Welcome to the Nuremberg Chronicle

Dr. Sharon Wright, Department of History and Classical, Medieval & Renaissance Studies, St Thomas More College

Welcome to the Athol Murray Archive and Mapping the Pages’ Nuremberg Chronicle. While a number of Chronicles survive in large libraries and archives around the world, the Wilcox Nuremberg Chronicle is remarkable for its voyage through time and geography to its current home in the village of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, Canada. The book was purchased as a gift for Père Athol Murray (Order of Canada, d.1975) by his students and is a testament of their education and their great love for their mentor and teacher. As a gift, the Nuremberg Chronicle honours Père Murray’s legacy well. Murray was expansive thinker. In Wilcox he built a tower dedicated to the One God, worshipped by Muslims, Christians and Jews and he was deeply concerned with issues of just governance and peace.

Murray’s love of books was not a private one. Trained in classics and philosophy (his motto Luctor et Emergo means I struggle and overcome) he believed that everyone was improved through scholarship and sport (Murray can be found in both the Canadian Sports and Hockey Hall of Fame). From 1927 when he arrived in Wilcox he wanted books for his students who came to study from farming communities and towns in the Canadian prairies. His collection of books is remarkable. It includes medieval manuscripts – some in original binding and with forged chains – incunables (books printed before 1501) and other early printed books; it even includes books that belonged to General Robert E. Leigh that were gifted to Murray by Leigh’s family who knew him as a boy. His collection is all the more remarkable when one realizes that there was no running water and the school was heated with wood and coal when Murray first arrived. Rather than turn poor students away, Murray would accept tuition fees in kind. His spirit was generous and he taught his students to love knowledge, to value the past and to equip themselves with strong minds and bodies. By making his copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle available online we salute his legacy as an educator in the Canadian Prairies.