Founded as an academy for boys in 1839, Mount Allison University has grown into one of Canada’s most highly-revered undergraduate institutions. The vision of excellence that motivated its founders had a tremendous impact on the university’s success, influencing not only the characteristics of its academic program but also the arrangement of its campus and the quality of its architecture. The Sackville, New Brunswick campus is not only richly diverse and aesthetically beautiful, beloved by many, but also emblematic of the broader development of architecture in the Atlantic region.
In A Vision in Wood and Stone, art historian and architect John Leroux collaborates with photographer Thaddeus Holownia to chronicle the story of Mount Allison’s campus, charting its development from a few wooden structures to its present diversity of building materials and architectural styles. At the heart of their lavishly illustrated study is a conversation about the nature of architectural change and its role in the formation of the campus. Whether spurred by the calamity of fire or by the visionary (or sometimes revisionary) impulses of the university’s leadership, Mount Allison’s architecture has been repeatedly transformed, each new building expressing both the localized needs and aspirations that animated its construction and aspects of the global events and aesthetic movements that informed its design.
Leroux and Holownia demonstrate how architecture can record the complex story of an institution’s development and embody the hopes and dreams of a community.