8 A Maturing Confidence, 1887-1901

The new brick Dalhousie. Changes in Halifax. Archibald MacMechan. Difficulties of finance. Halifax Medical College and Dalhousie. The Law School’s peculiar year. Shifts in curriculum. Student life and Senate discipline. Dances. Death of Charles Macdonald, 1901.

One of the first signs of Halifax visible to a ship coming to harbour from seaward after August 1887 was the tall brick tower of Dalhousie, 145 feet high. It was just ten feet short of the Citadel’s height and stood a few degrees to the west. Closer up, the spacious new brick building on the South Common looked rather gaunt and puritan. “Externally,” said the Presbyterian Witness, “it is not an imposing structure, but it impresses the spectator with the conviction that use rather than ornament has been the controlling idea.” Utilitarian it was; its three-plus storeys of red brick on a foundation of grey-white granite were saved from being positively ugly by an engaging balance between horizontal and vertical lines, the former emphasized by stone trim, the latter by the tall tower above the main entrance. But on a rainy morning it was not inviting, as one young woman remembered: “After a dismal walk through rain and fog you arrived at a bleak building of red brick, which reared itself out of the mist, tall and lanky wearing the look of a child who has grown too fast.”

The building was ready to be inhabited by mid-September of 1887. It was only the first half of a building eventually supposed to be double the size. The present one was big enough, said President Forrest, for a good many years to come. He bravely claimed that the building would be the equal of other such buildings in Canada, though, he noted, the University of Toronto buildings, built by the Ontario government, were costly and ornate. “But we have no money to lay out for expensive adornments, or costly architectural designs.” Dalhousie was built from the city’s $25,000 payment for the Grand Parade, from Sir William’s gift, and from whatever private money the Board of Governors could scrounge from a Halifax world not replete with millionaires. And even wealthy Haligonians had a tradition of being close-fisted with their money.[1]

The grounds showed the penury. There had been no landscaping, no trees; the ground was mere cinders, stones and dirt. The yard was enclosed with a large fence, with breaches soon made in it by impatient students. The cinder yard could yield up the odd empty tomato can, decayed orange, or dead cat. It was the wet and the mud that created the problems, “this yellow, yielding, yeasty campus mud,” as the Gazette put it. Mud-scrapers were positioned on either side of the main door; their foundations are still there, anchored in the granite. One streaming day, while water was sluicing down Morris Street, President Forrest stood for an hour in the wet cautioning students not to use the usual route if he or she wanted dry feet.[2]

Once inside the building, the students enjoyed the space, the first in years. After having been “mewed up” as the Witness put it, in the old building, the wide corridors and staircases gave a new sense of amplitude. Enrolment in 1887-8 was 191; in arts (that included science) there were eighty-eight regular undergraduates and fifty-six general students; in law there were thirty-eight undergraduates and nine general students. Halifax was well represented. Of one hundred undergraduates in arts in 1889-90, twenty were from Halifax.[3]

If the curious undergraduate went up to the third floor, and climbed to the tower, he could see Mauger’s Beach lighthouse and the surf at Thrumcap Shoal. The foreground would be occupied by Gorsebrook golf course, with Collins hill, used then, as now, for sleigh-riding and toboganning. The Dalhousie tower was one of the best vantage points around. Private estates such as Oaklands had lots of trees, but a visitor from the 1990s to the Halifax of the 1890s would be struck by the absence of trees on city streets. The city had begun to plant saplings on the North and South Common in the 1880s; but planting trees between the sidewalk and the street was still unfamiliar. It was being urged in October 1900 as a new civic improvement. The Halifax streets were not the shady avenues they are now.[4]

Another difference would be the sidewalks. Downtown there were brick sidewalks, occasionally granite ones, and across the cinders, dust, and mud of the streets were stone or brick crossings. But the main staple for sidewalks was still the cinders and ashes from numerous fireplaces, stoves, and an increasing number of furnaces. Those sidewalks and street crossings were very hard on long skirts. Braid was often sewn around the bottom to help protect them against the mud and dirt. One whimsical letter of 1893 from “A. Skirt” complained, “unluckily for myself as I am worn rather long just now, I cannot help gathering superfluous mud around me. Yours muckily.” An 1893 poetic summary of the complaints of Halifax streets begins:

No dust blows through the streets to make you blink,
(At least not after thirty hours hard rain);
No pitfalls in the pavements cause you pain;
The lights about the streets number quite twenty
You’ll all agree with me that that is plenty.

As to lighting, Halifax was better than that, for there were eighty gas lamps, on tall cast-iron standards made in Glasgow. In the outlying parts of the city, and that meant Dalhousie, coal-oil lamps were common. In 1886 conversion to electric street lighting began, but it was far from perfect. One sarcastic description of electric light was “electric dark.” It was 1890 before the system could be fairly trusted.[5]

Photograph of Entrance Hall, Dalhousie College, 1896.
Entrance Hall, Dalhousie College, 1896.
Photograph of Dalhousie Library, 1896.
Dalhousie Library, 1896. Note the paucity of books and working space.

The other impressive change of the 1880s was the beginning of Canada’s long love affair with the telephone. The Nova Scotia Telephone Company was chartered in 1887; by that time Halifax had four hundred telephones, mostly in offices and businesses. Students at Dalhousie started asking for one in 1889, since there were so many part-time law teachers who were not always able to give their lectures owing to commitments in court. Dalhousie did not have money for such frills. There was still no telephone in 1893; Dalhousie appears in the Halifax telephone book of May 1900, the number, 1092.[6]

The other invention that obtruded itself into the university world of the 1880s and 1890s was the typewriter. At first the name applied to the women (and earlier, the men) who did the typing; more than one MP in Ottawa or MLA in Halifax liked having an attractive typewriter in his office. Machines were not considered proper for personal correspondence then, or for a long time to come. Sir John A. Macdonald never signed a typewritten letter; his secretaries wrote his letters by hand, keeping copies in great books of flimsies called letterbooks. President Forrest conducted Dalhousie’s business correspondence, such as it was, in his own hand. It is difficult to believe he did not have an official letterbook, but since he did not have an official secretary, perhaps it should not be surprising. His methods of dealing with Dalhousie business were, to say the least, casual. It used to be said that at registration he would put the arts money in one trousers pocket, the law money in another, and the medical money in his waistcoat. One former Dalhousie secretary, Lola Henry, recalled that it was said the records of Dalhousie business were in pencil on the starched cuffs of President Forrest’s shirts. Whether for these reasons, very little of President Forrest’s correspondence has survived, and what there is is mostly in the papers of others. Dalhousie seems to have bought its first typewriter in 1907 and its typewritten records start to appear after 1911, after Forrest stepped down as president.[7]

Dalhousie Staff
By the end of the 1880s Dalhousie had a staff almost double that of 1863. By now there were ten full-time professors, five George Munro ones, three McLeod, plus the two Presbyterian professors, Lyall and Macdonald. Ross, the third Presbyterian professor, retired in 1885, and the Presbyterian Church preferred to put its education money into Pine Hill Divinity College. Dalhousie was now on its feet. There were also two George Munro tutors, much needed in the basic subjects: in classics, Howard Murray, and in mathematics A.S. MacKenzie. Benjamin Russell was half-time professor in law, besides of course Dean Weldon. That was the teaching staff for Dalhousie’s two hundred or so students, of whom 70 per cent were degree students in arts and law.

Dalhousie’s choices for professor were too good; it could not always hold them. J.G. Schurman, who was Munro professor of philosophy, had written Kantian Ethics and the Ethics of Evolution in 1881. He was popular with students and much appreciated in Halifax as an evening lecturer. All the while he was working on a second major book, The Ethical Import of Darwinism, published in London in 1888, where he sought to distinguish between the animal and human contexts of evolution, between biology and morals. The Dalhousie Gazette claimed in 1886 that Dalhousie seniors were striking examples of the survival of the fittest, being evolved from freshmen over an eon of 1,400 days, during which “all the imperfect specimens drop out of sight.” The conflict between science and revelation worried writers in the Gazette; they went mostly on hope that Darwin and Genesis would some day, somehow, be reconciled: “though we see a current in one direction, and a counter-current in another, we have yet scarcely found out in what direction the whole mass is drifting, yet we know the course is ever onward.” Perhaps that was the reason why Darwinism was taught at Dalhousie in philosophy classes; biology did not come as a subject until the eve of the First World War. Schurman was invited in 1886 to take the Sage chair of philosophy at Cornell, an invitation he found impossible to resist. Within six years he would be president of Cornell, at the age of thirty-eight.[8]

Schurman was replaced by James Seth, a twenty-nine-year-old Edinburgh scholar, educated there and in Germany. His specialty, too, was ethics. He liked Dalhousie students for what he called their “fine earnestness of purpose.” There is a charming description of young Seth and old William Lyall, thin and bent by then, on a sunny October afternoon in 1889 along Young Avenue. The two philosophers were walking towards what Halifax children called “the Golden Gates” of Point Pleasant Park, talking together, threading, as MacMechan put it “some Socratic dream.” Lyall, still at seventy-eight professor of logic and metaphysics, was cautious and moderate, and if not enthusiastic about Charles Darwin (and still less about Herbert Spencer), that was, as the Gazette pointed out, the defect of virtues. Lyall taught philosophy as if it were “the one thing needful for the life that now is and for that which is yet to come.” His Intellect, and Emotions, and the Moral Nature, a majestic book published in Edinburgh in 1855, was written in Halifax when he was teacher at the Free Church College. Lyall used it as his textbook in logic and psychology, metaphysics and esthetics, his courses at Dalhousie, and it was used in several other Canadian universities. It is a period piece; philosophy and psychology, poetry and piety, are put together, with metaphysics visible always on the horizon. Lyall was an acute observer of human nature; his theory of knowledge scorned the speculations of David Hume, and remained faithful to Scottish ideas of common sense. Lyall died in January 1890. James Seth went to Brown in 1892, then to Cornell to Schurman’s chair. Seth moved partly for reasons of money, going from $2,000 at Dalhousie to $3,000 at Brown, to $3,500 at Cornell. He would end up back in Edinburgh in 1898, still grateful to Dalhousie and Dalhousie colleagues whom he remembered with considerable affection.[9]

W.J. Alexander, the Munro professor of English, went to the University of Toronto in 1889. He had formally applied for the Toronto chair in November 1888. Following the custom, he had printed a short pamphlet with a brief curriculum vitae and containing testimonials, not excluding those from Dalhousie colleagues, perhaps the most important of all. President Forrest hated to see Alexander leave and said so. “I regret very much that I am called upon to discharge a duty which, while pleasant in itself is yet ominous of evil to our institution.” Forrest praised Alexander’s teaching and scholarship, then concluded, “Justice to Dr. Alexander compels me to give this certificate; but I hope that Toronto University may find a suitable professor of English in some other quarter.”[10]

Toronto did not so find, though it was not until May 1889 that Alexander actually resigned. The search for a new man had already started. George Munro’s opinion was solicited, and in New York he interviewed one promising candidate, Archibald McKellar MacMechan. Forrest’s brother wrote from Toronto, that the more he’d looked at MacMechan the better he got. “He stood a fair chance of obtaining the chair to which Professor Alexander has been called to Toronto, but was thought to be too young.” Forrest’s first choice among all the candidates was MacMechan. The difficulty was, he told MacMechan, “You are, as yet an untried man.” There was nothing in Dalhousie rules indicating how long a professor could hold office, “but the practice has always been that the tenure of office is as long as the Professor wishes to stay.” That was the difficulty; some governors worried that it was a great risk to appoint someone so young and inexperienced to so permanent a post. Forrest suggested the following to the twenty-seven-year-old MacMechan:

Now what I would like you to do is this. To authorise me to state that if after two or three years work you are not able to satisfy the Governors that you have the necessary qualifications for the position you will quietly withdraw. Now I ask this not because I have any misgivings myself. I fully believe you have the scholarship and the ability to fill the position with entire satisfaction to us all. You will get every encouragement, and every one will hope for and rejoice in your success. No public reference whatever will be made to this understanding… My only object in getting it from you is to be able to meet possible objections to your inexperience. I think if I have that I will have no difficulty in securing your appointment.

MacMechan accepted this gentlemen’s agreement, and as things turned out, it never needed to be invoked. MacMechan’s is the only appointment for which there is evidence of Forrest’s style and mode of working. The men he chose are the best illustration of his judgment. It is not clear that he had actually met MacMechan before he hired him; if he had not, his judgment is all the more remarkable. Walter Murray, later president of the University of Saskatchewan from 1908 to 1937, wrote of Forrest that when unfettered in his selection he never made a mistake. In Murray’s opinion, Forrest’s greatest gift to Dalhousie was his unerring sense for what was good in a professor.[11]

MacMechan was a golden choice. An Ontarian, born in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, he received his BA from the University of Toronto in 1884. After two years of high school teaching he went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore where he had fellowships in German. In 1889 MacMechan was awarded his PH.D. on The Relation of Hans Sachs to the Decameron, published in Halifax in 1889, probably at MacMechan’s expense. The subject is remarkable enough, and it illustrates the wide range of MacMechan’s intellect. Not only was he fluent in German and French, and of course Latin, but also Italian. He was thoroughly at home in Dante and the early Renaissance Italian writers. About middle height, with a trim torpedo beard, MacMechan was well-turned out, fastidious, and, although lame, played tennis and golf. He knew enough about rugby to coach a school team in Ontario and at critical moments to encourage the Dalhousie team.[12]

He fell in love with Halifax, and so did his new Ontario wife. “Something tells me,” he said in 1893, “I shall live and die in Halifax and I have never been deceived in these premonitions. It would not be a sorry fate, I love the place: it made Edith and home and the dear children possible. I should be ungrateful not to love it. Dirty disreputable old wooden town…” He loved its seasons, for the autumn especially after the brilliant leaves had gone and the underbrush turned scarlet and the larch flamed yellow, and for the spring just before the leaves came out when the countryside for a week looked like an Impressionist painting. He loved Halifax for its history, its quiet hospitality, for the sea that surrounded it and the lakes that inhabited its very suburbs, for its ships and their mysteries. Something of MacMechan’s style and his passion for his new home comes through in “A City by the Sea,” an article he published in January 1890 in The Week, then Canada’s only national literary weekly:

It is a city of strange sights, especially so to an eye bred inland. The most engaging of these owe their charm to the presence of the sea. At every turn, you are reminded of the ocean and the traffic in deep waters…The sea itself is never far off. It closes the vista of the short streets, one after one, with a band of blue beside the black wharves. It bounds the prospect wherever you look over the dim roofs, with their clusters of chimney-pots and dormer windows… It is ever the same and ever changing glittering in the sunshine, dull under the broad, grey clouds; flecked with sails or smooth and featureless as a mill-pond. Half way down the bay, you catch a glimpse of a white line, the reef with its breakers. Here stands the little lighthouse, which, at the fall of darkness shows its light like a candle set in a lonely cottage window…

The houses are of wood, very plain without as a general thing, but pretty and comfortable within. They are all of the same pattern, painted a dull drab or grey which is soon further toned down by the action of the coal smoke. The English chimney-pot abounds, and the dormer windows on the roof. This last always prevents a house from being utterly ugly and some of the sloping streets where roof rises above roof, and the outlines are still further broken by these quaint devices half window, half room, are quite worthy of the study of the etcher.[13]

He turned out to be a delightful, though hardly flamboyant, lecturer. He had little of the flash and edge that made Charles Macdonald’s lectures so memorable. His were more studied and deliberate. He dressed for the part, carefully, always with a gown. He expected students to dress as befitted gentlemen and ladies even if of limited means. Archie, as he was soon known by the students, read poetry – he read aloud a good deal – in a style more finished than dramatic. He was apt to shy away from the rougher scenes in Shakespeare or Fielding; the first scene in King Lear made him uneasy. His was a delicate, careful taste; his world reminded one of Watteau, not of Rubens. Among the greats of English literature his particular favourites were Kipling, Tennyson, and Carlyle – the Victorians, of which, it is right to say, he was one.

Photograph of Archibald MacMechan
Archibald MacMechan, Munro Professor of English, 1889-1931. “He loved Halifax for its history, its quiet hospitality, for the sea that surrounded it and the lakes that inhabited its very suburbs.”

His public lectures in Halifax, on Shakespeare, Browning, and other literary figures, were soon well attended. He gave whole courses of lectures, a dozen or so on a theme over the winter. As he grew older his publications multiplied. He feared not working. He feared the weakness he said his father had, a lack of energy and application, and he fought it all his life, and with singular success.[14]

This was the young professor who started at Dalhousie in the fall of 1889, and made his whole life here. He would retire from Dalhousie only in 1931, and he was then much the same as he had always been, in style and manner. For the reputation of Dalhousie, in Canada and abroad, no professor, not even the great Charles Macdonald, matched Archibald MacMechan. He celebrated Nova Scotia’s history and its ships and he loved its values, its independence, its hatred of sham.

Dalhousie Finances
One of the first things that MacMechan encountered at Dalhousie was the ongoing difficulties of Dalhousie’s finances. He had already had to agree not to accept student fees. A new departure, beginning with MacMechan, Dalhousie asked all professors, as they were appointed, to renounce fees. The university would keep them.[15] This was only one aspect of a larger problem. The board informed Senate in March 1890 that for some years past there had been a deficit on current account, owing to the gradual shrinkage in interest rates, mortgage income, and rents, from which Dalhousie got its current funds. The aggregate debt had become, so the board said, “seriously embarrassing.” It had had to borrow money on the personal security of some of its members. The board conceded that salaries were none too high. Would the university professors consider giving up, as new ones were doing, the fees they traditionally collected? Senate was not enthusiastic. They considered fees part of existing contractual arrangements. They proposed other options. One was to ask the Presbyterian Church to continue to contribute to the chair of logic and psychology now made vacant by the sudden death of William Lyall in January 1890. That hope proved illusory. The Presbyterian Church wished to put more money into theology at Pine Hill, and it now gave up the second professorship with which Dalhousie had been restarted in 1863. That left only one professor, Charles Macdonald, supported by the Presbyterian Church.[16]

The Munro professorships continued to be highly sought after, however. Walter Murray, a New Brunswicker (UNB ’86), after graduate work in Edinburgh and Berlin, returned to his alma mater as professor of philosophy in 1891. Dalhousie was able to appoint him in 1892 as George Munro professor of philosophy, replacing James Seth, at double Murray’s UNB salary. But then the Munro professorships were exceptional.

The new building had made Dalhousie’s finances no easier. Sir William Young’s promised $20,000 to the building fund had not yet been received; Milliken the contractor was paid by going to the Bank of Nova Scotia and getting an overdraft. That stood at $21,357.09 in June 1888. There were also a couple of Mechanics’ liens out against the building, though they were eventually sorted out. The bank was willing to wait until money from the Young estate arrived, but the situation was sufficiently parlous that in the summer of 1888 the board struck a finance committee to report on the state of the Dalhousie endowment and current finances.[17]

The Dalhousie endowment in December 1888, with Munro and McLeod money added to the original Castine fund ($51,067 in 1863) now totalled $331,522, of which 55 per cent was Munro promissory notes. The rest was invested variously: 12 per cent in local mortgages, another 10 per cent in Canadian and American stocks; the McLeod properties on Hollis and Granville streets accounted for 17 per cent. That endowment did not mean Dalhousie was wealthy; it meant it was rich in tied money.

Its cash income was rather thin. The five Munro professors cost $10,000 per annum, paid by Munro in quarterly instalments. The other professors cost $6,900, which with maintenance and other expenses came to $10,500 per year. Income, outside of Munro, came to $7,000, making an annual deficit on current account of $3,500. In June 1890 some of the Granville Street property was mortgaged. Perhaps more important, a conference was held with Alumni to discuss Dalhousie’s financial position. The Alumni urged the governors and the Senate to follow the example of Johns Hopkins and other American universities – that is, give a complete statement of the university’s financial position to the public. Dalhousie governors had a Scottish reluctance to do quite that; what they did was to show that Dalhousie had an annual deficit of some $3,000 on current account, and why. A plan of campaign was approved; important Maritime towns were to be canvassed, the aim being to raise $50,000. By 1892 $7,000 had been subscribed. One alumnus thought that was not good enough; if the Board of Governors and the president were not dead, they were certainly asleep, and the main responsibility for this lassitude lay with President Forrest. Another alumnus remarked that he had met Forrest time and again and “he has not asked me for a V.” (Many banknotes used “V” on their $5 bills.) What George Grant had done for Queen’s, what Schurman was doing for Cornell, should be done by Forrest. There was no need to take an apologetic line; that never worked anyway. Take the public into your confidence, “give them facts and figures to dissipate the fiction that Dalhousie is rich, and the independent, if not the sectarian, public will substantially acknowledge her claims.” Above all, said the alumnus, avoid the impression that Dalhousie had collected $7,000 under false pretences.

There was much good sense in that. It was true that President Forrest’s talents did not include success at badgering the public for money. But, as another alumnus pointed out three weeks later, Forrest had done more for Dalhousie financially than any other president by a long chalk: the Munro, McLeod, and Young legacies were all owing to Forrest. If one took away those gifts, what with the government abandoning all college support after 1881, and the Presbyterians giving up two-thirds of their funding, where would Dalhousie have been without Forrest?

Dalhousie’s finances slowly improved. By 1900 its annual income totalled $22,800 with expenditure only $500 more. That was manageable, though the arithmetic was narrow enough. By 1900 the total endowment was $343,000. Munro had died in 1896, and the Munro endowment came in between 1897 and 1900.[18]

Affiliation of the Halifax Medical College
The other change that came in 1889 was the reordering of arrangements with the Halifax Medical College. Since 1875 the college had gone its own way; it had put up a wooden three-storey building at the corner of College and Carleton streets, with a substantial mortgage. But as an institution it had rather marked time. Student numbers did not grow much. The college survived on student fees and a small government grant of $800 a year; its professors were local doctors who had their own practices to run. Facilities in the Halifax Medical College were very modest, really inadequate, and they were slowly losing staff. The best surgeon in Halifax, Dr. John Stewart, who had been Joseph Lister’s house physician at Edinburgh, resolutely refused to have anything to do with the Halifax Medical College. This may have been due as much to pique and personality as to professional dislike. There were good doctors in the college; but not all the doctors were good, and some very good ones were not there at all. At a large meeting at the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth in May 1884, Dr. J.F. Black proposed the Halifax Medical College be discontinued. After much debate – it can be imagined! – that decision was put off. One more term would be tried, in 1884-5. For that session there were twenty-five regular medical students.[19]

Over the winter of 1884-5 negotiations about affiliation proceeded with Dalhousie, and these had almost come to fruition when the “Great Row” erupted. It was over the running of the City and Provincial Hospital, the principal teaching hospital of the Halifax Medical College.

The City and Provincial Hospital was under the direction of the provincial commissioners of public charities. Their view of the world gave higher allegiance to politics than to medicine. In May 1885 the commissioners appointed a recent McGill graduate, Dr. A.C. Hawkins, as house surgeon at the hospital. The other candidate was Dr. Goodwin of Saint John, a graduate of the Halifax Medical School. Both doctors wrote a special examination and both passed. Goodwin had much higher marks, but Hawkins was Haligonian Liberal and that mattered. Hawkins’s appointment certainly put the fat in the fire. The doctors were revolted by this crass demonstration of political patronage. How could a medical question be decided by a political judgment? That was the issue. Resignations en masse from the Medical Board of the hospital followed. The debate waged hot and heavy all that summer of 1885, with political heavyweights, the Morning Herald and the Morning Chronicle, weighing in on opposite sides. For a time even the Saskatchewan Rebellion had to share the pages of Halifax newspapers with the hospital affair.[20]

In 1886 a committee of the legislature was struck to investigate the hospital. It produced bitter and violent testimony. In 1887 the Fielding government put the hospital wholly under provincial control, and it was now named, in honour of the Queen’s golden jubilee, the Victoria General, and its administration put under the commissioner of public works and mines. In effect and intention it became a provincial hospital. Expansion followed, with new hospital wings added in 1888 and 1889, and with a School of Nursing established in 1891. The Nursing School was so successful that by 1896 there was a two-year waiting list for admission.[21]

With no hospital available for clinical use, Halifax Medical College had been forced to close down by August 1885. Dr. A.W.H. Lindsay, the registrar, took pity on the students and solicited the nearest medical school, McGill, for moral and material support: would McGill recognize the Medical College’s matriculation and preliminary MDCM examinations? Could they receive any Halifax college’s medical students who might come, without additional fee? McGill Medical School rallied round nobly and accepted at once.[22]

A year later, in August 1886, the Medical College was forced to stay closed for the coming session, and it now began to look as if permanent closing of the school would follow. When the Halifax Medical College did open, a year later, for the session of 1887-8, it had four students. With a new Dalhousie building on the drawing board, and so close to the Medical College, Dr. Lindsay speculated that the college might be revived as Dalhousie’s Medical Faculty.

Affiliation discussions with Dalhousie were renewed in the autumn of 1887, the Board of Governors constituting the Medical Faculty on 13 December. It was the familiar arm’s length affiliation that was being put in place. Halifax Medical College nominated, and Dalhousie would appoint, examiners in the Medical Faculty.[23] The Medical College then approached the government to renew the legislative grant, suspended since 1885. But the canny premier and provincial secretary, W.S. Fielding, was not going to have another college row on his hands if he could avoid it. Fielding had been at Dalhousie as a general student in 1873-4, was Halifax born and bred, and did not want to appear to be favouring Dalhousie; he insisted that the other colleges, including Mount Allison in New Brunswick, should approve any legislative grant to a Halifax Medical College affiliated with Dalhousie. Most of the colleges seemed to have had no objections; but there was one whose objections were both decided and effective: Acadia College. Acadia’s position seemed to be that since no college got any money from the government, why should Dalhousie get its hands on $800 a year by this Trojan horse of HMC affiliation? It did not matter that the Medical College grant of $800 was for chemicals, upkeep, and mortgage. Dalhousie should not get near any of it.

Halifax Medical College had thus to turn, in the autumn of 1888, to Acadia’s president, the Reverend Dr. A.W. Sawyer. Dr. Lindsay tried to explain that the Medical College had “an existence entirely distinct from the Board of Governors of Dalhousie.” Its students were not Dalhousie students, nor did the Dalhousie Senate have any control over the Medical College. Dr. Sawyer replied sharply that current Dalhousie calendars seemed to support quite another interpretation. Dr. Lindsay returned a seven-page letter trying to dispel Acadia’s apprehensions. He added that if Acadia were to continue to block the legislative grant to the college, two things might happen, neither of them desirable from Acadia’s viewpoint: it might kill the Halifax Medical College completely, or “bring about the actual union with Dalhousie, supplying it with a teaching faculty instead of the present faculty of examiners.” This argument seems to have carried little weight with the Acadia board; by the end of February 1889, Halifax Medical College reported to Dalhousie that Acadia was still opposed, and that the government still refused to make any grant to the Medical College so long as it remained affiliated with Dalhousie. The affiliation moves of a year earlier would have to be abandoned. There were hints that if Dalhousie itself could come up with $800 a year, disaffiliation would be unnecessary, but that was quite beyond Dalhousie’s resources.

By the end of March 1889 Dr. Lindsay informed Premier Fielding that the Halifax Medical College’s affiliation with Dalhousie was at an end. And, “being now absolutely free from any connection with Dalhousie I am further directed to solicit a renewal of the grant previously allowed to the Medical College.” In due course, the college got its $800 a year.[24]

As Acadia College may well have suspected, it was rather a trick of mirrors. The Medical College and Dalhousie changed their status vis-a-vis each other only a little. What made the claim of Halifax Medical College to be independent of Dalhousie legitimate was that it continued to hold its right to grant medical degrees. Its students could, if they chose, opt for a Halifax Medical College degree. Few did. As Dr. Lindsay put it, “I presume everyone would prefer a degree from the University.”[25] That was the nice point on which affiliation, or not, turned. Dalhousie got its Medical Faculty by calling the Medical College’s professor-doctors Dalhousie University examiners.

The Halifax Medical College had a slow recovery from the disasters of the mid-1880s. There was only one graduate in 1890 and two in 1891, so much had the crisis weakened it. Even in 1895 there were only three, though by then total numbers were clearly on the rise. The largest entering class so far was in 1899, and while that meant something, many of the 1898 students had subsequently gone to McGill, Harvard or elsewhere. In 1905 fifteen doctors graduated, of whom four were women. It is useful to point out here that the college had never excluded women; in 1885 Dr. Lindsay noted that “there are no restrictions preventing the attendance of female medical students at this college.”[26]

The growth of numbers after 1895 did not mean that the arrangements with Dalhousie had produced a good medical school. The Dalhousie Gazette commented that that needed three things: a good general hospital with ample clinical possibilities; a sufficient number of general practitioners and specialists from which to select professors; and “energy, enterprise and enthusiasm” on the part of those teaching. It was the last that was lacking. And of course, Dalhousie had no control over the Medical College. The principal academic connection was the fact that the Dalhousie McLeod professor of chemistry, George Lawson, taught all the chemistry and botany in the college. He died in harness in November 1895, and his replacement, a first-class professor, Eben MacKay (Dal ’86), took over Lawson’s role. By 1905 there were some twenty-three doctors teaching in the Halifax Medical College, mostly for no remuneration. Some of them were not worth much more. There was some factional bitterness from the 1880s; after 1900 dissension and drink had played havoc with whatever esprit de corps the institution had possessed. Dr. H.B. Atlee recalled that he and his class lost three-quarters of their lectures in medicine (that is, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment of diseases – fairly fundamental one must admit) because the professor, an able teacher when sober, was not so when drunk. In obstetrics, remarked Atlee, the professor was a dear old Victorian who felt it a mortal sin to expose the female perineum to the light of day; Atlee’s two deliveries with him were conducted under a blanket. That may have been owing as much to manners and customs as to old-fashioned obstetrics; when Atlee went briefly into practice at Joggins he was compelled to do the same thing. In any case, 99 per cent of deliveries took place at home, and clinical opportunities were limited. Atlee described the surgeons as emotionally immature, by which he meant they were vain, greedy, and peremptory. One good surgeon, Dr. Murdock Chisholm, had to do most of the surgical teaching. Besides, there was no physiology laboratory, no real one in pathology, and no money to build them. It was a devastating indictment. Yet good doctors did come out of the system. In 1911, of the fifteen students who graduated, there were at least three outstanding men, not least Atlee himself.[27]

Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Law, directly under the control of Dalhousie, had a better run of it. Eighteen eighty-seven marked a distinct departure, however, in the organization of its academic year. In February 1887 Dean Weldon was elected to the House of Commons for Albert County, New Brunswick, as a Conservative. As he saw his role and his duty, he was not doing anything unusual; still, how could he go to Ottawa and still attend sessions of the Law School and Parliament? The 1886 session of Parliament was over three months long, that of 1887 over two months, in 1888 three months.

Weldon put his position plainly to the Board of Governors and the Senate when he first accepted the nomination to stand in January 1887. Senate agreed that the Law Faculty could start at the end of the legal vacation, the last week of August, and run the usual length of twenty-three weeks, bringing it to an end in late February. This peculiar school year was thus established to accommodate Weldon’s duties as MP, and when he was re-elected in the 1891 election the arrangement continued. In the 1896 election Weldon was defeated in Albert County; but Halifax, a two-member constituency, elected two exceptionally able lawyers on opposite sides of politics, R.L. Borden for the Conservatives and Professor Benjamin Russell of Dalhousie for the Liberals. So the school year continued as before. In 1900 Russell was re-elected for Hants and in 1904 was appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. By natural academic or legal inertia the peculiar arrangement stood until 1911. The students did not seem to mind; they got an early start on the summer’s work. R.B. Bennett, for example, was working in L.J. Tweedie’s law office in Chatham, New Brunswick, by the end of February. More particularly, the law students had the rare advantage of having from 1887 to 1896 a dean who was an MP, and from 1896 to 1904 having a professor of contracts who was.[28]

The Law School moved out of Halliburton House in the summer of 1887, but its new quarters in the Dalhousie building were not yet ready, so for the first few weeks it used the virtually empty rooms of the Halifax Medical College building just across the street. It was November when the Law School moved to the first and second floors of the north wing. It would be its home for the next sixty-five years.

Its curriculum, once established, remained virtually the same until the First World War. It struck a balance between a liberal education and professional training. In both the first and second years, two of the seven hours a week of lectures were devoted to constitutional history; in the third year two of the seven hours were devoted to quasi-cultural subjects – international law and the conflict of laws. It was a curriculum sufficiently impressive that E.D. Armour, editor of the Canadian Law Times of Toronto, criticizing legal education in Ontario, pointed out in 1888 that Dalhousie’s Law School was “as far ahead of Ontario in the practical education of its lawyers, as the Province of Ontario is ahead of Nova Scotia in vanity and self-adulation.” There would come a time when Dalhousie’s Law School was itself not devoid of that, but in the 1890s it set about its task of imbuing its students with the idea of duty to the public and the state with becoming modesty. Not least among its graduates were Richard McBride (’90), the first student from British Columbia, who would become the province’s premier from 1903 to 1915, and R.B. Bennett (’93) of New Brunswick. When James Lougheed of Calgary, who had taken his law in Ontario, sought a new man for his Calgary law office, he consulted his friend and colleague Dean Weldon of Dalhousie, who recommended Bennett. Bennett would end up as prime minister of Canada in 1930.[29]

Bennett was an exceptional student, but his experience at Dalhousie from 1890 to 1893 was familiar: his boarding house on South Street, three blocks or so away from Dalhousie; his life – “talk, walk and work.” Bennett even helped canvass Albert County, New Brunswick, for Weldon for his re-election to Parliament in February 1891. Meetings of Dalhousie’s Mock Parliament were something the dean set great store by and which he regularly attended. Bennett was “prime minister” in the Dalhousie Mock Parliament in the autumn of 1892, when his “government” succeeded in passing resolutions uniting the three Maritime provinces, and incorporating Newfoundland into Canada. He and his government were defeated, however, when they proposed to give full voting rights to unmarried women and widows! Bennett was still better in Moot Court than in Mock Parliament, where his thoroughness at case preparation, and his power or argument, made him a formidable adversary.

The Dalhousie Constituency
By 1893 Dalhousie was starting to draw in students from other provinces, notably New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Of forty-four regular LL.B. students registered in 1893-4, six were from New Brunswick. A decade later there were more Prince Edward Islanders than New Brunswickers, owing probably to the establishment in 1892 of a law school in Saint John, tied to King’s College, Windsor.

As for Dalhousie as a whole, of the 107 arts and science undergraduates in 1893-4, twelve were from Prince Edward Island, three from New Brunswick, and one each from Newfoundland, Trinidad, and California. Of the eighty-four Nova Scotian undergraduates, twenty-one were from Pictou County, seventeen from Halifax, and four from Cape Breton. Of the forty-two students registered in medicine 1893-4, ten were from Pictou County, ten from Halifax, three from Cape Breton, and two from Prince Edward Island. Besides the regular undergraduates in law, arts, and medicine, there were a number of general students, taking classes for the sheer interest of it, who had not matriculated into the university: sixty-five in arts, ten in science, ten in law, and four in medicine. Altogether in 1893-4 there were two hundred students in degree programs and eighty-nine general students. This compared to sixty-five regular undergraduates at Mount Allison at the same time. The University of New Brunswick passed the one-hundred mark in 1900-1.[30] The effect of numbers would show in the changing traditions of Dalhousie students. By 1895 enrolment had doubled from a decade earlier, and by 1905 it would virtually double again. This exponential growth created the need for changes in several directions.

Photograph of senior class, 1889-90.
Senior class, 1889-90. The lady student is Maria Freeman Saunders of Halifax.

One change initiated by the board and President Forrest had little to do with student numbers: the extension of the university year. The old system had been to start in late October and end in late April, examinations and convocation included. George Munro in 1886 suggested that it be lengthened by two months, by moving the opening date from late October to early September. Senate was willing to accept some increase, but resisted the idea of the American academic year. The board, with some sternness, pointed out that

a period of eight months, which is the shortest term in the leading universities of the United States and Canada is not too long for Nova Scotia. They do not see that there is anything exceptional in our circumstances to render it necessary to abridge the period adopted in these countries, and sanctioned by long experience. They wish therefore that the Senate should reconsider the question, and, in any case, if they do not see their way to the adoption of the Term suggested, that they will kindly favour the Board with a statement of the grounds on which they base their objection.

The Senate, mainly its arts members, finally bent to the eight-month idea, even though law, for reasons mentioned earlier, continued to retain the shorter year. At this point the students had something to say. They were unhappy with an eight-month university year, and for mainly material reasons. The average cost to a student of room and board in Halifax was about $33 a month, or $200 per six-month session. Another two months would add $65 to that bill. What could the student turn to that would earn him $265 in the now truncated four-month summer that remained to him? In April 1888, eighty-four students (of eighty-eight undergraduates in arts) submitted a memorial to the Board of Governors arguing against change. The board created a committee to investigate and report. The record is not clear, but what seems to have emerged was a compromise between what Munro, Forrest, and the board wanted – namely, the eight-month year – and the existing six-month one. That was a new seven-month regime that began in 1888-9, with the university year starting in late September and ending in late April. That regime would last until the 1960s.[31]

One consequence of the lengthened autumn term was Christmas examinations. That began in arts at Christmas 1890. The results were considered analogous to the Black Death of the fourteenth century; but the Gazette considered that the devastation was owing to the novelty of having examinations in mid-year. Certainly they would continue.

The curriculum had shifted too. In the early years of Dalhousie, two years of Greek was required along with four years of Latin and four of mathematics, and with very few options. That was changing in the mid-1880s. The Gazette in November 1888 asked for amelioration in the compulsory four years of Latin. It was notorious, it said, that too many students in those compulsory subjects aimed merely at a pass. That was not an argument that especially recommended itself to Senate, but by 1890 Latin was compulsory only for three years, mathematics for two years, with Greek now left as an option. An undergraduate in the bachelor of letters program could escape Latin altogether by choosing German. But few took that; Latin was still the important core subject of the curriculum. The Gazette had some useful suggestions for the many students struggling with writing in Latin:

If you are wishful to be put in
The curious art of writing Latin,
’Tis a good plan by heart to know
Some Livy and much Cicero;
Nor Caesar slight, for he is free
From turgid phraseology:
But, Oh! beware, ’tis dangerous
To imitate terse Tacitus…
Remember that Latinity
Is very fond of brevity,
Is studious of simplicity,
Disgusted with redundancy…
The Latin tongue, of this be sure
In verbs is rich, in nouns is poor…[32]


Modern languages were now required for the BA, at least two years of French or German. English was required for two years. Chemistry was required in the first year, philosophy or physics in the second, with history a required subject in the third. In the fourth year a plethora of options opened up, any five of some eighteen possibilities.

When Professor Charles Macdonald, still going strong at sixty-four, was invited to address Dalhousie’s fall convocation of 1892, he dealt with the cluster of issues around the curriculum. With forty years of translucent teaching of mathematics behind him, Macdonald had some wise things to say about education. “You cannot improve your teachers by lecturing them on How to Teach; at least to any important extent. You may furnish them with some general principles, or rules, or hints – these can be soon told … Whom nature and education have fitted to teach, they will teach best in their own unrestricted style.” Teachers’ colleges were in Macdonald’s view dangerous, at best fitting in a fashion the unfit.

Macdonald also deplored too much choice. If a person wished to attend university to acquire information as a general student, by all means encourage him; but if a student takes a degree, the university certifies that he is in possession of a definite minimum of mental training. Most students, he averred, if left to themselves, will, like all moving bodies in physics, choose the path of least resistance, the soft subjects rather than the hard ones. Nevertheless, he said, the hard ones were of fundamental importance. And there was rarely such a thing as inaptitude for certain subjects. He had never encountered a good classical scholar who could not pass muster either in mathematics or in metaphysics.

It is one of the best preparations for practical life to discipline ourselves to overcome dislikes. To learn to endure and do what we had rather not do, and to do it fairly well because duty bids; what better outcome of education is there than this? Or do you expect that in your future life duty will never point one way, while inclination invites you another?

His concluding point to the students of 1892 was not to let themselves be misled “by the vulgar cry of ‘practical knowledge’ as opposed to that which is useless, as if any kind of knowledge could be truly useless. Life is thought even more than it is action. Whatever enlarges your thinking powers, enlarges your life.” The 1890s, with its increasing emphasis on material things, may make that a counsel difficult to follow, but give yourself generously to your work. “A great king said that every new language learned is like the gift of a new sense.”[33]

Macdonald was probably right that whatever enlarged one’s capacity to think, enlarged life. But it was a position that as time went on would be increasingly difficult to hold against student instincts for something that grappled more decidedly with current realities. At heart they probably preferred an easier subject: which they justified with the argument of relevance. Nevertheless, Dalhousie would hold to Macdonald’s assertion, giving only a little ground; sixty years later a year of university Latin (or Greek) was still required for the BA.

Students could be irreverent about work put in those high-minded terms. As a UNB poem of 1900 about Latin had it:

All the people dead who wrote it,
All the people dead who spoke it,
All the people die who learn it,
Blessed death, they surely earn it.

Student high spirits were hard to contain. That Senate and students were not always at one about discipline in the university goes without saying. Still, at the time of the University of Toronto student strike of 1895, the Gazette said that real differences between students and Senate at Dalhousie were almost unknown. The main ones involved sheer boisterousness and the strong inter-year rivalries reflected in the Gazette‘s game with Shakespeare plays:

Freshman – Comedy of Errors
Sophomore – Much Ado about Nothing
Junior – As you Like It
Senior – All’s Well That Ends Well.


Scrimmaging had moved up from the Parade, and students clung to their “right of scrimmaging” in the five minutes between classes, or in the late afternoon. Attempts to control the practice were resisted. Why should students “in the best days of their life be made to move around noiselessly and with bated breath?” Thraldom, surely! [34] Nevertheless, Senate sought valiantly to keep control. But with the increasing number of freshmen outweighing the sophomores, the habit waned. The Gazette in 1895 said the scrimmage was dead. No longer were the yells of contending factions echoing through the halls, no longer was some unlucky freshman thrown ten feet in the air by brawny sophomores. The two classes were said to be going around like brothers. It was horrible. Senate’s fines and suspensions may also have had some effect. Thus the satire:

In College Hall the din and roar
Of scrimmaging is heard no more,
The art is number’d with the dead.
A fine of forty cents per head
Can bring the valiant, dauntless Sophs
Upon their knees before the profs.
And one may read in freshman’s eye
The consciousness of Sovereignty
He owns the College and the Town;
The Juniors crouch beneath his frown,
’Tis true he sometimes does consent
To recognize the President.

There is no doubt that seniors, juniors, and sophomores alike were anxious to entrench status, that Dalhousie scrimmages, especially between freshmen and sophomores, were based on pride of status and the desire to maintain it. It was also mixed up with sophomoric foolishness, some sadism, as well as vicarious amusement. Portentous explanations were always possible and have been essayed; students at Dalhousie claimed that initiations and scrimmages helped to create college spirit, that any suppression of the former was certain indication of the decline of the latter.[35]

The attempts to control scrimmaging in college halls sent some of it occasionally into streets and public places. The Gazette complained of exaggeration of student adventures in the local papers; yellow journalism, the Gazette called it, accepted too readily by the public. The Gazette accused the Acadian Recorder particularly of running down Dalhousie and its students. The Recorder’s social editor, “Lady Jane,” was bitterly critical of the behaviour of Dalhousie students at a play in late October 1893 at the Academy of Music. Lady Jane was in the balcony that night and was outraged by student conduct. She said she was thoroughly frightened and would have gone home if she could, but she dared not pass through “such a band of – well, WHAT were they?” she asked. Gentlemen, she feared, they were not. The Gazette came to the students’ defence. All they did that night was to sing a few songs, give the college cheer,

1-2-3 Upidee Dalhousie!

and all of it before the curtain went up. “We can assure Lady Jane,” said the Gazette, “that it is quite as safe, though not half as nice, to pass through a crowd of students as it is through a crowd of ‘deah offisahs’.” The dear officers, British army and navy, were perhaps more Lady Jane’s style.[36] There may also have been a few students like the Pictonian who, left alone on Thanksgiving Day – in the 1890s it was at a bleaker time than now, the first Thursday in November – decided it was an exceptional day for getting drunk. He went into town in the morning, and by four in the afternoon a police officer found him against a lamp post, his legs braced as if ready to sprint. The student told the policeman, “Dash all right, officer, please don’t disturb me, – houses all goin’ past. Want t’catch m’own when it comes ’long.” About 1895 a group of students led, it was rumoured, by Murray Macneill (’96 and later Dalhousie’s registrar) managed to get a cow inside President Forrest’s none-too-large office. The cow was bewildered but unhurt: the condition of the office was not so good. The culprits were apparently never found, but the story circulated for many years afterwards.[37]

Photograph of the staff of the Dalhousie Gazette, 1894.
The staff of the Dalhousie Gazette, 1894.

Internal discipline of the university was of course the Senate’s responsibility. In 1889 it had visited responsibility for minor infractions upon the president and appointed a student committee. In 1893 Senate set up a code of student discipline, defining disorderly conduct as “participation in ‘scrimmages’ or in ‘bouncing’, obstruction of doorways or passages, interference in any way with the work of classes.” Convocations, especially the spring one, were apt to be disorderly, when students after the tension of examinations were released like springs. Dalhousie April convocations were not unlike the proceedings at the University of Edinburgh where speakers, graduates, and honoured guests were all subject to calls from the audience or the din of musical instruments from the balcony. At Dalhousie, as at Edinburgh, peas and pea-shooters were sometimes in evidence. The convocation of 1898 was sufficiently bad for the Senate to resolve that unless the students agreed to prevent such disorder, “no more public convocations [will] be held.” After a major eruption in 1904 the threat would be carried out in 1905.[38]

Thus, as the university got bigger so inevitably did its problems with discipline. In 1899 the large college bell was carried off by N.G. Murray (’01) who was duly suspended until the bell, or its replacement, was restored. A more ingenious endeavour came the following year by sophomores aiming to harass freshmen meeting in the Munro Room. A large firecracker was surreptitiously lowered through the ceiling by sophomores hiding in the attic above. It was successfully exploded. No real damage was done, but the noise was huge, and there were fragments of the firecracker everywhere, and some burn marks from the exploding gunpowder. Several students were suspended, including the ringleader, F.A. Morrison; he was suspended indefinitely until Senate should reinstate him. He petitioned a year later, was readmitted, and duly got his degree.[39]

In late October of 1901, President Forrest was phoned at his house on Tobin Street by George Price, the janitor, and informed that there would be an attempt during the evening of Friday, 1 November, to make off with the college cannon. The cannon was French, originally taken from Louisbourg harbour and given to Dalhousie in April 1901 by Charles Archibald. The president went to the college and waited in the darkened front hall. Suddenly after 10 PM some thirty students materialized, pulling the cannon by a rope, one of their number pushing from behind, towards the Medical College. The president rushed out and grabbed the first student he could get and “persuaded” him to come back to the college. F.W. Day of the Medical College was given two months’ suspension. He does not appear to have graduated, though probably not for that reason.[40]

As a result of these several events, the Senate decided that the control of misdemeanours should no longer be left up to the president, in order to spare Lord John these brisk, effective but dangerous pursuits. Forrest was in good health but getting on for sixty years of age. In November 1901 they appointed a dean of the college to keep an eye on such adventures. He was Howard Murray, professor of classics. Murray was made McLeod professor in 1894 after the retirement that year of John Johnson. He was Pictou County and Dalhousie, and in 1881 took the Gilchrist scholarship that admitted him to a BA at the University of London. He came back as Munro tutor in classics in 1887. Howard Murray was big and benign, and was jocular with the students about his new role. He could not explain why Senate had conferred on him such a high distinction unless “it might have been his avoirdupois that had turned the scale in his favour… Perhaps they [the Senate] had formed the opinion that he possessed a disposition so serene and seraphic as to be able to remain calm and unruffled under any circumstances no matter how trying.” He hoped the college treasury would not be greatly enriched by student fines.[41]

George Price, the janitor whose timely warning had saved the cannon from being stolen, was a rare character whom students liked to visit. They gave him a honorary “doctorate” in 1894-5. He’d had a curious life. Born near Birmingham, England, in 1837, the only son in a family of four daughters, he went to work at the age of eleven in the coal mines. After three years of that he joined a cavalry regiment as bugler, got to the Crimea, and ended up in India at the relief of Lucknow in November 1857. He blew the call to advance when Sir Colin Campbell entered Lucknow. Discharged, he came to Boston where he married a Cape Breton girl, came to Halifax and became janitor, running Dalhousie’s furnace and lots more. One rainy day a student went down to the basement armed with a bottle, which the “Doctor” hid in the coal, and over that they sat and talked most of the afternoon and evening.

We skirted the Mediterranean in short order, turning aside for a passing comparison of Italian with Spanish girls; and had sighted the trenches of Sebastopol at supper hour. The doctor was even more mellow after supper, and before I left we were safe inside Lucknow.

Price’s child had died from croup eleven years before. “Ain’t nothin’ harder ’an to lose a little youngster,” he offered; the worst part was, you kept on losing him, year after year. Price himself died after a fall, still in Dalhousie’s service, on 16 June 1902.[42]

The boisterous vigour among male students, of which Price had seen so much, helps to explain the vigorous debate in the Gazette in 1903 about Dalhousie culture. Frank Baird, a UNB graduate now at Dalhousie for his MA, asked the question, was Dalhousie a place that only tested and rewarded learning, an institution where one had to strive for high marks and honours? Was there to be no cultivation of good taste and manners? Perhaps it was true as Ovid said, that the liberal arts civilized character, but at Dalhousie there was not much evidence of it. Was not technical education, now being added in the form of the new mining engineering degree, symptomatic of a German-American attempt to wrench the university’s direction to technical business? Dalhousie men strained after high standing and little else. Between high-minded but ill-mannered scholarship men, and grubby commercial mining engineers, where was civilization and culture? “The Dalhousie graduate was the worst-mannered graduate in Canada.” He did not know enough to rise when ladies entered a room; he was devoid of table manners. Who’s to blame? Don’t blame faculty, said Baird; don’t put all the blame, either, on Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, or Pictou County. Blame the students themselves.

This provoked a vigorous response from Kenneth Ferns MacKenzie of Pictou County, then at Harvard. He claimed there were far worse graduates than Dalhousians,

and when you said that at Dalhousie life is a thing of marks, that culture counts for nothing, then in the names of the friends I have made, in the name of whatever appreciation and inspiration and purpose for life I have gained, knowing that many others have realized these things more fully than I have, I protest!

Both sides of that argument bespeak the nature of Dalhousie’s students. The UNB man was of more conventional middle-class background, perhaps like his urban counterparts in Halifax. The lack of polish Baird objected to was to be found in the sons (perhaps the daughters?) of rural Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. They too were middle class, not in terms of what they or their families possessed but in the aspirations of themselves and their parents. They were middle class in the goals they set themselves, in perceptions of hard work, in their striving. Dalhousie students were often ministers’ sons and daughters, not at all wealthy, best described as worthy. Norman A.M. (Larry) MacKenzie was a good example; he was a Presbyterian minister’s son out of Pictou County, whose father, James Arthur MacKenzie, graduated from Dalhousie in 1878. Neither father nor son had money. Both had to work to go to Dalhousie at all, the father teaching school, the son helping his brothers on a Saskatchewan farm. James Arthur MacKenzie was twenty-six years old when he graduated from Dalhousie, his son the same. Their manners may indeed have needed cultivating, but their minds were as strong as their backs. They could tolerate a great deal of work and fun. Country Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island students were good quality; if they needed a deal of polishing, that was to be expected. It was easier to acquire manners than to retrieve corrupted morals.[43]

That certain roughness of edge, among Dalhousie male students particularly, suggests the good sense in the customs that surrounded women students. By 1900 25 per cent of the total Dalhousie enrolment in arts and science were women. In some special classes such as MacMechan’s afternoon class in Shakespeare, 80 per cent of the students were women, half of them married. Regular women undergraduates generally found the preponderance of male students disconcerting. Could the halls be less crowded between classes? asked one female student in 1898. “It is most trying to be compelled to run the gauntlet of a hundred pairs of eyes when passing to and from our waiting room… being stared at by a crowd of hungry-eyed youths.” It was a tradition since 1881 that no male student spoke to a woman student in the halls. This tradition probably lasted until the First World War, but elements of it lingered on. When the Macdonald Library was opened in 1915, its main reading room was segregated, men at the east end, women at the west, until after the Second World War. Women students were surrounded by protective, unseen, but very real conventions. In the mathematics class, and doubtless others, the women students waited until the male students were inside, and then trooped in together to take the exact number of places reserved for them in the front row. When the class was over, the men waited until the women had left, were safely in their waiting room, and then dispersed.[44]

The Dalhousie women students delighted the professors with their ability and sprightliness of mind. Of the hundred or so who had graduated by 1900, those who did not take bursaries or other honours were the exception. While from a number of college societies women were excluded, by habit and tradition mostly, there were clubs where women members were essential, such as the Dalhousie Amateur Dramatic Club; in the Glee Club one-third of the officers in 1903 were women. Delta Gamma met twice a month, and the YWCA met every week. There was little or no evidence of male prejudice. There were no women in law, for example, not because law specifically excluded them but because it had not been settled if they could be admitted to the bar of Nova Scotia. That was for the Barristers’ Society. The first test of that would be in 1915.

The single most common occupation of the fathers of Dalhousie women students, from 1881 to 1901, was that of clergyman. Many daughters of Halifax’s wealthier families did not expect to earn their own living; marriage or family inheritance would solve that. Like the men, women students were from a range of society best described as lower middle class – that is middle class from aspirations and ideals rather than from a comfortable status quo. Almost by definition, they had the ambition of changing if not society (though that was often a hope too), at least their personal place and function in it. Many of the women students who attended Dalhousie looked to their own future independence; and some came after they had put themselves through normal school and taught several years, using their savings and scholarships to embark on a university education. They were not there for pleasure or husbands but for careers. What strikes one about the women Judith Fingard described is their determination to succeed. Of 392 women who attended Dalhousie in the twenty years from 1881 to 1901, at least 41 per cent needed their Dalhousie education to develop their career. Of the 174 known to have married, sixty-three married Dalhousie husbands. Women migrated, nearly as much as men, with probably 60 per cent ending up living outside Nova Scotia. Two-thirds of the Dalhousie women were from Halifax, whose fathers were either clergymen, or local businessmen from shopkeepers to bankers. There were also a number of women, daughters or matrons from the wealthier part of Halifax society, who did not seek a degree, but came to public lectures and treated Dalhousie rather like a club or a library.[45]

Thus the male boisterousness of the old Munro Day celebrations was giving way to other forms of amusement. The bachelor sleigh-ride to Bedford of a decade before was being replaced by a new fashion, perhaps suggested by the women students or faculty wives: the “At Home.” Dalhousie had one on the evening of 13 January 1891, when the whole building was thrown open to some seven hundred guests. There was a formal receiving line, guests were duly announced as they arrived and were presented to President and Mrs. Forrest and to Dr. and Mrs. Reid of the Halifax Medical College. The whole building was decorated with black and yellow bunting, evergreen boughs and flags. Dr. Lawson in chemistry and Dr. MacGregor in physics conducted experiments. The students gave a concert in the law library. The whole evening was pronounced a great success, and the local papers rather outdid themselves in its praise.[46]

Photograph of Dalhousie Drama Club, 1908-9
Dalhousie Drama Club, 1908-9, the cast of The President’s Daughter.

The growing popularity of dancing made itself felt as well. In October 1893 the law students wanted to have an At Home, with dancing. In the Senate Walter Murray and J.G. MacGregor supported the application; but the Senate split, and President Forrest cast the deciding vote against dancing. In 1896 the ladies in the faculty, including the faculty wives, had a reception for all the male students of the junior and senior years. It was a great success, greater than the men anticipated. It moved the Gazette to quote Schiller:

Ehret die Frauen! Sie flechten und weben
Himmlische Rosen ins irdische Leben…
(Honour the women, they plait and they weave
The heavenly roses in earthly life we receive.)

The first proper ball Dalhousie gave seems to have been Friday, 2 February 1900, the men in white tie and tails, with white kid gloves, the young women in dresses as elegant as possible, escorted by their brothers or their fathers, or in a few cases by husbands. A program exists for a similar occasion six years later. It began with a concert in the arts library at 9:30 PM. Then followed the dancing. There were sixteen dances: eight waltzes, a Lancers, and others; four different rendezvous points were arranged, where prospective partners would meet and sign up ahead of time for the dances, each on their own program. It was a system which would last into the 1930s. The last dance was a waltz. A popular waltz at the turn of the century was “Save the Last Dance for Me.”[47]

The ball of February 1900 seems to have marked the shift of sentiment in Halifax towards Dalhousie; even the Acadian Recorder praised it. In the 1870s and 1880s there was some enmity between town and gown, surfacing at the football games between Dalhousie and the Wanderers. The problem may have been that Lady Jane was partly right, reflecting an inability of country boys to accommodate themselves to the style and manners of Halifax, or their sheer awkwardness in Halifax drawing rooms. A corner had perhaps been turned by 1900. By that time some 25 per cent of arts and science and law students were from the Halifax-Dartmouth area, though only 12 per cent of medical students were. Women students at Dalhousie did much to help cement local ties.

A number of Dalhousie professors were popular in Halifax. Young Archibald MacMechan was certainly one; old Charles Macdonald had long been another. Macdonald gave fascinating public lectures on astronomy or on psychological themes in the guise of fantasy. A local favourite that combined both was his “Visit to the Jovians,” the inhabitants of Jupiter, a whimsical study of the effect on conduct of being able to read the thoughts of others. Macdonald continued to teach, and teach brilliantly. He converted many students who did not like mathematics into loving it. One student found that the elegance of Macdonald’s explanation of repeating decimals changed a meaningless rule into something intelligible and beautiful. His honours men made an impression wherever they went, and as many ended up in physics as in mathematics. It would always please him to discover how, in postgraduate seminars elsewhere, a stiff question would be going the rounds of a mathematics or physics seminar, unanswered until the professor encountered one of Macdonald’s honours men. The students loved Macdonald to the end; he was always Charlie to them.

Lismer sketch of Dalhousie College as it looked in 1900.
A Lismer sketch of Dalhousie College as it looked in 1900. Note the growth of trees since 1887.

In 1882, at the age of fifty-four, Macdonald married Maryanne Stairs, daughter of W.J. Stairs and Susan Morrow. Sadly, Maryanne died in 1883 after giving birth to a son; Macdonald never remarried. He lived in his house on Carleton Street, close beside the new Dalhousie, and somehow brought up his infant son, who in due time became his fishing companion. Early in March 1901, when he was seventy-two, he caught a severe cold. He continued to walk over to Dalhousie to teach; but it got worse and developed into pneumonia. He died in his sleep, early on Monday morning, 11 March. Dalhousie was devastated. The college stopped. His funeral two days later was a Dalhousie state affair, the main hall draped in black, Macdonald in an open coffin placed on a bier at the foot of the main stairway. Above on the stairs were president, Senate, and members of the Board of Governors. There was an honour guard of twelve students, all in black gowns, around the coffin. The funeral service was held there. President John Forrest, quite broken, had to struggle to give the eulogy to this last and greatest of the original six professors of 1863. Dr. Allan Pollok, president of Pine Hill and an old friend, gave a short eulogy. Then six strong students shouldered the heavy coffin along Carleton Street, past Macdonald’s house, over to Camp Hill cemetery. “He was a great an’ good man,” said George Price the janitor, “an’ a big heart he had too, an’ it’s me that knows it.”[48]

Macdonald came to Dalhousie in 1863 expecting rapid development of the college; had he foreseen how slow it would be he might not have stayed. He hoped to see established a great Nova Scotian university; the University of Halifax was not it, and he sternly opposed it as pretentious and overwrought. Dalhousie became the focus of his energy and spirit, and abundantly and fruitfully did he reward his colleagues and his students.

In his will, with uncanny prescience, Macdonald hit upon the greatest weakness in his university: its library. He left $2,000 to buy books, chiefly in English literature. In the decade of the 1890s the Dalhousie board had scarcely given 2000 cents to the library. Around Macdonald’s gift there would coalesce a great alumni movement, nourished by memories of the magic of his teaching, to build a real library in his honour.

  1. There is an extensive description of the new Dalhousie building in both the Morning Chronicle and the Halifax Herald, 10 Sept. 1887. These references have been brought to my attention by Gary Shutlak of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. For other details, see Presbyterian Witness, 10 Sept. 1887; Dalhousie Gazette, 30 Jan. 1906, “M.M. Experience Number 2”; Dalhousie Gazette, 15 Dec. 1886, interview with President Forrest.
  2. Dalhousie Gazette, 26 Mar. 1897; 2 Feb. 1901.
  3. Presbyterian Witness, 10 Sept. 1887; Dalhousie Gazette, 20 Feb. 1890.
  4. See G.G. Sedgwick, “A.M. [Archibald MacMechan]” in Dalhousie Review 13, no. 4 (1933-4), p. 452; Phyllis Blakeley, Glimpses of Halifax (Halifax 1949), p. 210.
  5. Acadian Recorder, 21 Oct. 1893; Blakeley, Glimpses of Halifax, pp. 112-15.
  6. Dalhousie Gazette, 28 Nov. 1889; 16 Oct. 1893. Nova Scotia Telephone Co. Directory, May 1900 [actually 1901], Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Co. Collection, Dalhousie University Archives Reference Collection.
  7. This is gossip, but is reported by an experienced and reliable president’s secretary, Miss Lola Henry, secretary to two presidents, Carleton Stanley (1931-45) and A.E. Kerr (1945-63). Interview, 18 Apr. 1990.
  8. For Schurman, see A.B. McKillop, A Disciplined Intelligence: Critical Inquiry and Camdian Thought in the Victorian Era (Montreal 1979), pp. 201-2, 270. Schurman’s frequent addresses are reported in the Dalhousie Gazette, 7 Apr., 11 Nov. 1882; 9 Feb. 1883; 16 Jan., 27 Mar. 1886; 17 Dec. 1887. For the satire on Darwin, see the Dalhousie Gazette, 15 Dec. 1886. Student opinions on the reconciliation of religion and Darwin are in the Dalhousie Gazette, Jan. 1879, “Science”; Apr. 1886, “Is a Belief in Darwinism Consistent with a Teleological View of the Natural World?”; Mar. 1886, “The Age and Its Tendencies,” by J.E. Creighton. Creighton graduated in 1887 in honours philosophy, with the governor general’s silver medal and became professor of logic and metaphysics at Cornell. See McKillop, A Critical Intelligence, pp. 139-40. The quotation is from Creighton. Darwin’s Origin of Species appears in the curriculum for Philosophy 2, taught by Professor Walter Murray, in the calendar for 1904-5. Biology is in the calendar a decade later.
  9. James Seth’s letters to Archibald MacMechan are fragmentary but interesting, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 14, Folder 57, Dalhousie University Archives; Letters from Seth to Archibald MacMechan, 26 Mar. 1896, 15 June 1898, from Ithaca, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 14, Folder 57, Dalhousie University Archives; Letter from Seth to MacMechan, 1 Aug. 1906, from Edinburgh, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 14, Folder 57, Dalhousie University Archives. See Archibald MacMechan, “Memories of James Seth,” Dalhousie Review 4 (1924-5), pp. 322-6. Seth died in 1924. For Lyall, see McKillop, A Disciplined Intelligence, pp. 44-52. For Lyall’s inaugural address, see Halifax Witness, 29 Oct. 1864; his obituary is also in the Halifax Witness, 25 Jan. 1890, and Dalhousie Gazette, 30 Jan. 1890.
  10. The pamphlet is in the Board of Governors Correspondence, Dalhousie University Archives; Forrest’s letter is on pp. 20-1.
  11. Munro to Forrest, 18 Mar. 1889, from New York, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 3, Folder 40, Dalhousie University Archives; [James?] Forrest to John Forrest, 1 Mar. 1889, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 3, Folder 40, Dalhousie University Archives. This is one page from a letter addressed to “My dear Brother.” Forrest’s letter to MacMechan is dated 2 Apr. 1889, from Halifax, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 8, Folder 15, Dalhousie University Archives. Murray’s appreciation of Forrest is in the Morning Chronicle, 1 Jan. 1912.
  12. See Sedgwick, “A.M.” Also Presbyterian Witness, 25 May 1889.
  13. Private Journals, 28 June 1893, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 1, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; The Week (Toronto), 7, no. 5 (3 Jan. 1890). Archibald MacMechan was a good archivist of his own, as well as others’ papers. He also kept twenty or so scrapbooks of his published writings, with the date of publication and sometimes with the amount of money he received for them. Scrapbook A covers 1883-91, and has this piece from The Week.
  14. That success was not obvious to MacMechan at his thirty-first birthday in 1893. “I have done literally nothing: plenty of schemes and no energy to carry them out. I have had all my warnings. My father [was] really a failure from the same cause... laziness. That is my rock ahead...” He held before himself however the Latin motto, “Justum ac tenacem propositi virum. The design of an upright and steadfast man.” Private Journals, 28 June 1893, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 1, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  15. Letter from Munro to Forrest, 18 Mar. 1889, from New York, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 3, Folder 40, Dalhousie University Archives.
  16. Board of Governors Minutes, 6 Jan., 11 Apr. 1890, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; Senate Minutes, 17 Mar. 1890, Dalhousie University Archives; Dalhousie Gazette, 3 Apr. 1890.
  17. Board of Governors Minutes, 7 Apr., 26 June 1888, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  18. The lengthy report of the finance committee on Dalhousie’s endowment fund is dated 27 Dec. 1888, and in Board of Governors Minutes, 23 Jan. 1889, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. The committee noted that they had some difficulty preparing the report owing to the absence of any memorandum of investments before 1875, and that there was no account book prior to 1856. “A loose sheet of paper in the College box” gave a short financial history from 1819 to the 1830s. See also Board of Governors Minutes, 11 Apr., 3 June 1890, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. For the correspondence in the Dalhousie Gazette, see 20 Dec. 1892, “That $50,000 Fund” signed “Alumnus,” and 19 Jan. 1893, letter, signed “Another Alumnus.” For the Munro estate, see Board of Governors Minutes, 11 Dec. 1896; 16 June 1897, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. For 1900 finances, see ibid., 6 Feb. 1900.
  19. Letterbook of the Halifax Medical College 1875-93, Dr. A.W.H. Lindsay, registrar, to A.G. Archibald, 7 Aug. 1885; H.L. Scammell, “The Great Row of ’85,” Nova Scotia Medical Bulletin 22 (1943), pp. 38-44. Additional details about this contretemps have been given to me by Dr. T.J. Murray, dean of medicine from 1985 to 1992.
  20. Letterbook of Halifax Medical College, Lindsay to registrar of McGill Medical Faculty, 14 Sept. 1885; H.L. Scammell, “The Halifax Medical College, 1875- 1911,” Dalhousie Medical Journal 11, no. 1 (1958), pp. 12-17.
  21. Colin D. Howell, A Century of Care: A History of the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax 1887-1987 (Halifax 1988), pp. 32-9.
  22. Letterbook of Halifax Medical College, Lindsay to Dean, McGill Medical Faculty, 25 Sept. 1885.
  23. Senate Minutes, 1 Nov. 1887; 22 Mar. 1888, Dalhousie University Archives; Letterbook of Halifax Medical College, Lindsay to Wm. M. Doull, secretary, Dalhousie Board of Governors, 14 Dec. 1887, recommending four appointments, so the Medical Faculty could be organized as early as possible. See also Scammell, “The Great Row of ’85,” p. 42.
  24. HMC Letterbook, Lindsay to A.W. Sawyer, 29 Oct., 20 Nov. 1888; Board of Governors Minutes, 20 Dec. 1888; 16 Jan. 1889; 27 Feb. 1890, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; HMC Letterbook, Lindsay to W.S. Flielding, 27 Mar. 1889.
  25. HMC Letterbook, Lindsay to H.V. Kent, Truro, 24 Apr. 1889.
  26. Dalhousie Gazette, 25 Oct. 1889; HMC Letterbook, Lindsay to J.S. Calder, Bridgewater, 8 July 1885.
  27. Dalhousie Gazette, 17 Oct. 1892; H.B. Atlee, “Dalhousie Medical School 1907-1957,” Dalhousie Medical Journal 11 (1958), pp. 21-33; Atlee’s statement about Joggins recalled by Dr. S.C. Robinson, 21 Mar. 1992.
  28. Senate Minutes, 4 Apr. 1887, Dalhousie University Archives; see especially John Willis, A History of Dalhousie Law School (Toronto 1979), pp. 41-4.
  29. Canadian Law Times, 71, quoted in Willis, A History of Dalhousie Law School, pp. 44-5. For Bennett at Dalhousie Law School, see my Goodman Lectures, The Loner: The Personal Life and Ideas of R.B. Bennett, 1870-1947 (Toronto 1992), pp. 18-22.
  30. See John G. Reid, Mount Allison University: Volume I, 1843-1914 (Toronto 1984), p. 364; A.G. Bailey, ed., The University of New Brunswick (Fredericton 1950), p. 44.
  31. Board of Governors Minutes, 20 May 1886, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; also Senate Minutes, 8 Feb. 1887, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 12 Dec. 1887, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; Dalhousie Gazette, 24 Feb., 10 Mar. 1888.
  32. Dalhousie Gazette, 26 Oct. 1898, written by a former professor of King’s College, London, and published in the pages of the “Home University” in England.
  33. Extensive extracts from Macdonald’s convocation address are given in The Dalhousie Gazette, 17 Oct. 1892, pp. 5-19. See Dalhousie Gazette, 8 Nov. 1888 for editorial comment on too many required courses in classics.
  34. Dalhousie Gazette, 13 Feb. 1895; 20 Dec. 1887.
  35. Dalhousie Gazette, 20 Dec. 1893; 13 Feb. 1895. The literature on the subject of initiations and hazing is reviewed in Keith Walden’s article, “Hazes, Hustles, Scraps, and Stunts: Initiations at the University of Toronto, 1880-1925” in Paul Axelrod and John G. Reig, eds., Youth, University and Canadian Society: Essays in the Social History of Higher Education (Kingston and Montreal 1989), pp. 94-121. Walden’s article is a social history of the subject.
  36. Dalhousie Gazette, 18 Nov. 1905; Dalhousie Gazette, 3 Nov. 1893; Acadian Recorder, 28 Oct. 1893.
  37. Dalhousie Gazette, 20 Dec. 1893, poem by “H.F.” For the drunk from Pictou, see Dalhousie Gazette, 20 Dec. 1894. The cow story is probably true, though I have not been able to pin it down. Macneill makes reference to it, along with other high jinks, in his “Recollections,” p. 2, the typescript of which, dated 7 Nov. 1934, was made available to me through the kindness of Murray Macneill’s daughter, Janet Macneill Piers, and is now in MS-2-Ref, Box 12, Folder 25, Dalhousie University Archives.
  38. Senate Minutes, 9 Dec. 1889; 2 Oct. 1893; 29 Apr. 1898; 29 Apr. 1904; 18 Apr. 1905, Dalhousie University Archives.
  39. Senate Minutes, 5 May 1899; 14, 15 Mar. 1900; 9 Apr. 1901, Dalhousie University Archives. The story about Morrison is confirmed by his son Hugh W. Morrison of Thornhill, Ontario. He pointed out that his father took his LL.B. first in 1897, and then went on to do English, graduating with a BA in 1901. There is a family story, told by Mrs. F.A. Morrison, that President Forrest refused to allow Morrison to graduate with honours in English because of this incident. This is more doubtful; at least Senate does not seem to have recorded it. Telephone interview with Hugh W. Morrison, 4 June 1992.
  40. Senate Minutes, 5, 7 Nov. 1901, Dalhousie University Archives.
  41. Senate Minutes, 12 Nov. 1902, Dalhousie University Archives; Dalhousie Gazette, 10 Dec. 1901; Dalhousie Gazette, 9 Oct. 1931, letter from T.A. Goudge
  42. See Dalhousie Gazette, 1 July 1902; 24 Apr. 1903, “Recollections of the ‘Doctor’,” pp. 295-302.
  43. Dalhousie Gazette, 13 Feb. 1903, “Dalhousie and Culture,” by Frank Baird. K.F. MacKenzie’s letter is in Dalhousie Gazette, 4 Apr. 1903. MacKenzie was later the author of an intriguing little book about Nova Scotian history, Sabots and Slippers (1954). For James Arthur MacKenzie (no relation to the above) and his more famous son Larry, see my Lord of Point Grey (Vancouver 1987), pp. 1-13.
  44. Dalhousie Gazette, 26 Jan. 1898, letter to editor from “Genevieve.” There are very few accounts of everyday student customs and traditions. This one is by George Farquhar (’07), later a member of the Dalhousie Board of Governors. See Dalhousie Alumni News, January 1938, p. 12. There is also a survey in the New York Sun, 1 Jan. 1899, of women in eastern colleges, in which Dalhousie was included. The Dalhousie Gazette, 10 Feb. 1899 describes part of the survey.
  45. This paragraph owes its substance to the article by Judith Fingard, “College, Career and Community: Dalhousie Coeds, 1881-1921” in Axelrod and Reid, eds. Youth, University and Canadian Society, pp. 26-33.
  46. There is a compilation of extracts from the Halifax papers in Dalhousie Gazette, 28 Jan. 1891.
  47. There is an account of the Dalhousie Ball in the Acadian Recorder, 5 Feb. 1900. The 1906 dance program was given to me by A.O. Hebb, himself editor of the Dalhousie Gazette from 1926 to 1927, to whom I am most grateful.
  48. Morning Chronicle, 12, 13, 14 Mar. 1901; Dalhousie Gazette, 23 Mar. 1901; Memorial Issue to Charles Macdonald, Apr. 1901. Price’s recollection is in Dalhousie Gazette, 24 Apr. 1903.


The Lives of Dalhousie University: Volume One, 1818-1925 Copyright © by Governors of Dalhousie College and University. All Rights Reserved.

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