Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Randall

A biography about Wall of Recognition Inductee Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Randall.

Dr. Ran­dall’s early childhood was spent in Kemptville, N.S. where he was born in 1919. He first decided to study education at Acadia University but subsequently switched to theology and graduated to become a minister. He took on his first full- time pastorate in 1940.

The fact that his daughter, Carol, had contracted polio in 1952 during the height of the epidemic of polio­myelitis prompted his acceptance of a call in 1954 to the two-point charge in Harvey St. Andrew’s and St. James United Churches. By moving to Harvey, they were closer to the polio clinic in Fredericton where Carol would have specialized surgery and care.

Dr. Randall points out that he is not an “historian” but a “storian” collecting stories from listening to the people around him. Always interested in the historical aspect of his family and the commu­nities he lived, Randall spearheaded the development of the Harvey His­torical Association. He could often be found inside the association’s office surrounded by genealogies, pictures, scrapbooks and maps of the Harvey area with which he has become so familiar. He has always encouraged people to be aware of their “Roots.” By such encouragement he has motivated many people to preserve and share the stories of their lives, and the lives of their community.

His own book, Showers of Blessing, is a prime example of the importance of writing down family stories. Showers of Blessing delivers stories from his early childhood, his college education, and the diverse pastoral work he’s undertaken in Nova Scotia, Ontario and New Brunswick. From “these things happen to a preacher” to “these things shouldn’t happen to a preacher”, the anecdotes inside are often humorous and evoke nostalgia. Dr. Randall said he thinks everyone should write down the story of their lives, something that few ever do.

The book title is also the name be­stowed on the Christian radio music program founded by Dr. Randall in 1952, which continued on a regular basis for 21 years. Many older residents in the area might remember this program. His wife Emma, a talented pianist, did the honors on the piano and of­ten sang alto, while he sang melody.

Dr. Randall is well known for his articles “From The Scrapbook”, a collection of stories, factual and fictional, which he collected over a period of many years. Most of the stories emerge from items which have been preserved by makers of scrapbooks, which they permitted Dr. Randall to copy. The articles appeared in the Southwest Valley Reporter and The Lionews from 1990 to 2003. A collection of” From The Scrapbook” articles in the Harvey Regional Heritage & Historical Association numbers over 130 articles and is not complete.

Recently Mr. Randall said:  “In 1954 I went to Harvey as the minister for the United Church. I was quickly impressed by an old record book prepared by John Thompson, an original immigrant and the first school teacher in Harvey.

I was immediately hungry to learn more of the history of Harvey. I met John Craig, who was 90 at that time, James R. Swan, Mary Coburn, Manser Dykeman and Ruth Cleghorn and began to take notes.

I met Jocelean Swan Hall who shared the same interests that I had and met Ken Hall with his collection of history on the computer. My interest in the Harvey history continues today.

The Harvey Regional Heritage & Historical Association is continuing the search, collection and protection of the Harvey history. I’m proud to be a part of it, for years ago I tried to “get it rolling” without much success. It took until 2011 to make it real.”

Dr. Randall said in 2007: I have always been a firm supporter of the following concept: “What we shall someday become will grow inexorably out of what today we are, and what we are now, in turn, comes out of what our early ancestors were; out of what they did and thought and dreamed and hoped for  (spoken at the Roanold Island Historical Commission 1958 —author unknown)

Rev.  Dr. Randall died in March 2017 at age 98 years.

Note: All of Dr. Randall’s files were turned over to the new Harvey Regional Heritage & Historical Association in mid-2011 and are being sorted, retyped and updated. The information is being arranged by subject and made into books. All the information is also saved on discs and an external hard drive to protect the information for the future historians of the Harvey region.  Dr. Randall’s years of collecting the histories of the Harvey region was the foundation for our new Association.

Prepared by Garry Rutherford, Harvey Regional Heritage & Historical Association.

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: