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Winthrop Pickard Bell: Andrew Mackinlay Bell

A virtual exhibition that pays tribute to an illustrious alumnus of Mount Allison University.

Andrew Mackinlay Bell


Dr. Winthrop Bell's father was Andrew Mackinlay Bell. He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on February 12, 1847, the son of Joseph Bell (1819-1883) and Maria (Goodfellow) Bell (1822-1898).

Andrew Bell began to work for Black Brothers of Halifax circa 1862 and remained in their employ until sometime before 1870. He was very active in Methodist Church work and starting in the 1860s contributed to the development of a congregation in the northwest part of the city which soon established a place of worship on the corner of Charles and Robie Streets. In 1885 he became the superintendent of the Sunday School at this church.

In 1875 Bell started a Halifax retail business of his own on Water Street nearly opposite the foot of Duke Street. The business later expanded to include the wholesale trade and by 1885 he had moved to larger quarters on Upper Water Street. During the 1890s Andrew Bell took on a junior partner in the person of Arthur B. Wiswell and the firm became known as A.M. Bell & Company.

Andrew Mackinlay Bell married Mary Emerancy Pickard, who had moved to Halifax in 1869, at her original home in Sackville, New Brunswick, on July 17, 1883.

In 1903 he erected his own building on a site that ran between Granville and Hollis Streets at Duke Street. This new six storey location was also the first concrete building in Halifax.

The Bells had two sons: Winthrop, born in 1884, and Ralph, born in 1886. As his sons grew older he might have expected them to continue the work of his business but Winthrop did not take a particular interest in its operation.  In contrast, his brother Ralph upon his return from the Canadian West in 1910 took over the supervision of the retail department. That same year the business was incorporated as A.M. Bell & Co., Limited.

Andrew Bell served variously as a member of the Halifax School Board, the Board of Regents of the Mount Allison institutions, and the Board of Trade both for Halifax and the Maritime Provinces. In 1906 he was a representative to the Congress of the Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire in London, England. It was his first trip abroad. Andrew Bell enjoyed music and took lessons to learn how to play the violin. He and his wife would often play music together as a form of evening's entertainment. His other passion was his garden in which Winthrop occasionally worked in order to obtain some extra spending money as a child.

Portrait of Andrew Bell.

Andrew Mackinlay Bell, ca. 1880s

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 8550/9/2/7. May only be reproduced with the permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

About 1912 Andrew Bell began to suffer from angina and by 1913 was forced to give up his activities in the business. Ownership of the business passed to Arthur Wiswell and his associates in 1914. Mr. Bell remained indirectly involved as the creditor of the new owners and retained ownership of the building which he leased to them as part of the agreement.

Andrew Mackinlay Bell died on August 7, 1918, two and a half months before the death of his wife and just three months before Winthrop Bell's release from the Ruhleben Prison Camp in Germany.

Photo gallery


Nine members of the Bell family taking a family photograph.

Family of Joseph Bell (1819-1883) and Maria (Goodfellow) Bell (1822-1898), [between 1875 and 1880]

 Item includes left to right: Charles Bell (1851-1936), Mary Morton "Minnie" Bell (1860-1935), Joseph Bell (1819-1883), Anne (Bell) Black (1848-1934),

Alfred Joseph Bell (1857-1919), Henry Hugh Bell (1853-1901), Maria (Goodfellow) Bell (1822-1898), Bessie Elder Bell (1855-1934), and Andrew Mackinlay Bell (1847-1918)

Mount Allison University Archives, Bell-Brown family fonds, 2013.52/163

May only be reproduced with the permission of Mount Allison University Archives.

Andrew and his wife Mary sitting together at home.

Andrew and Mary Bell taken by their son, Winthrop Bell, on their 15th wedding anniversary, ca. 1898

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/4/6

May only be reproduced with the permission of Mount Allison University Archives.

Portrait of Andrew Bell.

Portrait of Andrew Mackinlay Bell, 1906

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/3/11

May only be reproduced with the permission of Mount Allison University Archives.

Mary sitting in an ornate chair while Andrew stands beside her.

Portrait of Andrew and Mary Bell probably taken on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary, ca. 1908

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/4/6

May only be reproduced with the permission of Mount Allison University Archives.

(Source: Bell, Winthrop P., A Genealogical Study. Sackville, N.B. : The Tribune Press Limited, 1962).