Old St. Andrews



Van Horne's Last Days - 1914



1914 was a down year for St. Andrews. World War I broke out, the Algonquin Hotel burned down, Editor Armstrong left the Beacon for the Saint John Board of Trade, and Sir William Van Horne was sick. He was back on his feet by February and in Europe that summer, but the writing was on the wall. A letter to his wife at St. Andrews dated August 8, 1915, just a month before his death, shows him catching up with a lot work connected with the Cuban Railroad and the CPR, and hoping that after x-rays and with a nurse in tow he might be able to make it down to St. Andrews soon. He professes to be feeling well—though he doesn't like the diet he has been put on. Several photographs of Van Horne at Covenhoven probably from this last summer of his life show a noticeably thinner man, but with the trademark cigar still in evidence. On August 26 the Beacon reported on the operation Van Horne had recently undergone in Montreal, and on Sept. 15 appeared the notice of Sir William's death. The vote of condolence passed by Town Council, wrote the Beacon's new Editor Wallace Broad, was "no mere form of words but the sincere expression of the regret of the whole community for the loss of a man who was ever held in the highest esteem." Flags of private and public buildings were flown at half-mast for three days. It was a testament to the love of St. Andrews and Covenhoven by Van Horne's family that, after the service in Montreal, they returned to St. Andrews for the rest of the fall.