Gertrude Elizabeth Gunn (Ph.D.)
Gertrude Elizabeth Gunn (Ph.D.), July 11, 1923-March 18, 2019, at Orchard View Long Term Care Home, Gagetown, NB.
University of New Brunswick Librarian Emerita, historian and beloved aunt. Gertrude’s life was driven by history, the power of the written word, as well as a profound belief in duty, determination and hard work
It began with her parents: Angus Stirling Gunn, whose great grandparents emigrated from Scotland during the Highland Clearances; and Susan Johnston, who emigrated from Ireland and often spoke to Gertrude of the "Irish Troubles". During World War I, both Gertrude’s parents served as officers in France. "I felt I had a connection to large events," said Gertrude of her youth. When World War II broke out, she went to work for the Department of National Defence in Moncton, because "it seemed the thing to do". After the war, she watched history unfold as an assistant on the news desk at the Montreal Star. Ten years later, she felt the need for "some serious studying", and began her academic life at UNB. In 1956, a Beaverbrook scholarship took her to the University of London. While writing her PhD dissertation (The Political History of Newfoundland, 1852-1864), published by University of Toronto Press, Gertrude received a letter from UNB administrators offering her the position of Head Librarian. They recognized her formidable intellect and leadership potential, even though she had no experience running a library. She accepted the job, and with her characteristic clarity, she set off to Boston to equip herself with a degree in Library Sciences.
During her 23-year tenure, Gertrude led the transformation of the UNB library into a respected research facility. The staff quadrupled and the collection grew from 97,000 items to 1.8 million volumes. Her great achievement came in 1967 with the opening of a new building, the Harriet Irving Library, large enough to contain her vision for a library that would keep pace with the changing demands of academia. Through it all, "Dr. Gunn", as she was known, earned the deep respect of her colleagues, and was named Librarian Emerita after her retirement in 1982. In the years following, she volunteered for the Kidney Foundation of Canada, travelled and, of course, read widely.
She was predeceased by two sisters, Bernice MacNutt and Ruth Mutch and is survived by nieces and a nephew: Mary MacNutt, Nancy (Mutch) MacDougall and Alex Mutch.
Special thanks to the staff at Orchard View Long Term Care for the compassionate care they provided during Gertrude’s her final years.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 21st, 2019 from St. Anne's Chapel of Ease, 201 Westmorland St., in Fredericton. In lieu of flowers, donations to charitable organizations would be appreciated, in particular The Kidney Foundation of Canada.