5 Through the Shallows, 1848-1864

Halifax in the 1840s. New government, new Dalhousie Act, 1848. Dalhousie Collegiate School, 1849-54. Dalhousie High School, 1856-1860. Presbyterians, education, and J.W. Dawson. What to do with Dalhousie? George Grant, the Kirk, and the two synods’ agreement. The Dalhousie Act of 1863. Attempts to repeal it, 1864.

As the 1840s ended, Halifax was beginning to feel the accelerating pace of change. It began with steamships. Howe met up with one on his way to England in May 1838. He was twenty days out of Halifax with several hundred miles to go, his sailing ship, the Tyrian, was rolling about in a dead calm, when out of the west, underneath a pillar of black smoke, came a steamship. “On she came,” reported Howe, “with the speed of a hunter, while we were moving with the rapidity of an ox-cart loaded with marsh mud.” She was the Sirius, fourteen days out of New York on a trial run. Samuel Cunard’s steamers began regular runs from England to Halifax and Boston two years later, RMS Britannia arrived in Halifax at 2 AM, 17 July 1840, and after a few hours went on to Boston.[1]

She was carrying mail – letters with the first new postage stamps issued in May 1840, the penny black and the twopence blue.

It was a Cunard steamer that in 1842 brought Charles Dickens to Halifax. Howe met him and escorted him rather breathlessly around the sights during the brief stop the steamer made. It happened to be the day of the opening of the legislature. Howe was the Speaker of the House; Dickens accompanied him and described the scene:

[I]t was like looking at Westminster through the wrong end of a telescope. The Governor [Lord Falkland], as Her Majesty’s representative, delivered what may be called the Speech from the Throne. He said what he had to say manfully and well. The military band outside the building struck up God Save the Queen before His Excellency was quite finished; the people shouted; the in’s rubbed their hands; the out’s shook their heads; the Government party said there never was such a good speech; the Opposition declared there never was such a bad one…

The market is abundantly supplied and provisions are exceedingly cheap… The day was uncommonly fine, the air bracing and healthful, the whole aspect of the town cheerful, thriving and industrious. I carried away with me a most pleasant impression of the town and its inhabitants.[2]

Black and white image of painting by William Hickman of Halifax in 1860, from the Dartmouth side of the harbour
Halifax in 1860, from the Dartmouth side of the harbour, painted by William Hickman.

Halifax got gas street lighting in 1843-4, its eighty or so lamps lighted every night by hand, save when there was moonlight, when the inhabitants had to find their way by that source. By the end of the 1840s a telegraph line was in place from Halifax to the New Brunswick border. It was built by the Nova Scotian government at Howe’s urging and duly denounced by the Opposition as an extravagant waste of money. Within a year it was paying 5 per cent on its investment, an early example, of which Howe was very proud, of government enterprise.[3]

Halifax was starting to develop business from its ports. Its wharves were spreading along the harbour, and the warehouses and banks were built just inland from them. Its motto when it was incorporated in 1841 was, and is, E mari merces, “From the sea, commerce.” Its population in 1851 was 20,749, up 44 per cent from 1836. Hugo Reid, who would become principal of Dalhousie College School in 1856, found Halifax people “all thriving, they are very lightly taxed … But they have demagogues who want places, fiery religious zealots who want power, and universal suffrage for those to delude and make a tool of. The great struggle is for the loaves and fishes… without any hypocritical disguise as a homage of vice to virtue.”[4]

Dalhousie Collegiate School
From 1845 onward the legislature, in particular the Reform party, was too busy with the politics of responsible government to worry about the divisive subject of college education. The general election of August 1847 returned twenty-nine Reformers and twenty-two Conservatives. The Tory government resigned after losing a vote of confidence at the end of January 1848, and a Reform government came into power with J.B. Uniacke as premier, Howe as provincial secretary, and Herbert Huntingdon eventually financial secretary. Legislation to revive Dalhousie (without money) was soon put in place. The 1848 Dalhousie Act was brought in by Howe; Dalhousie College remained much the same as before, but the board was trimmed from seventeen to no more than seven, no less than five, appointed by the govemor-in-council, to hold office during pleasure. They were to take such steps as they could to render Dalhousie useful and efficient. The legislation passed the House, all three readings in three days. In September 1848 seven board members were appointed: William Young, Joseph Howe, Hugh Bell, James Avery, William Grigor, Andrew MacKinlay, and John Naylor. William Young was made chairman.[5]

The new board met in November to receive a report prepared by Young on the current state of Dalhousie; it was approved unanimously and ordered to be published. Dalhousie’s building, said Young, was “central, airy and convenient,” with six excellent classrooms, besides the lower storey, at Barrington and Duke streets, occupied by the General Post Office. Dalhousie’s capital was £9,342 sterling (£10,043 currency). If that were taken out of Consols and put into provincial bonds, it would earn 5 to 6 per cent instead of 3 per cent. (That in fact would be done in 1855-6.) Young said it was unnecessary to refer to the various unsuccessful attempts to make Dalhousie College into what Lord Dalhousie had designed it to be. The board certainly did not want Dalhousie College to remain “a melancholy memorial of well intended and patriotic efforts defeated, and large funds unproductive and neglected.” Hence, they decided on something Lord Dalhousie had thought of – that is, failing a college, why not a grammar school? William Young had recently been in the United States, had looked at high schools in Boston, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, and other members of the board had made inquiries about the state of education in Halifax. With good teachers and low fees, a Dalhousie school could offer high school education for all denominations, to which parents could look with confidence to supply “a want so justly complained of and so deeply felt in this community.” Pupils were not to exceed forty per teacher and each teacher would be given a “proportion” – usually half – of fees. Five pupils per class were to be allowed to come free, so that children “who displayed extraordinary ability in the common schools may be advanced, and their minds developed and improved.”[6]

Before Dalhousie Collegiate School could be brought into operation, a massive row developed in the 1849 session of the Assembly over, once more, the sectarian colleges. W.A. Henry started it, perhaps innocently, though having been through the wrenching debates of 1843 he might have known better. He moved that the permanent grant of £444 per year to King’s be abolished, that King’s should be put on the same basis as the other sectarian colleges, St. Mary’s and Acadia. That set the cat fairly among the pigeons. Henry’s purpose, so J.W. Johnston alleged, was to destroy King’s; after that he could get the Assembly to destroy the others.

The Uniacke government decided, perhaps unwisely, that this renewal of the college question would be open, that there would be no specific administration policy. That allowed everyone to air their prejudices and their memories. Howe said, sensibly enough, that he did not like the sectarian colleges, but there they now were. Although his basic preference for one free unsectarian college still stood, it would “not be wise to revive sectarian bitterness in the country again.” Even if Dalhousie was not at present a college, its basic resources, its central position in a city of twenty thousand, would in the long run assert themselves. It could well be that young men trained at Sackville, King’s, Acadia, and St. Mary’s would go on to Dalhousie to finish their education; “these Seminaries will, in fact, become feeders from which the central Institution will be ultimately strengthened and nourished.” One thing abundantly clear to Howe from his experiences from 1843 to 1849 was

that we may make education a battle ground, where the laurels we reap may be wet with the tears of our country, – that we may outvote each other by small majorities, to have our decisions reversed every four years. But without mutual forbearance, and a spirit of compromise, we can do little good, and make no satisfactory and permanent settlement of these questions.

Uniacke agreed with Howe, that to uproot the sectarian colleges would never rally the public around Dalhousie.[7]

Henry observed that his little bill, with one clause in it, created a great deal of fuss. The sectarian colleges were certainly the seeds of discord for the future. Even Uniacke, himself educated at King’s, decided to send his sons abroad for their college education. Did not that prove something? Henry pointed out, aptly enough, that Maine with six hundred thousand people seemed to manage with three colleges; Massachusetts, with eight hundred thousand got along with Harvard, and unless Nova Scotia made a start, by getting rid of the permanent grant to King’s, any hope of a strong central college with one hundred students was gone, “and the sickly seminaries now existing would be fastened on the province.” Let us, he said, get rid of this mongrel system. “This mongrel system, as the speaker calls it,” said J.W. Johnston, “is one which enables the yeomanry in this country to educate their sons at moderate expense.”

Henry’s bill passed, only to be defeated in the Legislative Council with the help of Bishop Inglis, and the House ground on to another massive debate on the general state of education in the province. It was not a pretty performance; the Uniacke administration were divided among themselves, and upbraided each other. The Novascotian said bluntly, on 5 March 1849:

We have had no Collegiate Instruction in the Country – we have had nothing but a number of sickly and inefficient Schools drawing largely from the Treasury … We have seen the Country agitated from one extremity to the other by interested red hot sectarians. We have seen Ministers of the Gospel and itinerating Professors, converted into active political agents coursing the Province, preaching politics instead of peace and good will among men.

Those colleges should be nurtured by their own friends, not by the Nova Scotia legislature.

When that debate had wound down, and the ruffled legislators had gone home, the Dalhousie Collegiate School opened on April 1849, with Thomas McCulloch, Jr. as headmaster, and three other teachers. There were 117 pupils enrolled that year, four of whom were free scholars. The overall average age was twelve years. For the next three years the Dalhousie board struggled to make the school a success. There were difficulties: arrears of fees made it difficult to pay teachers; McCulloch wanted to resign in April 1850 on account of ill health and was persuaded to continue against his better judgment; there was lack of harmony among the teachers. By 1854 the number of pupils had fallen to sixty-one, and in October the school was closed.

Dalhousie High School, 1856 and After
The public function of Dalhousie’s building and grounds grew. If requests for use of the Parade and the Dalhousie College building are anything to go by, it became a community centre of the time. City Council in 1853 wanted to use the south end of the Parade as a temporary market while a new market building was being built. The board said no, but the city pressed the point and the board relented, since the market was temporary. In 1854 there was a request to use the Parade for a circus; the board replied that they did “not deem themselves authorized to let the Parade Ground for such an object.” In the spring of 1856 the governors decided, as part of a new Dalhousie School, to enclose part of the Parade. The public had always used the Parade as a crossing between Argyle Street and Barrington. It was the centre of the city, it was the place where Haligonians when young played hopscotch or later baseball or cricket, as their fathers and grandfathers had done. Who were these Dalhousie governors to assert such claims? The governors’ action stirred up the wrath of the local papers, not least the British Colonist, the principal Conservative paper: “We consider it to be of the smallest possible importance whether the grant of Governor Parr or that of the Earl of Dalhousie be recognized as a valid one; in either case the property belongs to the citizens of Halifax… That fence must not be tolerated!” But the fence was built. The Liberal Morning Chronicle defended Dalhousie School, its fence, and its board for trying to give Halifax people a good high school and inexpensive education.[8]

Black and white photograph of College 1875
Dalhousie College about 1875, looking northwest from Barrington Street. The basic configuration of the Grand Parade still stands. The tracks along Barrington Street are for the horse-car line established in 1872. It would become a tram-line in 1895.

There was more to the British Colonist’s animus than just the Parade. It did not like the new Dalhousie School either. Staff for it had been hired in England in 1855, its head an experienced headmaster, Hugo Reid, who brought two other teachers with him. There had been some difficulty in getting good lay teachers – the best and most available ones were clerics – but the Dalhousie board insisted on laymen, remembering the row of 1838. Hugo Reid was forty-six years old, an active author and educator, a graduate of Edinburgh High School, and formerly principal of Liverpool High School before coming to Halifax. Dalhousie High School opened on 15 January 1856. The Morning Chronicle visited the school a week after it opened and found everything excellent – principal, teachers, curriculum. Reid and his staff were good teachers, and engendered enough enthusiasm to suggest that this was, perhaps, the right niche.

Hugo Reid had certain ideas of his own. One was school uniforms, familiar in England but not in Halifax. They were soon the butt of local jokes and mischief. As the British Colonist put it, Dalhousie High School had “monkeyfied the pupils… until the poor sinners are hunted like rabbits by all the ragamuffins in the city.” Reid also found his Nova Scotian students intelligent but declared them bone lazy. They were good-natured but utterly ignorant about the geography and history of North America, their arithmetic outdated and clumsy. Reid wanted to push them harder, but found that the discipline available to him – homework or staying after school – was not sufficiently stern. He wanted corporal punishment, as he was used to in England, but he told the governors ruefully, “the spirit of the age seems against the latter.” The school proceeded nevertheless, with about eighty students by the end of 1856, from the middle and upper classes of Halifax.[9]

Presbyterian Overtures
At the same time as the Dalhousie School was opening, the Presbyterians were trying to combine forces, ecclesiastical and educational. On 6 February 1856 three committees met in solemn conclave in Poplar Grove Church in Halifax, representing the three separate Presbyterian synods in Nova Scotia – the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, the Free Church of Nova Scotia, and the Kirk of Scotland. The Free Church was new on the scene, having been created by the great disruption of 1843 in Britain, which had spilled over into North America. This upheaval, the last major Presbyterian row over church organization, was over the question of whether a congregation had the right to refuse a pastor presented lawfully to it. The issue had been brewing for a decade, and broke into the open in 1843. The Free Church asserted the congregation’s right to veto, if it chose, any such presentation.

Nova Scotians aimed to reunite what in Scotland had been sundered. The chairman of the three committees was the Reverend James Ross, professor of biblical literature at the West River Seminary, near Pictou. Aside from union, the other main concern was the deeply felt Presbyterian need for education in science and literature. To this end, “the original constitution of Dalhousie College … seems fitted to supply this want,” said the three-committee group, and they agreed to call on the Dalhousie board. That was done two days later at St. Matthew’s Presbyterian (Kirk) Church. William Young, for the Dalhousie board, replied that Dalhousie’s present annual income was only £800 currency, of which £570 was reserved for the three teachers of the Dalhousie School, with £80 for annual repairs. Dalhousie, thus, had no money for an additional chair, nor did Young, at that point premier of Nova Scotia, hold out any hope of getting money from the legislature. Could the Presbyterians themselves endow a chair or two? If they could, Dalhousie would offer space in the college building.[10]

Young’s offer was made, so the Presbyterian Witness said, on two conditions: that no clergyman be appointed professor, and that any professor be subordinate to Hugo Reid, the principal of the school. There was criticism of William Young for the first condition, though the second was largely accepted then and later. The Presbyterians pointed out, sensibly enough, that in Nova Scotia, and in British North America, the only highly educated class were the ministers. Anyway, said the Presbyterian Witness, the time was past when “a clerical Professor would swamp a college.”

This question was not a new one. It is recorded in the Assembly Journals for 1839 in the debates over the new Dalhousie bill, the result of the row over Crawley. But it had never been part of Dalhousie regulations and there is some doubt that William Young, who could hardly be described as precipitate, would have put it that bluntly. Joseph Howe informed the secretary of the Dalhousie board that he had never assented to any such restriction at any Dalhousie meeting he had attended. “We can no more close the Institution [Dalhousie] against Clergymen than against Printers or Lawyers, Doctors or Booksellers.” Even had the board the power, said Howe, it would be unwise:

Much of the little learning that there is in this Province is in possession of the Clergy, and though I quite admit their propensity to wrangle and fight about Education as they do about Religion, still I am not sure that an Institution that admits them, with all their faults to its highest honors and distinctions, will not more surely prosper.

Moreover the Presbyterians, of all the sects, had always been zealous friends of education. Howe had no wish to inflame the Presbyterians against Dalhousie, or against the Liberal government of William Young. To exclude Presbyterian ministers would create feelings akin to those aroused by the Crawley exclusion of 1838; worse, indeed, for the church was more numerous and powerful than the Baptists.

It is clear from Howe’s remarks that Dalhousie College was not, perhaps had never been, politically neutral. Like the Sleeping Beauty, she had been awakened in 1838 by a fair prince carrying the shield of Reform; she had been put to sleep again by the wicked Tories, and brought to half-life after their defeat in 1848. Dalhousie was a Reform/Liberal institution; in the 1850s it was defended by the leading Reform/Liberal newspaper, the Morning Chronicle; and it was criticized by the leading Tory/Conservative newspaper, the British Colonist.

William Young was also persuaded to be flexible by a man who knew a great deal about colleges, education, and Nova Scotia: the new principal of McGill University, John William Dawson, of Pictou, appointed to McGill in September 1855. Dawson was a promising geologist in 1850 when Joseph Howe appointed him superintendent of education for the province. Aged thirty, Dawson threw himself into his work with apostolic zeal, for three years criss-crossing the province, and producing comprehensive and searching reports. He resigned in 1853 from ill-health (and frustration with the Liberal government), and was appointed to a New Brunswick royal commission on the future of King’s College, Fredericton. The subsequent creation of the University of New Brunswick owed much to Dawson.[11] He wrote to William Young in December 1854, urging the latest New Brunswick recommendations as “an admirable argument for a central college on the most modern principles … I wish, above all things,” he told the premier of Nova Scotia, “you could get a grant of £1,000 per annum to Dalhousie, and let us try the same experiment here. With the great local advantages of Halifax, it must do even better than Frederickton [sic].” But a premier whose working majority was volatile could not bring that about. A year later Young, discouraged with his efforts to energize Dalhousie College, got solace from Dawson. Take heart, said Dawson; McGill’s conditions were worse. Get a new charter that allows other institutions to affiliate with Dalhousie, on the New Brunswick plan. Then Dawson read in the Halifax Presbyterian Witness accounts of the rapprochment of February 1856, and its failure. His letter to Young with its basic good sense must be quoted:

You will I am sure excuse me for suggesting a way in which this may be turned to good account.

Let the [Dalhousie] governors give by resolution, or if necessary by getting a short act of the legislature, a University character to the college, and open negotiations with the Presbyterians or other churches offering to take their professors with such endowments or grants as they have, giving them the use of the building, the co-operation of your teachers, and the benefit of University degrees with free scholarships for students for the University. These would be material advantages to them, and would at once elevate your college to a position that would soon enable it to command legislative aid.

Do not fear clerical professors; in a non-sectarian provincial institution with a public trust they will be quite harmless, and proscribing them will cause only mischief.[12]

Young and the governors paid attention to Dawson’s suggestions. They drew up a minute, dated 18 March 1856, embodying them. As Young put it to Dawson, “I have [had] passed a minute throwing open its [Dalhousie’s] portals and not excluding clerical professors. This movement may lead to important results.” It did. The important results were to come in two stages, 1856 and 1862. Discussions with the Congregationalists and Presbyterians were renewed. The Presbyterians were, however, still unhappy with the Dalhousie School, even if the rule against clerical professors was dropped. The Synod of the Free Church regarded “Dalhousie College in its present condition as a sham, a mockery and a disgrace. Its funds have been perverted from their original intention. It is now merely a rival (and not a very formidable rival either) to the Free Church Academy.” The Dalhousie governors were, however, reluctant to part with their new high school, and preferred to try a college tier on top of it.[13]

The Congregationalists were less choosy than the Presbyterians, mostly because they couldn’t be anything else. The Congregationalists were part of a New England group from which the Nova Scotia Baptists had developed. They were Puritans who had insisted upon the autonomy of the congregation, not unlike the Free Kirk, as against the aristocracy of Presbyterianism which exercised its control through an ascending series of ecclesiastical courts. Groups with these beliefs came to Liverpool, Nova Scotia, before the American Revolution. Old Yankees they were, with fish, molasses, and rum in their business and a stern and Protestant God in their hearts. One of them, James Gorham, left £3,000 to found a college; Gorham College in Liverpool opened in 1851, with an English principal, the Reverend Frederick Tomkins, MA, of University College, London. It was going, with prospects of success, when on 7 February 1854 the building burned to the ground. A building fund was started, growing slowly, when the possibility of amalgamation with Dalhousie College opened up.[14]

Congregationalist Addition, 1856-71
The new policy of Dalhousie – the result of advice from Howe and Dawson and action from Young and the Dalhousie board – was set out on 18 March 1856, and is of some importance. Dalhousie would admit any body of Christians maintaining a denominational seminary on the following terms:

  1. Any body willing to combine its funds with Dalhousie College’s would have representation on the Dalhousie board.
  2. All future funds acquired to be added to the common pool.
  3. Chairs of professors, and all classes, would be open to all creeds, “merit only being considered in the selection.”

The arrangements with Gorham College were worked out on an amended basis. Two professorships were established: the Reverend Frederick Tomkins as professor of mathematics and principal, and the Reverend George Cornish professor of classics, both paid by Gorham. The Dalhousie board decided there would be no amalgamation of funds until the union of Dalhousie and Gorham College had had chance to develop.[15]

This college section of Dalhousie was opened officially on 20 October 1856, with an inaugural address by Hugo Reid, who was made dean of faculty. This departure was praised by the Presbyterian Witness, the two Gorham professors especially. But other newspapers were less sanguine. The Acadian Recorder complained that Dalhousie College had taken over the least numerous of all the denominations. The Morning Chronicle, the Liberal spokesman, defended the governors and their idea as a useful first step. Nevertheless, this university stage did not prosper. Cornish resigned in the spring of 1857 and went to McGill, where ultimately the Congregationalist funds followed him. Then ill-health compelled Tomkins to return to England, and the university section of the Dalhousie School was forced to discontinue.[16]

Reid reported eighty-eight pupils in the high school at the end of 1857, but personal quarrels developed with his assistant, James Woods, which the board found it impossible to resolve. Woods resigned and set up his own school, Spring Garden Academy, in competition. By 1859 attendance at Dalhousie was down to fifty.

Reid resigned in January 1860. One other professor, Count George d’Utassy, professor of modern languages, was given six months’ notice. Athletic but diminutive, Count d’Utassy, besides languages, had specialized in fencing, dancing, and horses.[17]

At this point the minutes of the Dalhousie Board of Governors close down for two years. When the governors resurfaced in February 1862, it was to consider whether the college should be turned into a museum; its income could be used to arrange the McCulloch collections and buy new exhibits, and thus become the Provincial Museum of Nova Scotia. The governors had all but come to the end of their tether; their high school experiment had come and it had gone; their union with Gorham College had dissipated. What could they now do with the place? The new University of New Brunswick Act of 1859, establishing a provincial university in Fredericton, seemed in striking contrast to Halifax. The handsome sandstone building, set in its ample acres on the hillside on the edge of Fredericton, had been reconstituted by the energy, interest, and talent of an unusually able lieutenant-governor, Sir Edmund Head, and the royal commission he had sponsored.[18] The university’s thirty-three students were a comment on the now moribund Dalhousie College building on the Grand Parade in downtown Halifax.

The Dalhousie governors were well aware of these difficulties. Perhaps the most concerned was the premier of Nova Scotia himself, now in 1862 Joseph Howe. One of Howe’s Presbyterian friends was the Reverend Peter MacGregor, the minister of Poplar Grove Presbyterian Church, Halifax, since 1843. A Pictou Academy graduate, vigorous and well thought of, MacGregor, fourteen years younger than Howe, talked with Howe from time to time about Dalhousie’s problems. In June 1862 Howe set down some frank suggestions that MacGregor could show to his Presbyterian friends.

There were now, said Howe, only four Dalhousie governors left: the chief justice (William Young), Andrew MacKinlay (the bookseller), Dr. Avery, and himself. The Dalhousie College building was solid and could easily be put in good repair. The income from its invested funds, and from rents, amounted in all to £900 currency a year. Fifty students at £10 each, or one hundred at £5, would give another £500. If you Presbyterians, said Howe, have any funds for secular education – say another £300 a year – then the total, £1,700, would found a decent university with five or six decently paid professors. Having laid this out, Howe went on: “If this can be done now is the time. If it cannot we must turn the College into a Provincial Museum or risk the confiscation of its funds by some hostile movement for which the present condition of the property furnishes a fair excuse.”[19] That was plain talking; it carried an unmistakable ring of authenticity. It is a neat summary of the condition of Dalhousie in June 1862, presented on the very eve of critical meetings of the two Presbyterian synods. Howe’s letter was undoubtedly intended for that specific purpose.

The Presbyterians Rally
Had the Presbyterians believed in bad omens, they could well have taken the view that Dalhousie College was an ill-starred venture. Its history over the forty-four years of its existence had comprehended indifference, prejudice, chicanery, timidity, occasionally boldness and courage; it had been and was still a political issue. As Howe noted, some action to make it operational had now to be taken or Dalhousie would have to be thrown to the wolves, its endowment given away to causes ostensibly more worthy, its building made more useful than a private high school or a post office. Dalhousie’s funds, the Christian Messenger suggested, had been contributed by the whole community, and to the community they might properly return. The Reverend George Grant noted in the Kirk periodical, the Monthly Record, that if Dalhousie were not revived, “the last hope for the higher education of the country on a liberal basis would be lost forever.” The college had “never yet had a fair trial; let us give it one.”[20] He urged the same message privately with Charles Tupper, the Conservative party’s strong and able first mate. Grant protested to Tupper against any proposed subversion of the Dalhousie charter and of the intentions of its founder, and he assured Tupper of the support of the Kirk in any effort to revive Dalhousie.[21]

George Monro Grant was a Kirk minister out of Pictou County who knew from hard personal experience those bitter Presbyterian rivalries. He was a man who fought against divisions, and for unions. He used to say that in the Presbyterian religion all the splits were made in Scotland and all the unions in British North America. Grant’s ally, the Scottish-born Allan Pollok, was sent out to Nova Scotia and became the pastor of St. Andrew’s Church, New Glasgow, in 1852. Grant and Pollok both took an active role in the Kirk Synod, and early came to the conclusion that the most important issue facing the Kirk in Nova Scotia was that of producing a native-trained ministry. The Kirk needed something better than a system of sending Nova Scotian students off for six or seven years to Glasgow, Scotland, or to Kingston, Canada West.

The Kirk Synod met at St. Andrew’s Church, New Glasgow on 25 June 1862. It passed the following resolution: “Whereas there has not hitherto existed any unsectarian institution in Nova Scotia for the higher education of the country,” and since provision for such was made in the constitution of Dalhousie College, a committee should be appointed to recommend action. The Kirk committee agreed on a number of points. First, that in the past the Kirk had not taken the interest in Nova Scotian university education “that she ought to have taken, and which from the history of her Mother Church she would be expected to take.” Second, that a sound curriculum of literary and scientific education might be established at Dalhousie College “with any or all of the religious denominations of the Province.” That very evening the Kirk committee met with Peter MacGregor and Professors Ross and King, members of the committee of the Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces, also in session in New Glasgow.[22]

The “Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces” was the union of the Free Church of Scotland and the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia. Four years in the making, it was effected in 1860. The Free Church had founded an academy and divinity school in Halifax, headed by George Munro of Pictou; the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia had established a seminary at West River, transferred to Truro in 1856. The union of the two Presbyterian churches produced a rationalization, by which academic work was done in Truro and theology in Halifax. This latter unit would eventually become Pine Hill Divinity College. Altogether the Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces was a stronger body and had better institutions than any the Kirk could muster. The Kirk Presbyterians in 1861 were nineteen thousand in all, or 6 per cent of the total population of Nova Scotia; the new Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces boasted sixty-nine thousand adherents in Nova Scotia, 21 per cent of the population.

There were thus several groups that combined in 1862: Howe and the Liberal government, urged on by Peter MacGregor and William Dawson of McGill; Grant, Pollok, and the Kirk, who made their views known to Charles Tupper of the Conservative opposition; and the United Presbyterians, among whom was the Reverend George Patterson, of Salem Church, Green Hill, in Pictou County.

George Patterson was the education spokesman for the United Presbyterians. He, too, was a product of Pictou Academy, and had in fact followed Thomas McCulloch to Dalhousie, where he had been until McCulloch’s death in 1843. Patterson was thoroughly acquainted with Dalhousie’s difficulties. He wrote to his friend E.M. McDonald, former editor of the New Glasgow Eastern Chronicle and now in 1862 the Queen’s Printer at Halifax, asking him to use his influence with Premier Howe to prevent Dalhousie from degenerating into an “old curiosity shop,” as opponents of the museum idea were wont to call it. Patterson was certain that the United Presbyterians could be persuaded to cooperate in re-establishing Dalhousie.[23]

Sketch of George Munro Grant
George Monro Grant, a Lismer sketch reproduced from Harvey’s Dalhousie. “Our colleges [are] ill-equipped, half-starved, narrow, petty and sectarian.”

A special committee was struck to confer with one already established by the Kirk Synod. Meetings between the Kirk and the United Presbyterian committees went forward with unusual harmony. They agreed they would continue to meet after the closing of their respective synods. The main object of both committees, said the Presbyterian Witness, was the same: “to secure a more complete course of Classical, Literary and Philosophical instruction than can be afforded in Nova Scotia by a Seminary supported by a single denomination.” There were risks in giving up a working seminary at Truro, but more important was “the prospect of seeing established a College for the whole Province, capable of furnishing a course of Education for young men aspiring to fill the different professions.” The Witness did not mention it in this context, but the Presbyterian buildings in both Truro and Halifax were outmoded, cramped, wooden, and in need of repair.[24]

George Grant agreed. The greatest defect of the Nova Scotian educational system was “Our Colleges, Universities falsely so called, ill-equipped, half-starved, narrow, petty and sectarian.” Dalhousie would be a provincial university, denominational only because it would receive support from religious bodies. There was nothing strange about that, “for no University has ever been able to stand in America unless it was so supported.”[25]

The main point for the Presbyterians was to ensure all-party agreement to any proposed legislation. There was no sense in making Dalhousie, once again, the creature of the Liberal party, to be shoved into the cold when the Conservatives came into power. That possibility virtually disappeared when the Conservative British Colonist came out with an editorial supporting Dalhousie College. It represented the influence of Charles Tupper, the rising man of the Conservative party. People would be glad to learn, the Colonist said, that there was now a prospect of Dalhousie College being at last put into efficient operation in 1863. Readers did not need to be reminded of its history; it was well known that the current governors had done their best to bring life to the college and had signally failed. But a month ago, in mid-July, delegates from the two Presbyterian synods had met the Dalhousie College board, and a scheme had been worked out. The British Colonist looked forward to seeing Dalhousie College in operation side by side with the other valuable colleges of the province. And, it added, “The jealousy which at one time existed between the different Colleges, has, we are happy to say, given place to a generous emulation with each other.” That effusion was the triumph of hope over experience. On the other hand, Conservatives were bound to represent that the colleges they had been mainly instrumental in creating were, indeed, valuable.

The terms were these. Dalhousie had annual income from its funds and from rents of £900 currency, enough to fund three professors. The United Presbyterians would fund two more, and the Kirk one, also for a total of £900 per annum. Each professor the Presbyterians funded required a capital sum of £5,000, invested at 6 per cent, to produce £300 a year. The quid pro quo for that substantial gift was the right of the Presbyterians – or any other body – to nominate the professor to the chair, and with it the right to a seat on the Dalhousie Board of Governors. The stipulation of the two Presbyterian committees was that Dalhousie governors not be removable at the pleasure of the lieutenant-governor-in-council. They wanted some protection against the wilfulness or arbitrariness of a provincial cabinet. The consent of the Board of Governors was required to any resignation.[26] In the meantime the three empty seats on the Dalhousie board were filled, at the end of July 1862, by three ingenious nominations, representing three quite other denominations: Charles Tupper, a Baptist; S.L. Shannon, Halifax lawyer and Methodist; and J.W. Ritchie, Halifax lawyer and Anglican.

These public appointments generated not a little suspicion in Methodist and especially in Baptist quarters. The three new governors were put in, said the Baptist Christian Messenger, “as decoy ducks to the denominations they represent.” The metaphor speaks volumes. The Methodists would have preferred Shannon almost anywhere else than where he was; as for Tupper, he was more a guarantee of political than ecclesiastical balance. So said the Halifax Evening Express, a Catholic paper.[27]

The Dalhousie bill was introduced to the Assembly by Howe on 10 March 1863, and went through very quietly. It was carefully framed and, if anything, deliberately understated. “An Act for the Regulation and Support of Dalhousie College,” had as its preamble:

Whereas it is expedient to extend the basis on which the said College is established, and to alter the constitution thereof, so as the benefits that may be fairly expected from its invested capital, and its central position may, if possible, be realized, and the design of its original founders as nearly as may be carried out.

The key provision was that whenever any body of Christians, of whatever religious persuasion, would endow one or more professorships “for any branch of literature or science, approved of by the Board,” to the extent of £300 (or $1,200) a year, then the right of nomination to the chair, and the right to nominate a governor was given. The governors had the power to appoint the president, professors, and other college officers. Dalhousie College “shall be deemed and taken to be a University, with all the usual and necessary privileges of such institutions,” giving bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s degrees. No religious tests were to be required of professors, students, or officers of the college. The internal government was to be in the hands of the Senatus Academicus, formed by the professors, and whose rules were subject to board approval.

The 1863 act repealed all previous Dalhousie College acts save one – that of 1823, lending £5,000 to Dalhousie College. That stood, still a too tender subject to be gratuitously waved in front of the Assembly. The Dalhousie bill came up for second reading six weeks later; there was no debate. It received a minor amendment in the Legislative Council that the Assembly accepted without demur, and so the new Dalhousie College Act became law on 29 April 1863.[28]

The Dalhousie Act was clever for what it did not say. The word Presbyterian was not mentioned. “The plan is to be, as it were,” offered the Evening Express, “a stroke of genius, combining the beauties of both the sectarian and non-sectarian systems. It is to be in fact a system altogether sui generis.” It was regrettable, said the Express, that the result might well be failure, failure more signal than any that had “yet overtaken this ill-starred Institution.” If three or four denominations were to league together against the Presbyterians’ “appropriation of Dalhousie funds,” the institution could well be in danger, act or no act. The other denominations would never give up their own colleges; hence the Presbyterians, knowing that, could found their own college, using public money by calling it a non-denominational university. The Baptists and the Methodists took the view that to call Dalhousie a provincial university was nothing “but a transparent misnomer for appropriating £900 of Provincial money.[29]

This was the rough weather brewing outside. And even if the act was now passed, the Presbyterians, inside, did not regard Dalhousie College as a fait accompli. The act was, rather, a perimeter within which to conduct further negotiations. Indeed, the issues had not been settled. The synods had not yet approved the actions of their committees. Each synod would have to find money, the Kirk £5,000 currency, the United Presbyterians double that, and they would have to dun their constituents to get it.

The two committees added several conditions after the Dalhousie Act was passed. They wanted Dalhousie to keep in mind the future establishment of medical and law faculties; they asked that in arts there be at least six professors: classics, logic and metaphysics, mathematics, moral philosophy, natural philosophy (i.e., physics), and the physical sciences of chemistry, geology, and botany. If all went as planned, urged Allan Pollok to his Kirk readers, “there is nothing to prevent Dalhousie College becoming a University like the University of London, McGill College, or the University of Toronto.”[30] Pollok, himself a graduate of Glasgow, extolled the virtues of size. The denominational colleges of Nova Scotia were, he said, too small; fifteen students per professor was the average. In actual fact the colleges were small: UNB had thirty-four, Acadia thirty-two, King’s fifty-two students, not distinguishing between part-time and full-time; St. Mary’s had 108 and St. Francis Xavier 102, though those larger figures may comprehend academies. What Pollok was looking for can be put in a mid-twentieth-century metaphor, namely, critical mass:

Young men learn most from those with whom they study … The conflict of mind with mind constitutes an important influence in mental and moral training. But for this, science might be more effectually learned in the closet from suitable handbooks than from the prelections of Professors. A large attendance also infuses energy into the Professors and enlivens their work …. It is needless to say that our denominational colleges can never have a large attendance.[31]


A further difficulty developed. Dalhousie had originally agreed to pay £200 from its own funds to a teacher of modern languages, plus an extra £50 to Professor James Ross of Truro for his function as principal of Dalhousie. At that point the government announced that they were going to build a new post office, and thus ere long, Dalhousie College would be deprived of £200 per annum in rent. Thus Dalhousie would need the £250 grant that the government gave to the United Presbyterian College, now in Truro.

In short, nothing went easily. At the Kirk Synod in September 1863 Pollok found that he was in a minority. He stoutly maintained that the Dalhousie proposal had the support of 90 per cent of the laymen, whatever the Kirk Synod might think. James Ross, the moving spirit with the United Presbyterians, thought it would be a hard road; he found opposition not only in Truro, which resented the loss of the Presbyterian College, but “extreme and violent opposition” among the Kirk people in Pictou. The worst of it was that those two counties, Colchester and Pictou, were the ones Ross was counting on for financial support. Ross asked the Dalhousie board whether the Presbyterians could keep the £250 until the opposition died away and the advantages of Dalhousie had become more patent. If so, “all might yet be well. Without it I am afraid we cannot.”[32]

Ultimately both groups of Presbyterians won through. Allan Pollok and George Grant – now in Halifax as minister of St. Matthew’s Church – got approval for the Dalhousie venture through the Kirk Synod, without dissent. In the United Presbyterian Synod there was a vote, and the Dalhousie resolution carried finally by forty-one to seventeen.[33]

The Presbyterian synods had to tax themselves, a capital sum of $20,000 in the Kirk’s case, and $2,400 a year in the case of the United Presbyterians. The latter would also have to give up their Truro college. Both synods made real sacrifices to go into the Dalhousie scheme. Pollok and Grant, Ross and his colleagues were greatly helped, however, by the fury unleashed by the Baptists and the Methodists against the new Dalhousie College. To the Christian Messenger and the Provincial Wesleyan, almost the worst aspect of the Dalhousie proposal was the Presbyterian claim to make Dalhousie into the provincial university – exactly what made the scheme acceptable to the broad reach of the synods’ constituencies. For years Dalhousie had been nothing, had been “in a state of suspended animation,” as the Express put it, and the question mainly before the public had been, “What shall we do with it?” It still had nothing in 1863, no library, no scholarships, no scientific apparatus. Not only would the Baptists not support it, but they “will resent it as a wrong, its being called a Provincial Institution at all.” For Baptists read also Methodists, Anglicans, and Catholics. Call Dalhousie what you may, said the Evening Express, it will be a Presbyterian college, with Presbyterian students, and for the most part Presbyterian professors. It won’t be any the worse for that: but let us call things what they are.[34] A convention of Baptists was held in Amherst at the end of August 1863, where it was resolved that the Acadia Board of Governors should take such measures as in their judgment would ameliorate the alleged preferences, financial and otherwise, given to Dalhousie College. Jonathan McCully, editor of the Halifax Morning Chronicle, opposed this departure. When nothing was happening with Dalhousie, McCully noted, nothing was said; the moment Dalhousie took on the appearance of life, “the Baptists came forth with a bludgeon to dash out its brains.” When the Acadia College board met on 1 October, it went straight for repeal of the Dalhousie Act. No one need be surprised, said the Messenger, that the Baptists were taking this strong ground. It was only twenty-five years since they were rejected by Dalhousie; now, after hard work and self-sacrifice, with their own college working efficiently, they are invited by those “who spurned them from their doors to sacrifice the very Institutions which their [Dalhousie’s] injustice made indispensable!”[35]

The Methodists were of much the same mind. That Methodists could ever consider abandoning their own college, said the Provincial Wesleyan, “to help build up Dalhousie, is, to us, quite inconceivable.” That any one denomination should monopolize Dalhousie, “which from its foundation was designed to be Provincial, and to have available for denominational ends all the Funds and property of such institution … is not to be tolerated.” By all means let the Presbyterians have their own college, but call it what it is. The Presbyterians should have refused Dalhousie’s offer from the start, saying, “No, we cannot accept it. Other denominations, situated as they are cannot reasonably be expected to fall in with this project. At all events they should be consulted.” To those who said that Dalhousie ought to be given a fair trial, the Wesleyan answered that neither Dalhousie nor its supporters were in any position to make such a demand.[36]

When the 1864 session of the legislature opened, this accumulated opposition broke in upon it, represented by forty-eight petitions against Dalhousie, manufactured mostly in the Annapolis Valley, including one from the trustees, governors, and fellows of Acadia College, to repeal or amend the Dalhousie Act. The serious move was on 23 March; Avard Longley, the Conservative MLA from Annapolis, moved repeal of the act. Charles Tupper, now provincial secretary after the election of 1863 and virtual premier, moved an amendment that the House go into committee to consider education generally. As the debate developed, a number of resolutions and amendments were offered, demanding repayment of the 1823 £5,000 loan, or giving the Dalhousie College building to the Presbyterians and sequestering the Dalhousie endowment, now estimated at some $51,590, dividing it equally among the Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Presbyterians.

Tupper was good, as he always would be, at bold defences of unpopular positions. He hated, he said, to put himself, a Baptist, in opposition to Mr. Longley, a member of Tupper’s own party and a co-religionist. Still, it would have been better had Longley demonstrated his opposition in 1863, not 1864. The House felt in 1863, said Tupper, as no doubt it did now, that there was no reasonable ground on which to oppose the Dalhousie Act. Every intelligent man grasped the good sense of it. Dalhousie now had forty full-time students, twenty part-time. Tupper concluded that, “possessing, as I may confess to do, some fondness for public life, I would infinitely prefer the fate which he [Longley] threatens me [i.e., being defeated] to the highest post my country can offer, if it must be purchased by an act so unpatriotic, so unjust, as the resolution which he has moved would involve.”

S.L. Shannon, Conservative MLA from Halifax and the only other member of the Dalhousie board in the legislature, said the reason why petitions against Dalhousie College were so widely signed was the belief, sedulously fostered, that the denominational colleges would be swept out of existence by Dalhousie. He too would have opposed Dalhousie had that been so. He suspected that “the old feeling of revenge still rankled in some bosoms, and the wish to destroy the [Dalhousie] College because the governors who were dead long ago had done injustice to a distinguished Baptist!” But there is no way Dalhousie could injure Acadia, or any other college. “Dalhousie was in reality,” Shannon said, “a scheme to assist in the education of the middle class of Halifax.”[37]

Image of Charles Tupper c.1880
Charles Tupper, c. 1880. “Make Dalhousie worthy of our fine province. It will do no harm to [Acadia] or to any other College.”

On 29 March, Tupper’s amendment to go into committee to consider education passed by a vote of thirty to fourteen. Thus was the Longley move to repeal the Dalhousie Act rejected. This apparent decisiveness is misleading. None of the fourteen MLAS who wanted the repeal of the Dalhousie Act were from the opposition Liberals; they were all of Tupper’s own Conservative party. His victory in the 1863 election had been sweeping: forty seats in a fifty-five-seat House. It was as well that the Dalhousie Act commanded Liberal support, for one-third of Tupper’s own party deserted him on that issue, and voted for repeal. That included all four MLAS from Kings, three from Hants, two from Digby, and a sprinkling of others. Had they been joined by the fifteen Liberals, the Dalhousie bill would have been dead. It was saved by Tupper and a bipartisan majority. Of course, the Liberals had put through the 1863 act in the first place. They had long supported Dalhousie, but until 1862 they had not been able to find the means, or the support, to make it work. Now it was in operation once again; what it had to do now was prove itself. Charles Tupper went into the enemy’s camp in Wolfville in June 1864 and made a strong speech. Sustain Dalhousie, he said, “and make it worthy of our fine province. It will do no harm to Dr. Cramp’s really fine institution upon this beautiful hill here, or to any other College.” All Dr. Cramp of Acadia could say that day was, “I am still for war!”[38]

Lord Dalhousie’s Experiment
Lord Dalhousie in 1818 tried to do what had hardly yet been attempted in British North America, or for that matter in the United States: develop a college that had no religious or denominational base. In many ways he was right; Methodist mathematics, Presbyterian physics, Anglican classics, was ridiculous on the face of it. A university where all creeds may be taught the arts and sciences was plausible and high-sounding, but it had not had much success. Even UNB, formed in 1859, was, said the Evening Express, “struggling against fate.” In Nova Scotia the denominational colleges had got their way. The tide of 1838 had been missed; Crawley and the Baptists had been rejected by Dalhousie and that had led in turn to the failure of the One College idea. One might even argue, as the Evening Express did in a perceptive editorial, that the reason for the failure of Dalhousie in the past had not been its governors, nor its professors: “An attempt was made to raise up a general College or University on the model of those in Scotland, without sufficiently taking into account the very different relative conditions of the two populations.”[39] There is something in that. Until the 1860s Dalhousie had simply not commanded popular support; its success had not mattered. In 1863 it would make its own way, this time with the strong support of Presbyterians of both major camps. That Presbyterian habit, internecine wrangling, had largely disappeared with the union of the Seceders and Free Kirkers in 1860 as the United Presbyterians. As for the Auld Kirk, it too supported Dalhousie; its man on the Dalhousie board was George Grant. The Presbyterians were powerful, energetic, spartan; they, of all the denominations, cherished education the most. Dalhousie was non-denominational in appearance, in its laws and practice. But the vital energy that would now inhabit its heart would come from the Presbyterian love of learning and the Scottish habits of self-discipline and diligence that came with it.

  1. Novascotian, 12 July 1838, written 16 May on board Tyrian; Phyllis Blakeley, “Sir Samuel Cunard,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, ix: 180.
  2. Charles Dickens, American Notes (London n.d.), p. 39.
  3. J. Murray Beck, Joseph Howe: The Briton Becomes Canadian 1848-1873, (Kingston and Montreal 1983), pp. 3, 9, 32, 42-3.
  4. Hugo Reid, Sketches in North America...; with some account of Congress and the slavery question, (London 1861), p. 299.
  5. Board of Governors Minutes, 2 Nov. 1848, UA-1, Box 14, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  6. Board of Governors Minutes, 8 Nov. 1848, UA-1, Box 14, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  7. Howe’s speech is in the Novascotian, 2 Apr. 1849, reporting debates for 19 Feb.; Uniacke’s in the Novascotian, 9 Apr. 1849.
  8. Board of Governors Minutes, 8 Mar. 1848, 20 June 1849, 18 Mar. 1853, 15 July 1854, UA-1, Box 14, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; British Colonist, 24 June, 1 July 1856; Halifax Morning Chronicle, 3, 10 July 1856. See also John A. Bell, “Dalhousie College and University,” 1887, typescript, p. 30, MS-13-59, Dalhousie University Archives.
  9. See C.B. Fergusson, “Hugo Reid,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, x: 611-12; Morning Chronicle, 24 Jan. 1856; British Colonist, 24 June 1856; Letter from Hugo Reid to William Young, 27 Dec. 1856, the annual report for the year, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 4, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives.
  10. There is a long account of these discussions in the Presbyterian Witness, 9 and 16 Feb. 1856. For Ross, see Allan Dunlop, “James Ross,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, x: 772-3.
  11. See Stanley Brice Frost, McGill University: For the Advancement of Learning: Vol. 1, 1801-1895 (Montreal and Kingston 1980), pp. 172, 177-84; P.R. and J.S. Eakins, “Sir John William Dawson,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, XII: 230-7; John P. Vaillancourt, “John William Dawson, Education Missionary in Nova Scotia” (M. Ed. thesis, Dalhousie University 1973). For University of New Brunswick, see K.A. MacKirdy, “The Formation of the Modern University, 1859-1906” in A.G. Bailey, ed., The University of New Brunswick, Memorial Volume (Fredericton 1950), pp. 33-7.
  12. This is a small collection of letters between Dawson and Young, mostly in typed copies: Dawson to Young, 9 Dec. 1854, from Pictou; same, 22 and 28 Feb. 1856, from McGill College, MG 100, vol. 133, no. 15, Nova Scotia Archives.
  13. Letter from Young to Dawson, 29 Apr. 1856, MG 100, vol. 133, no. 15, Nova Scotia Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 11 and 18 Mar. 1856, UA-1, Box 14, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; Presbyterian Witness, 14 June 1856, letter from “A.” See Judith Fingard, “George Munro,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, XII : 771-3.
  14. See Grace McLeod Rogers, “The Story of a Nova Scotia College,” Dalhousie Review 18 (1938-9), pp. 494-512.
  15. Board of Governors Minutes, 18 Mar., 17 and 21 July 1856, UA-1, Box 14, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  16. Board of Governors Minutes, 13 and 17 July 1857, UA-1, Box 14, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  17. Board of Governors Minutes, 30 Oct. 1858, 31 Jan. 1859, 14 Feb. 1860, UA-1, Box 14, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. Count d’Utassy’s subsequent career is curious. He joined a cavalry regiment on the Union side in the American Civil War and became a buyer of horses. Some very odd transactions developed and Count d’Utassy found himself transferred to prison. He objected strenuously to having to don a convict’s uniform, he, Count d’Utassy, and a former university professor! See John A. Bell, “Dalhousie College and University,” typescript, p. 27, Dalhousie University Archives.
  18. See Bailey, ed., The University of New Brunswick, pp. 30-3.
  19. Letter from Howe to Rev. P.G. MacGregor, 23 June 1862, confidential, from Halifax, F and I, box 149, no. 135, Joseph Howe Papers, Maritime Conference Archives, Pine Hill, Halifax. Mrs. Carolyn Earle has kindly brought this correspondence to my attention.
  20. Christian Messenger, 10 Sept. 1862. The Christian Messenger was the Baptist paper, the editor of which, Stephen Selden, was married to the daughter of Reverend J.M. Cramp, the president of Acadia College. The Monthly Record of the Church of Scotland in Nova Scotia and the Adjoining Provinces was first published in 1855, and was based in Pictou. George Grant’s letter, “The Meeting of Synod,” is in the August 1862 issue, pp. 175-6. The Monthly Record is in the Maritime Conference Archives.
  21. The source for this is G.G. Patterson, which he said was inside knowledge, undoubtedly from his father. See Patterson, The History of Dalhousie College and University, pp. 64-5.
  22. Presbyterian Witness, 5 July 1862; Monthly Record, Aug. 1862, pp. 175-6; Colonial Standard (Pictou), 1 July 1862.
  23. Allan Dunlop, “George Patterson,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, XII : 828-30; also Patterson, The History of Dalhousie College and University, pp. 64-5.
  24. Presbyterian Witness, 12 July, 16 Aug. 1862. The reference to the condition of the buildings is also in the Presbyterian Witness, 13 Mar. 1862, letter by Candor.
  25. Monthly Record, Aug. 1862, p. 176.
  26. Board of Governors Minutes, 30 July 1862, 31 Jan., 18 and 26 Mar. 1863, UA-1, Box 14, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  27. Christian Messenger, 25 Mar. 1863; Evening Express (Halifax), 2 Sept. 1863.
  28. Nova Scotia Assembly, Journals 1863, 10 Mar., 23 and 29 Apr., pp. 37, 101-2, 108-9, 112.
  29. Evening Express, 5 Aug., 2 Sept. 1863; Christian Messenger, 25 Mar., 1 Apr. 1863; also Provincial Wesleyan, 25 Mar. 1863.
  30. Monthly Record, Aug. 1863, “Appeal of the Educational Board of Synod, in favour of Dalhousie College,” p. 181.
  31. Monthly Record, Aug. 1863, p. 182. For the student figures see Nova Scotia Assembly, Journals 1864, Appendix 51. Figures given in the Evening Express, 2 Sept. 1863, are close to these. Neither group distinguishes between part-time and full-time students. In the case of St. Mary’s and St. Francis Xavier, the figures given do not seem to distinguish between students in the college program and those in academy programs.
  32. Letter from Ross to James Thomson (board secretary), 21 Sept. 1863, from Truro, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 3, Folder 24, Dalhousie University Archives; letter from Ross to Thomson, same date [?], private and confidential, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 3, Folder 24, Dalhousie University Archives. At the end of this second letter is a note, underlined twice, that it is to be destroyed.
  33. Patterson in The History of Dalhousie College and University, p. 67, says that the Kirk Synod was unanimous in approving the Dalhousie move. If so, it was after Pollok and Grant had succeeded in quieting opposition. Hence I have used the words, “without dissent.”
  34. Evening Express, 5 Aug. 1863.
  35. The motion at the convention was moved by Dr. Cramp, president of Acadia. See Presbyterian Witness, 5 Sept. 1863, “The Baptists on Education and Dalhousie College.” Also Christian Messenger, 30 Sept., 7 Oct. 1863.
  36. Provincial Wesleyan, 5 Aug., 18 Nov., 2 Dec. 1863. The last editorial is entitled “The Presbyterian College.”
  37. Nova Scotia Assembly, Journals 1864, 23 Mar., pp. 79-80; 29 Mar., pp. 88-90. For the debates, see British Colonist, 7 Apr. 1864, reporting debates for 23 Mar.; also Presbyterian Witness, 2 Apr. 1864.
  38. Presbyterian Witness, 25 June 1864.
  39. Evening Express, 22 July 1863.


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

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