Gateway Gazette

A Great Canadian…….Father Athol Murray

 

(Contributed)

Notre Dame College, Wilcox, Saskatchewan.

The College Motto ” Luctor et Emergo….I Struggle and I Come Through”

Father Athol MurrayFather Murray was a man’s man, with a heart of gold and a real desire for living. He believed that sports belonged in the curriculum, and so it was, that the Hounds of Notre Dame became a threat to every college or high school hockey team in Western Canada. This was year 1928. The HOUNDS became the established name for the student’s and athletic teams. It was the name that inspired the best efforts of the competition across Western Canada, as the HOUNDS established a reputation for a fiercely competitive athletic style.

At Notre Dame, education was a process. Father Murray understood the country’s cultures and populism. He believed greatness was within the grasp of anyone, and, he preached on that incessantly.

Father Murray originally came from Toronto

Southern Saskatchewan is the nation’s breadbasket. In August the landscape is a sea of golden wheat, but the land is barren in winter. Wilcox is 25 miles south of Regina. About 1920 a building in the area became available for a convent. The building had been previously used by a pharmacist who treated locals with alcohol problems. Prohibition was running wild during this time. Wilcox was the mainstream of bootlegging between Saskatchewan and Montana. During this time the local priest’s health began to fail. Father Murray was appointed to take over.
Times were tough, money scarce and more than enough, food was not plentiful. In lieu of money , students brought in meat, produce, eggs and milk. or what ever they could spare. Father Murray never turned away a student because he /she did not have the money for tuition. His College was open to boys and girls, as by this time in 1927 it had become co-ed. It did not matter of what religion you practiced, you were welcome at Father Murray’s.

NDCollegeC8It was told “He had the soul of a saint, a mind of a Greek philosopher, and the vocabulary of a dock worker”.
He fought with Saskatchewan’s Government Leader Mr. M.J. Coldwell over medicare. Both men were “head strong”. This was during the 60’s. Both fought for what they believed in.

Let it be known that Wilcox College is the world’s smallest university. In 1968 Father Athol Murray received the Order of Canada. He passed away in 1975. His nephew, Murray Maynard of Toronto said of him , ” Although he walked and talked with kings and prime ministers, they meant no more to him than any citizen of Saskatchewan.” What a gracious remark .

May He Rest In Peace.

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