Alex Colville Boat and Marker, 1994 serigraph on paper 1/17 U by John Murchie Collection of the Owens Art Gallery, Gift of Alex Colville in memory of Rhoda Colville ntil his death in July 2013, Alex Colville (’42, LLD ’68) was considered by many to be the pre-eminent living Allisonian. Fifty years after he resigned his teaching position at his alma mater, his presence continues to be infused in the day-to-day material life of the University, whether through his iconic murals in buildings central to campus life or in the reclamation of Colville House on York Street. In the summer of 1939, Mount Allison University welcomed 153 young women and men, the Class of ’42, from across the Maritimes and beyond — Quebec, Newfoundland, Ontario, the United States, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic. The class included 19-year-old Alex Colville and, just as importantly — because in retrospect it is impossible to imagine one without the other — Rhoda Wright (’42), who soon after their graduation would become Rhoda Colville, wife and partner, inspirational source and presence throughout the artist’s career. As fellow classmate Lillian (Schelew) Lackman (’42) recently observed, “He (Alex) was very shy. Rhoda brought him out.” Within days of their arrival in Sackville, Canada was at war. And in December 1941, during their senior year, a spectacular fire destroyed the 40-year-old, four-storey men’s residence. The global and local catastrophes affected each member of the class, but provided especial opportunity for the young Colville as his art practice evolved and developed. After graduation, as one of Canada’s war artists, Colville witnessed some of the worst aspects of the war, but in his typically matter of fact manner he observed that he embraced the opportunity: “I simply thought, ‘I will do something each day. If it’s good, fine; if it isn’t good, that’s too bad.’ There aren’t too many situations in which a very young painter… is encouraged to work every day, and I was. It was a great thing.” Colville returned from the war in 1946 and accepted an offer to teach in the Fine Arts department. He has spoken and written many times about this decision to return to Mount Allison and Sackville, including one interview when he stated, “I…. took a perverse satisfaction in living in an area which, in a sense, was ‘nowhere.’” He was joking. In part. As he also said on another occasion about settling in Sackville, “I could have the time, the feeling of belonging, the solitude, and above all, the freedom from distraction which I needed to become oriented as an artist.” And the University did offer the young artist opportunities beyond the classroom. In 1946 Trueman House, now the Wallace McCain Student Centre, was officially opened to replace the men’s residence. Colville was commissioned to paint a large mural in Tweedie Hall, The History of Mount Allison, which he completed in 1948 and is still a campus focal point today. / 13