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Mount Allison University fire story rekindles memories for local man

The Trueman House residency centre at the Dalhousie Agricultural Centre was constructed in 1957. It was the first residency to be constructed at what was then known as the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.
The Trueman House residency centre at the Dalhousie Agricultural Centre was constructed in 1957. It was the first residency to be constructed at what was then known as the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.

BROOKSIDE, N.S. – Immediate flashback.

So it was for Rod Norrie when he read a recent story in the Truro Daily News about the deadly fire on Dec. 16, 1941, that ravaged the men’s residence at Mount Allison University.

The late-night fire claimed four young lives and left several other students with serious injuries.

The incident has been buried in Norrie’s memory for awhile but there was a time it crossed his mind pretty often.

“It was an horrific story, I know that,” he said.

“I was really surprised to see it in the paper, I’d forgotten about it.”

George Trueman, president of the university at the time and namesake of the replacement residence, was married to Agnes Fullerton, an aunt of Norrie’s mother Margaret (Fawcett) Norrie, who served as a Canadian senator from 1972 to 1980.

Norrie attended Mount Allison University for three years during the early 1960s and for one year lived in Trueman House, later renamed the Wallace McCain Student Centre.

“My mother used to say there were 12 people who jumped off that roof,” Norrie said of those who were trying to escape the blaze. “And whether that’s right or wrong that’s the way I always heard it.”

In the newspaper article, it was stated a number of people jumped from the building to save themselves nine were hospitalized as a result, some with severe back injuries.

“That story at Mount A, it always stuck with me,” he said. “I just think that was on my mind most all the time I was there, going up and down those steps. I thought about it a lot.”

A plaque was installed at the Wallace McCain Centre to commemorate the four men who died in the fire and Norrie said it is only proper they not be forgotten.

“It’s a story that should be told,” he said.

 

So it was for Rod Norrie when he read a recent story in the Truro Daily News about the deadly fire on Dec. 16, 1941, that ravaged the men’s residence at Mount Allison University.

The late-night fire claimed four young lives and left several other students with serious injuries.

The incident has been buried in Norrie’s memory for awhile but there was a time it crossed his mind pretty often.

“It was an horrific story, I know that,” he said.

“I was really surprised to see it in the paper, I’d forgotten about it.”

George Trueman, president of the university at the time and namesake of the replacement residence, was married to Agnes Fullerton, an aunt of Norrie’s mother Margaret (Fawcett) Norrie, who served as a Canadian senator from 1972 to 1980.

Norrie attended Mount Allison University for three years during the early 1960s and for one year lived in Trueman House, later renamed the Wallace McCain Student Centre.

“My mother used to say there were 12 people who jumped off that roof,” Norrie said of those who were trying to escape the blaze. “And whether that’s right or wrong that’s the way I always heard it.”

In the newspaper article, it was stated a number of people jumped from the building to save themselves nine were hospitalized as a result, some with severe back injuries.

“That story at Mount A, it always stuck with me,” he said. “I just think that was on my mind most all the time I was there, going up and down those steps. I thought about it a lot.”

A plaque was installed at the Wallace McCain Centre to commemorate the four men who died in the fire and Norrie said it is only proper they not be forgotten.

“It’s a story that should be told,” he said.

 

Trueman House

Trueman House at the Dalhousie Agricultural Faculty (AC) is named after John Main Trueman, who served as principal of the former Nova Scotia Agricultural College from 1927 to 1936.

He was a brother to George Johnstone Trueman, who served as president of Mount Allison University (Sackville, N.B.) for 22 years until 1945.

Trueman House at the AC is the smallest and oldest residency centre on the campus. It was built in 1957.

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