1965 Fredericton Encaenia

Toole, Francis James

Doctor of Science (D.Sc.)

Orator: Cattley, Robert E.D.

Image Caption
L to R: Colin B. Mackay, Francis James Toole, Milton F. Gregg
Second Image Caption
Source: UA PC-4 no.12(56); Photo by Harvey Studios


to be Doctor of Science

Thirty-five years ago he arrived at U.N.B., causing this fledgling professor, his senior by twelve months, to feel a generation junior in wisdom and maturity. For Toole's was the generation that fought World War I, and since then he had made himself a seasoned chemist, academic and industrial -- a combination that was to lend balance and
stability to his epochal but then unformulated career. He came feeling in his bones Newman's concept of a university, and uncompromisingly he equated it with the Faculty.

For the decade of the "Thirties" the old institution seemed to him to slumber. She was in reality lying fallow, but he chafed and in the very chafing revealed those beguiling contradictions of the Irish temperament which at once infuriate and endear. He could be the most obdurate and at the same time the most charming of opponents, but if he gave his friendship it was golden. By Hibernian birthright anti- everything, you could never a fortiori quite believe him anti- British, when he revered a British Jeans, Haldane and Rutherford; or anti-empire (which he used provokingly to compare with the Spanish when he would at sing-songs of Left or Right as cheerfully play Rule Britannia as the Internationale, and when at every Encaenia, until an orchestra took over the National Anthem, his fingers on the keys would invite God to save King George.

Music in sooth was the key to his Celtic soul. No mean pianist, he rejoiced in impromptu ensembles and was blessed with many a fellow chemist who could play an instrument, and with one president whose voice was like a bell. At his hands it could go hard with Chopin -- indeed, in moments of gloom he was apt to attack the piano as if it were an absentee landlord -- but Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven came through in all their glory. A staunch defender of the League of Nations, he practised its humanity as he preached its principles, and a succession of foreign students has found shelter beneath his roof. In this, as in all else, he has been backed by the most understanding of consorts. Norah, his former student, playing with unruffled aplomb the role of wife, mother, hostess, and citizen, was at his side as colleague for the challenging era that was to be his vindication.

For the seeds of a new U.N.B. had germinated. What before the war had been his visions -- Campus Mail, Faculty Club, expanding Library, Graduate School -- under his stimulation now became realities. In ten years as its first Dean he saw the School of Graduate Studies flourish like the green bay tree, his own department a most fruitful
branch. To seminars of a type unknown before in Canada he brought together on the campus chemists of international fame, and to the Priestman lectures scientists in many fields. His pre- and post-doctoral Fellows have come from all corners of the globe, and -- a crowning tribute to his sagacity -- he found and has kept under his wing the leading organic chemist in North America.

In her wisdom the University has clasped to her bosom one she could ill afford by retirement to lose, making him in in 1960 her first Vice-President Academic. Three years later he bequeathed to younger hands the headship of the department he had virtually re-created. Today he joins the ranks of her Elder Statesmen, becoming Professor
Emeritus and honorary tutor in Chemistry. But even if, like the old soldier he is, he were just to fade away -- which God and Toole forbid -- the University could count herself by him most mightily enriched. For he has builded well.

Cattley, Robert E.D. Honoris causa: the effervescences of a university orator. Fredericton: UNB Associated Alumnae, 1968.

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