2 Changing the Guard, 1929-1933

The Gowanloch affair, 1930. MacMechan and MacKenzie retire. Dalhousie and dances. King’s establishes itself on campus. The new Dalhousie president, Carleton Stanley. R.B. Bennett is unhappy with R.A. MacKay. Stanley defeats the chairman of the board, G.F. Pearson. Death of MacMechan.

Gowan is the Scottish word for daisy, and James Nelson Gowanloch was one – a poet, a stamp collector, a considerable researcher, and a splendid teacher. Born in 1896, he took degrees at the University of Manitoba and went on to do his doctorate at Chicago. He finished all the work but, for some reason, never his final orals. He was teaching at Wabash College in Indiana when President MacKenzie hired him in August 1923, on strong recommendations from the University of Chicago and the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute. A specialist in marine biology, he organized the Dalhousie Biology Club which celebrated its success with a splendid banquet in November 1928, the guests of which included not only Gowanloch’s senior students but the lieutenant-governor and other local luminaries. His work was both concentrated and eclectic; in 1928 he broadcast a series of fascinating lectures on biology over CHNS; he published an essay in the Dalhousie Gazette, “The Unicorn, and the Childhood of Biology,” a clever blend of myth, history, and science, shot through with Gowanloch’s ideas of life as process of becoming. “Living as we must,” he said, “in an instant present… a paradox – an instant present that has no beginning and no end. Nothing is being, all is becoming.”

Gowanloch had lost a leg when he was young, pulled under the wheels of a carriage; other than that he looked like a shorter edition of Bertrand Russell, with the same aquiline features and some of Russell’s other qualities as well. He was a vivacious lecturer, a delightful raconteur, and he mixed well with students of both sexes. One morning after a dance when he did not arrive for his class, some students went over to his house at 93 Le Marchant Street, and found him asleep in full evening clothes. Nothing loath, he came to class and gave the lecture as he was. He had other casual habits, including those with money; dunning letters found their way to Dalhousie’s bursar, to President MacKenzie and others, demanding payment for books, biology supplies, and stamps (he specialized in airmail covers). In 1929 he published in the Dalhousie Review a presentable sonnet, “Absence,” of which the sextet was

So long I, O Beloved, with thee again
To watch the moon’s broad silver on the hills
Or see her slenderest seaward crescent stand
Sharp in the azure, while the slow surf fills
Our pause of speech, and from the darkening land
Comes, slow re-echoing, the sea’s refrain.

The beloved might have been his wife, Louise Ross, whom he was supporting while she finished her MD in New York. She visited Halifax from time to time. But since she was considering divorce in 1928, probably her husband was thinking of someone else.[1]

The possibility of finding a co-respondent for a divorce was opportunely presented to Louise Gowanloch after her return to Halifax. In March 1930, in the hallway of Gowanloch’s flat on Barrington Street, she encountered Eleanor, a Dalhousie senior in biology living at Shirreff Hall. Under Mrs. Gowanloch’s badgering, she confessed her relations with Professor Gowanloch and the fact that she wished to marry him. Eleanor was not exactly a beauty; one contemporary described her as a “picked chicken” – short, blonde, and scraggly; nevertheless, there she was. Nor was it the first time scandal had been bruited in Gowanloch’s relations with his female students. None of it might have got out had not Mrs. Gowanloch wanted to use Eleanor as co-respondent in her divorce action.[2]

Under some pressure, Eleanor went home to Hantsport on 13 March to get academic work done. Whatever she told her parents, it is certain that, frightened of her father, she ran away to the Gowanlochs on Monday, 17 March. Her father, so it was said, came to town with a gun looking for Gowanloch, but was successfully headed off by the dean of law, Sidney Smith, and Margaret Lowe, the warden of Shirreff Hall. By this time Eleanor was in hiding with friends of Gowanloch’s on Morris Street. That same day Mrs. Gowanloch came to G.E Pearson (President MacKenzie was in Montreal for medical reasons) and said she was launching her divorce.[3]

There were certainly doubts as to what Eleanor’s relations with Gowanloch actually were; her father believed his daughter innocent, and so did others, including Margaret Lowe and Murray Macneill. But Gowanloch told Pearson that life without Eleanor was impossible. It was difficult to know whom to believe; Murray Macneill reported that after Gowanloch had given details of his adventures with Eleanor, he had then retracted it all.

The Board of Governors met on 20 March and agreed that Gowanloch and his wife, employed as assistant, should be instantly suspended. Gowanloch submitted his resignation the next day. He was not allowed to do even that: he was, instead, dismissed, as of 2 May 1930. Mrs. Gowanloch was on contract and her contract was allowed to expire. In the meantime the Gowanloch divorce took place quietly in late April with Eleanor as co-respondent.[4]

Unlike the Norman Symons affair at King’s in 1929, where a professor of psychology was unobtrusively dismissed for teaching Freud, the Gowanloch scandal was soon known at Dalhousie. Everyone was shaken by it. Then Eleanor’s mother approached Senate to ask that her daughter be allowed to sit her final examinations at Supplemental in September 1930. That request occasioned an anguished debate in Senate in April, over the proper course to pursue. Some of the younger spirits, George Wilson of History and Hugh Bell of Biology, admired the girl’s courage in wanting to return – some thought she might be pregnant – to finish her year. Others in Senate disliked very much allowing this young woman, even for ten days in September, to publish her adventures amid the virgins of Shirreff Hall. A majority of Senate were inclined, as MacMechan put it, “to mercy on the girl.” Debate could not be concluded and had to be put off until the May meeting. Wilson and Bell moved that Eleanor be allowed to write supplemental exams; a motion to have her write her examinations clandestinely at home was defeated by 10 to 9 and the Wilson motion passed. President MacKenzie had opposed leniency. His view seemed to be that as a senior student Eleanor had behaved irresponsibly, not to say wickedly; nevertheless the younger men in Senate defeated him. Not only that, but Eleanor wrote and passed her examinations in September and was awarded her B.Sc. in October 1930.[5] Senate Minutes, 17 Apr., 14 May 1930, Dalhousie University Archives; Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, 24 Mar. 1930, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; Senate Minutes, 9 Oct. 1930; Eleanor’s Sponsio Academica is in Dalhousie University Archives, Dalhousie graduation records, signed in Hantsport, 24 Oct. 1930.

One member of Senate whose good sense was missing in that long and difficult debate was the university’s dean, Howard Murray. He had been ill with gallstones for some time. Being “cut for the stone,” as the saying went, was a very old operation; a good inciseur in Louis XIV’s time could do it in under ten minutes, which, in the absence of any anaesthetic other than brandy, was fortunate. In the 1920s it had become as routine as an operation for appendicitis, but Murray resisted having it. MacMechan went to visit him at his home in May 1930 and found him “sitting in a chair by the fire with Pain & Apprehension for companions. He suffers from the slightest movement, a cough, a sneeze, laughing. ‘To each his suffering,’ as Gray says. May I have fortitude when my time comes.”[6] Murray did not improve. By the time he agreed to the operation on 9 September it was too late. He died the same afternoon.[7]

Archibald MacMechan Retires
Murray’s death set MacMechan thinking. A month later he saw MacKenzie about his retirement. MacMechan was sixty-eight years old, and would have to retire anyway in 1932 at age seventy, the Carnegie rule for pensions. He was still in good form, enjoying his world, his work, his golf. “A good world!” he exclaimed at New Year’s in 1930, “a pity to leave it so soon!” He had been walking along South Park Street in the late afternoon and caught “a beautiful lemon-gold sunset.” He had been out at a conference in Edmonton on English in November 1927, and came home, as MacKenzie wrote Walter Murray in Saskatoon,

quite walking on air. You must have had him at a garage and turned on the air under quite high pressure. It is a question as to whether his old tires will stand it. It is a great thing for a cold-blooded being like myself to see how others can get surcharged with satisfaction and enthusiasm in minor matters of life.

That gets the apposition between the two old friends and colleagues about right.[8]

So MacMechan laid out his position and hopes with President MacKenzie. He had had forty-two years of service at Dalhousie, and for the latter half of that time his salary was inadequate; he had always had to supplement it with journalism or teaching summer schools. The board had twice made him loans, all repaid. He had never had leave. He now asked for a year’s leave with pay, and since his Carnegie pension would be $1,765, he asked if Dalhousie could bring it up to his current salary, $3,500. The board did that, and went one better; half of their addition, $1,735, would go to his wife, after his death, during her lifetime. MacMechan was grateful, especially about the provision for his wife; it seemed to him, towards the end of his long Dalhousie career, that “my forty-two years at Dalhousie have been full of happiness. As I look back the way seems all sunshine, unclouded to the end.”[9] So indeed it was. “The last of the old guard is leaving us,” said the Alumni News in March 1931:

To a whole generation of Dalhousians the thought of the Little College without its historian will be like the Tempest without Ariel, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream without Puck. For there is something of Ariel, something of Puck, in the twinkle of that lively eye; there is a lightness, a gaiety… in him… He was an Ontarian who out-Nova Scotiaed Nova Scotians. He came a stranger, was faced with the suspicion a stranger inevitably involves, but what son of Ultima Thule has done for it and for its story, what he has done?

MacMechan did not escape the effects of the stock market crash of October 1929. Like many another paterfamilias, he had to set to and support one of his married daughters with $1,000, when he was already paying off a bank loan himself. Nevertheless by 1931 MacMechan and his wife were able to go abroad to England for a year and Dalhousie English was taken over by a young tall New Zealander from Jesus College, Cambridge, C.L. Bennet, who had come in 1923 with King’s. He now transferred to Dalhousie and became MacMechan’s successor as head of the English Department for the next thirty years.[10]

The Resignation of President MacKenzie
President MacKenzie, three years younger than MacMechan, had found MacMechan’s kindness and directness had made his own work tolerable. It was true of MacKenzie’s relations with most members of his staff. As he said, it “has been a happiness to me, and I must admit I shall find it hard to leave them.” For MacKenzie, too, was going to retire. In 1929 when the new campaign for funds was being considered, MacKenzie thought he would wait until it had been completed. But with the campaign postponed, the lull in building and other activity seemed to him a good time to allow Dalhousie to look for a new president, different from himself, with different ideas. “It is also a time,” MacKenzie told the board in December 1930, “when the whole organization of the University should be looked into. This University is very different, with its many sides, from the University of 1911 which I undertook to preside over. ” So saying, he placed his resignation, effective 1 July 1931, with the secretary and walked out of the room. The whole board stood up as he left. The board were sad and grateful at the same time. “Never has a man given more unselfishly of himself to any cause,” they agreed, “than has Dr. MacKenzie given of himself to Dalhousie.” The board adjourned to the president’s house, now just five minutes’ walk away on Oxford Street, for Scotch, reminiscences, and mutual commiseration over age, time, and change. MacKenzie’s going would leave a huge gap, difficult to fill. The staff were uneasy too. George Wilson wrote how much affection and respect he had for MacKenzie, hoping “with all my heart that you may see your way clear to remain President for a few more years. ” So did the young dean of law, Sidney Smith, on behalf of his faculty.[11]

But MacKenzie did not change his mind. He replied to Smith that he had thought about it for over a year. A new president had to come sometime; when things were running smoothly was a good time for him “to learn Dalhousie.” MacKenzie did not want to wait until his retirement was “considered a relief. I’m afraid that would finish me.” He was not displeased at what he had accomplished; his own view, given to MacMechan three years later, was that he had made a college into a university, and given it a businesslike administration. That was as accurate as it was realistic. He also recognized that Dalhousie had been heavily preoccupied with building Studley, with the war, with working up the Medical Faculty, and with university federation. Dalhousie had never done much with student and alumni relations, as MacKenzie admitted in 1928 at a reunion to honour R.B. Bennett. Dalhousie, being dependent upon private support, said MacKenzie, should honour those who made possible her progress, “indeed, at times, her very existence.” Bennett was there that day to launch, with $25,000 of his own money, a campaign for $100,000 to endow a Dean Weldon Professorship of Law (Weldon had died in 1925), plus another $100,000 for a library and scholarships. Bennett talked about the Dalhousie traditions of work, adding “not Heaven itself can change the past if it is wasted opportunity.” MacKenzie too would have subscribed to that; he trusted the old steep, lonely paths to learning.[12]

That had worked well enough in the old days when Pictou County and the Presbyterians looked towards, and came to, Dalhousie. But even before the 1925 union of Presbyterians and Methodists in the United Church, those Pictou County loyalties had been decaying; after 1925 Presbyterian loyalty was sending some Presbyterian students to Mount Allison.

Dances and Pep Rallies
By the end of the 1920s Dalhousie seemed less a place of learning than it used to be. The old Dalhousie standards still held, but new mores around dances, cars, and cards were gathering force; against old rocks new waves produced turmoil and undercurrents. In her final report in June 1930, before leaving to become principal of Bishop Strachan School in Toronto, Margaret Lowe pointed out that the lack of an adequate social life at Shirreff Hall was a growing problem and the remedy difficult to prescribe. Since dancing was almost the only form of social entertainment, the out-of-town girls had difficulty developing a social life; those from Halifax who had come through the school system together had already established their acquaintances. “A girl from outside,” said Miss Lowe, “has to be exceptionally attractive to men to be able to break into [it].” This was especially because of “the modern custom of ‘pairing off’ for all social affairs. The girl without a steady partner feels awkward about going [out] unattended.” Nor did the system work well with some men students; “there is a tacit understanding that at the beginning of the year a man selects his partner for the year, and the less affluent men hesitate to bespeak a girl when his means of entertainment are limited.” Hence the very ones, female and male, who needed social experience, were apt to miss out on it.[13]

There were complaints that girls’ success at Dalhousie was too apt to be measured in social terms. “Alice” reported in the Gazette, on 3 December 1930:

I once heard a Dalhousie co-ed questioned as to how another girl was “getting on” at college.

“Oh – uh – not very well, I’m afraid” was the answer.
“Really – I always thought she was clever.”
“Oh, she made five first classes, but I mean she didn’t get to many of the dances.” …

This year a Freshette came up to me at Registration Day and said, “Write down five things for me to take – anything at all but Algebra or Latin. I don’t care. ”

The irony was the freshette could not avoid taking both, unless she preferred Greek to Latin.

At Christmas 1930 Dalhousie was, said the Gazette, on the verge of going dance crazy. For although the Senate could control official Dalhousie dances, it could not, at any rate did not, control student club dances. They had academic and social consequences. Some romantic ones were charmingly metamorphosed into poetry:

A dream I think it was so fair, so fleeting,
Moonlight through a sudden blur of tears:
O Dear Heart, thy golden, golden laughter
Echoing down the garden, down the years.

Academic results were sometimes the price too. In January 1931 came the Christmas examination marks in arts and science: 58 per cent passed all examinations, 18 per cent failed in one, 10 per cent failed in two, 14 per cent failed in three or more subjects. Those who failed in four or more were subject to the rule that they might be asked to leave Dalhousie.

In May 1930 the list of failures had seemed “catastrophic” to MacMechan. Because they were partly owing to declining Nova Scotia school standards in Latin and mathematics, they raised the perennial question of what to do about Dalhousie’s compulsory two years of Latin or Greek. Dalhousie taught them as languages; the Gazette implied what was significant was not how the ancient Greeks and Roman wrote, but what they wrote. The news a year later that Yale had given up Latin for its BA encouraged such attitudes.[14]

American examples had other effects. There was the new habit of organized cheering, imported, said the Gazette disapproving, from American universities. To be entreated to yell oneself hoarse “under the direction of a wildly gesticulating figure” was ridiculous. Pep rallies and other such activities put “undue emphasis on winning a game at the expense of real sportsmanship… absurd manifestations of immaturity.” There were complaints about the Gazette itself from C.F. Fraser (Arts ’31), who said its 1930 tone – silly, shrill, and sophomoric was a disgrace “to the intellectual abilities of Dalhousians.”[15]

That same intellectual character concerned President MacKenzie in finding a new warden for Shirreff Hall. Miss Lowe had been a part-time lecturer in English and French; he always wanted a warden of high academic ability, provided she had the talent for running a women’s residence. To that end he hoped to appoint a young biologist, Dixie Pelluet, a PH.D. just out of Bryn Mawr, a university where MacKenzie himself had taught. She had already accepted an appointment at Rockford College, Illinois, but an exchange of telegrams in June indicated she much preferred Dalhousie. When interviewed in Halifax, she seemed ideal; but when MacKenzie wrote W.A. Maddox of Rockford College asking, president to president, if Dr. Pelluet could be released from her contract, he got “a curt if courteous refusal.” So Dalhousie took the next-best candidate, Anna MacKeen, a Nova Scotian graduate of McGill.[16]

King’s College was an added dimension to the problems of Dalhousie in the late 1920s. King’s gradually discovered that the rules it had agreed to in 1923 to qualify for the Carnegie grant were inconvenient and constraining. President Boyle resigned in 1924 and was succeeded by the Reverend Arthur H. Moore, editor of the Montreal Churchman, an experienced writer and speaker, with some knowledge of business. As president he took a hard look at the terms of the 1923 agreement to see if there were any useful niches to be exploited. In particular, Moore sought amelioration of section 11 (“King’s shall hold in abeyance its power of granting degrees except in Divinity”). W.E. Thompson, secretary of the Dalhousie board, replied firmly that section 11 was one of the cardinal conditions for the Carnegie grant. Moore laboured hard and long to raise the $400,000 required to obtain Carnegie’s $600,000, and succeeded in the nick of time. Dalhousie had to remind him, however, in October 1928, that the $400,000 was not King’s own to use for Divinity, but to be used conjointly with Dalhousie and the $600,000 to establish university instruction for both King’s and Dalhousie students.[17]

The cornerstone for the new King’s College was laid on 9 May 1929. The buildings were unofficially opened with a three-day King’s Alumni reunion in August 1930, and officially, on 2 October. That meant that Dalhousie was free to resume its possession of Birchdale, though too late in 1930 to be of any use to Dalhousie for 1930-1. Birchdale was the handsome seven-acre property on the North-West Arm that Dalhousie had bought in 1920 as a men’s residence. It had been leased reluctantly to King’s in 1923. The old hotel had not been improved by its seven-year occupation by fifty to seventy King’s students. The Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Dalhousie board thought it would require $45,000 just to restore and refurnish it, which was more than the entire building was worth. In December 1930 it was decided to raze the building, deferring for the moment construction of a new one. Birchdale (Dalhousie called it University Hall) carried a mortgage of $100,000, and it was decided to pay off $30,000 of that and take advantage of the offer of a contractor to raze Birchdale for nothing, if allowed to take what he wanted.[18]

As Birchdale was coming down, another building was going up on the Dalhousie campus, invited there by Dalhousie, but rather apart from it: the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia did not have an archives until an anonymous Nova Scotian offered to provide it if the provincial government would support it. MacKenzie and the Dalhousie board liked the idea of having it on the campus, and offered land. Andrew Cobb designed the handsome building. It is still there, still elegant, now occupied by the Dalhousie Mathematics Department. The Nova Scotia government, under Conservative Premier Edgar Rhodes, made an unusual arrangement – the Archives would be run by “a responsible Board which would have direct supervision of the design, construction and maintenance… which would function in perpetuity free from political or other adverse influences. ”

The Archives of Nova Scotia was formally opened on 14 January 1931 with the unknown donor present. It was W.H. Chase, from the Annapolis Valley, on the Dalhousie board since 1916. The first archivist was Daniel Cobb Harvey (1886-1966), a Dalhousie Rhodes Scholar of 1910, brought from the University of Manitoba. He had been wanting to return to Dalhousie for many years, and as well as his duties in the Archives, became lecturer in history. D.C. Harvey was a fine scholar, commanding a terse, elegant prose that carried authority. He sometimes wore a sad air, as if he felt he had not got from the world what he thought he deserved. But he had a saving sense of humour; after a colleague’s paper on whaling in the South Seas, Harvey remarked to a young woman, “Pretty dull stuff, wasn’t it? Not even the rustle of a grass skirt!”[19] The Archives building was first used by Dalhousie for the 1931 convocation. Early on 7 May 1931 the Dalhousie gymnasium, built in 1921, burned down in a spectacular fire. Dalhousie examinations, convocations, had all been held there. The loss amounted to $51,000, covered half by insurance; but the replacement, begun at once under MacKenzie’s urging, would cost $150,000. There were rumours that the fire was arson, set by a disgruntled student, and there were even a few who claimed to know who the culprit was, though no charge was ever made.[20]

Appointing a New President
By May 1931 the search for a new president was well under way. That January the board sent Pearson and MacKenzie to New York, Montreal, and Ottawa to look for presidential possibilities. They discussed them with the prime minister, R.B. Bennett. They had already circulated other university presidents for information and suggestions. By March they had a list of fifty candidates with profiles of twenty of them. Twelve names were selected; who the candidates actually were was a secret, well kept as it happened.[21]

From the beginning the board seemed to have been thinking more of external candidates, as there were no obvious internal ones. Murray Macneill had nursed the idea in 1911 that, had MacKenzie been unwilling to return to Dalhousie, the board might well have risked asking him, the thirty-five-year-old registrar, to be president. He would then have accepted. Mrs. Macneill, one of Dalhousie’s more delightful hostesses, thought in 1931 her husband should have been asked. Macneill said, however, that in 1931 “nothing could have induced” him to be president. The new dean of law, Sidney Smith, appointed in 1929, was a possibility. C.J. Burchell, a powerful downtown lawyer, urged Smith’s appointment as strongly as he could with friends on the board. But Smith was young, only thirty-four, a vivid and flamboyant lecturer; his law examinations not infrequently featured a Halifax law firm, Stickem, Good and Proper; the board’s other lawyers were not adventurous. Three years later Smith accepted the presidency of the University of Manitoba.[22]

Of external candidates, there was a short list of three, of whom two names are known: A.L. Burt, recently appointed professor of history at the University of Minnesota, and Carleton Stanley, assistant to the president of McGill and professor of Greek. Letters went out in late April inviting them to Halifax to see and be seen. A.L. Burt (1888- 1970), two years younger than Stanley, was an Ontario Rhodes Scholar who had been head of history at the University of Alberta before migrating to Minnesota in 1930. Of Burt’s Halifax visit little is known; in any case he was not Dalhousie’s first choice. On Carleton Stanley there is much more, not least because his own personal papers are extensive.

Carleton Stanley in April 1931 was the heir apparent to the principalship of McGill. Sir Arthur Currie, the principal, had taken leave for six months while he attended the opening of the new Indian Parliament in New Delhi as official representative of Canada. Stanley, a friend of the chancellor, Edward Beatty, would be Currie’s replacement during his absence. Named assistant to the principal, he hated the title; he wanted to be acting principal, or vice-principal. But he was in command at McGill, and he got to like it. Many began to find him a very different animal from Currie, the unobtrusive old warrior.[23]

When Sir Arthur Currie returned in April 1931 he knew of Dalhousie’s offer, which Stanley had been mulling over for a week. Halifax was tempting: better schools for his children; an excellent house, as opposed to the one he had in Mount Royal which his father-in-law, Professor W.J. Alexander, thought limited and shabby; affordable domestic help for his wife Isabel and their two children. Moreover, Isabel Stanley had been born in Halifax and her mother was a Haligonian. Stanley’s immediate ambition, however, was to be principal of McGill and he did not want to compromise that possibility. But Currie was only fifty-six years old, and it might be a few years before the McGill principalship became open. These were the balances in Stanley’s mind when he went to see Currie on 1 May.[24]

Whether from Currie or from Beatty, Stanley got enough encouragement about his prospects at McGill to send a refusal to Pearson. But Pearson was anxious that Stanley visit Halifax before coming to any decision. “I think it is of greater importance that a prospective President of Dalhousie should fall in love with the opportunity for hard work presented than that we should, at first sight, select him because we like the colour of his hair or are impressed with his stature.” Stanley decided to come to Halifax for a visit, Pearson making it clear that he was still entirely at liberty to turn the offer down. Stanley was at Dalhousie for four days in May 1930, and he was impressed:

What did amaze me was the sheer pub.[lic] spirit of every single Gov.[ernor] I met. A good committee man could use that team to do an endless good for the whole country. Hx [sic] always has been the friendliest place in the world, I enjoyed myself; but through all the hospitality I cd. feel the hard-headed determ[inatio]n. to get the best man poss. and to have Dal. get on.[25]

Dalhousie was sufficiently hard-headed that in the middle of Stanley’s visit MacKenzie wrote to an old friend and former colleague, Daniel Murray, newly retired as professor of mathematics at McGill, about him. MacKenzie knew of Stanley’s scholarly reputation, but what of his other side? Some McGill men were saying he was unpopular, “very opinionative [s/c] and for that reason makes a poor executive.” Murray replied that he knew Stanley only from the McGill Faculty Club, that he was “frank, straight-forward and outspoken.” What his reserves of executive tact and patience were, Murray had no way of knowing.[26]

Stanley was tempted. Though his relations with Currie were friendly, Currie was not an academic, and “with the best will in the world [Currie] can hardly realize the needs.” Stanley believed be did. On 16 June Pearson wired R.B. Bennett; would he talk to W.A. Black (MP for Halifax, 1923-34), and William Herridge (Bennett’s brother-in-law) about Stanley? Murray Macneill, in Montreal on his way overseas, was astonished to find, after all the favourable information, a number of people who at the mention of Stanley as president “threw up their hands in horror and cry ‘impossible’, ‘ruin’, ‘a quarter century of stagnation’.” One person at McGill in whom Macneill had great confidence was D.A. Murray, and he favoured Stanley. When Macneill’s letter reached Halifax, MacKenzie sent a radio message to the Doric, asking Macneill whose opinions he had been reporting, but Macneill could not divulge that. The board met on 23 June; that evening, sweetening its salary offer to $10,000 (MacKenzie’s salary was $7,500), it moved that Stanley be appointed. He accepted, resigning from McGill on 10 July 1931.[27]

Shipping his household effects, Stanley and his family set out for Halifax. He arrived on a rainy day in late July, his car with a broken spring, a flat tire where the spare was, his wife with a ulcerated tooth, to discover that the CNR freight car containing his household goods had been broken into. Pearson wrote that he was entitled to some sympathy, but he would be all right. “Don’t forget ‘there is only one God (Dalhousie) and Stanley is his prophet.’”[28] That may not have been the best advice; Stanley was ready to be both God and prophet.

President Carleton Stanley
The president Dalhousie got was exceptional. Born in 1886 in Rhode Island, his father from Derbyshire and his mother Irish, he was brought up in Canada. After two boys and two girls, the father left, surfacing only every so often. Young Carleton worked from the age of eleven, as church janitor and driving a milk delivery truck, managing to put himself through school and the University of Toronto, where in 1911 he took the Rhodes and two gold medals. His discipline was classics. At New College, Oxford, in 1913 he took first class in Greats (classics), the only colonial, his tutor told him, who had ever been given a clear first in Greek and Latin prose composition.[29]

Stanley spent some time in Germany, touring it by train and bicycle with Frank Underhill, some of whose ideas he shared and whose lifelong friend he remained. Stanley was comfortable with German; he was good enough to be an External Affairs examiner in German translation during the Second World War. Indeed, Stanley’s linguistic accomplishments were formidable: Latin and Greek, of course; French and German; enough Spanish for business dealings. And his classical disciplines had tempered and sharpened his English. The rich vocabulary of English in weasel words, forms of hypocrisy built into the language, Carleton Stanley would have none of: his English was trenchant, forceful, at times almost vehement. He said what he meant. Vivacity is the impression left by his letters: a well-read mind, a versatile intelligence, deployed with energy. A good example is a 1931 letter to a member of the board whom he liked, Dugald Macgillivray, general manager of Eastern Trust, in which he registered surprise at learning from President Moore of King’s that neither Greek nor Hebrew were compulsory for the King’s degree in divinity. Stanley was indignant:

We can and must wake up to the fact that this and other things of the kind – notably a similar dearth of Mathematics – means simply a lapse from civilisation. Filling up our schools and colleges with alleged economics, alleged psychology, alleged sociology, in place of these fundamental studies is nothing less than the American “primrose path” to barbarism.

No man is a hero to his valet, it is sometimes said, but Stanley was a hero to his secretary, Lola Henry, with whom he worked rapidly and skilfully on his own and Dalhousie’s correspondence. She found it a joy to work for such a president.[30]

His social sympathies were with the underdog; he had come up the hard way himself. He knew and liked many of the socialist intellectuals of his day, including Laski in England, Frank Underhill, Frank Scott, King Gordon, and others in Canada; but he associated easily with businessmen, having been one, and he came to know Edward Beatty, chairman of the board of the CPR, William Herridge, and through Herridge, R.B. Bennett. It was part of the ease with which he met and greeted men and women of the great world outside universities.

Stanley was apt to make his own decisions on his own strong premises; he was not a man who found consultation natural. Nor was it easy for him to accept advice that went contrary to his own instincts. He was a man not easily persuaded; he could be stubborn, determined, wilful. His own thinking could change, but mainly from his own internal processes, and he was not always aware of them. Stanley sometimes reminded people of Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean, – neither more nor less.’” Many years later his wife said much the same.

Stanley met Isabel Alexander while in Toronto, teaching classics at Victoria College. His eyesight kept him out of the army, but he found teaching rather thin going financially and in 1916 he went into the cloth-importing business in Montreal. He seems to have been successful enough at it, but in 1925 the McGill professorship of Greek opened up, so Stanley applied and was appointed. Ambitious, he wanted a substantial honours program in classics and mathematics and at the same time a strengthening of those subjects in the Quebec high schools. These efforts, and his spirited defence of academic values, brought him to the attention of important members of the McGill community, especially Edward Beatty.

Now he had come to Dalhousie, brilliant, used to acting on his own, driven by a strong sense of duty, and not altogether aware of his limitations. One wise friend told him in October 1931 that all will be well if you let Dalhousie “flower to its own ethos.” It was percipient advice, for both Stanley and Dalhousie. Stanley could not guarantee “in this fluctuating and distracting age” that that could be done. In 1936, five years later, he would quote Molière,

C’est une folie à nulle autre seconde
Vouloir se mêler de corriger le monde

but believing it only partly true. A translation of it might be rendered,

It’s the worst of follies being hurled
At trying to reform the world.[31]

Stanley threw himself into his work, armed with ideas, reforms, penchants, upon a university community that was slow to change. It was willing to listen, but was not used to being instructed in crisp language what best it ought to do, and by a man from Toronto and McGill at that. To masses of good advice from Pearson, Stanley paid only a modicum of attention. He might well have benefited from reflecting on the Nova Scotian definition of an expert: “an s.o.b. from out of town.” Stanley did little to meet this innate uneasiness. When he first came to work Monday, 3 August he was introduced to Murray Macneill, the registrar, by Beatrice Smith, secretary in the office. “Mr. Macneill knows everything,” said Miss Smith with a smile. That did not endear him to Stanley. To Macneill, who offered help and information, Stanley made it clear that he would not need much of either, and certainly not from Murray Macneill. The two men took an instant dislike to each other.[32]

The Senate was more tolerant and patient. Pearson went to some pains to educate Stanley about Senate. He was at Stanley’s office several times a week the first six months, at Stanley’s request, to give him advice; he also suggested his should be balanced with advice from others. Pearson was particular about Senate, notably its power under the Statute of 1863, Dalhousie’s fundamental charter: section 7 committed the internal regulation of the university to the Senate, subject to the approval of the board, not the president. Whatever the president did, in the long run he could only function properly by and with cooperation from Senate. A Senate with its heels dug in was to be avoided. It had, after all, defeated even as well-liked a president as MacKenzie on the Gowanloch affair just a few months before.[33]

Stanley found it difficult to take that in, or at least to absorb fully its implications. He was the more disposed to take his own line when he found that a number of members of Senate were not particularly brilliant, many with reputations that did not reach beyond the three-mile limit. He was too poor a hypocrite to prevent his views from showing even at his first meeting with Senate on 15 October 1931. The next meeting he did not attend, after which there was no Senate meeting until January 1932. He succeeded in giving Senate the impression he was going to run Dalhousie as he thought best.

Stanley’s official inauguration on 9 October 1931, at the Capitol Theatre on Barrington Street, was a considerable affair. In 1911 MacKenzie said he had no time for an inauguration, but that would not have been Stanley’s way. The board tried hard to get R.B. Bennett to come, rescheduling the ceremony in that hope. But the business of being prime minister was too pressing even for Bennett’s energies; what the board did do was arrange to have Bennett’s ten-minute speech relayed from Ottawa by telephone, then broadcast directly through loudspeakers to the assembled throng. It was pronounced a great success both as engineering and speech.

Stanley then followed, setting out his basic philosophy. Standards of scholarship at Dalhousie needed raising in those foundation subjects, mathematics and classics, and also the level of its graduates. It was not entirely Dalhousie’s fault; schools in Canada were failing the students and the universities were failing the high school teachers in not providing training adequate for effective teaching of mathematics and classics. Moreover, boys after a certain age needed to be taught by men teachers, not women. In Canada the universities were probably getting the best brains from the schools, but they were not giving them back as teachers, especially what Stanley called “the very best male brains.” These were disappearing into the professions, and thus, for teaching the next generation, their skills were lost.

Dr. H.B. Atlee added comments of his own a year later. It was hopeless, he wrote Stanley, to expect much improvement in the secondary schools. Nova Scotian colleges would have to improve themselves first. “If my study of human history is correct it is from the top that improvement comes and not from the bottom.” Atlee had been brought up in Annapolis Royal and was under no illusions about virtues inherent in rural Nova Scotia. He exaggerated, as usual, but there was experience in what he said. Rural Nova Scotia “is reactionary and timid; fearful and parsimonious;… and cannot be moved by any other force than an actual demonstration of what can be done. ”

With something of his own philosophy in mind, Stanley persuaded the Board of Governors to establish four entrance scholarships for male students, two each in mathematics and classics. The board even found a donor to produce the money. So far, so good. The terms on which such scholarships were to be won were, however, Senate’s to lay down. The first Senate knew of it was the announcement in the newspapers, terms and all. But Senate did not repine; much could be forgiven a president who was on the right side of standards, even if he did seem to be taking short cuts.[34]

The Prime Minister Quarrels with R.A. MacKay
Working with President Stanley was not Fred Pearson’s only difficulty that autumn. On 15 October there appeared in Maclean’s an article by Professor R.A. MacKay, “After Beauharnois – what?” It was on the implications of the Beauharnois scandal for Canadian political parties, especially for their campaign funds. MacKay was thirty-eight years old and had been Dalhousie’s Eric Dennis professor of political science since 1927. The article was not shrill or vituperative; but it had not taken full account of the latest evidence from parliamentary committees. MacKay concluded that the Beauharnois scandal showed that both political parties had “become pensioners of selfish interests, ” and that election laws needed changing to protect the public.

What really annoyed the prime minister was the Conservative party being lumped in with the Liberal party. The Beauharnois promoters had given some $700,000 to the Liberal party for the federal election of 1930, and though they offered money to the Conservatives, on Bennett’s instructions, it was presumed, his party refused to touch it. Not only that, but on Mackenzie King’s urgent request, Bennett had agreed to suppress evidence of King’s Bermuda hotel being paid by Senator McDougald, a Beauharnois promoter. (It got out because a Progressive MP refused to accept the suppression.) Thus the prime minister, a governor of Dalhousie University, took umbrage at MacKay’s article. In December 1931 Bennett made it known that he might resign from the board, or not allow himself to be re-elected (his second six-year term was up in 1932), because R.A. MacKay had not been fired. Pearson and Stanley both attributed that to temporary petulance, but thought Bennett’s remarks ought to be kept quiet. Stanley liked critical journalism; and he was right in believing that “it would be almost disastrous for the P.M.’s reputation if it got abroad that he was potting at a rather obscure young professor. Just think, ” he wrote to W.D. Herridge, “of the damage done to himself if someone like J.S. [John Stevenson] in Ottawa got hold of this.” Stanley also pointed out that Mackenzie King, the leader of the opposition, had been in Halifax in November, met a student club, and encountering Professor MacKay, promptly pitched into him for the Maclean’s article. There were cogent reasons for trying to cool Bennett down.

Pearson, too, wanted very much to keep Bennett on the board and wrote directly to him, explaining how the article had come out as it did. MacKay, said Pearson, was something of an idealist, at times of the Don Quixote kind, who felt it his duty to draw the moral from Beauharnois for students and public. When Maclean’s told him his article was accepted, he read over his draft copy and decided he had gone further than the evidence warranted and asked that certain statements be deleted. It was too late; Maclean’s had already gone to press.

Bennett was not altogether mollified. No one had the right to say that he was in the pay of any interests. Surely Professor MacKay had not forgotten that in 1927, when Bennett become leader of the Conservative party, he had stated he no longer had commitments to any business firm, that he had resigned all his directorships and sold a good deal of his stock. MacKay “may be an idealist,” Bennett grumbled, “but I am sure you will agree that untruthfulness and idealism are not synonymous, and that idealism is not usually expressed in slanderous or libellous words.” That was heavy-handed, for there was little of either; still, in April 1932 Bennett postponed the question of his membership on the board for subsequent discussion. Pearson was grateful, for, as he wrote Bennett, “We are going through a most difficult period at the moment and if ever we needed friends and supporters it is now. ” That difficulty was the rift, rancorous and widening, between himself and President Stanley.[35]

Pearson Is Brought Down
None of the contentious issues were of much importance in themselves, but by March 1932, they had cumulated suddenly into a fearful realization by Pearson that Stanley was the wrong man as president. Pearson had grown up with Dalhousie, graduating in 1900 in law, and had been living with its ways of working since he had first come on the board in 1916. Charming and brilliant, Pearson can also be judged by his friends, G.E. Wilson, J.L. Ilsley, Maynard Archibald (later of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia). Pearson was not just a loyal Dalhousian but a passionate one, a bonding established across thirty years and more. Now he saw Senate being bypassed by a new (and imported) president, and surely deliberately, for Stanley had been instructed by Pearson repeatedly about the importance of Senate. Stanley ignored Senate over the Armistice Day service; after Christmas he sent home thirty students who had failed four or more classes, of whom, according to Pearson, at least eight or ten should not have been dismissed; on 3 March 1932 a quarrel arose over the Dalhousie Review and H.L. Stewart’s editorship, when Pearson told Stanley “he was a God-damned fool.” The culmination was a row with the students over a post-Glee Club dance, proposed for Friday, 18 March, which for some years past Senate had permitted the students to hold. The president prohibited it. The Gazette protested; it was true, the Gazette said, that Dalhousie students may have had too many dances, but the president’s action was not the way to solve it.

Pearson brought the current state of affairs before the board executive on 24 March, with the strong suggestion that President Stanley’s actions should be reviewed after convocation. The executive asked Stanley to call a Senate meeting forthwith, at which, so it was said, he told them what “a mutinous crew” they were. Stanley seems to have concluded, however, that Senate’s alleged unhappiness was a teapot tempest brewed in Pearson’s mind.[36]

On a trip to New York together later that month, the two men had the torture of occupying the same drawing-room on the train. After their return, over a period of ten days in early April, Stanley told eleven professors individually that he had had a miserable winter fighting the board to prevent cuts in salaries, and that members of the board had encouraged students over the dance issue. Both assertions, according to Pearson, were untrue; certainly the board had not proposed any reductions in salary. It seemed to Pearson that Stanley was working to ingratiate himself with Senate against the board. Pearson then saw four of the eleven – Dean Smith of Law, Professors R.J. Bean of Medicine, Howard Bronson of Science, and George Wilson of History, who confirmed what Stanley had said. When the executive committee of the board put this to him, Stanley denied most of it. The four however repeated their evidence at an executive meeting on 4 May. Pearson summed up his long indictment of Stanley to the board on 21 May 1932:

A year ago we were a happy family at Dalhousie. The Board, the President, members of the Staff, and the student body were pulling together… That is not so today. The Board is the same, the members of the staff are the same, and the student body is practically the same. Only the President has changed and it is significant that conditions changed with him.

Stanley’s reply on 6 June was an attack on Pearson personally rather than an answer to the points Pearson raised. On that day, at a meeting of the full board, which heard Pearson’s charges and Stanley’s defence, Pearson asked, as chairman, if anyone wished to present a motion. No one did. Pearson proposed his own, that a committee of three be appointed to investigate the administration of President Stanley, to take evidence, and to report as soon as possible. No one supported it. Pearson resigned at once, stunned and bitter.

There were headlines in the Halifax Chronicle the next day: “Dalhousie Chairman Resigns When Board Declines Probe.” But no information was available. “Governors are Mute,” said the Chronicle. Governors, Stanley, and Pearson were in damage control mode; they simply closed ranks. Pearson’s parting shot was a long letter refuting Stanley’s defence. By then the board was weary of the issue and wished to put it behind them. All it would say to Pearson was that its duty was to give the new president a chance to get properly into the saddle, to familiarize himself with Dalhousie and Nova Scotia. “It was in the best interest of the University that the matters referred to in your letter had better not be re-opened.” But it did publish, anonymously, a severely limited edition of the correspondence.[37]

Carleton Stanley had won. He had learned something from the episode; but in the process several professors who had tried to adjudicate between Senate and Stanley, between Pearson and Stanley found that Stanley did not forget. He could not get rid of them but he did not have to forgive them.

In that strange conflict there was no clear and unequivocal truth. Stanley was capable of twisting truth, for the perverse reason that he set great store by it, and would do his utmost to have it on his side, even if it meant suppressing inconvenient facts. Pearson had a temper and was sometimes capable of making mountains out of molehills. In the absence of any substantial collection of documents about Stanley’s appointment, one can only surmise: Pearson may have been more ready to appoint Stanley than was President MacKenzie, and Pearson’s subsequent animus may have been owing to feeling betrayed by Stanley and by his own judgment.

Friends of Dalhousie and Pearson, who knew Stanley, were baffled by the quarrel and its bitterness; but few believed the fault was all Pearson’s. In August 1932 Stanley was told by a friend and admirer, J.M. Macdonnell of the National Trust, Toronto, that the criticism he had heard of Stanley’s administration at Dalhousie was that he was in too much of a hurry; he had taken “too little time to come to an understanding of the conditions… and have not been considerate enough of your colleagues.” You’ve been driving them, not leading them, said Macdonnell.[38]

Stanley’s reply was to admit that Macdonnell was 55 per cent correct. His most effective defence was over the Christmas examinations rule that required students to discontinue their year if they failed four classes. Some in Senate believed that if the rule were to be continued at all, it ought to be enforced. It may be recalled that in 1922 the local newspapers put pressure on the application of that rule, and since that time it had been largely disregarded. “The students,” said Stanley, “have laughed ever since.” Stanley told Senate that if anything more drastic than usual were done at Christmas 1931 about enforcing the rule, that he, as the new president, would be blamed. Stanley never minded taking blame; if Senate wanted to restore the rule’s function, then he would back Senate to the hilt. Thirty students, 3 per cent of the university, were thus asked to discontinue after Christmas. The one dissenting voice to this process, according to Stanley, was the registrar, Murray Macneill,

who, I was warned by Pearson & every one else, was the great troublemaker of the University, & of whom I heard my predecessor complain as far back as 1927. Not only was he impossible in meetings – he talked sympathetically to suspended students & their parents.

Another of Stanley’s criticisms to Macdonnell was the Dalhousie order of classes. Dalhousie’s twenty classes, with a few obvious exceptions in the case of languages and mathematics, could be taken in whatever sequence fitted the students’ timetables. This was, Stanley asserted, “a barbarous, or American innovation of my predecessor. The only person on the Arts staff who defended it was the aforesaid prof, of maths., registrar and trouble maker.” The reason for it was timetable exigencies of professors, and to Stanley those were caused by insufficient staff.

But the real reason why Macdonnell was 55 per cent right, Stanley said, was because he knew himself to be, almost unconsciously, a taker of short cuts. Further, he and his wife both were

unconventional, unworldly, and unrespectable. What I know is that this is a highly and deeply conservative, conventional, worldly and respectable community. I feel they have conserved more things worth conserving than any conservatives I know of on this continent, and that their respectability cloaks fewer vices and less offensive vices than troubled me elsewhere in the last twelve years of my life. Yet I am just beginning to discover now that headshaking has gone over my taking my exercise, as I did at Toronto and McGill, by walking with students (male students, I hasten to add). What an undignified thing for a University President to do!But, Jim, I can only be myself, pedestrian, persevering, and an endless embarrassment to the unstraightforward. Gott helfe mir, as Luther said, ich kann nicht anders.[39]

That is as fair a defence of Stanley as can be found. It gets him, and perhaps the Halifax of the 1930s, about right.

Stanley’s predecessor, President Emeritus A.S. MacKenzie, believed that Pearson had handled his side of the affair badly; but he also thought the board should have backed him and investigated his charges against Stanley. MacMechan thought that Pearson’s charges amounted to very little, certainly not enough to unseat an incumbent president; but “Pearson’s position is tragic none the less.” Indeed it was. There was some irony in Pearson’s advice to Stanley, in happier days in July 1931, about Joyce Harris, bursar and president’s secretary. She was difficult to get along with, Pearson said, but she had great capacity for work and she was loyal, almost too much so. She staunchly believed the president needed protecting, that “her chief was a much put upon individual and that he should not be harassed and distressed by the inconsequential difficulties of the impractical professors who adorn the staff of the University.” You might not want to begin by firing her; leave it to me, Pearson suggested. “I’ll give it careful thought… I do not wish to come back ‘from the ride / With the Chairman inside / And a smile on the face of the tiger.’

The tiger Pearson meant was Joyce Harris; the real tiger was Carleton Stanley. Dr. H.B. Atlee, who knew and respected Pearson, claimed it was Pearson who persuaded the Murray government in 1910 to establish the commission management of the Victoria General Hospital, and thus take the running of the hospital out of politics. Pearson was also the driving force behind the Public Health Clinic established in 1924. “During the 1920s,” said Atlee, “he was the beating heart of Dalhousie.” When his colleagues failed him in June 1932, Pearson was a broken man. After sixteen years as an unselfish and devoted member of the board, all his connections with Dalhousie were severed. He was only fifty-five years old, but he lived only another five years.[40]

In all of this the former president kept his distance, keeping out of it as much as possible. One thing that upset MacKenzie and brought him out of retirement was President Stanley’s dismissal in 1933 of Zaidee Harris, the assistant librarian, which MacKenzie believed was a gross injustice. She was knowledgeable, but was also deaf and, like her sister Joyce, sometimes difficult to work with. He rallied MacMechan around and the two old colleagues went to the new chairman of the board, Hector Mclnnes (LL.B. ’88), to see if they could get her reinstated. Mclnnes said Zaidee Harris had refused to do extra work, and C.L. Bennet, chairman of the Library Committee, agreed she should be dismissed.[41]

MacMechan was teaching summer school in 1933, as he always had had to do. He was reading new books for “The Dean’s Window,” his column in the Montreal Standard. From time to time MacMechan’s leg would become painful with swelling in the ankle or calf. He knew his heart was weak; suddenly, on Monday evening, 7 August, it just gave out. His funeral was at Fort Massey, his church from the beginning; he was buried in Camp Hill cemetery, where he would have liked it, amid the trees and sunsets of Nova Scotia, that he had so often celebrated.

MacMechan was a teacher as much as a writer. He always said a teacher was made not by tricks of method but by the transparent love of his subject and his desire to impart it to students. MacMechan’s classes, as the Gazette noted, exemplified Edward Thring’s definition of education, “the transmission of life from the living, through the living, to the living.” He had his whims and prejudices; one might not agree with his estimate of Sir Walter Scott, Kipling, or Jane Austen; but, said the Gazette, “he made them gloriously alive.” MacMechan was a happy man who had had a good life, and his dignity, courtesy, gentleness, and generosity was its outward expression.[42]

Coming back from MacMechan’s funeral, Carleton Stanley could survey his Dalhousie with some complacency. He had had a rough introduction, but he had triumphed over his opposition. A vigorous chairman of board, rival in a potential dyarchy that threatened to divide his rule as president, had been driven from the field in disorder. Pearson’s replacement, Hector Mclnnes, was seventy-two, and if wiser much less active. Stanley’s other enemies were subdued and brooding. Only the fact that there had been a row had got abroad; the printed version was hard to find, seemingly being kept within the close circle of the Dalhousie governors. Stanley admitted that the row had been bad for the university; it would take him a while to pick up the pieces. But notwithstanding that, as he wrote a St. James Club friend in Montreal after Pearson’s defeat, “it has been a most interesting year, and we have got a great deal done. The University has endless possibilities because there is such excellent human stuff in it. Also, the whole family likes Halifax exceedingly.”[43] By 1933 Stanley was fairly launched upon his Dalhousie presidency.


  1. For the Gowanloch affair at Dalhousie and the Symons at King’s, see Henry Roper, “Two Scandals in Academe,” Collections, Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, vol. 43 (1991), pp. 127-45. The story of Gowanloch’s lecture in full evening clothes is given by Constance McFarlane (BA '29, MSC '32), interview with Constance McFarlane, 25 June 1989, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 27, Dalhousie University Archives. The most important archival source is President's Office Fonds, “James Nelson Gowanloch,” UA-3, Box 92, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives. Letters about his bills occur in 1923, 1924, and especially 1930. His essay is in Dalhousie Gazette, 9 Nov. 1928; the banquet, with a picture of him, is in the Gazette, 23 Nov. 1928. For his sonnet, see Dalhousie Review 9 (1929-30), p. 100. Reference to his broadcasts is in Dalhousie Gazette, 18 Jan. 1929. His example was followed in 1929 by what were called university extension lectures by President MacKenzie, on Maritime provinces’ scientific research, and by Archibald MacMechan on recent developments in Nova Scotian literature.
  2. Memo for the President, 20 Mar. 1930, by G.F. Pearson, President's Office Fonds, "James Nelson Gowanloch," UA-3, Box 92, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives. The description of Eleanor is from Mrs. Phyllis Skeen Ross, who was at Shirreff Hall at the time, interview with Phyllis Skeen Ross in Halifax, 19 June 1989, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 53, Dalhousie University Archives. “Picked chicken” was a Bermuda expression for someone who was scrawny and scraggly, perhaps with a few feathers missing.
  3. A long memorandum of seven pages written about 18 Mar. 1930 by Margaret Lowe, President's Office Fonds, UA-3, Box 92, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives. The story about Eleanor’s father coming to town with a gun was told to me by Professor George Wilson in the 1950s.
  4. Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, 24 Mar. 1930, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 19 Mar. 1930; 2 May 1930, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives. See Roper, “Two Scandals,” pp. 140-2.
  5. Senate Minutes, 17 Apr., 14 May 1930, Dalhousie University Archives; Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, 24 Mar. 1930, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; Senate Minutes, 9 Oct. 1930; Eleanor’s Sponsio Academica is in Dalhousie University Archives, Dalhousie graduation records, signed in Hantsport, 24 Oct. 1930.
  6. Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, 12 May 1930, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. MacMechan here refers to Thomas Gray, the author of “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”; the poem quoted from is “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.”
  7. President's Office Fonds, “Howard Murray,” UA-3, Box 98, Folder 15, Dalhousie University Archives. Janet Murray was left with a very small income and would need the widow’s pension for which MacKenzie solicited the Carnegie Corporation, 16 Sept. 1930.
  8. Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, 2 Jan., 30 May 1930, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; letter from A.S. MacKenzie to Walter C. Murray, 1 Dec. 1927, President's Office Fonds, "Archibald MacMechan," UA-3, Box 95, Folder 25, Dalhousie University Archives. Murray was president of the University of Saskatchewan from 1908 to 1937 and former Munro professor of philosophy at Dalhousie.
  9. Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, 23 Oct. 1930, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; MacMechan to A.S. MacKenzie, 29 Dec. 1930, President's Office Fonds, "Archibald MacMechan," UA-3, Box 95, Folder 25; Archibald MacMechan Fonds, c. 1930, W.E. Thompson to MacMechan, 27 Jan. 1931, MS-2-82, Box 15, Folder 55, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 10 Jan. 1931, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives.
  10. Board of Governors Minutes, 8 Oct. 1929, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives; Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, 8 Nov. 1929, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. MacMechan had three daughters, all of whom were married. For C.L. Bennet, see Helene Sandford Bennet, Back in the Days, A Reminiscence (privately printed 1987), lent to me through the kindness of Mrs. Bennet and her son Jim.
  11. Letter from A.S. MacKenzie to MacMechan, 29 Dec. 1930, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 11, Folder 24, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 2 Dec. 1930, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives; letter from G.E. Wilson to A.S. MacKenzie, 3 Dec. 1930; letter from J.C. Tory to A.S. MacKenzie, 4 Dec. 1930; letter from Sidney Smith to A.S. MacKenzie, 3 Dec. 1930, Arthur Stanley MacKenzie Fonds, MS-2-43, Box 1, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  12. MacKenzie’s reply to Smith is in University of Toronto Archives, Sidney Smith Papers, vol. 13, MacKenzie to Smith, 2 Jan. 1931. Mackenzie’s speech in honour of R.B. Bennett was on 9 Mar. 1929, reported in Dalhousie Gazette, 16 Mar. 1929.
  13. E. Margaret Lowe to the president, "General Report" on Shirreff Hall, 30 June 1930, President's Office Fonds, "Shirreff Hall, 1919-1949" UA-3, Box 241, Folder 5, Dalhousie University Archives.
  14. See the Gazette editorial in its Christmas issue, 3 Dec. 1930, “The Social Whirl.” The poem is by Florence Brewster in Dalhousie Gazette, 7 Dec. 1928. For exami-nation results, see the Gazette, 14 Jan. 1931. Yale is noticed in the Gazette, 5 Nov. 1931. The Dalhousie calendar was specific, that if students failed at Christmas in more than two-thirds of their classes (i.e., four classes) that “they shall be advised and, in extreme cases, may be required to discontinue attendance at the University for the remainder of the session.”
  15. Dalhousie Gazette, 29 Oct. 1930.
  16. Margaret Lowe to A.S. MacKenzie, 1 May 1930, President's Office Fonds, "Margaret Lowe," UA-3, Box 95, Folder 26, Dalhousie University Archives; letter from Dixie Pelluet to A.S. MacKenzie, 15 June 1930, from New York; MacKenzie to Pelluet, 18, 19 June 1930, telegrams; Pelluet to MacKenzie, 18 June 1930, telegram; MacKenzie to W.A. Maddox, 23 June 1930; Maddox to MacKenzie, 27 June 1930; MacKenzie to Pelluet, 3 July 1930, President's Office Fonds, "Dixie Pelluet," UA-3, Box 99, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives.
  17. Letter from A.H. Moore to A.S. MacKenzie, 23 Dec. 1925; W.E. Thompson to Moore, 8 Jan., 5 Feb. 1926; Thompson to Moore, 14 Oct. 1928, reply to Moore’s of 12 May, President's Office Fonds, "King's 1925-1930," UA-3, Box 342, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives.
  18. Board of Governors Minutes, 4 July, 30 Oct., 2 Dec. 1930, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives.
  19. Letter from Edgar Rhodes to J.C. Webster, 10 Jan. 1929 (copy); Webster to G.F. Pearson, 3 Feb. 1929, from Shediac; Rhodes to G.F. Pearson, 22 Feb. 1929, President's Office Fonds, "Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1924-1930," UA-3, Box 265, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives. The reminiscence of D.C. Harvey I owe to Miss Shirley Elliott, interview with Shirley Elliott, 11 Mar. 1992, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 2, Folder 76, Dalhousie University Archives.
  20. Board of Governors Minutes, 7 May, 17 July, 8 Sept. 1931, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives. Rumour of arson was suggested by Dr. Charles Armour, Dalhousie university archivist, 2 Nov. 1992.
  21. Board of Governors Minutes, 30 Jan., 3 Mar. 1931, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives.
  22. Murray Macneill, “Memoirs,” dated 7 Nov. 1934, p. 9, a copy is in Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Dalhousie Archives. Both are owing to the kindness of Mrs. Janet Macneill Piers. For Sidney Smith, see Sidney Smith Papers, vol. 13, C.J. Burchell to John W. Dafoe, 28 Apr. 1934. Burchell added, with the benefit of three years’ hindsight, “Smith was a thousand times the better man [than the president Dalhousie did choose].”
  23. Board of Governors Minutes, 2 June 1931, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives. For Stanley’s reaction, and his father-in-law’s, see letter from W.J. Alexander to Stanley, 23 Oct., 30 Nov. 1930; 3, 5 May 1931, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Dalhousie University Archives. McGill University Archives, RG2, C43, F. Cyril James Papers, file 315, James to B.K. Sandwell, of Saturday Night, 27 Feb. 1945; ibid., summary of file on Carleton Stanley as assistant to the principal, by Currie’s private secretary, Mrs. Dorothy MacMurray, formerly of Halifax. There is no date on this summary but it was probably compiled in March 1945, as a result of an article in Saturday Night, 24 Feb. 1945. The article alleged that Carleton Stanley, out of loyalty to Dalhousie, had refused the offer of the principalship of McGill in 1933, which Mrs MacMurray said was untrue.
  24. For Currie, see Stanley Brice Frost, McGill University: For the Advancement of Learning: Volume II, 1895-1971 (Kingston and Montreal 1984), pp. 131-6; A.M.J. Hyatt, General Sir Arthur Currie (Toronto 1987), pp. 142-3. For the advantages of living in Halifax, see letter from W.J. Alexander to Carleton Stanley , 5 May 1931, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
  25. Letter from Carleton Stanley to Pearson, 1, 6 May 1931; drafts; Pearson to Carleton Stanley, 4 May 1931; Carleton Stanley to Bill [W.D. Herridge], 8 June 1931, to Washington (copy), Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
  26. Letter from A.S. MacKenzie to Murray, 23 May 1931; Murray to MacKenzie, 27 May 1931, from Montreal, Arthur Stanley MacKenzie Fonds, MS-2-43, Box 1, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
  27. Carleton Stanley to Herridge (copy), 8 June 1931, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Dalhousie University Archives; UNB Archives, R.B. Bennett Papers, vol. 907, no. 568828, G. Fred Pearson to Bennett, 16 June 1931, telegram; letter from Murray Macneill to A.S. MacKenzie, 19 June 1931, from Montreal; MacKenzie to Macneill, 23 June 1931, radiogram; Macneill to MacKenzie, 23 June 1931, Arthur Stanley MacKenzie Fonds, MS-2-43, Dalhousie University Archives.
  28. Letter from Pearson to Carleton Stanley, 24 July 1931, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
  29. Letter from Carleton Stanley to Mrs. Sylvia Ross, Bangor, Maine, 1 Feb. 1939, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-3-163, Box 2, Folder 47, Dalhousie University Archives. The account of Stanley’s early life comes from his daughter, Mrs. Laura Woolner, “Memories of My Father”; also letter from Mrs. Woolner to Peter B. Waite, 8 Apr. 1992, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 85, Dalhousie University Archives.
  30. Letter from Carleton Stanley to Macgillivray, 24 Nov. 1931, President's Office Fonds, "Dugald Macgillivray, 1926-1938," UA-3, Box 310, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. Macgillivray (1862-1937) was formerly superintendent of the Maritime and Newfoundland branches of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and after retirement became general manager of the Eastern Trust. Interviews with Lola Henry, 19 Jan. 1988; 18 Apr. 1990, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 73, Dalhousie University Archives.
  31. Letter from Carleton Stanley to H.S. Ross, Montreal, 20 Apr. 1936, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Folder 35, Dalhousie University Archives. The quotation is from act 1, scene 1 of Le Misanthrope (my translation). The wise friend was not identified. Letter from Carleton Stanley to A.K. Maclean (on the Exchequer Court of Canada), n.d., but c. 20 Oct. 1931, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Dalhousie University Archives.
  32. Interview with Beatrice R.E. Smith, 10 June 1988, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 64, Dalhousie University Archives.
  33. Statements relating to the incumbency of Carleton W. Stanley, President of Dalhousie University, submitted to the Board of Governors by G. Fred Pearson and by President Stanley (Halifax 1932), p. 1. This pamphlet was prepared by the board. The president is mentioned once in the 1863 Dalhousie Act, in section 4, and only to the effect that the governors have the right to appoint one.
  34. Statements relating to the incumbency of Carleton W Stanley, President of Dalhousie University, submitted to the Board of Governors by G. Fred Pearson and by President Stanley (Halifax 1932), p. 2; Senate Minutes, 15 Oct. 1931, Dalhousie University Archives. The Bennett correspondence is in R.B. Bennett Papers, UNB, vol. 907, no. 568880, Bennett to W.E. Thompson, 8 Sept. 1931, indicating he would try to come. Stanley’s speech is reported in the Morning Chronicle, 10 Oct. 1931; Atlee’s letter is Atlee to Carleton Stanley, 19 Oct. 1932, President's Office Fonds, "H.B. Atlee," UA-3, Box 87, Folder 10, Dalhousie University Archives, a comment on Stanley’s inauguration speech. For scholarships, see Board of Governors Minutes, 29 Oct. 1931, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives.
  35. For a succinct and well-balanced modern history, see T.D. Regehr, The Beauharnois Scandal: A Story of Canadian Entrepreneurship and Politics (Toronto 1990), especially pp. 124, 136. Stanley’s description of the circumstances is in letter from Carleton Stanley to W.D. Herridge, 18 Jan. 1932, personal, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Folder 17, Dalhousie University Archives. Herridge was appointed Canadian ambassador to Washington in March 1931 by R.B. Bennett, and married Bennett’s sister Mildred in April 1931. For Pearson’s correspondence, see R.B. Bennett Papers, UNB, vol. 907, Bennett to W.E. Thompson, secretary of the Board of Governors, 22 Mar., 1932; vol. 908, Pearson to Bennett, 6 Apr. 1932; Bennett to Pearson, 12 Apr. 1932 (two letters).
  36. Alan Wilson, born and brought up in Dartmouth/Halifax, and his wife Budge Archibald Wilson have offered reflections on Fred Pearson and his friends. Alan Wilson to author, 11 Jan. 1996, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 2, Folder 50, Dalhousie University Archives. Board pamphlet, pp. 2-3; Pearson memorandum of interview with Stanley, 25 Mar. {sic, should be 24), 1932 President's Office Fonds, "G. Fred Pearson, 1919-1932," UA-3, Box 269, Folder 12, Dalhousie University Archives. Many executive committee meetings of the board, and even occasionally full meetings, are unreported in the minutes, especially when delicate or difficult personal issues are discussed. Some Senate meetings the same; certainly the meeting of 24 Mar. has no minutes, though that it took place is attested by the J.G. Adshead diaries, now at the Dalhousie Mathematics Department, for 24 Mar. 1932.
  37. Board pamphlet, p. 6; Board of Governors Minutes, 10 June 1932, UA-1, Box 5, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives; Stanley’s reply is in board pamphlet, pp. 7-14; Pearson’s rejoinder, pp. 14-17. Halifax Chronicle, 7, 8 June 1932.
  38. Letter from J.M. Macdonnell to Carleton Stanley, 5 Aug. 1932, private and confidential, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Folder 22, Dalhousie University Archives.
  39. Letter from Carleton Stanley to Macdonnell, 15 Aug. 1932, a draft in Carleton Stanley ’s handwriting, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Folder 22, Dalhousie University Archives. Luther’s words are the conclusion of his speech at the Diet of Worms, 18 Apr. 1521. The translation is: “God help me; I cannot do otherwise.”
  40. Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, Wednesday, 10 May 1933, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives. Letter from Pearson to Carleton Stanley, 3 July 1931, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Dalhousie University Archives. Pearson did not put his quotation in limerick form, which I have done, but it is otherwise the same as he wrote it. He has taken only a few liberties with “There was a young lady of Riga.” H.B. Atlee, “Dalhousie Medical School, 1907-1957,” Dalhousie Medical Journal (1958), p. 33.
  41. Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, Thursday, 22 June, Friday, 28 July 1933, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives.
  42. Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Journals, Thursday, 22 June 1933, MS-2-82, Box 2, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives; Dalhousie Gazette, 28 Sept. 1933.
  43. R.B. Bennett Papers, UNB, vol. 908, no. 569346, Bennett to Hector Mclnnes, 20 May 1936; letter from Carleton Stanley to Leslie R. Thomason, Montreal, 12 June 1932, Carleton Stanley Fonds, MS-2-163, Box 1, Folder 19, Dalhousie University Archives.


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

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