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Pages through the Ages: A History of Mount Allison's Libraries & Archives: University Librarians

A virtual exhibit of Mount Allison's early libraries and the faculty members who established and supported them.

University's Head Librarians

The following list provides biographical information on the succession of faculty members who have been assigned to serve the many Mount Allison Libraries as Head Librarian.


The Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy calendar of 1851 lists as a student Samuel Avery Jr. of Halifax Nova Scotia. The 1852 calendar lists him as an Assistant Teacher and Librarian. He was received on trial in the Methodist church in 1854, and received into full connection and ordained a Methodist Minister in 1858. He held various posts in Nova Scotia until 1861 when he was assigned the church in Liverpool, NS.  He died there at the age of 29 years on 13 October 1861 of “his old complaint, haemorrhage of the lungs…”.

Arthur McNutt Patterson (b. 14 December 1829 at Aylesford, NS) finished his schooling at the Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy in 1851 and then joined the staff in 1852 as an English tutor. In 1853 the role of Librarian was added to his duties. In 1854 Patterson began teaching in the Intermediate Department and remained there until 1859. It is not clear whether he continued to serve as Librarian during this time. Upon leaving Mount Allison in 1859, Patterson purchased the Lower Horton Seminary (later Acacia Villa School) in Hortonville, Nova Scotia, and served as the school’s principal from 1860 to 1907.


Photograph courtesy of Esther Clark Wright Archives, Acadia University

George Smith, born ca 1845 and from Sackville, New Brunswick, taught English at the Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy in 1871/72, was an assistant teacher and librarian in 1872/73, taught in the intermediate department and was librarian in 1873/74, and taught French in the intermediate department in 1874/75. Apparently he carried out these duties while studying at the Mount Allison Wesleyan College, for he received a BA in 1874.  He subsequently taught in New Brunswick for a number of years and in 1881 became Inspector of Schools for Westmorland County, New Brunswick. He died on 28 October 1903.

Richard Chapman Weldon (1849 - 1925) was born in Sussex, New Brunswick and attended Mount Allison Wesleyan College (later Mount Allison University). He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1866 and subsequently taught school near Sussex, NB for several years. He then returned to Mount Allison and received a Master’s degree in Arts in 1870. Weldon went on to study at Yale College where he received a PhD in political science in 1872. In 1875 he returned to Mount Allison as a professor of mathematics and political economy, and was the first member of the faculty to have a PhD. In 1881, he took on additional duties associated with the College library.

Weldon left Mount Allison in 1883 to become the head of the newly-established Dalhousie Law School. He was the first full-time professor of law in post-confederation Canada. Weldon remained at Dalhousie University until his retirement in 1914. He died on 26 November 1925 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Frank Walter Nicolson was born in Sackville, Nova Scotia on 4 November 1864. His post-secondary education began at Mount Allison Wesleyan College (now Mount Allison University), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1883. Nicolson stayed at Mount Allison and served as the Librarian for two years, 1883/84 and 1884/85, while also instructing in French and English. He next attended Harvard University, where he pursued a Master of Arts, graduating in 1888.

Nicolson became an Instructor of Sanskrit at Harvard from 1888 to 1889, and from 1889 to 1891 was an Instructor in Latin. His career path next took him to Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1891, where he stayed as a faculty member for forty-four years.

Nicolson received two honorary degrees: a Doctor of Laws (LL. D.) from Mount Allison University in 1920, and a Doctor of Humane Letters (L. H. D.) from Amherst College in 1932.  He retired in 1934 and died on 21 December 1946.

Sidney Walker Hunton was born in Ottawa, Ontario on 4 July 1858. He studied mathematics at McGill University for two years, and was awarded two prestigious scholarships: the Canadian Gilchrist Scholarship and the Rothschild Scholarship, for outstanding performance in mathematics.

Following McGill, Hunton studied mathematics at Heidelberg University, the University of London, and Cambridge University. He was then appointed associate professor in mathematics at the Electrical Engineering College in London, UK. Hunton held this position until 1883, when he joined the department of mathematics at Mount Allison University. Concurrently, he was the university’s Librarian for thirty years, from 1884 to 1914.

He remained in the mathematics department until his retirement in 1933 and then resided in Sackville until his death on 28 November 1941. In his will he bequeathed his mathematical library of approximately 300 books to the Memorial Library.

Photograph from Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/948

Frederick William Wallet DesBarres was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia on 10 March 1867 but grew up in Guysborough, Nova Scotia. He came to Mount Allison in 1885 and graduated in 1889 with a Bachelor of Arts. In that year he was received as a candidate for the ministry and returned to Mount Allison to study theology. He was ordained into the Methodist Church in 1893.

Between 1907 and 1909, DesBarres studied theology at Oxford University and also at the United Free Church College in Glasgow, Scotland. He returned to the University of Mount Allison College in 1909 as a professor of theology. In 1916 he was appointed head of the newly formed Department of Modern History and remained in that position until his retirement in 1936, when he went to live in Pictou, Nova Scotia.

Concurrent with his teaching duties, from 1914 DesBarres served as Chief Librarian. Even after he resigned his position in the history department in 1936, he continued to spend three days each week in his library office doing the book buying and overseeing the general work of the Library. Upon retirement as Librarian in 1942, the Record reported that “under his leadership the Mount Allison Memorial Library has become a vital force not only on the campus itself but among the libraries of the Maritimes”.

During world war two when the head of the history department was on war service, DesBarres returned to the department, teaching courses in 1941/42. It was during this period that he began teaching Church History, which he continued until his 90th year.

In addition to his teachings, DesBarres was also an active member of the Sackville and Mount Allison communities. He was one of the founders of the Sackville Golf Course, an active member of the Rotary Club, the Sackville United Church, and the Mount Allison Board of Regents, an honorary president of the Mount Allison Alumni Association, and served a term as president of the Sackville Curling Club from 1923 to 1924.

Mount Allison bestowed upon him an honorary Doctor of Laws honorary degree in 1950. He died on 29 July 1964 at Sackville, NB.


Photograph from Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/949

Winifred Snider (BA, BLS) served as an Assistant Librarian under F. W. W. DesBarres from 1934 to 1942. She was the first professional librarian at Mount Allison. Upon DesBarres' retirement, Snider was appointed head librarian and remained in that position until 1945 when she resigned to attend graduate school at Columbia University. No further information is available.


Photograph taken from the Allisonian (yearbook), 1944

Mary Falconer received her early education in Canada, then left to study for three years in Scotland, followed by two terms in Switzerland. Upon her return, she attended Dalhousie University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1929. After two years in the United States, she returned to the University of Toronto to train as a Librarian. Her first position after graduation was at the Toronto Public Library.

Falconer came to Mount Allison University in 1945 as a Librarian. After one year she was appointed Dean of Women in addition to her duties as Librarian. During this time, Falconer supervised an Associate Librarian and two Assistant Librarians. She left Mount Allison in 1949. No further information is available.

Olga Bernice Bishop was born in Dover, New Brunswick on 24 June 1911. She attended all three Mount Allison institutions – the Ladies’ College (MLS, 1930), the Mount Allison Academy (Secretarial certificate) and the University (BA, 1938; MA in History, 1951). Between 1940 and 1946, Bishop was the Senior Administrative Supervisor in the Royal Canadian Armed Forces Records Office, Ottawa, and during this time earned a Bachelor of Public Administration degree (Carleton University, 1946). She also earned a PhD in Philosophy and Library Science (University of Michigan, 1962), making her the first woman in Canada to receive her PhD in Library Science.

Bishop was on the Library staff at Mount Allison University for several years, serving as secretary to the University Librarian, F. W. W. DesBarres, from 1932 to 1939. After her stint in Ottawa, she returned to Mount Allison in 1946 as the Associate Librarian under Mary Falconer. When Falconer left in 1949, Bishop was appointed University Librarian and remained until 1953.  There were several Assistant Librarians working under Bishop.

After leaving Mount Allison, Bishop became the General Librarian and Medical Librarian at the University of Western Ontario. In 1965, she became a professor in the Library Sciences at the University of Toronto, where she remained for the rest of her career.

Mount Allison University conferred a Doctor of Laws honorary degree on Bishop in 1971. She was the first woman in the library profession in Canada to receive an honorary degree while still working in the profession. Bishop died on 11 January 2002 in London, Ontario.


Photograph from Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/950

Laurie Allison was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 28 February 1925. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1944 and 1945 and after the war attended Dalhousie University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1949. In 1951 he graduated with a Bachelor of Library Science from the University of Toronto and was immediately hired as an Assistant Librarian for the Toronto Public Libraries.

In 1953 Allison joined the Mount Allison library where he was appointed as an Associate Librarian under Olga Bishop. He served for two years in that position until 1955 when he became the Head Librarian.  Allison remained at Mount Allison until 1967 when he left to become the Chief Librarian at Bishop’s University. He remained in that position until his death on 5 April 1973.


Photograph cropped from Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/1174

Eleanor Eileen Magee received her Bachelor of Arts and Science from Sir George Williams University (1951), and a Bachelor of Library Science (1954) and Master’s of Library Science (1966) from McGill University.  Magee was employed as Librarian for the Monsanto Chemical Company from 1957 to 1959, Head Librarian at Sun Life Assurance Company from 1959 to 1963, Head Cataloguer at McGill University from 1963 to 1964, Assistant Professor at the McGill Undergraduate School of Library Science from 1964 to 1966, and Associate Librarian in Technical Services for McGill University from 1966 to 1967. She was also a Lecturer in English at Sir George Williams University from 1959 to 1965.

Magee joined the library staff at Mount Allison University as head Librarian in 1967 and remained in the position until 1979. During her tenure, she sat on the committee that planned the new R. P. Bell Library and was responsible for ensuring the move from the old Memorial Library ran smoothly.

Upon her retirement from Mount Allison, Magee was made a Librarian Emeritus. She died in London, Ontario on 7 December 1996.


Photograph from Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/951

Ruth Miller was born in Montreal in 1937 and received her early education there. She then attended Mount Allison University where she received a BCom degree in 1958. While at Mount Allison she was the editor of The Argosy for 1957/58. Upon graduation she worked at the Memorial Library, first as secretary to the head librarian Laurie Allison and then as a clerk in the cataloguing department. Finding librarianship to her liking, Miller then attended McGill University and received a MLS in 1968. Upon graduation she was immediately hired at Mount Allison.

Although primarily a Reference Librarian, Miller also served as Acting University Librarian a number of times: for 15 months after Eleanor Magee left, 1979 – 1980; for 18 months after Ted Phillips left, 1985 – 1987; and after Tom Eadie left, 1992-1993.

Miller retired in 2002. She died on 24 November 2015 in Sackville, New Brunswick.


Photograph cropped from Mount Allison Archives, Information Office Records, 8805.6/5/63/009

Theodore D. “Ted” Phillips received his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico in 1956 and a Master’s degree in 1957. He then became a Librarian for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City from 1957 to 1963. From 1963 to 1965 he held the position of Assistant Librarian for IBM Corporation before becoming Library Manager for IBM in 1966. In 1967 he relocated to Kingston Ontario where he was the Assistant Chief Librarian and later the Associate Librarian for Queen’s University. He then took the position of University Librarian for Memorial University in St. John’s Newfoundland where he remained for six years.

In 1980, Phillips accepted the position of University Librarian at Mount Allison University. He is quoted as saying upon acceptance of his position that Libraries “must not be considered simply as repositories of information but must reach out to the communities that they serve.”

Phillips served until 1985 when the university appointed him Manager of Allison Properties Ltd., with responsibilities for properties owned by the University. He moved to Toronto, ON upon leaving Sackville. No further information is available.


Photograph cropped from Mount Allison Archives, Information Office fonds 8805/6/5/63/002

Thomas “Tom” Eadie (1941- ) received his Bachelor of Arts (1968) and Master of Arts (1971) in Philosophy from Queens University. He then attended the University of Western Ontario and graduated in 1972 with a Master of Library Science degree.

Between 1972 and 1974 Eadie served as Librarian for the Information and Orientation Division at the University of British Columbia. In 1974 he became the head of the Collection Development Department of the Dana Porter Library at the University of Waterloo, where he remained until 1987.

Eadie served as the University Librarian at Mount Allison University from 1987 to 1992.  While at Mount Allison, he served on numerous committees, including the Labour Management Committee, the University negotiating team for faculty contracts, the Senate-Board Library Committee, and the Computer Steering Committee.

Eadie left Mount Allison to accept the position of Director of Libraries at the University of Calgary, where he remained until 1997. He was then appointed as the University Librarian at Trent University. In addition to his Librarian position, he was the Director of Information Services from 1997 to 2003. In 2003, he was appointed for another three years as University Librarian. Upon retirement in 2006, Eadie remained in Peterborough, Ontario and is now a Senior Partner at The Associates, a library consulting group, and a sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario.

Eadie returned for a term of one year in 2011-2012.


Photograph cropped from Mount Allison Archives, Information Office fonds 8805/6/5/63/001

Sara Lochhead graduated with a BA from Dalhousie University in 1975 and a MLIS from the University of Alberta in 1980. After graduation she held a number of positions: Head Librarian for the Association of Métis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan (AMNSIS) in Regina, Saskatchewan (1980 – 1983); Team leader for Information Services at the Regina Public Library (1984 – 1985); Headquarters Librarian for the North West Territories Public Library Services (1985 – 1989); and Director for the Learning Resources Center, East Kootenay Community College, British Columbia (1989 – March 1993).

Lochhead became the University Librarian at Mount Allison in April 1993.  As University Librarian, she had many accomplishments. She was able to increase the number of Librarian positions within the library and was also able to double the acquisitions budget. Lochhead also convinced the Student Council and the student voters to direct their fund-raising efforts to the libraries, and worked with external donors to confirm planned giving. Finally, she saw the beginnings of the transformation of print journals to an electronic collection.

While at Mount Allison, Lochhead served on the Senate Library Committee, the Academic Matters Committee, the Dean and Directors Committee, the Faculty Council, the University Web Committee, the University Classroom Maintenance Committee, and the University Administration Labour Negotiating Team. From March 2000 to July 2002, while also serving as University Librarian, Lochhead was Assistant Vice-President of Student Administrative Services.  She concurrently studied at Saint Mary’s University where she graduated with a Master of Business Administration in 1999.

Lochhead left Mount Allison in 2002 to become the University Librarian at Acadia University. In addition to that position, in 2010, she took on the position of Vice President, Enrolment and Student Services.


Photograph courtesy of Sara Lochhead

Ruthmary MacPherson was born in England but raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She attended Mount Saint Vincent University and after receiving a BScHEc in 1979, worked as a dietician in Newfoundland. She then returned to Nova Scotia where she enrolled in the library science program at Dalhousie University. After receiving a MLIS in 1986, MacPherson worked at the New Glasgow Public Library, the library at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and the Vaughan Memorial Library at Acadia University.

In 1995 MacPherson was appointed Technical Services Librarian at Mount Allison University and has served in that capacity to the present time. During this time, she studied at Universite de Moncton and earned a MBA (2005).

For one year after University Librarian Sara Lochhead resigned, MacPherson served as Acting University Librarian (2002/03).


Photograph credit: Rhianna Edwards

Bruno Gnassi was born and raised in Montreal, QC. He completed a BA from Loyola College/Universite de Montreal, and then a MLS from McGill University in 1978.  Upon graduation Gnassi was hired by the Social Science Federation of Canada where he worked on SocsCan, the then embryonic database of social scientists in Canada. Subsequently, he went to the Library of Parliament, Ottawa, ON and from 1979 to 1982 he served as a general reference librarian, an assistant librarian in the research branch library and, later, head of Canadian government documents. He also served on the Library’s Advisory Council of Depository Services Program where he chaired the government’s review of the Program. As a result of the evaluation, in 1992 he was seconded from the Library of Parliament to oversee the renewal of the program. Ultimately he was asked to become the Director of the Depository Services Program, a post he held until the Program was integrated into the Public Access Sector Program’s Sector within the Communications Coordination Services Branch of Public Works and Government Services. Subsequently, he became a member of the Chief Informatics Sector of the Branch, tasked with developing the information infrastructure for the Branch. He remained there until 2002 when he was hired as University Librarian at Mount Allison University. He resigned in 2011, and Tom Eadie returned to serve as University Librarian for one year (2011-2012).

Marc Truitt earned a M.S. in Library Science from Columbia University in 1991 and subsequently worked at several prestigious institutions, including at Yale, Princeton, Notre Dame, and Houston, where he gained experience in systems, technical services, and acquisition. In 2006, Marc started working at the University of Alberta Libraries as Associate Director, Information Technology Resources and Services and was promoted to Associate University Librarian, Bibliographic and Information Technology Services shortly thereafter. On 15 July 2012, Marc became University Librarian at the Mount Allison University Libraries and Archives, a position he held until his retirement in 2019.


Photograph credit: Roseanna Terrio