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- Allison, Charles Frederick
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Charles Frederick Allison (1795-1858) was born in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, and was the son of James Allison, a farmer and merchant, and Margaret Hutchinson. He married Milcah Trueman on June 23, 1840. They had at least one daughter. Charles Allison died in Sackville, New Brunswick.
Charles Allison grew up in Cornwallis, N.S., and received his education there. He moved to Parrsboro, N.S., where he worked as a clerk in a store owned by a relative by marriage. At age 21, Charles joined the mercantile firm of William Crane and Bardin Turner in Sackville, New Brunswick. William Crane was a cousin of Charles'. Within a few years, he became a partner in the firm. The Crane and Allison business operated both in the Sackville area as a distributor of local agricultural produce and imported goods and on the Miramichi River exporting lumber to Liverpool and selling provisions and imported commodities. The firm's widespread trading links in Great Britain and the New England states played a significant role in the development of shipbuilding in Sackville parish. Allison retired from active business in 1840 to devote himself to the establishing educational facilities in Sackville.
A spiritual crisis during the 1830s resulted in his conversion from Church of England to the Methodist denomination. Through the Rev. William Smithson, Charles began to attend Methodist services in 1833. In 1836, Charles Allison was among those converted at a series of revival meetings in Sackville, led by the Rev. John Bass Strong.
Methodists had wanted to open an educational institution in the Maritime provinces for many years but had been unable to raise the funds. In 1839, Charles Allison offered to buy land in Sackville for a school and to construct a suitable building at his own expense and donate £100 annually for the first ten years of operation. He laid the foundation for the Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy on 9 July 1840 and supervised the construction personally. The academy opened to students 19 January 1843.
During the following years, he took an active interest in the school's operation, a frequent visitor to the school and served as treasurer until his death.
Charles Allison was shy by nature and shunned public attention. In 1849, he declined an appointment to the Legislative Council of New Brunswick by the government leader, Edward Baron Chandler, despite assurances he wouldn't be called upon to identify himself with any political party. Most of his energy was directed toward the academy.
During the late 1840s and early 1850s, Allison played a leading role in building a school for girls. Again, he supervised the construction. During the summer of 1854, after donating £1000, Charles Allison had the satisfaction of seeing an academy for females in operation with Mary Electa Adams as the lady preceptress. Allison did not live to see the inauguration of another institution bearing his name, the Mount Allison Wesleyan College, 1862, which benefited from a sum left in his will designated for the establishment of a degree granting college.
When Charles A. Allison died, he was not solely remembered for his monetary contributions. In reality, his donations were modest, £10,000. He had provided much time and energy to the Academy and he was considered an able counsellor and a loyal and constant friend of the college.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. VIII, 1851-1860
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