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The legacy of George Munro

- February 6, 2014

The man himself: George Munro.
The man himself: George Munro.

The man behind Munro Day never took a class at Dalhousie, nor did he teach any. In fact, he didn’t even live in Nova Scotia at the time when he decided to bequeath his first donation to the then-fledgling university.

George Munro was born in the province, though, and did have a great interest in teaching and learning. He had taught at Free Church Academy in Halifax before leaving town for New York City to get involved in the book business, where he made his fortune publishing popular songbooks, handbooks and dime novels. His brother, John Forrest, a minister, was a member of Dal’s Board of Governors and encouraged Munro to help the university which, at that point, was in desperate financial straits.

Munro offered up $2,000 a year to fund a chair in physics, after which he funded four more chairs and thousands of dollars in bursaries. His total donations to Dalhousie added up to $330,000 which, adjusted for inflation, would be more than $8 million today.

In 1881, the Dalhousie Student Union asked the university for a winter holiday to honour Munro’s generosity, and Munro Day was born. It’s moved around the calendar a bit over the years, but for most of Dal’s history it’s been celebrated on the first Friday of February.*

That legacy lives on today. Each year, generous donors provide opportunities to financially challenged students, bring new academic opportunities to life helps Dal improve its campus and services. For more on the impact of philanthropy on Dalhousie and its students, read just a few of the many "Giving News" stories on the Alumni and Friends website.

*Munro Day is not currently part of the Faculty of Agriculture academic calendar. Students and faculty/staff in Truro do have Easter Monday off, which the Halifax campuses do not.


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