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Allisonian Firsts: Margaret (Norrie) McCain

A virtual exhibition celebrating the bold Allisonians who became the "firsts" in their field.

Margaret (Norrie) McCain

First female Chancellor at Mount Allison University, 1986-1994

First female Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, 1994

Portrait of Margaret McCain in the Mount Allison University Chancellor's robes.

Chancellor Margaret McCain, 1986

Mount Allison University Archives, Information Office fonds, 8805/6/5/32/1. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Margaret Laura Anne Norrie was born on 1 October 1934 in Amos, Quebec. She was the daughter of James Paul Norrie and Margaret (Fawcett) Norrie, both of whom had attended Mount Allison. She received her early education in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario, and entered Mount Allison University in the fall of 1950.

While in attendance, she took an active part in campus life. She played several intramural sports; was a member of the Choral Society, the French Club, and the International Relations Club; and won the Women’s Intramural Debating Championship in 1954. Her yearbook biography notes that she had “a keen interest in politics” and that while “her future is still undecided … we are sure she will be a success.” [1] She received her Bachelor of Arts with honours in History from Mount Allison in 1954 and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Toronto in 1955. That same year, she married G. Wallace F. McCain. The couple had four children.

She was installed as Mount Allison’s fourth chancellor on May 11, 1986, serving in that role until 1994. McCain subsequently served as New Brunswick’s first female lieutenant-governor from 1994 to 1997. She has served on the boards or advisory councils of a number of not-for-profit organizations, including 18 years on the board of the National Ballet School, and has been involved in many early child development policy and program initiatives. She is a founding member of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation and the Centre for Family Violence Research. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1998 and promoted to Companion in 2013. She became a member of the Order of New Brunswick in 2004 and has been awarded honorary degrees from at least 15 Canadian universities, including Mount Allison University (1995). She has served on Mount Allison’s Board of Regents and was awarded an honorary degree from the University in 1995.


[1] Allisonian yearbook, 1954, p. 47.