Athletics & Recreation

Elmer MacGillivray


Inducted in 2001
Category: Athlete - Hockey

He was a compact parcel of energy and honesty with natural athletic ability, a pioneer in the evolution of Saint Mary's into the ranks of contending teams on the Atlantic college sports landscape. The year was 1944 when Elmer MacGillivray arrived from his native Reserve Mines, Cape Breton as a boarder at the original Saint Mary's High School, among the first student-athletes who would contribute so generously to the development of maroon and white teams over the last half of the 20th century.

He wasn't very big, about 5'10" and 170 lbs, but he played his games six inches taller and 50 pounds heavier. He played them with a purpose and passion which more than compensated for any other shortcomings, and he played them with the indelible stamp of a Santamarian, because nobody ever loved Saint Mary's more than Elmer MacGillivray. Above all else, he was a leader and the evidence came early, playing on three teams and winning two championships, with Saint Mary's City High School football champions and Saint Mary's Maritime Juvenile hockey titlists. By 1945, MacGillivray's Santamarians won the city school hockey title they had lost to St. Pat's the year before, and the provincial crown in a win over Glace Bay. In 1946, Elmer divided his winter season between Saint Mary's intercollegiate and Winter Gardens Junior Hockey teams who repeated as Maritime Champions, sparked by the famous line of Bert Hirschfeld, Hughie Campbell and MacGillivray along with a great defenseman Dugger MacNeil. In 1948, still a student, he helped Saint Mary's make it four in a row as Maritime Junior champions and then played an important role as Halifax Capitols won the Maritime Senior baseball title. The following year he helped Halifax Saint Mary's hockey seniors win the Big Four title. It should be remembered that Saint Mary's Junior and Senior hockey teams were not university-sponsored teams, yet the public never seemed to separate the two and Elmer's presence outside campus always reflected positively on the school.

After graduation, Elmer pursued higher callings in the religious and education fields, counting among his Ontario-based students the present Saint Mary's Athletic Director Larry Uteck who must have been influenced early by Elmer's glad tidings from the east coast. Returning to Saint Mary's as a teacher in the late 1950's, Elmer took over the school football program and led his teams to two consecutive Maritime High School Championships.

As a student-athlete for five years and teacher/coach for three more at Saint Mary's, Elmer MacGillivray was a role model for perseverance and courage. The little guy from Reserve who came to Saint Mary's as a boy in 1944 for the start of what has been a lifelong love affair with his alma mater. In the intervening years, his love and affection for this school has only increased, in convert with the inspiration he has provided to so many others to find their rightful places in the games they play.

Portrait Artist: Barb Dorey
Portrait Art Photographer: Joe Chrvala

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