had hardly arrived in 1945 when he learned with horror that on Friday and Saturday nights in an upstairs room in the gym the faculty played poker and drank beer. Kerr phoned the president of the Faculty Union and asked if it were true. “Yes, it is,” said Professor Murchy McPhail of Pharmacology. “Then you have to stop it right now,” said President Kerr. “It can’t continue any more.” It continued of course, but off-campus. When the Dalhousie Gazette approached the president in 1950 about opening the newly built skating rink for Sunday skating, Kerr, after consulting two members of the board and some senators, refused categorically to allow it. The board backed the president. Kerr also took umbrage at the Gazette’s “The Diary of Sam Peeps.” This came to climax in October 1948:

Lord’s Day. I to King’s Abbey, stepping over sleeping scholars I did find a pew. Here Dr. Runner [A. Stanley Walker] did begin to nibble at the Common Prayer, by saying “Glory to the Father etc.” after he had read two psalms…

Thence to the Lady Hamilton [Lord Nelson Hotel], gaining entrance by a back door, where I drank several bottles of Hall ale. Much company I found to come to the innkeeper, she being very pretty and wanton…

Went a-walking to the college on the hill, called jokingly by the scholars Dullhousie. Here I was much surprised to see that pretty maids of the nobility, and some not so noble, are to be scholars, they having lodging in a mighty fine house and large, called Marmalade Hovel [Shirreff Hall].

Dr. Kerr had the sobriquet Dr. Hound, until it was discovered that he pronounced his name “Carr,” not “cur,” and then he became President Otto.[39]

“Peeps” was Jack D. Lusher (’49), a Canadian army veteran, dedicated to shaking Dalhousie up a little. One of his achievements in 1947 was to bring Canadian football into prominence on campus by reporting it heavily, and deliberately downplaying English rugby, the traditional Maritime game. The issue that got him into the most trouble was a parody of the Halifax Mail, the Halifax Wail; it was ill received downtown at the Mail, especially by its owner, Senator W.H. Dennis, after whose brother Eric the political science professorship had been endowed in 1921. Lusher’s forced resignation from the Gazette provoked a student protest; the Student Council majority supported him and he was reinstated. The president then went to the Senate and got it to strike a committee on the Gazette. The committee reported unanimously on 22 January 1949 that some things in the Gazette were apt to bring Dalhousie into disrepute; but there the unanimity ended. As to action, none was recommended, other than to strike a further committee to consider relations with the Student Council. A year later Senate simply reiterated its traditional power over the internal discipline of the university, and continued to delegate relevant authority to the Student Council, so long as that appeared “to be managed with due regard to the interests of the student body and the position of the University in the community.”[40]

Photograph of students playing rugby, 1948.
Rugby on a wet day in 1948, Arts and Science versus Commerce. Arts won, 18-0. D.D. Betts (’50) is running with the ball. He was later Dean of Arts and Science, 1980-8, and Dean of Science, 1988-90. Struan Robertson (’53), who is trying to stop Betts, was, forty years on, to be Chairman of the Board.
The Creation of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, 1948-9

The creation of the Faculty of Graduate Studies also met a mixed reception in Senate. It was an initiative especially from the Science side of the faculty, and there was a disposition in Arts to think the time not yet opportune. Dean Wilson tended to see graduate studies as a means for science professors to acquire assistants to help run laboratories. Wilson did not like, either, the MA theses that D.C. Harvey of the Nova Scotia Archives supervised, on what Wilson regarded as the minutiae of Nova Scotia history. The truth was that, whether Dalhousie was ready for it or not, it was being forced into graduate work. Between 1930 and 1950 it had awarded three hundred masters degrees, and they amounted to 60 per cent of all such degrees awarded in Maritime province universities. In 1948-9 some seventy-five students registered for the MA or M.Sc. On 19 October 1948 Senate agreed that the question of a Faculty of Graduate Studies be studied by a joint board-Senate committee. It was duly recommended. Since the push came from the science departments, it was no accident that J.H.L. Johnstone of Physics was appointed the first dean in 1949.

As to financial support for Graduate Studies, Dalhousie took the view that it should be supported by the Nova Scotia government on the same lines as it did Dentistry and Medicine. President Kerr asked for $36,500. He had already taken the precaution of sounding out the presidents of Acadia and St. Francis Xavier to see if they had objections. Ostensibly they had not, saying that a government grant to Graduate Studies at Dalhousie would not produce a commensurate request from them. Nevertheless, Watson Kirkconnell of Acadia found it impossible to resist writing Premier Angus L. Macdonald privately, suggesting that Acadia did do graduate work, including some twenty-two students for the B.Ed., at that time a graduate degree. Kirkconnell hoped that the Nova Scotia legislature would show “equal sympathy towards provincial assistance to Acadia University in other areas of its work.”

The premier was ready to give Dalhousie’s request serious consideration, but wanted it reviewed by some outside body, as the Carnegie Corporation used to do in the 1920s and 1930s. But that time had gone by. Carnegie told President Kerr and Dean Johnstone that they did not do that sort of thing any more. The premier (and the president) then appealed to Sidney Smith, now president of the University of Toronto. Apart from the cost, asked Macdonald, can Dalhousie with its present staff do “real Post Graduate work?” Smith came back unequivocally; there should be a School of Graduate Studies east of McGill, and Dalhousie should have it; but it was not paying salaries adequate to attract first-class scholars. Kerr’s aim was not pitched high enough.[41]

The Nova Scotia government was beginning to yield on another front as well. In 1948 as a result of discussions between the two Macdonalds, Dean Vince and Premier Angus L., the Nova Scotia government announced it would fund a chair at Dalhousie in public law, to supplement the Law Faculty’s complement of “four men and a boy.” W.R. Lederman, the first Province of Nova Scotia professor of law, was appointed in 1949. Behind these positive developments on the part of the Nova Scotian government lay Angus L.’s fear of federal encroachment into Nova Scotia’s jurisdiction in health and education. Naturally, so he told Dr. P.J. Nicholson, president of St. Francis Xavier, he wanted what was best for Canada as a whole. “But I do not wish to see Federalism destroyed in a left-handed way by the Federal Government’s taking over bit by bit provincial fields.” In the coming session of 1950, he hoped, Nova Scotia might be able to grant $500,000 to the Nova Scotian universities. This on a per capita basis would give St. Francis Xavier about $100,000. Having won in the June 1949 election twenty-eight seats in the thirty-seven seat legislature, Angus L. could well make good on what he suggested if he wanted to.[42]

Four months earlier, however, the federal government of Louis St. Laurent had appointed the Royal Commission on the Arts, Letters and Sciences in Canada. One of the members of that commission was Larry MacKenzie, a Dalhousian who was president of UBC. While the report was being drafted, the prime minister, in a speech at the University of Toronto, hinted strongly that some means had to be found to support universities. Not least in this argument was the fact that the federal government itself was the largest customer in Canada for university graduates of all kinds. The report of the Massey Commission, as it was now called, was on St. Laurent’s desk by 1 June 1951. It would effect substantial changes in the hopes and prospects for development of Dalhousie and its sister universities. Those changes would not come all at once; but in fact Angus L.’s move was being upstaged by Ottawa, and the old world of Dalhousie’s dependence on endowment and fees was slowly to change.


  1. This chapter has been commented on by Dr. Alan Wilson, former professor of history at Trent University, Peterborough. Dr. Wilson was a student at Dalhousie from 1944 to 1949 and I am most grateful for his perceptive suggestions about Dean Wilson and the Dalhousie of the late 1940s. Letter from Publicover to Carleton Stanley, 13 Jan. 1945, from New York, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 2, Folder 73, Dalhousie University Archives. For Stanley’s comment, see Carleton Stanley’s submission to the board, 23 Jan. 1945 (copy), Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 2, Folder 85, Dalhousie University Archives.
  2. Letter from Carleton Stanley to W.H. Alexander, 25 Mar. 1945, his brother-in-law, then at Berkeley, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 2, Folder 62, Dalhousie University Archives; letter from Carleton Stanley to Webster, 25 June 1945, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 3, Folder B-120, Dalhousie University Archives. For United College, Winnipeg, see Principal W.C. Graham to Carleton Stanley, 25 Apr. 1945, personal; Carleton Stanley to Graham, 10 May 1945, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 2, Folder 68, Dalhousie University Archives.
  3. Letter from J. McG. Stewart to Laurie, 19 Mar. 1944, President’s Office Fonds, “Correspondence - Faculty of Law, 1943-1950,” UA-3, Box 339, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives. At this point Stewart said he had no further names to suggest for the presidency, and that Doull was by far the best of the candidates. See also Laurie to Dr. James Doull, 16 July 1945, telegram; Laurie to Doull, 11 Oct. 1945; Doull to Dr. Alan Gregg of the Rockefeller Foundation, 18 Oct. 1945 (copy), President's Office Fonds, “Col. K.C. Laurie 1945-1962,” UA-3, Box 335, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives.
  4. Letter from A.E. Kerr to R.B. Bennett, 28 Nov. 1946, President's Office Fonds, “R.B. Bennett,” UA-3, Box 41, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. Weld’s remark was made in an interview, interview with Dr. Beecher Weld, 15 Jan. 1988, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 80, Dalhousie University Archives.
  5. Other Dalhousie presidents stand on their own several merits; their papers allow them to be seen more in the round. A.E. Kerr can best be described by drawing the world from which he came. He was born in Louisburg, Cape Breton, in 1898. His father, Rory Kerr, had been raised on a farm at St. Ann’s, having only a few months’ schooling. Rory Kerr’s life was fishing, sailing, farming, building boats and barns, that clutch of skills so frequently met with in the Maritimes of the nineteenth century. He married, took up a little farm, and built a small schooner to deliver pit props to Sydney coal mines, and bring potatoes and turnips to Cape Breton from Prince Edward Island. The family, three children already, moved to Louisburg in 1895, when the little port (ice-free, unlike Sydney) was booming with coal exports. There on Ellwood Street, Alexander Enoch was born into a household of hard work and piety, surrounded with echoes of the Gaelic from grandparents on both sides. Family worship on Sunday nights was conducted by both mother and father. The Bible was sometimes read in Gaelic, and prayers always. It was well known to Presbyterians that God understood the Gaelic better than any other language.
  6. Peter B. Waite Archive, “Roderick D. Kerr, 1854-1919,” pp. 13, 23, 24.
  7. Peter B. Waite Archive, “Roderick D. Kerr, 1854-1919,” p. 29; Dalhousie Gazette, 9 Aug. 1920, “History of the class of '20.”
  8. There is a further short three-page addition to the Kerr manuscript by his brother, Roderick Kerr, continuing the story of Kerr's life to his death in 1974. On Kerr's preaching, Dr. Margaret Gosse reported that when she was in Montreal he was minister at the American Presbyterian Church near Windsor Station. She said he was “extremely popular” as a preacher. She also added she could never understand why. Interview with Dr. Margaret Gosse, 26 June 1989, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives. On Kerr's attitude to libraries, see letter from Douglas Lochhead to Peter B. Waite, 31 Jan. 1990, from Sackville, NB, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 22, Dalhousie University Archives. Lochhead was Dalhousie librarian from 1952 to 1960.
  9. nterview with Lola Henry, 19 Jan. 1988, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 73, Dalhousie University Archives. Miss Henry also reported Kerr's kindness to alcoholics. For the rink manager story, see interview with Donald H. McNeill, 4 Apr. 1990, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 38, Dalhousie University Archives. Donald McNeill (B.Sc. 1933) was Dalhousie’s business manager from 1948 to 1978. For the story of A.K. Griffin, see interview with Beecher and Kathy Weld, 15 Jan. 1988, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 80, Dalhousie University Archives.
  10. Note by Carleton Stanley, 19 Sept. 1941; Bates to Kerr, 6 Sept. 1945, telegram from Lunenburg, President's Office Fonds, "Stewart Bates," UA-3, Box 87, Folder 21, Dalhousie University Archives. A more extensive description of this incident is given by J.R. Mallory, “A Year at Dalhousie,” p. 2, from conversations with Bates. Letter from Mallory to Peter B. Waite, 28 Aug. 1990, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 39, Dalhousie University Archives. For G.V. Douglas, see McGill University Archives, RG2, C43, F. Cyril James Papers, Douglas to James, 31 May 1945.
  11. Dalhousie University Archives, Faculty of Arts and Science, Minutes, 3 Apr., 19 Sept. 1945, Dalhousie University Archives; A.E. Kerr to Wilson, 10 Sept. 1945, telegram; Wilson to Kerr, 10 Sept. 1945, telegram, from Perth, and letter of same date; Kerr to Wilson, 19 Sept. 1945, telegram, President's Office Fonds, “George Earle Wilson,” UA-3, Box 105, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives.
  12. Letter from G.E. Wilson to A.S. MacKenzie, 2, 6 Aug. 1930, from Perth; MacKenzie to Wilson, 23 Aug. 1930, President's Office Fonds, “George Earle Wilson,” UA-3, Box 105, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives. Queen’s had analogous problems with morale in the Arts Faculty at the same time. See Frederick W. Gibson, Queen’s University: Volume II, 1917-1961: To Serve and Yet Be Free (Kingston and Montreal 1983), p. 235.
  13. Letter from G.E. Wilson to Carleton Stanley, 28 May 1934, from Manchester, President's Office Fonds, “Faculty of Arts and Science 1922-1940," UA-3, Box 287, Folder 5, Dalhousie University Archives. The reference to Goethe’s Faust is in part 1, lines 575-9. Faust: “My friend, the past is a book of seven seals, and what you call the spirit of the times, is at bottom merely the characters of those gentlemen in whom the times are mirrored.” For an essay on Wilson, see Henry Roper, “The Lifelong Pilgrimage of George E. Wilson, Teacher and Historian,” in Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections 46 (1980), pp. 138-51. Wilson’s own perspectives about history are admirably set out in his 1951 presidential address to the Canadian Historical Association, “Wider Horizons,” CHA Annual Report (1951), pp. 1-19.
  14. Gwendoline Pilkington, “A History of National Conference of Canadian Universities, 1911-1961” (PH.D. thesis, University of Toronto 1974). For First World War efforts, pp. 67, 76-7, 87-8, 102-3; for Second World War, pp. 306-440.
  15. Charles M. Johnston, McMaster University: Vol. 2, The Early Years in Hamilton, 1930-1957 (Toronto 1981), p. 142; John Reid, Mount Allison University: Volume II, 1914-1963 (Toronto 1984), p. 207; P.B. Waite, Lord of Point Grey (Vancouver 1987), p. 120.
  16. “The Law School Then and Now,” interview with Dr. Moffat Hancock, in Ansul 5, no. 4 (1973), p. 2; John Willis, A History of Dalhousie Law School (Toronto 1979)> PP- 160-3. See also Gibson, Queen’s University Volume II, p. 252.
  17. Dalhousie Gazette, 13 Feb. 1948; C.L. Bennet, “What the Veteran Student Is Teaching the Universities,” Dalhousie Review 27 (1947-8), pp. 316-17. For the poem on Milton, see “The Way of Trial Is the Way of Light,” in Dalhousie Gazette, 29 Nov. 1946. “City after Rain” is by Eltan Lowell, in Dalhousie Gazette 22 Feb. 1945. The smoker is Dalhousie Gazette, 13 Feb. 1948.
  18. Letter from Alan Wilson to Peter B. Waite, 1 Feb. 1994, letter and comments, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 2, Folder 50, Dalhousie University Archives; for socialism and the CCF in these years, see Leo Zakuta, A Protest Movement Becalmed: A Study of Change in the C.C.F. (Toronto 1964), p. 58; J. Murray Beck, Pendulum of Power: Canada’s Federal Elections (Toronto 1968), pp. 247-57.
  19. Letter from Brooke Claxton to K.C. Laurie, 7 Feb. 1946; H.R. Theakston to Kerr, 20 Aug. 1946, President's Office Fonds, “Correspondence - Veterans’ Affairs, Housing, 1945-1946,” UA-3, Box 356, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; Kerr to Isnor, 10 Sept. 1946; 12 Mar. 1947; 2 Mar. 1949, telegram, President's Office Fonds, “Senator Gordon B. Isnor, 1946-1962,” UA-3, Box 341, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives; confidential memorandum for Kerr by C.L. Bennet, 7 Mar. 1947, President's Office Fonds, “Correspondence - Veterans’ Affairs, Housing, 1947-1958,” UA-3, Box 356, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  20. Letter from C.L. Bennet to Kerr, 5 Mar., 9 Apr., 5 May 1947; 17 Jan., 12 Feb. 1948, President's Office Fonds, “Correspondence - Veterans’ Affairs, Housing, 1947-1958,” UA-3, Box 356, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  21. The story of the interview with Howe is given by Kerr in his speech at Dalhousie’s memorial service for Howe, 8 Jan. 1961, in President's Office Fonds, “C.D. Howe,” UA-3, Box 350, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives. Other references include letter from Theakston to Kerr, 4 Jan. 1951; Mulgrave Park Married Students’ Association to Kerr, 31 Jan. 1956; Kerr to Mulgrave Park Married Students’ Association, 14 Feb. 1956; Robert Winters to L.A. Kitz, mayor of Halifax, 12 Apr. 1957 (copy); Murray Fraser (president of Dalhousie Student Council) to Charles Vaughan, mayor of Halifax, 11 Feb. 1958, “Correspondence - Veterans’ Affairs, Housing, 1947-1958,” UA-3, Box 356, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  22. Dalhousie Gazette, Mar. 1946; letter from T.A. Giles to Kerr, 7 Feb. 1946, President's Office Fonds, “Correspondence - Veterans’ Affairs, Housing, 1945-1946,” UA-3, Box 356, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
  23. President's Report, 1945-1950. From 1947 until 1963 the custom of publishing annual president’s reports, which had been started in 1911-12 by President MacKenzie, was replaced by a five-year report.
  24. Letter from Kerr to J. McGregor Stewart, 14 Feb. 1949, President's Office Fonds, “King’s, 1945-1958,” UA-3, Box 343, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
  25. Letter from Kerr to Milton Gregg, 17 Nov. 1949; Kerr to Senator Isnor, 15 Dec. 1948; Kerr to R.A. Baxter, 15 Sept. 1948, President's Office Fonds, “King’s, 1945-1958,” UA-3, Box 343, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
  26. Letter from A. Stanley Walker to Milton Gregg, 15 Sept. 1949 (copy), President's Office Fonds, “King’s, 1945-1958,” UA-3, Box 343, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; Carleton Stanley to J. McGregor Stewart, 2 Dec. 1940, President's Office Fonds, “Terms of Association Liaison Committee, 1940-1950,” UA-3, Box 323, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives; see also President's Office Fonds, “King’s College Liaison, 1958-1963,” UA-3, Box 324, Folder 1, “Considerations for Future Relations of Dalhousie & King’s,” a confidential statement for Donald Mclnnes’s information, is a succinct, hard-hitting report, reviewing the whole history of Dalhousie’s relations with King’s, and suggesting future changes. See especially pp. 2 and 5. No name is given as author.
  27. Board of Governors Minutes, 10 Mar. 1949; 13 Jan. 1950, UA-1, Box 33, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives.
  28. Interview with D.H. McNeill, 4 Apr. 1990, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 38, Dalhousie University Archives.
  29. Minutes of Joint Board-Senate Committee, 30 Oct. 1947, President’s Office Fonds, “Arts & Administration Building, 1944-1950,” UA-3, Box 233, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 12 Feb., 25 May 1948, UA-1, Box 52, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; letter from Douglas to Kerr, 27 Apr. 1949; Kerr to Douglas, 30 Apr. 1949; Wilson to Kerr, 11 May 1949; Kerr memo, phone call to J. McGregor Stewart in Montreal re Wilson’s letter, n.d., but probably 11 or 12 May 1949, President's Office Fonds, “G.V. Douglas,” UA-3, Box 90, Folder 12, Dalhousie University Archives.
  30. Letter from H.V.D. Laing to Kerr, 10 Nov. 1952, President's Office Fonds, “H.V.D. Laing, 1949-1958,” UA-3, Box 335, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives.
  31. David Farr, “A.E. Kerr: A View from a Junior Member of the Faculty, 1946-47,” enclosed in letter from Farr to Peter B. Waite, 26 Jan. 1955, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 9, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; Wilson to Kerr, 3 June 1947, from Perth, President's Office Fonds, "Faculty of Arts and Science 1945-1947," UA-3, Box 287, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives.
  32. Letter from Wilson to Kerr, 28 June, 3 Aug 1946, both from Perth, President's Office Fonds, "Faculty of Arts and Science 1945-1947," UA-3, Box 287, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives.
  33. Letter from Wilson to Kerr, 14 Dec. 1946 from Halifax; 16, 22 July, 17 Aug. 1947, from Perth, President's Office Fonds, "Faculty of Arts and Science 1945-1947," UA-3, Box 287, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives.
  34. Letter from R.M. Dawson to Wilson, 19 Nov. 1948, copied by Wilson and enclosed in Wilson to Kerr, 20 Nov. 1948, President's Office Fonds, "Faculty of Arts and Science 1945-1947," UA-3, Box 287, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives.
  35. H.L. Stewart’s extensive publications for 1948-9 are in the President’s Report, 1945-1950, p. 82; Dalhousie Gazette, 3 Dec. 1935; I have also benefited from reading two chapters of Kevin McDonald’s Dalhousie MA thesis (1994) on Stewart, based on the H.L. Stewart Papers in Dalhousie University Archives. See also report of 25 Feb. 1947, probably by G.E. Wilson, on staffing the Philosophy Department, President's Office Fonds, “George P. Grant,” UA-3, Box 92, Folder 12, Dalhousie University Archives.
  36. Board of Governors Minutes, 22 Apr. 1947, UA-1, Box 52, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; Kerr to Grant, 13 Apr. 1947, cable; Grant to G.E. Wilson, 21 May 1947, President's Office Fonds, “George P. Grant,” UA-3, Box 92, Folder 12, Dalhousie University Archives. A recent book on Grant presents an engaging view of him; see William Christian, George Grant: A Biography (Toronto 1993). For Grant’s appointment to Dalhousie, see pp. 128-9.
  37. Letter from Richter to J. McGregor Stewart, 12 Oct. 1943; George Farquhar to Kerr, 31 Jan. 1946, memorandum on the institute; Kerr memorandum, 2 Nov. 1948; C.J. Rankin, John A. McDonald, J. McG. Stewart to Kerr, 31 Dec. 1948, submitting resignation from the executive of the institute to assist reorganization, President's Office Fonds, “Institute of Public Affairs,” UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives. For a good survey of Richter’s life, see Stewart Bates, “Obituary, Lothar Richter (1894-1948),” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 16, no. 4 (1949), pp. 543-5, and Dalhousie’s Public Affairs 12, no. 1 (Spring 1949).
  38. Board of Governors Minutes, 10 May 1946, memorandum re “Duties of a President.,” UA-1, Box 52, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives. Letter from George Farquhar to Col. Laurie, 30 May 1950 (copy), George Farquhar Fonds, MS-2-237, Box 1, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 29 May, 11 July 1950, UA-1, Box 33, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives. Farquhar’s letter is a good illustration of things that minutes do not say.
  39. The end of campus beer and poker is described by J.G. Aldous, professor of pharmacology subsequent to M.K. McPhail, interview with J.G. Aldous, 1 June 1990, Vancouver, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 2, Folder 51, Dalhousie University Archives. For Pharmacology, see A.K. Reynolds, Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University: A 50-Year History, 1938-1988 (Halifax 1988). For the forlorn hope of Sunday skating, see Board of Governors Minutes, 28 Nov. 1950, UA-1, Box 33, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives. The rink was built in 1950 for $168,000. For some characteristic effusions by “Sam Peeps,” see Dalhousie Gazette, 5, 8 Oct., 8 Nov. 1948. The story of beer via the back door of the Lord Nelson on Sunday was exaggerated but it was possible, according to “Sam Peeps,” to have two poached eggs and eight quarts of beer even on Sunday. Interview with Jack D. Lusher, Ottawa, 29 Mar. 1994, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 23, Dalhousie University Archives.
  40. For Canadian football, see Dalhousie Gazette, 3 Oct. 1947. Lusher was from Ontario. The issue of the Halifax Wail (23 Oct. 1948) was withdrawn after being published, but a number of copies got out. Unfortunately it is not in Dalhousie University Archives’ file of the Gazette. See also Dalhousie Gazette, 11, 14, 18 Jan. 1949, and Senate Minutes, 18, 22 Jan. 1949 and 28 Feb. 1950, Dalhousie University Archives; interview with Jack D. Lusher, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 23, Dalhousie University Archives.
  41. Dalhousie Gazette, 19 Oct., 2 Nov. 1948; 18 June 1949; Board of Governors Minutes, 4 Nov. 1948, 10 Jan. 1949, UA-1, Box 52, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives. Nova Scotia Archives, Angus L. Macdonald Papers, vol. 940, Kerr to Angus L. Macdonald, 2 June 1949; G.E. Wilson to Angus L. Macdonald, 4 Dec. 1949, personal; Angus L. Macdonald to Sidney Smith, 7 Mar. 1949, strictly personal and confidential; Sidney Smith to Angus L. Macdonald, 21 Mar. 1949, strictly personal and confidential.
  42. Nova Scotia Archives, Angus L. Macdonald Papers, vol. 940, memorandum, “Conditions of grant to Dalhousie Law School,” marked “my views, V.C.M.,” Vincent MacDonald to Angus L. Macdonald, 23 Mar., 9 Apr. 1949; Kerr to Angus L. Macdonald, 11 Apr. 1949; Angus L. Macdonald to Kerr, 11 May 1948 (copy); Angus L. Macdonald to Dr. P.J. Nicholson, 15 Aug. 1949, personal. See Willis, Dalhousie Law School, pp. 166-7; J. Murray Beck, Politics of Nova Scotia: Volume Two, 1897-1988 (Tantallon 1988), p. 211.


The Lives of Dalhousie University: Volume Two, 1925-1980 Copyright © by Governors of Dalhousie College and University. All Rights Reserved.

Share This Book