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 A Mount Allison University Archives Virtual Exhibition

Andrew Mackinlay Bell


A wedding portrait of Andrew Mackinlay Bell taken in 1883.

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 Halifax. 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.

Wedding portrait of Andrew Mackinlay Bell, 1883

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

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, however, Winthrop Bell did not take a particular interest in its operation. In contrast, his brother, Ralph, in 1910 upon his return from the Canadian West 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 Dr. Bell occasionally worked in order to obtain some extra spending money as a child.

About 1912 Mr. Bell began to suffer with angina and by 1913 was forced to give up his activities in the business. Ownership of the business passed to Mr. 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.

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

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This virtual exhibition project was made possible through the generous support of the Marjorie Young Bell Endowment Fund Committee, Mount Allison University.