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The History of Mount Allison

The Secret Lives of Spoons

Mount Allison has a rich history and a rather unusual beginning - all starting with five silver spoons, now famous for having provided the impetus for Charles Frederick Allison to establish - 168 years ago - the Mount Allison Academy.

How could five silver spoons have spawned so much? Our tale begins in far-off Northern Ireland in the latter half of the 18th century, where a set of beautiful silver spoons had just been given to Joseph Allison's wife. The local landlord's agent was making the rounds at the time, and the Allisons invited him for supper so that afterwards they would be able to conduct business on a full stomach. In honour of their guest, Mrs. Allison set the table with their finest tableware, including the set of silver spoons. At the end of the meal, however, the agent informed Joseph "anyone who can afford silver on the table can afford to pay more rent." Incensed, Joseph replied that he would emigrate before paying more.

True to his word, Joseph Allison did just that. Gathering up his family and all their worldly possessions, including the spoons, they boarded a ship destined for Philadelphia. In a twist of fate, the ship never made it that far, but floundered off the coast of Sable Island. The Allisons eventually made it to Nova Scotia and purchased a farm near the town of Horton, Nova Scotia, about two miles from Grand Pré.

There they prospered, and several years later Joseph's grandson, Charles Frederick Allison, moved to Sackville, carrying with him the family silverware. The rest, so to speak, is history. After proposing that a school of higher learning be built in 1839, Charles founded the Mount Allison Academy and was instrumental in the establishment of the Ladies' College a decade later. Both of these institutions would pave the way for the creation of the degree-granting Mount Allison University that we all know and love.

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