A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #3: TOC
The Road To Being Canada
Chapter 14, The Establishment Of Dalhousie And Acadia

Lord Dalhousie proposed, in 1817, some 20 years after Kings at Windsor had been set up, that there should be established a "seminary for higher branches of education" which Dalhousie thought was "much wanted in Halifax, the seat of the legislature, of justice, of the military and mercantile. ... [It is to be] open to all sects, to strangers passing a few weeks there, to the military, to students of law."1 Funds were at hand that could be used to set up this new university, Dalhousie. These funds were those that arose as a result of the War of 1812 against the Americans; war loot which the British brought back to Halifax after having attacked and occupied the community of Castine, in the State of Maine. The fund amounted to £12,000; of it, £3,000 went to the building of a stone building at the north end of the grand parade (at the other end existed St. Paul's).2 During May of 1820, the corner stone to the new building was laid by Lord Dalhousie.3

(Not all of the Castine Fund, £12,000, was used on the setting up of Dalhousie. Lord Dalhousie suggested to the officers of the Halifax Army Garrison that there should be a library and should follow the plan of that library which existed at Gibraltar. To that end, Dalhousie promised £1000 of the Castine Fund. Dalhousie observed at the time that "there is not a Bookseller's shop in Halifax, nor is there an individual possessed of anything that can be called a library."4)

The first building built for Dalhousie University modeled after "the Scotch Universities." Thomas Beamish Akins wrote that "The professors were to receive moderate salaries. The students were not to reside in the college building, but only to attend courses of lectures which were to be open to all students and all else who might feel disposed to purchase tickets for the courses." 5

The Baptists established Horton Academy at Wolfville in 1828. In its biographical sketch of Edmund Albern Crawley (1799-1888) we find in the DCB this rather nice accounting:

"It was in the field of education, however, that Crawley made his most significant contributions to Nova Scotian development. Early in 1828, together with Edward Manning, Charles Tupper, and Nutting, he spearheaded the drive to provide educational facilities for the Nova Scotia Baptist community. Crawley later wrote that at this time Baptists “were regarded as occupying the lowest rank in religious estimation – were in fact despised as an ignorant and deluded sect.” To help raise the educational level of the Baptist community, and especially of its ministers, Crawley and his associates in June 1828 presented resolutions to the meeting of the Nova Scotia Baptist Association urging the establishment of Horton Academy at Wolfville, N. S. As a result, the Nova Scotia Baptist Education Society was established to found the academy and Crawley was elected one of the society’s two secretaries, a position he filled until 1837."6
A further word on Crawley is called for. Crawley had supported Thomas McCulloch, a Free Church Presbyterian minister and educator in Pictou in his (McCulloch's) successful efforts to set up Dalhousie at Halifax as a non-denominational institution of higher learning. It was thought, certainly by Crawley himself, that he would get a teaching position at Dalhousie. However, the strong feeling running generally against Baptists worked against Crawley and he did not get a position in the new set up at Halifax. Upset with this development, he determined to set up some competition with the new start-up at Halifax. He persuaded the Nova Scotia Baptist Association to establish a Baptist college at Wolfville. Horton Academy was to be elevated to college status, Queen’s College (renamed Acadia College in 1841).7 Acadia University is the first and oldest Baptist institution of higher learning in British North America.8

NEXT: [Chapter 15, The Growth Of Commercial Interests]


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Peter Landry