David Torrance Fund established at Mount Allison
When recently-retired Mount Allison history professor Dr. David Torrance passed away in November 2020, his family knew they wanted to find a way to continue his legacy of kindness on campus. The David Torrance Fund was established just days later.
Teaching was Dr. Torrance’s passion. He believed in and promoted the value of a liberal arts education and the potential it has to transform hearts and minds. He was a dedicated and enthusiastic professor who delighted in his students and brought out the very best in them. When Maclean’s magazine first started ranking universities in 1991, and for years afterwards, Dr. Torrance was listed as a favourite professor.
Dr. Torrance always appreciated being part of the Mount Allison community. In his first year teaching he was struck by how kind Mount Allison students were. He enjoyed relating the story of how he was walking home from the office after visiting the grocery store, attempting to manage the heavy weight of his bulging briefcases and book bags with his recent purchases, when one of his students saw him and helped him carry his items all the way home. Indeed, his students would go out of their way to be helpful : carrying enormous maps and the bulky overhead projector into the classroom; and, more recently, navigating the computer system to set up his presentations. He was deeply grateful for the kindnesses of his students.
Dr. Torrance’s contributions to the field of Imperial history were also substantive. His book, The Strange Death of the Liberal Empire, was published by McGill-Queen’s and, although his history of the Rhodes Scholarship was not quite finished, he was able to share many of his insights with colleagues at the British World Conferences which took place in South Africa, Australia, England, and Canada.
Dr. Torrance’s cheerful presence was apparent throughout Sackville. He liked to study in open spaces so, when the weather allowed, you might find him sitting at Ladies' College Park or on the patio at the Cackling Goose Café (former Jacob’s Larder) near campus. During the winter months, the Sherlock Holmes hat could be found beside him in the library or at Tim Horton’s (in town and at the highway), at Gracie’s (on campus), and again at the Cackling Goose.
Already, the new fund has received support from Allisonians across North America and on both sides of the Atlantic honouring Dr. Torrance, and in a few short months has raised nearly $16,000. Supporters include family, friends, colleagues, and former students.
Elizabeth Craig, Dr. Torrance’s wife, says this kind of response means a lot to their family, especially their four children, Beth (’18), Margaret, Alice (’24), and Charles. They grew up spending time with their dad at his office, watching videos on the Industrial Revolution and the history of warfare, and waiting for him by giving each other rides on his rolling chair in the hallway of the third floor of Hart Hall.
She notes that the David Torrance Fund is a wonderful way to celebrate and honour a beloved man who was filled with integrity, gentleness, good humour, and kindness.