Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ann Morrison

On Thursday, November 30, 2006, we will gather to remember and celebrate Ronald St. John Macdonald's life and accomplishments and I would like to share my memories of Ronald’s comings and goings in the law library.

In the early eighties, when I was a new reference librarian at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, I wondered who this very pleasant man was who would drop into the law library with a gift or two of books and enquire as to “how everything was going”. Ronald was a staunch library supporter and a lover of books and before the current Bora Laskin Library was built, he would shake his head and commiserate on the condition of the library and the collection and tell me to keep on “doing a good job”. On some dark days his visits were a ray of sunshine and he always had wonderful anecdotes to share about his adventures and enthusiasms in the legal and the wider world.

He took me to lunch at least once a year at the Prince Arthur Room at the Park Plaza which always took the form of his enquiring after my family, insisting on being brought up to date on the activities of my various offspring and then educating me as to who was sitting at the various tables around the dining room. Ronald new everyone and everyone new him!

After the new library was built, Ronald had an office upstairs on the third floor, and when he was in town, always arrived at the library about 8:15 a.m. eager to begin his work of the day – his enthusiasm was catching - and I would let him in, he would enquire as to how everything was going and bound upstairs to his office. He had an electric kettle, teapot and real china cups in that office, strictly against library policy! I knew he did and he knew I did but we never mentioned it. He would leave the odd teacup on the stacks outside the office, I would wash it up and put it back for use another day – he was absolutely delighted with the arrangement.

I left Toronto in 1998 and moved to Dalhousie Law Library and one month after I arrived, who should bound into the library but Ronnie, of course enquiring how everything was going, whether people were treating me properly and could he do anything to help! It certainly helped to make me feel at home and welcome in my unfamiliar surroundings. He promptly invited me to lunch at the Halifax Club, and although not in the best of health, spent the better part of an afternoon introducing me to the history of Halifax, the law school and imparting wonderful stories about his time here.

He was taken from us far too soon. I know he had many more stories to tell, interests to pursue and books to share. I will miss his cheerful visits, his enthusiasm and encouragement.

*Law Librarian, Dalhousie University

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