New Brunswick School Records

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Archives and Records[edit | edit source]

By the last quarter of the 19th century, those who stayed were being educated, and some very well educated. There is considerable material in the PANB, and you will find listed in the County Guides “Teachers’ Petitions and Licenses” and “Teachers’ and Trustees’ Returns”. Some records are indexed. However, there are other sources and these are detailed by:

Diana Moore and Andrea Schwenke, New Brunswick Schools: A Guide to Archival Sources/Les écoles du Nouveau-Brunswick: Guide des sources archivistiques (Fredericton: Acadiensis Press, 1992), a survey of 24 archives in all parts of the province, identifying and describing the available resources.
Reviewed by Allen B. Robertson in Nova Scotia Historical Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1993, pages 166-167, the thematic guide covers all aspects of education, including the visually and hearing-impaired, but the reviewer warns that the index is not user friendly.

Public Schools[edit | edit source]

James A. Fraser, By Favourable Winds contains a chapter (6) on “Education” and his detailed account, bolstered by both documents and newspaper reports, is probably quite close to what happened in most settlements, even the Chatham/Newcastle rivalry parallels the Sackville/Shediac rivalry in Westmorland County.

Education in a school setting did not exist in the earliest years of Chatham’s history. Where it did exist it was confined to the home. The first encouragement came as a result of the School Act of 1802. (page 137) This act voted a sum of £420 to be given, £10 to each Parish, through the local Justice of the Peace to be used to subsidize teachers’ salaries or otherwise assist in establishing schools. Members of the community were expected to build the school.

A second school act in 1805 provided for two schools in each county, Saint John excepted, and in 1816 another act provided for a grammar school in each county, supposedly a superior school (high school). There were also Madras schools, many begun by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) under the Church of England. They had developed the system in Madras, India, where older students taught or helped the younger ones. The provincial government also supported these schools, but left them under the supervision of the established church.

To learn about how a settlement’s schools developed, you must depend on local historians, who may or may not tell you much. Checking a few mentioned thus far, note that in addition to James A. Fraser’s account of Chatham, Doreen Menzies Arbuckle’s The North West Mirimichi also has an excellent record of education in a smaller settlement.

Grace Aiton’s The Story of Sussex, and W.H. Dalling’s shorter History of Sussex Corner both have good accounts of the schools in that part of Kings County. W.C. Milner’s History of Sackville lists trustees, teachers, and some students. Marion Gilchrist Reicker writing about Queens County does not tell much about early schools, but has a lot of information on teachers, their salaries, and graduates. I’m sure there must have been schools in Moncton in the early days, but in neither history of that town could I find anything about them until after 1871 when free schools supported by taxation came to the province.

In 1947 the University of New Brunswick published: The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick 1784-1900; a study in historical background, by Katherine F.C. MacNaughton, M.A., edited with an “Introduction” by Alfred G. Bailey. A detailed, scholarly, study of the social and political background of public education in the province, it has little local information and no index, only a very detailed “Table of Contents”.

The Language Divide[edit | edit source]

Ned Belliveau’s Story of Shediac illustrates the rivalry between Shediac and Sackville in regard to Westmorland County and which town should have the county grammar school. He also tells us that:

Acadian French priests had attempted small “colleges” at both Barachois and Grande Digue, the former in 1839, but that at Grand Digue never developed and the career of the other was brief. However, there was elementary schooling in both these places from relatively early times.
It is of some interest that Shediac’s English elementary school and later English Central school should have among their teachers at least three who were French speaking, F.X. Leger, Hypolite LeBlanc and Isadore Bourque. (page 53)

Private Schools[edit | edit source]

In the 19th century, in both Saint John and Fredericton as well as in smaller centres such as Dorchester, educated men or women might set up private schools offering to educate the children of the well to do. Today there is one English-language “Independent School” in New Brunswick, an amalgamation of the once all male Rothesay Collegiate School and Netherwood girls’ school, both in Rothesay, just outside Saint John, New Brunswick.

Rothesay Collegiate School was founded by William Thompson, MCP (Master of the College of Preceptors), in 1877, because of his dissatisfaction with local education. Intended for the education of the sons of Anglican clergymen, one objective of the school was to prepare boys for admission into Royal Military College at Kingston, so it had a fine cadet corps.

Netherwood School was founded by Miss Mary L. Gregory in 1894, in an old gabled house on 3¼ acres also in Rothesay. Within a year, a romance with one of the masters at nearby Rothesay Collegiate, saw her married and off to Japan as a missionary, and eventually the school came under the care of Susan B. Ganong (of the Ganong chocolate family), who became headmistress in 1905, and only retired in 1944.[1] The two schools were affiliated in 1972, becoming co-educational and eventually moving to the larger RCS campus.

Universities - Timelines[edit | edit source]

Since the three major universities have all been around for well over a century, they have very fine libraries—any long-established library tends to move its books from current shelves, to stacks, to storage, and after a century, to the rare book room. The following timelines are a reference guide to their growth and development.

University of New Brunswick

1785 Academy of Arts and Science originally established
1800 Incorporated as College of New Brunswick
1828 Re-incorporated, by royal charter, as King’s College; first degrees granted
1859 Re-incorporated as University of New Brunswick
1964 University of New Brunswick in Saint John (branch) established offering first two years of bachelor’s degree
1964 St. Thomas University affiliated with UNB, moves to Fredericton campus. Founded as St. Michael’s Academy, then St. Thomas College, by the Roman Catholic church in Chatham, it was granted a charter on 9 March 1934 permitting it to give degrees. St. Thomas still grants its own B.A. and B. Ed. degrees.

Mount Allison University

1840 Mount Allison Weslyan Academy for young men, established by Methodist Church in Sackville, New Brunswick
1854 Mount Allison Ladies’ College, a parallel institution for girls established
1858 Name changed to Mount Allison College with power to grant degrees conferred by New Brunswick Legislative assembly
1875 First woman granted a B.Sc degree, Miss Grace A. Lockhart
1882 First woman granted a B.A. degree, Miss Harriett Stewart
1913 Name changed to Mount Allison University

Université de Moncton

1864 Collège Saint-Joseph founded at Memramcook
1868 Given right to grant degrees
1888 Titled Université Saint-Joseph
1963 Université de Moncton, established by uniting Université Saint-Joseph with Collège du Sacré-Coeur, founded in 1899 and Bathurst Collège Saint-Louis d’Edmundston, founded in 1946
1968 Centre d’études acadiennes created

The Arts in New Brunswick[edit | edit source]

Writing local and family history, as you know by now, is a favourite occupation in New Brunswick, but the province has also produced notable poets, novelists, and playwrights in both official languages. Most of their work is associated with the universities, if only as employers or publishers. Then there are painters, musicians, architects, and a group of highly skilled artisans, again most of them associated with the university community. Mount Allison University has taught music since 1854, and the Conservatory of Music dates from 1890. The fine and applied arts programme granted the first degree in Fine Arts in 1941.

In 1967 a Centennial Edition of Arts in New Brunswick, edited by R.A. Tweedie, Fred Cogswell, and W.S. MacNutt, was published by the University Press of New Brunswick Ltd. It offers an historical survey of all these fields, up to 1967, but much has happened since then.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Gossage, Carolyn, A Question of Privilege: Canada's Independent Schools (Toronto: Peter Martin Associates, 1977), pages 120-123; 158-161.
  2. Douglas, Althea. "New Brunswick Education Records (National Institute)," The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012),