Ralph Pickard Bell Library Ceremonies:
Sealing the Datestone, 26 September 1969,
Key Passing, mid-summer 1970 and
Opening Ceremony, 22 October 1970
Three events were held in conjunction with the construction and opening of the Ralph Pickard Bell Library. On 26 September 1969, Governor General Roland Michener attended a ceremony to place the Historic Box that was sealed behind the datestone of the Library. He was assisted by Dr. Ralph P. Bell and President Cragg. The Historic Box contained official university documents such as minutes of the executive committee, August and September meetings 1969; the Allisonian and the Mount Allison Record, 1969; papers presented a the Symposium on Canadian Studies, 25 September 1969; and similar material.

Once the move from the Memorial Library was completed in mid-summer 1970 and the building ready for use, there was a brief key-passing ceremony on the front steps of the building. Dr. L. H. Cragg received the keys from architect Dr. Bruce Brown. Dr. W. E. Hickey, President of Tantramar Contractors Ltd. also took part.

The largest ceremony was the official opening of the building which took place on 22 October 1970, once again on the front steps. Chancellor emeritus Dr. Bell spoke and paid tribute to his late wife, Marjorie Young Bell, whose gifts helped make the library construction possible. He also gave credit to president emeritus Dr. W. T. Ross Flemington for awakening Mrs. Bell's interest in Mount Allison.

W. E. Hickey, president of Tantramar Constractors turned the key over to architect Bruce Brown who in turn passed it to K. B. Palmer, chair of the Board of Regents, who turned it over to president L. H. Cragg. Dr. Cragg noted that the library had already become the intellectual heart of the university community and suggested that the name on the building represented "one to whom we owe so much and will make it possible for us to go on remembering." He also thanked the New Brunswick government for its participation in the capital expansion program of the university. Minister of Education Wendell W. Meldrum spoke and said that a library should be "a place for coolness - cool dissent, cool debate and cool thinking." He also made brief remarks on the contribution that Mount Allison was making to the Maritimes.

Dr. Bell's daughter Dorothy MacLaren unveiled a bust of her father which graces the main entrance of the Library. The plaque says: "This library is named in honor of Ralph Pickard Bell, OBE, BA, DCL, first chancellor 1960 - 1968, distinguished graduate, devoted worker and generous benefactor of this university".

Eleanor Magee, university librarian, issued the first books to Dr. Bell and Mr. Meldrum and made a speech where she outlined the planning process for the Library, and the objectives she felt all involved had met. Tours were conducted during the remainder of the day.


Information taken from The Mount Allison Record, Fall 1970, and an article entitled Mount Allison Opens New Ralph Pickard Bell Library from the Sackville Tribune-Post, 28 October 1970.

Sealing the datestone

26 September 1969
foreground l-r: President L. Cragg, Governor General R. Michener, Chancellor emeritus R. P. Bell

Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/1175

Key-passing, summer 1970

l-r: W. E. Hickey, E. Magee and B. Brown

Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/1179

Official Opening

l-r: Dorothy MacLaren and Chancellor H. Roy Crabtree

Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/1180

Official Opening

E. Magee issues the first book to R. P. Bell

Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/1184


Official Opening

l-r: W. W. Meldrum, R. P. Bell, and H. Roy Crabtree

Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/1182