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Expanding: A Quest for Space


Proposals for union with King's. Engineering and the Nova Scotia Technical College. The Dalhousie Library. Problems of campus space. The history and purchase of Studley. The Flexner Report and the Medical College. President Forrest is succeeded by A.S. MacKenzie, 1911. Designing the Studley campus, 1911-1913. Changes in Halifax by 1914.


Shortly after the death of Charles Macdonald, J.G. MacGregor, Munro professor of physics since 1879, was invited to take the chair of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Losing good professors to universities with greater funds and fame Dalhousie met, then and later, by making a virtue of it. It recognized the implied compliment of losing Schurman to Cornell in 1886, Alexander to Toronto in 1889, Seth to Brown in 1892. MacGregor found it impossible to resist Edinburgh’s better salary, enormous prestige, superior equipment, and good pension. Still, he was fond of his Dalhousie colleagues, especially MacMechan, and hated leaving them. He wrote MacMechan a sad letter from King’s Cross, London, on his way north to Edinburgh, on 9 September 1901:

There are some things a man can’t say to a man face to face. But now that [?] the ocean is between us I feel impelled to tell you how deeply I regret that this translation to Edinburgh must separate us - & how much your friendship meant to me in the years we have had together. I always expected you to leave me in Dalhousie... Don’t let the pessimists dishearten you. The day of better things must come.

MacGregor was forty-nine years old. Slight but well proportioned, with aquiline features, he radiated intense energy. His favourite position was astride a chair, his arms resting on the back. Despite a bad heart, he was a great walker; he and W.J. Alexander climbed Mount Washington one summer holiday in the later 1880s. He never spared himself, summer or winter. Sometimes his physics laboratory was so cold that he had to work in an overcoat. MacGregor was a radical in spirit, disliking rules and regulations almost on principle. After he became Munro professor in 1879, he led the movement in Senate to broaden the tight Dalhousie curriculum and make it more flexible. He hated sham and humbug; that comprehended petty university regulations, so he was often on the students’ side when their several misdemeanours came up in Senate. He thought they should be given enough room to allow them to “play the fool.” Of course, if they broke rules, they must pay for their fun; but MacGregor believed there should be few rules. Students were men and women, not boys and girls.

James G. MacGregor, c. 1896. Dalhousie’s first Munro Professor of Physics, 1879-1901. “A radical in spirit, disliking rules and regulations almost on principle... Students should have enough room to allow them to ‘play the fool’.”

He was much concerned about education in his native province. He opposed the University of Halifax, and he was one of the principal initiators for union with King’s in 1884-5. His great passion was, indeed, university consolidation. He did not care what such a university was called, but government support was imperatively needed. When he heard about the new movement for King’s-Dalhousie union in December 1901, he was enthusiastic. Their union would begin a nucleus, and it would give the government the justification it needed to step in and endow science. And, he told MacMechan, “Don’t let our people haggle about terms, names &c. Offer liberal conditions.”

That was, it is fair to say, President Forrest’s attitude throughout. Like MacGregor, Forrest wanted university consolidation. The government of Nova Scotia should indeed fund science, but on the condition that there be one institution, strong enough to compete with McGill. He told President Alexander Thompson of St. Francis Xavier that for the Nova Scotia government to spend money for technical and scientific education by “a renewal of the old system of giving small grants to five or six colleges” would be a great mistake.1

The first step was some form of university federation. The 1901 initiative came from King’s, when Anglican Bishop Courtney called on President Forrest. Notwithstanding King’s rejection of Dalhousie in 1885, would Dalhousie still consider that arrangement? Forrest said he would welcome such a union, again without specifying terms or conditions. Two large committees were formed, fourteen members each, from Dalhousie and from King’s, and they agreed in December 1901 to a proposed union. Nor was it to be confined to the two colleges. As it developed, it envisioned a federation of all the Maritime province colleges, including UNB. There went to all of them a joint resolution of the committees that modern education “favours united work in a large university rather than divided efforts in scattered colleges.” Public opinion in all three provinces tended the same way; the time was “ripe for promoting the federation of the higher education institutions of the Maritime Provinces.”

Mount Allison’s Board of Regents deemed the proposal inexpedient; the “proposed act of incorporation appeared to” touch but remotely the interests of this University. “Acadia replied that the proposal would be referred to the next Baptist convention, where it got short shrift. None of the other colleges were interested. King’s sent the proposed act to the different deaneries, from where in 1903 King’s Alumni got to work and forced King’s to back off. By 1905 a disagreement with King’s about engineering extinguished any immediate possibility of renewal.2


Engineering and the Origins of the Nova Scotia Technical College

In 1902 Dalhousie had decided to establish a program of mining engineering. Concerns about costs drove Senate to strike a committee to meet with George Murray, premier from 1896 to 1923, about overall funding for technical education. Murray’s response was ambivalent: interest and helplessness. The Nova Scotia government could not afford politically to give any commitment to develop engineering at Dalhousie, however desirable in practice the idea might be. “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the little Red Hen, as Archie MacMechan put it. President Forrest and J.F. Stairs (chairman of the board) proceeded to do it themselves, put their own campaign together, collected $60,000, and had a School of Mining Engineering started by the fall of 1902. The Dalhousie Senate explained the background in appealing to the Carnegie Corporation of New York for funds in November 1902:

...an unfortunate system of denominational colleges paralyzes Government action. For the last four or six years every argument has been brought to bear upon the Government to induce it to provide a satisfactory system of technical education. The Government profess themselves willing to do so but assert that if they attempt to build up a School of Technology in connection with any one of the existing colleges, the other colleges will demand as much or turn them out of office.

At four different times the Governors of Dalhousie have made strong attempts to bring about a union of the different colleges on a non-sectarian basis, but without success.3

That appeal turned out to have a somewhat different outcome, but in the meantime mining engineering went ahead under Dalhousie’s own funding, with civil engineering offered two years later. In January 1903 the Senate agreed that Eben Mackay of chemistry would give a science summer school in Sydney, with a mining school added by means of evening classes. By 1905 there were plans for extension work along similar lines at Sydney Mines, Stellarton, and Springhill. King’s, however, had also done exploratory work in Cape Breton, and objected to Dalhousie’s being there. It is difficult to know the rights and wrongs of the case; certainly the historian of King’s was exercised on the subject. From the Dalhousie records, the only problem seems to have been an overlapping of schedules of two extension programs. By that time talk of union was very dead, and an engineering turf war was in the ascendant.4

Acadia and Mount Allison gave the first two years of a four-year engineering program, leading to two final years at McGill. Engineering was growing in popularity with the public and with business, but it was expensive to operate. The Nova Scotia universities rarely agreed about anything; but as a result of Dalhousie’s 1902 initiative and needled by the Halifax Board of Trade and the Mining Society of Nova Scotia, King’s, Acadia, Mount Allison, and Dalhousie arranged to meet in Halifax in April 1906. They agreed, King’s more reluctantly than the others, that engineering education in Nova Scotia ought to be taken over by the government. It was too expensive and now, early in the twentieth century, too important, to be left to four competing colleges, all with limited funds. Civil, electrical, mechanical, and mining engineering degrees should all be given by a government institution, with the colleges offering the first two years. Thus, with four colleges supporting the idea, the government of George Murray acted, and decisively. The next year Murray brought forward the Technical Education Act. It had support on both sides of the House. R.M. McGregor, the MLA for Pictou and a recent graduate of Dalhousie, admitted there had been serious difficulties:

This province had long been suffering on account of the multiplicity of our colleges. It was too late now to discuss the question of university consolidation in Nova Scotia. Owing, perhaps, to the narrow-mindedness of our ancestors, we had today in this province four, five, or six colleges doing university work where we had only room for one. The sins of the fathers were being visited upon the children...

There was some opposition, he intimated, to the Nova Scotia Technical College being in Halifax, but it was the only place for it. The act passed with only minor debate.

The government asked for, and got, from Ottawa a site on Spring Garden Road, the old drill shed property that had once belonged to the British army. The cornerstone was laid in August 1908 and the Technical College opened on 28 September 1909. The principal was F.H. Sexton, Dalhousie’s professor of mining and metallurgy, who had been hired in 1905.5

Dalhousie also took the lead in expanding the terms of the Rhodes scholarships. The South Africa that produced the Boer War also produced the wealth that had helped to cause it. Cecil Rhodes made his fortune in diamonds and gold, and died in Cape Town just as the war was drawing to an end. His will of 1899, carefully drafted and often revised, left the bulk of his vast fortune for scholarships to Oxford. It was his own hope for immortality, unbeliever that he was. His provisions were for scholarships from the British colonies, the United States, and Germany. The German candidates were selected by the Kaiser; the American states each had their own selection committees. Rhodes’s arrangements for Canada were peculiar, betraying lack of knowledge of at least one major portion of the British Empire, since only scholarships for Ontario and Quebec were included. The Dalhousie Senate prepared a draft memorial, sent to the presidents of Acadia, Mount Allison, King’s, St. Francis Xavier and UNB, pointing out the inadequacies in the Rhodes provisions, and sent it forward to the Rhodes trustees.

The trustees took cognizance of Dalhousie’s and other colonial objections, and they had enough discretionary power to establish a working system that included all the Canadian provinces. Dalhousie’s first nominee, and the first Rhodes scholar from Nova Scotia, named in 1904, was Gilbert S. Stairs (BA ’03).

Oxford University was horrified at the prospect of being swamped every year by a hundred colonials and a hundred Americans, to say nothing of Germans. Not a few Americans came from states whose educational standards were, to say the least, elementary. By a considerable majority the Oxford Union passed a motion condemning the Rhodes scheme. One safety barrier for Oxford was, however, the Responsions - not exactly an entrance examination, but close enough; among other things, it demanded simple competence in Latin or in Greek. For the first fourteen years of the Rhodes scholarships, half the American nominees failed Responsions, lacking sufficient Latin or Greek. Dalhousie’s long insistence on classics avoided that embarrassment! In the end, the Responsions requirement was abolished in 1919. As for the Rhodes scholars themselves, they turned out to be not all that bad. Not many got firsts, but North American committees put some emphasis on intellectual ability and that helped. Rhodes had emphasized moral character and athletic abilities. Had the North American Rhodes committees taken this literally, they could have populated Oxford with, as Professor John Flint graphically put it, “some two hundred athletic duffers of sound moral character.” That would have been disastrous.6


A Dalhousie Library

The Dalhousie curriculum, centred as it had been on mathematics and classics, had required in its original form much work but few books. Teachers, and Latin or Greek texts, were the main requirements. Textbooks were listed regularly in Dalhousie calendars. Science was different; it required modern, up-to-date information. The first letter addressed to the governors from the faculty, on 11 May 1839, was on the subject of the needs of science:

The Colleges where is usually appended a Library, containing books upon the various branches of science, which Professors may occasionally consult, and which the improvement of the students requires them to peruse: and in Dalhousie College, in order that the Lectures may keep pace with the progress of science, such an appendage is particularly requisite; because in this province, neither Professors nor students can conveniently supply themselves with the extensive means of information, which an academical course of studies requires.

There were libraries in Halifax: the Garrison library, founded at Lord Dalhousie’s initiative in 1817; the law courts library; the legislative library, dating from 1819; and the Mechanics Institute library, installed in Dalhousie College from 1831. Perhaps for these reasons the Dalhousie governors were not especially concerned about a Dalhousie library. But one member of the board, G.M. Grant, in April 1867 pointed out the need for a college library. He had been promised $200 toward one, whereupon another $1,000 was at once subscribed.7 The next question was where to put the books. In 1868 the Mechanics Institute space was taken back by the governors. An annual printed catalogue of books emerged.

None of this was very satisfactory, however. Students complained in 1881 that when a book was wanted, it couldn’t be found. Mathematics books tended to disappear at the beginning of the session and reappear only at the end. And it was quite wrong to ask one overworked professor to be the librarian. If something wasn’t soon done, the Gazette said, all that would be left in the library would be the government’s Sessional Papers, the Canada Gazette, and some German treatises on physics. In 1882 the students presented the library with a card catalogue and annual lists of books ended. Nevertheless, J.T. Bulmer, who was law librarian in 1883-4, claimed the Dalhousie library lagged behind all the other college libraries in Nova Scotia. In 1897 the Senate passed a resolution, proposed by MacMechan, that equipment in both laboratories and libraries had not kept pace with the rapid increase in students, and the efficiency of the university was seriously impaired.8 Moreover, access to the library had been very limited; in the mid-1870s it was an hour a week. By 1905, however, Dalhousie was proud to boast its library was open five days a week, from 10 AM to 1 PM, and 3 to 5 PM, and that it had twelve thousand volumes and three thousand pamphlets in the main library and seven thousand volumes in the law library.9

Charles Macdonald’s gift of 1901 has to be read in this context. The Macdonald Memorial Library Fund had by 1905 reached $25,000 in pledges and $8,622 in cash. The Board of Governors promised in 1903 that they would supply additional money to start building the new library as soon as $25,000 was pledged, and $8,000 cash was on hand. The problem was, where? The passage of time had made this decision no easier. Dalhousie’s growth had made the 1887 building very congested. There was also a sense, expressed in the Gazette in 1903, that Dalhousie now deserved to be housed in buildings a little less repellent than the once spacious, but still very plain, brick building. A Macdonald Library, light, airy, dignified, where a hundred students might read together in some comfort, would be a wonderful metamorphosis from the present, “grim, gaunt, puritan Dalhousie.” There was sense in the Gazette's remarks in 1910:

Dalhousie College has had a great past. Though her brick walls and her unfenced and neglected lawns, where a stray cow often pastured at ease, offered little that was pleasing to the eye, yet it was only such strict economy which enabled her to pay the Professors’ salaries even then insufficient, and keep the laboratories and libraries abreast with the times. And the results have justified the means...

But there comes a time when old methods must give place to new ones... Dalhousie must expand and at once if she is to do her duty to Nova Scotia and to her Alumni.

But Dalhousie had no land to expand into. She had the 450-foot by 400-foot piece of the South Common, all of 4.1 acres. Even that had an 80-foot strip on the south side - on Morris Street - reserved by the city for a future boulevard. To talk of new buildings meant in effect to talk about new space.10


The Search for Space

Dalhousie had a new and able businessman on the Board of Governors appointed after J.F. Stairs died of a heart attack in September 1904. Stairs’s sudden death at the age of only fifty-six had been a shock to the board, as it was to the whole business community of Halifax, not least to his knowledgeable and still young apprentice in business, Max Aitken. The Dalhousie board found itself rather bereft of leadership. Into this hiatus came George S. Campbell in 1905. He was the son of Duncan Campbell, historian and journalist, who had come to Nova Scotia from Scotland in 1866. George, born in Edinburgh in 1851, was brought up in Halifax and went into shipping. Success came late to him, but when it came, it did so with a vengeance. He was president of the Halifax Board of Trade in 1901 and 1902, and had a share in the movement for the Nova Scotia Technical College. He threw himself into work for Dalhousie with enthusiasm and in March 1908 was elected chairman of the board. He would remain there for nearly twenty years, probably the most able and devoted chairman Dalhousie ever had. He took the lead in improving Dalhousie’s contacts within the city, and it was Campbell, perhaps more than anyone else, who would contribute most to making Dalhousie part of Halifax’s life.11

George S. Campbell, chairman of the Board of Governors, 1908-27, from a Lismer sketch. More than anyone else, he was responsible for the purchase of Studley.

He, too, was concerned about space. He wrote Enos Collins’s son Brenton, about Gorsebrook. Brenton Collins was then living in Tunbridge Wells, and pronounced himself tired of being solicited by people wanting Gorsebrook for Dalhousie. Gorsebrook was not for sale, nor would it be until after his death. Had he been approached twenty or thirty years ago, it might have been different, but now, in 1906, he thought “it would be well to exercise a little patience.” Dalhousie’s next move was to confer with the city to see if they would give a piece of vacant land in front of the Dalhousie building. Then, in February 1909, Dartmouth offered a site to Dalhousie. Perhaps it was that Dartmouth offer, rejected in the end, that persuaded the City of Halifax to offer Dalhousie, free, the next block eastward along Morris Street. That offer, made by City Council in May 1909, was accepted by Dalhousie. The block was not as large as Dalhousie’s existing four acres, being only about three, but it was valuable enough, being set down in 1912 as worth $30,000.

That did not end Dalhousie’s search, of course. The new addition on Morris Street was not nearly sufficient for what Dalhousie now had in mind. In the summer of 1910 there were talks with the city about the poorhouse property at South Street and Robie. There were sketches made of possible alterations to the building to make it suitable. That acquisition would have the advantage of placing Dalhousie adjacent to Gorsebrook. In August 1910 the City Council offered to sell the poorhouse property, plus some other small lots between Summer Street and the new Anglican Cathedral, along Morris Street. The Board of Governors authorized its committee to offer $50,000 for all of it. Then a hitch occurred. One of City Council’s devices for taking back an earlier decision was a motion for reconsideration; it did that with the poorhouse offer, and then sent it to the Board of Works for a report.13 The Dalhousie Gazette made sport of this hitch in delicious doggerel, “The Council and the College”:

Of all the farces I have seen Or e’er came to my knowledge, There’s none to beat the comedy Of the Council and the College.

The Council ups and says, says they, “You offer us a price For this here Poor-House-City-Home, You’ll find it cheap and nice.”

The Governors considered well, And took advice of Roper; They looked the Poor House inside-out, As was both fit and proper.

“Now fifty thousand dollars fair For this Poor House we’ll give, It is the kind of place in which Professors ought to live.

’Twill cost us fifty thousand more To make it fit to live in, But don’t you mind, if you’re inclined, That is the price we’re givin’.”

The Council, they debated sore, And then they up and voted To take the money offered them, With one exception noted.

This was the valiant alderman, Whose name was Mr. Hubley He moved to think it all over again, When everything looked lubbly.

This noble Council now declares, - “We do not care to sell.” If I was Dalhousie’s Governors, I’d tell em to go to - Rockhead.14

That was, in effect, what happened. Out of the blue came an offer, through Eastern Trust, to sell the whole Studley estate, forty-three ample acres on the hill above the Arm, between Coburg Road and South Street, Oxford and LeMarchant streets, for $50,000.

The estate at Studley was a hundred years old and had a curious history. It was bought and put together by Alexander Croke, the viceadmiralty judge in Halifax. He called it after his own place in Oxfordshire, Studley Priory. Eight of his eleven children were born in the house on the hill. When Croke returned to England, Studley was sold to a Halifax merchant, Mathew Richardson. Then a fire destroyed the house and Richardson rebuilt, about 1832. He died in 1860, his widow in 1867, after which Studley came up for sale again. This time it was bought by a wealthy spinster, Antoinette Nordbeck. She eventually offered to share her home with the Reverend Robert Murray, editor of the Presbyterian Witness, his wife and family. Miss Nordbeck died in 1898 and left her whole property to the Murrays. That included the 1832 homestead, a bit run-down, but still a handsome, two-storeyed frame building that faced east towards Halifax town. There were two carriage drives, one straight in from Coburg Road, where the present road is; the other was more dramatic, starting at Coburg and LeMarchant, crossing a brook at the bottom of the shallow valley, through a few willows and oaks, to the homestead on the hill amid pines and maples.15

Watercolour of the Murray Homestead. The house was rebuilt in 1832 and demolished in 1949 to make way for the new Arts and Administration building.

Robert Murray resigned from the Dalhousie board in August 1910. He was seventy-five years old and had given good service since the day he was appointed in 1884. He had also served the Presbyterian Witness for fifty-five years as a sympathetic and knowledgeable editor. He was a delightful writer; his readers claimed they could see the trees and hear the birds of Studley in Murray’s luminous prose. He was also a poet; the hymn, “From Ocean unto Ocean,” often to be heard in later years at Dalhousie gatherings, was his, though the tune was imported. He loved Studley, and he died peacefully there in December 1910. President Forrest wrote an elegant eulogy; they had known each other since the 1850s. A fortnight or so after Murray’s death, the board were suddenly notified that Studley was for sale, and that Dalhousie could buy it for $50,000, exactly the price that Dalhousie was offering the city for the poorhouse property.

It was not the first time Dalhousie had been thinking of Studley. It made an offer in 1908 to Eastern Trust and was refused. In March 1909 Robert Murray offered Studley for $60,000 to George Campbell, the new chairman of the board. Murray was sure the price was too high for the governors to accept and expected it to be turned down; he would then put up lots for sale on the south side of Coburg Road, “as originally intended.” Whatever he intended, no lots were sold. Thus $50,000 was a good price, but even so it was a great deal of money.16 The board had a long discussion, and agreed that in view of the importance of the offer, and of the competing question of the poorhouse property, still in limbo at City Council, the whole question ought to be reviewed by a joint meeting with the Senate and representatives of the Alumni Association. That was held on 17 January 1911. There was considerable weight of opinion on the board in favour of Studley, and virtual unanimity among Senate and Alumni. The board had for some time held the view that expansion on the present campus was fundamentally undesirable, not only because of the small size but also because, although the title to the land was Dalhousie’s, it was only for so long as the land was used for educational purposes. It could not be sold or leased, for it would then revert to the city. The board decided to revoke its offer for the poorhouse land, and to buy Studley. They counter-offered Murray’s widow $45,000 - rather a petty lawyer’s gesture, that - but $50,000 was the price and Dalhousie finally paid it. Dalhousie got one of the best large pieces of unoccupied land in the whole Halifax peninsula. The board would need to find the money, but students, staff and alumni were enthusiastic. G.S. Campbell explained in the Gazette:

For years we have been confronted by a very difficult problem. More classrooms have been urgently required, and yet we did not feel justified in erecting new buildings on our present contracted campus. We felt that it would be a grave mistake to anchor ourselves permanently on a site that gave no adequate room for future expansion.

In order to pay for the property and to erect essential buildings, the governors agreed to launch the Dalhousie Forward Movement, an appeal for $300,000. The basic plan, not yet fully matured, was first to build two structures, a science building for chemistry and physics, and the Macdonald Memorial Library. Law and arts would stay on the old campus until Dalhousie could afford to move them to new quarters at Studley. When that was accomplished, the big brick building would be devoted to medicine and dentistry, an ideal location for the purpose.17

In February 1912 the Alumnae Association (organized in 1909) got tentative permission to use the Murray homestead as a residence until Dalhousie needed it. Dalhousie was disconcerted to find the late owners still using it for occasional visits, and furthermore, it was in no shape for a ladies’ residence. G.S. Campbell was much disappointed in its condition; it needed substantial repairs and a whole range of new plumbing.18


The Flexner Report and Its Effects

More was needed to fix the Halifax Medical School. With no full-time teachers in the essential pre-clinical sciences, one miserable laboratory, no money to build any, it now survived on the devotion of local practitioners. It drew a little strength from its affiliation with Dalhousie but certainly gave none. Its students took Dalhousie degrees, but its professors went their own way. In September 1909 a letter from President Henry Pritchett, of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (founded in 1905) indicated a visit to Halifax was in prospect. A small team would look at the Medical School. Two gentlemen, Abraham Flexner of the Foundation and Dr. N.P. Colwell of the American Medical Association gave thirty hours’ notice. They arrived late on a Friday night in early October and spent Saturday morning with the president and Dr. A.W.H. Lindsay, secretary of the faculty; they visited the Halifax Medical College, Dalhousie, and the Victoria General Hospital, and left by the afternoon train that same day. In a few months there came a blistering draft report, asking Dalhousie and the Medical College for comment. It roused the ire and the sensibilities of the Medical College. Many condemned the draft report out of hand, as grossly superficial and misleading, and with several mistakes. The college made stiff representations, and although obvious mistakes were corrected in the final printed version, the basic condemnation was not altered.19

Abraham Flexner was not a doctor but a classicist, educated at Johns Hopkins, who was hired in 1908 by the Carnegie Foundation to survey the medical schools in the United States and Canada. He began in January 1909 with Tulane University in New Orleans, determined to cover a great deal of ground as expeditiously as possible. He soon knew his way around many of the medical schools and their tricks. His basic position, and the Foundation’s, was that the problems of medical education in North America were not so much medical as educational. The decisive points Flexner sought were:

  1. What were the entrance requirements? Were they enforced?
  2. The size and training of the faculty.
  3. What money was there from endowment and fees? How was it spent?
  4. Quality of the laboratories and of work in the pre-clinical years.
  5. Relations between the medical school and hospitals.

Flexner claimed that with half an hour in the dean’s office, a few hours elsewhere, a few pertinent questions in the right places, he could obtain a reliable judgment. As one colleague of his remarked, “You don’t need to eat the whole sheep to know it’s tainted.” The Halifax Medical College complained that Flexner and Colwell had spent less than twenty-four hours in Halifax. The two had also spent the same amount of time at the Maine Medical School in Portland; one doctor there said afterward, “That is where we were lucky!”20

The effect of the Flexner report was devastating. Of the 155 medical schools in the United States and Canada (there were eight in Canada), nearly half of them were forced to close down, although none in Canada. In many others, including Western Ontario and Dalhousie, serious modifications were undertaken. For the report was close to being right. Wrong in some details it may indeed have been - Dr. D.A. Campbell, in his July 1910 address to the Nova Scotia Medical Society, concentrated on those - but the thrust of the report was so close to the truth as to be intimidating. As Dr. H.B. Atlee observed, “we didn’t have a chance. What saved us was geography. We were the only medical school in the east of Canada. There simply had to be a school in this region.”21

The report had not been particularly flattering to Dalhousie either, suggesting that it had been giving medical degrees to students trained under wholly inadequate facilities. Atlee had things to say about that; Dalhousie “had been run by a dear old be-whiskered Presbyterian minister, and a moribund board of governors.” But in 1910 Dalhousie had George Campbell as chairman of the board; both Dalhousie and Halifax Medical College acted. In March 1910 the Senate struck a committee to investigate, and it met jointly with one from the Halifax Medical College. There was frankness on both sides, but little bitterness. Dalhousie would simply have to take over the Medical School. That was a resolution passed without a dissenting voice by the Dalhousie Medical Faculty on 9 May and on the following day by Halifax Medical College, that “the best interests of Medical education can only be attained by a complete fusion of the Medical School with the University.”

The Dalhousie Board of Governors took all that on manfully. It would require the appointment of at least three full-time professors in anatomy, pathology, and physiology. Dalhousie would have to buy out the Halifax Medical College, its building and equipment. They would have to find the money for it. Nevertheless, a Medical Faculty was duly created in 1911, with a minor row developing with certain doctors who refused to be called lecturers. (They wanted to be professors.) The Medical Faculty would be represented on Senate by its secretary, ex-officio, and two others chosen by ballot. The law to tidy this up went through the legislature in 1911. Thus did the Halifax Medical College come to an end.22


The End of Lord John’s Regime

The Studley purchase in hand, the Halifax Medical College taken over, President Forrest decided it was time for him to step down. In June 1910 he had intimated that he would like to resign but gave the board the option of whether they would act on it. The board was not anxious to do that, but once the Studley decision was made, Forrest set 31 August 1911 as the date of his retirement. At the age of sixty-eight it was time to let younger men take over.

Forrest’s great concern had always been the quality of Dalhousie’s professors and the welfare of its students. He went regularly to student games and urged the players on. At a football game a couple of Dalhousie men were hurt and a call was raised for a doctor. “I am two or three doctors!” cried Dr. Forrest, and he ran onto the field to care for the injured. With student misdemeanours he was a firm disciplinarian. The students used to sing a song about him, especially when they knew he was within earshot:

When the great Lord John goes down below, He’ll ride in a fiery chariot, And dine in state On a red-hot plate, 'Twixt the Devil and Judas Iscariot.

G.R. McKean ('06) was fined for something he had done. Lord John said to him, “I am sorry to have to take this from you...” McKean replied, “I am equally sorry to have to give it to you, Sir.” The flippancy nettled Lord John, and he flashed back, “If this happens again you can pack your trunk and go home.” He was not always so hard. Students on one occasion painted the Louisbourg cannon with yellow stripes. The leader was fined $10. He could not pay it, and his parents wouldn’t or couldn’t. The student would have to leave. The public reproof over, the student found a $10 bill slipped into his hand by the president.23

Forrest asked the board to make application to the Carnegie Foundation for a retiring allowance. This was a new system that Forrest had accepted in 1906. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was established during Andrew Carnegie’s lifetime in 1905, and offered pensions to certain colleges for retiring professors. Some forty-six colleges in the United States and two in Canada, McGill and Dalhousie, qualified as “accepted institutions” for this purpose - that is, they had no formal religious affiliations and were not supported by government, state, province, or municipality. One of the first Dalhousie professors to benefit was one of the oldest, James Liechti, who retired to Lunenburg in 1906 on a pension of $1,260 per annum. He was pleased, as well he might be, for it was fully half salary.24

When Forrest stepped down in August 1911, there was not so much regret for his going as appreciation of what he had accomplished. Forrest had never been one to stick at trifles. When King’s wanted to join Dalhousie in 1885, and again in 1901, it received generous and open treatment from Forrest. He was anything but a rock-ribbed Presbyterian bigot: generous, flexible, he brought Halifax Medical College to Dalhousie in 1889, brought in the dentists on the same principles in 1908, opened the School of Mines. He tried to make Dalhousie accommodate the diversities around it, while still holding to standards. His years from 1885 to 1911 were ones of such development that every Dalhousian could be proud of him, and of the university.

Dalhousie debating team, 1910.

MacMechan’s essays, The Life of a Little College, written in the last years of Forrest’s regime, were his homage to the Dalhousie of those years. He praised its modesty, its tradition of hard work, and not least did he praise its students. He liked their substance and their background. One freshman of MacMechan’s was born in his father’s ship off Bombay; one quiet girl’s earliest recollection was of being taken ashore at Valparaiso during a “Norther.” Another student had seen knife fights at Rio. His students had, in short, known perils of ocean, forest, and mine; they had worked for their living, often on farms. Not a few of them, he said, had “already taken degrees in that rugged school of privation” and were at Dalhousie only through their own powers of self-denial.

As much as MacMechan admired male students, he could be enchanted by women students. He sketched them with their quiet eyes and unobtrusive determination: Alicia, with her “strength to endure, an unvarying sweet patience, the scholar’s modest ambition and enthusiasm, a richness of gentle affection that radiates warmth on all about her... If only the jewel had not so frail a casket!” Or Honour, the best listener he ever had, “frank, proud, sensitive, alert, open as the day.” Perhaps MacMechan may be allowed to record a moment of that Dalhousie world at Christmas Eve, 1909:

The night is windless and still. Some snow has fallen and covers the frozen ground with the thinnest of veils. A new, slim moon, with a single, blazing star, is low down in the west above the roofs. The traffic is hushed. The lights in the college window tell of boys and girls there dancing and making merry, but the music is too far away for me to hear. The wonderful hush of the silent streets is almost overpowering. It is as if the Earth were listening, waiting...

There was truth in the 1911 summation of the Presbyterian Witness:

Dalhousie has gone on her way unostentatiously, without waving of flags, or blowing of trumpets, depending for her ultimate success and recognition upon the thoroughness of her work... Her growth within the last quarter century has been very remarkable... until her very growth has become her greatest embarrassment.

It would be the task of Forrest’s successor to provide the focus and find the funds that would convert embarrassment into asset.25

The choice of Forrest’s successor offered no great difficulty. The board produced three names, all of them professors, two at Dalhousie: Howard Murray, McLeod professor of classics and dean of the college; Robert Magill, professor of philosophy; and A.S. MacKenzie, former professor of physics, and since August 1910 in New Jersey at the Stevens Institute of Technology. On motion of J.A. Chisholm (later Chief Justice Sir Joseph) then mayor of Halifax, the board accepted the recommendation that the presidency be offered to A.S. MacKenzie, at $3,600 a year. He was the unanimous choice. MacKenzie was pleased and proud, his delight “sadly tempered,” as he put it, “by the knowledge of the responsibility to be assumed.” He accepted but ventured one condition: that in all appointments to Dalhousie staff, the board would give consideration only to those nominated by the president. Here MacKenzie was probably thinking of the three professors of 1863 nominated by the Presbyterians, and the Munro professors who in the first instance had been nominated by Munro himself. Principal Ross seems to have had little say in selecting MacGregor, Schurman, Forrest, Weldon, or Alexander. When Forrest became president in 1885 he took a more specific interest in the Munro and other chairs, evidenced by MacMechan’s appointment in 1889. As to later appointments, Forrest seems to have listened to his colleagues in the discipline and then recommended to the board. In 1908 C.D. Howe was appointed to engineering that way out of MIT, Boston. The board’s 1911 reply to MacKenzie was polite but firm: “the Board is of opinion that it ought not to surrender its power of appointment to the respective chairs though the Board recognizes that the utmost deference should as in the past be paid to the recommendations of the President.” A.S. MacKenzie came anyway.26

Arthur Stanley MacKenzie was the fourth successive Dalhousie president from Pictou County. Born in 1865, he came to Dalhousie from New Glasgow with a Munro bursary in 1881. He undertook the classic Dalhousie regimen: Latin with Johnson, mathematics with Macdonald, philosophy with Schurman, chemistry with Lawson, and physics with MacGregor - all of them courses where the standard of teaching was high, examinations severe, where accuracy, thoroughness, and hard work were essential. MacKenzie took honours in mathematics and physics and the Sir William Young Gold Medal in 1885, taught in Yarmouth for two years, then returned to Dalhousie as tutor in both his subjects in 1887-9. He was much intrigued with MacGregor’s physics and his style of scientific research, acquired in London and in Germany. MacKenzie went to do his own PH.D. at Johns Hopkins. By 1894 he was associate professor of physics at Bryn Mawr, a women’s college established by the Quakers nine years before. There he met and married Mary Lewis Taylor of Indianapolis in 1895. It was a sad story. She died a year later having given birth to a daughter. He buried her near her home in Indianapolis, taking the baby girl back with him to Bryn Mawr, bringing her up as best he could. Charles Macdonald wrote him in 1899 to come to see him, for “in the sorrows incident to this little life of ours, we have so much in common.” MacKenzie, like Macdonald, made a gallant effort to keep his sorrow in the background, and make his child’s life as happy as possible. Marjorie MacKenzie was brought up to go fishing with her father, much as Charles Macdonald’s son was.27

When J.G. MacGregor, Dalhousie’s professor of physics, was invited to take the Edinburgh professorship in 1901, he very much wanted MacKenzie to succeed him. Even in Edinburgh, MacGregor kept urging MacKenzie back to Dalhousie. The truth was, MacGregor missed Dalhousie and Halifax; he missed the freedom to set and run his own courses; at Edinburgh there was too much routine. He was made doubly regretful after the Carnegie pensions were introduced in 1905. Had they been in place in 1901, MacGregor said, he would never have thought of leaving Dalhousie, even for the University of Edinburgh. Dalhousie wanted MacKenzie in 1904, but he loved his research and needed a year to work at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England. MacKenzie’s special interest was in particle physics, especially the alpha rays of radium on which he published an important paper in 1905. Hence the poem, made into a song of course, from the Post-Prandial Proceedings of the Cavendish Laboratory:

Oh I am a radium atom In pitchblende I first saw the day, But soon I shall turn into helium My energy’s wasting away Electrometers got in a frenzy When quietly by them I lay So they send me downstairs with MacKenzie Who’s wanting my last alpha ray.

In 1905, after a tug-of-war with Bryn Mawr, MacKenzie accepted Dalhousie’s offer to be George Munro professor of physics. President Forrest welcomed him with a kindly note about Dalhousie and its prospects:

I think you will find the Dalhousie Senate a happy family. If there is one thing that Dalhousie has had to be proud of it is the character of its teaching staff. Every man is a teacher... Then they are all self-sacrificing good fellows with whom it is a pleasure to live and work. You know most of them... and we all feel as if it will be just another member of the family coming home... Of course the weak part is the library and laboratory. We are of course a little better off than when MacGregor was here. Still we are weak...

MacKenzie himself was a characteristic product of Nova Scotia, of that old Nova Scotia diet, as he put it, “of religion, politics and porridge.” But he wore it all gracefully. Tall, sporty, with a lively sense of humour and a good game of golf, he was also a gifted teacher of physics. He loved research even more. That was the rub; there was not enough money, equipment, or time available to him at Dalhousie, and when in 1910 the Stevens Technical Institute in New Jersey offered him a research position, MacKenzie weighed it all up and made up his mind to go. The Dalhousie community was desolated, students not least. Archie MacMechan, who loved him, sounded the lament at the farewell dinner at the Halifax Club on 31 August 1910:

Farewell to MacKenzie! farewell to A. Stan! Farewell to six foot of good, muscular man! He is leaving us now for a far Yankee shore - Maybe to return to Dalhousie no more!...

Farewell to Mackenzie, farewell to the Prof., Who can mingle his Physics and fishing and Goff With a drop of the liquid that betters the score, And we hope he’ll return to Our City once more.28

MacKenzie did return, to everyone’s delight. He himself could not give a reason why he did, for he had never been attracted by administrative work. Perhaps it was the fact that Hoboken, New Jersey, across the river from New York, was not Nova Scotia. Archie MacMechan had spent more than one summer teaching at Columbia to help support his family; he knew the heat and aggravations of “tawdry, garish, gaudy, noisy, man-eating New York,” as he called it in 1910. The most critical factor in pulling MacKenzie back to Halifax was the January 1911 purchase of Studley; “it brought a cheer from every one of us,” said he a few months later, “for we felt that at last the long-delayed marching orders had arrived.”

Whatever MacKenzie did, his was going to be a different presidency from John Forrest’s. Forrest was a Presbyterian cleric, not called Lord John for nothing. MacKenzie was neither Presbyterian nor cleric. He was Pictou County Anglican, a rare breed. There was much more of a free and easy air about him; he mixed easily on fishing trips and at the golf club. He liked a drink of Scotch at the nineteenth hole. But he had determination and toughness. What he said he would do, he did. He had also an agreeable touch of diffidence, enough to appreciate Archie MacMechan’s praise in 1911:

I know too well my own limitations to have that exuberant confidence which so makes for success in this world. My main support in this business is the knowledge that I am doing the best I can, and the further one that when I perceive that that won’t make the old machine go smoothly I’ll retire with more equanimity than I entered.

MacKenzie had common sense and he had patience. He rarely dealt with issues when they were hot; he liked to have them, and himself, cool. The board early came to rely on him; they gave him a great deal of room, and he used it wisely.29


MacKenzie Tackles Dalhousie Problems

MacKenzie was thrown at once into a range of problems, so many, so pressing, that he told an old friend at Cornell that there was no time even to worry about having an inauguration: the new campaign for money, planning the new campus, supervising the architects, to say nothing of making some sort of organization of the president’s office. It had hitherto been almost wholly devoid of any. “The whole machinery of the College,” he said, “was either nonexistent or completely run down, and out of order - and I could continue the list.” He obtained a much needed secretary, who became also the bursar, Miss H. Joyce Harris. She asserted, many years later, that when MacKenzie came in 1911 there were no papers, no correspondence, nothing that could be handed over to him. Anything in the Dalhousie files before 1911, she said, was picked up from among the books and pamphlets in the attic of the Dalhousie building. The presidential correspondence that MacKenzie started in 1911 comprehended whole new ranges of information about the inner workings of the president’s office at the very time when its ramifications were expanding.30

A. Stanley MacKenzie, president, 1911-31. A Lismer sketch done from life in 1919.

The Dalhousie Forward Movement, a major fund-raising enterprise, was launched in November 1911, and continued to June 1912. It was given a considerable fillip at the start by James Flamet Dunn’s gift of $25,000, sent from London and announced in November 1911. This was followed by a carefully orchestrated run of articles in the Herald, the Chronicle and elsewhere about Dalhousie and its history, published at close intervals in November and December. President MacKenzie made many speeches in Halifax and elsewhere. His Ottawa one on 13 April 1912 on “Science and the State” stressed the need for the powerful cooperation of governments at both levels, provincial and dominion, in helping universities create the cadres of scientific experts to meet the new demands of governments. Scientific research was needed to discover, for example, what had recently devastated oyster beds in Prince Edward Island. Casual “Walrus and the Carpenter” techniques were of little use in meeting such modern problems. The impact of MacKenzie’s speeches that weekend was partly lost in the flaming headlines of the Monday and Tuesday: the Titanic sank at two in the morning of 15 April. The dead were being buried in Halifax’s Fairview cemetery as he returned.31

In May 1912 MacKenzie headed west to meet Dalhousie alumni, beginning with Saskatoon where his old Dalhousie colleague, Walter Murray, was now president of the University of Saskatchewan. There is no evidence that MacKenzie crossed the Rockies to Vancouver, however. It might have been better if he had. Edwin B. Ross reported that it was difficult to pump much enthusiasm into British Columbia Dalhousians for they heard little of what was going on, receiving neither reports, calendars, nor the Dalhousie Gazette. President MacKenzie conceded that Dalhousie was having great difficulty keeping the addresses of some two thousand alumni up to date. The Halifax part of the campaign, however, went very much better. It began in June 1912 with ten canvassers. The total amount subscribed from Halifax, MacKenzie reported, was $213,349. W.H. Chase of Wolfville offered 10 per cent of whatever Halifax gave. Lord Strathcona, with pressure from George Campbell, sent $15,000. By October 1912 the overall total, given and promised, was $444,891. Of that, $150,000 would be reserved for endowment, with the rest used for building.32

Most of this was comprehensively reported by MacKenzie in Dalhousie’s first printed annual report of 1911-12, with statistics, pictures, and prospects. The student body, he reported, totalled 411 in all faculties, of whom 287 were in arts and science. This was an overall increase from 1891 of 60 per cent. The most striking increase was in arts and science which went up by 75 per cent, suggesting to MacKenzie that more students were taking arts and science before going on to professional programs. Thirty-one per cent of all students were from Halifax and vicinity, 11 per cent from Pictou County, both figures only slightly changed from twenty years earlier. Cape Breton students increased from 11 per cent in 1891 to 17 per cent in 1911.

Women students were 28 per cent of arts and science students, an increase from 23 per cent in 1891, and half of them were from Halifax. Some 30 per cent or more of women students were daughters of business and professional men; the predominance of clergyman fathers, now only about 18 per cent, had clearly passed. Farmer fathers were 6 per cent, manual workers 6 per cent. About 30 per cent of the fathers, occupations were not given. By the end of the First World War about 10 per cent of Dalhousie women students, perhaps more, came from homes where the father was dead. Scottish Presbyterian traditions were still strong.

One problem for women students was the lack of Dalhousie residences. They had to board in town or find space, as they frequently did, at the Halifax Ladies College on Barrington Street. Landladies as a rule preferred male students; they created less problems, they did not always want to make tea, coffee, do laundry - or so at least it was reported at the University of Toronto. At Dalhousie the problem was eased a little in September 1912 when the Alumnae rented a house on South Park Street, which they called Forrest Hall. It accommodated eleven students and two maids. The board appointed Dr. Eliza Ritchie as warden. The youngest daughter of Justice J.W. Ritchie, she graduated from Dalhousie in 1887, taking her PH.D. at Cornell in 1889. She taught philosophy at Wellesley College from 1890 to 1900. She then returned to Halifax, where she promoted the advancement of women, not least Dalhousie women. Dr. Ritchie pointed out to the Board of Governors that Forrest Hall was inadequate, and emphasized the benefits from having lady students supervised as they would have been at home. The board was sympathetic, but pointed out that the money in sight at the moment had to be kept for the new Science Building and the Macdonald Memorial Library. They promised that when the Alumnae had raised one-third of the cost of a suitable building, the board would try to find the rest.33

Within a week of the purchase of Studley at the end of January 1911, George Campbell telegraphed Frank Darling, one of the leading architects in Canada, to do a survey of the new campus. Dalhousie was clearly anxious to get cracking, though the architect wondered how much would be gained by such a survey in the depths of winter. Frank Darling of Darling and Pearson, Toronto, was the architect for the University of Toronto and the firm had designed buildings in most major cities of Canada. Elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 1886, Darling was ingenious, flexible, sensitive to local conditions, and best of all, willing to listen to suggestions. That at least would turn out to be Dalhousie’s experience. Darling came to be responsible either directly or indirectly for all the major buildings on the Dalhousie campus before 1913, taking on, at Dalhousie’s suggestion, a young and able local architect, Andrew Randall Cobb, in June 1912.

Darling duly came to Halifax, taking a week to look over the ground, liking very much both the site and the Dalhousie men - so much so that he offered his landscape advice free in return for out-of-pocket expenses. He thought that such a large site should be surveyed by a proper landscape architect, and at the end of November 1911 Professor Mawson of the University of Liverpool came and was given a tour of the campus by President MacKenzie and George Campbell. Mawson was as enthusiastic as Darling. He declared Studley the finest college site that he had seen in Canada and worthy of the best scheme that could be devised.

Frank Darling, of Toronto, the architect of the Studley campus, 1911-23, “ingenious, flexible, sensitive to local conditions.”

Mawson liked the idea of making Morris Street the main entrance to Studley. That solution was ingenious and has largely survived, though it depended on Dalhousie’s making arrangements with the city to extend Morris Street and its proposed boulevard through to the Studley campus, breaking through from Seymour to LeMarchant Street. That arrangement was accomplished in 1913; Dalhousie would give a strip five to eight feet wide along Coburg Road to the city to enlarge that street and would give the eighty-foot-wide strip that the city had reserved along Morris Street. In return, the city would give Dalhousie right-of-way to Studley by expropriating the properties between Seymour and LeMarchant. Dalhousie would allow public access to any roads that might be made through Studley.34

In March 1912 Darling sent four different proposals, three with Professor Mawson’s input and a fourth with his own. The British ones were in general very expensive, calling for an elaborate system of terraces, perhaps not sufficiently taking into account how close Halifax ironstone lay beneath the surface of much of Studley, and how close were Dalhousie’s finances. The British plans seem also to have envisaged a substantial attack on Studley trees, particularly the white pines on the south-west. Darling observed, sensibly enough,

It appears to me that we should strive to place the buildings in such a way as to call for the spending of as little money as possible on landscape effect, depending almost entirely for the present on what nature has done for the property...

I feel confident that the eastern treeless portion of the property is quite sufficient for the number of buildings you would want for years to come. To destroy the wood in any way at all would be a serious mistake. The trees are indigenous to the soil and I should imagine that new ones likely to attain to any size would be very difficult to cultivate on such land.

As to the architecture, Darling liked the public buildings already in Halifax, Government House and Province House especially, and he wanted “Georgian architecture, built of some native rock in rough random rubble with grey slate roof, with whatever woodwork there might be, painted white - it would follow the general style of the best architectural work in Halifax.”35

President MacKenzie and his young professor of engineering, C.D. Howe, went to work on the suggestions Darling had made. Howe made a new and accurate two-foot contour map of Studley, marking in all the trees. MacKenzie and Howe devised an overall campus plan, using suggestions from Darling, that kept in the forefront Dalhousie’s main requirements. Economy was one, changing the existing grades as little as possible, and using existing roads as much as possible. MacKenzie and Howe deliberately left the crown of the hill untouched, keeping it for “a great auditorium” sometime in the future. They wanted the approach from Morris Street to end in a large grass courtyard, up the gentle slope that led to the Murray homestead. There would be approaches also from South Street and from Coburg Road. The athletic field they put closer to South Street than had Darling, to avoid any more levelling than necessary. They reserved the whole of the Coburg Road and Oxford Street sides for possible future colleges or dormitories. The area along South Street, downhill from the South Street entrance, they reserved for women’s residences. Darling was delighted and congratulated MacKenzie and Howe, that new firm of landscape architects, on what they had done. They had so much improved his suggestions that between the three of them they had reached a pretty satisfactory solution. But it had all proved “very much more difficult” than Darling had first thought it would be. Still, it is astonishing how much of the present campus still retains the stamp of that Darling, MacKenzie, and Howe design.36

Campbell and MacKenzie decided that their first building would be for science. That priority dated from before 1902, along with the Macdonald Memorial Library. The $200,000 request to Carnegie in 1902 for endowing a School of Mines had by 1906 become a more modest one for $50,000 for science. Carnegie in 1907 offered $40,000 on the condition that Dalhousie itself first raise $40,000 in endowment to erect and maintain a science building. With this backing, Dalhousie decided to go ahead. Before plans were quite ready, the cornerstone of the Science Building was laid on 15 August 1912 by the governor general, the Duke of Connaught. It was a state occasion, with the high commissioner for Australia, the governor of Newfoundland, and the premiers of Quebec and Nova Scotia on the platform. The duke well and truly laid the block of Wallace freestone that would mark the corner of the Science Building on the Studley campus.37 Detailed plans were worked out by close consultation between the two science professors - Eben Mackay of chemistry and MacKenzie’s replacement in physics, Howard Bronson - and Andrew Cobb, the local architect.

Andrew Randall Cobb was then regarded, and still is, as the best allround architect in Halifax. He was hired in June 1912 by George Campbell to prepare the plans for the new Science Building. Cobb needed to be good, for he had to handle plumbing, heating, ventilation, and electricity, all in great detail. Cobb’s suggestions and plans would then go forward to Frank Darling in Toronto for approval or revision.

Darling and MacKenzie had liked one another from the start. One of Darling’s early suggestions to MacKenzie was that he was to criticize regardless of consequences. That MacKenzie did; Darling’s revisions to Dalhousie’s plans of the Science Building were substantial and would be expensive. The plans represented, said MacKenzie, two years’ hard work by two professors, with later input from Cobb and MacKenzie. There were specific reasons for the peculiar design of the Science Building, reasons that Darling seemed quite to ignore. MacKenzie reminded him that the Science Building was really two buildings deliberately put together to look like one, for chemistry and for physics. As Dalhousie grew larger that double building would become a single one for chemistry. Physics would then get its own building. The Science Building had thus to have two sections, functioning separately, because fumes from all the chemical work had to be kept away absolutely from physics. Darling’s revisions were also far too heedless of increased cost. Darling listened. In late November 1912 MacKenzie and Cobb went to Toronto and spent a full day going over revised plans. Final drawings were ready from Cobb by the end of January 1913. Darling thought them first class.38

The Science Building was built with ironstone from the old Queen’s quarry across the Arm at Purcell’s Cove. It was hard stone. One contractor suggested to Andrew Cobb it was a bad choice, that mortar would not long adhere to it. But there are different kinds of mortar. Representations were made that cement from Sydney ought to be used, since Sydney had given such liberal support to Dalhousie. That sort of argument got short shrift from C.D. Howe. He insisted on Portland cement.* Cobb backed Howe.39

The Science Building, the first building built on the Studley campus. The cornerstone was laid in August 1912.

The Macdonald Memorial Library cornerstone was laid in 1914. John Johnson, professor emeritus of classics, Macdonald’s old colleague, was asked to come down from Quebec and lay it. Johnson was seventy-nine and unwell, and deeply saddened that he could not come. So it was laid by another old friend of Macdonald’s, even older than Johnson, Allan Pollok of Pine Hill. He was a stately Auld Kirk Scot, who would still walk to the Bedford Road on fine days, and stop there for bread and cheese and ale. The day, 29 April 1914, was fine but with a stiff cold wind, and it shortened the speeches. MacKenzie’s was from his own memories. Macdonald was himself a foundation stone of Dalhousie, he said; every student for thirty-eight years of its life after 1863 went out into the world with Macdonald’s stamp on him. In truth, “Macdonald the mathematician was lost in Macdonald the man.”40

Halifax had changed a good deal since Macdonald’s death in 1901. The population had jumped 14 per cent to nearly 47,000 in the census of 1911. The appearance of the city had also changed somewhat. The British army had gone at the end of 1906; the constant presence of soldiers on Halifax streets, at Halifax parties, was no more. The port had changed too. Many of the new ocean liners were so big that there was not a wharf in Halifax where they could tie up. In 1913 the Borden government announced major wharf and railway reconstruction for Halifax. New wharves capable of handling the big new ships would be built along the harbour southward from South Street toward Point Pleasant. To do that they would need abundant rock fill. That would come from a new railway line that would be cut through the ironstone of the Halifax peninsula, along the North-West Arm. Blasting for that huge work was already in progress by 1914.

Halifax now had a movie theatre or two, not replacing stage shows yet, but threatening to do so. Automobiles were seen on the still unpaved streets. Aeroplanes were not unheard of and were sometimes seen at the Exhibition Grounds, as for example in 1913 when an enterprising American successfully demonstrated parachute jumping. The newspapers reflected this slightly different society. The Daily Echo by 1914 carried comic strips, one of them the familiar “Mutt and Jeff.” There were advertisements for vacuum cleaners, for washing machines, even for Victrolas - the hand-wound gramophones.

Social conventions sometimes had difficulty adjusting to the effects of such new inventions. Perhaps that was why, over the winter of 1913-14, there was a great debate between Senate and students over dancing at Dalhousie. In 1909 it had been agreed that there would be permitted eight “At Homes” during the academic year, three before Christmas, the rest in the spring. Since the beginning of the 1912-13 session, Dalhousie students had been operating under a student council. It took on responsibility for the supervision of student societies, and it was entrusted by Senate with student discipline. Senate would impose specific penalties recommended by the student council. Senate kept ultimate authority, the right to withdraw powers so delegated.

These arrangements were tested in the hazing season of 1912, but they had worked well enough. Dancing, however, was a more difficult and touchy subject. In the autumn of 1913 Senate learned, rather to its surprise, that at the meetings of the Dramatic Club, dancing was indulged in at rehearsals, presumably to someone’s gramophone. Senate disapproved. The students claimed that dancing relieved the monotony of continual drama rehearsals and was a perfectly harmless indulgence. The student council president, J. McGregor Stewart, however, was against it, as were some other students. There was a mass meeting to insist on a conference with Senate. Senate did not find dealing with dancing very easy. Two younger professors, Bronson of physics and Todd of history, moved the question be given to a committee to study all student extra-curricular activities. When the report came, the extent of student activities took Senate by surprise. In the end, dancing was permitted at Drama Club rehearsals (for no more than thirty minutes), in exchange for giving up two of the less frequented “At Homes.” But the issue occupied Senate most of the winter of 1913-14.41

Senate feared that there might be creeping influences baneful enough to weaken the stern imperatives in the Dalhousie motto, “Work and Pray.” The poetry in the Gazette of June 1912 was not reassuring:

Myself when young did eagerly frequent Tutor and Prof, and heard great Argument Of Latin and of Greek; but all I heard Came out by the same Ear wherein it went.

Some for the Glory of High Firsts; and some Sigh for the Pleasure of Rink Night to come. Ah, take your skates and let your Latin go - Hark the glad Music of the Band and Drum!

Why if a Chap can fling his books aside, And o’er the Ice with Her for eight Bands glide, Were’t not a Shame - Were’t not a Shame for him In some dark Attic cramming to abide?

And if the Puck you chase, the Hand you press, End in a Pluck in every Subject, - yes, Think then you know Today what Yesterday You knew - Tomorrow you cannot know Less42

But there was more constructiveness in the students than that might suggest. In 1914 Stewart devised with his council the Students’ Forward Movement. It would imitate, with equal success it was hoped, the Dalhousie Forward Movement of 1911-12. It was announced in April 1914, publicity to begin on 1 May, with an active canvass to begin on 1 July. The program was distinctly ambitious: the students aimed to raise $50,000 to put up a student union building on the new Studley campus. They hoped to be able to break ground in September 1914 and have the building ready by January 1915. The project had the backing of President MacKenzie; there was a place chosen for it, across from the library. Drawings were made; it would have a gymnasium and a “swimming tank” among other facilities. It was breathtaking and was announced with full detail in the Daily Echo on 29 June, with pictures and sketches on the following day.

But on the same front page that day, in rather bolder print, was European news: the assassination on Sunday, 28 June of the heir to the Austrian throne, the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, at Sarajevo, in Austrian-occupied Bosnia. The assassin was a young Serb, Gavrilo Princip. Pictures followed of that too. Within five weeks the fall-out from those assassinations had quite extinguished any immediate possibility of a student union building. Indeed, Dalhousie students would now be called upon to assume far more serious responsibilities. As of 4 August 1914, Britain and Canada were at war with Germany.



Notes for Chapter 8
1. Letter from J.G. MacGregor to MacMechan, 9 Sept. 1901, from King’s Cross; J.G. MacGregor to MacMechan, 28 Dec. 1901, from Edinburgh, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 11, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives. MacGregor died suddenly of a heart attack, on 21 May 1913. MacMechan published a brief and elegant tribute to him in Dalhousie Gazette, September 1913. See also “MacGregor: Personalia” in the same issue. St. Francis Xavier University Archives, President Alexander M. Thompson Fonds, Forrest to Thompson, 26 Dec. 1900, RG 5/8/333. Forrest is here replying to Thompson’s request to support a proposal to the government, patently science grants to the Nova Scotia colleges. This letter has been brought to my attention by James D. Cameron of St. Francis Xavier University, to whom I am most grateful.
2. Board of Governors Minutes, 2 Jan. 1902; 14 Aug. 1903, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; College Federation, a pamphlet in the Nova Scotia Archives, vertical file v. 130, no. 16, includes a draft of the proposed bill. See also F.W. Vroom, King’s College: a Chronicle, 1789-1939 (Halifax 1941), 139-40.
3. MacMechan’s story is in Dalhousie Gazette, 27 Oct. 1915. Board of Governors Minutes, 28 May, 1 July 1902, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University; Senate Minutes, 7 May 1902, Dalhousie University Archives; “Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1902-1915,” Howard Murray, secretary of Senate to Carnegie, 26 Nov. 1902, President’s Office Correspondence, UA-3, Box 260, Folder 5, Dalhousie University Archives. There is a further appeal to Carnegie from President Forrest and J.F. Stairs, 24 Mar. 1902. Dalhousie was then asking for $200,000.
4. Board of Governors Minutes, 8 Jan., 14 Aug. 1903, UA-1, Box 15, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; Senate Minutes, 28 July 1905, Dalhousie University Archives. There is a calendar of the Sydney summer school for 1903, sponsored by the Dalhousie School of Mining and Metallurgy, in the Nova Scotia Archives, Gilpin Pamphlet Collection, nos. 29 and 30. Allan Dunlop kindly brought this to my attention. King’s unhappiness is noted in Vroom, King’s, pp. 141-2.
5. Nova Scotia Assembly, Debates and Proceedings, 2 Apr. 1907, pp. 264-5. A brief sketch of the early history of the Nova Scotia Technical College (now called the Technical University of Nova Scotia) is given in Jill and Lee Cameron, The First 50 Years: Nova Scotia Tech (Halifax 1959), pp. 7-10. Sexton was principal until he retired in 1947. Problems similar to Dalhousie’s with engineering arose contemporaneously at Queen’s, Toronto, and McGill. See Mario Creet, “Science and Engineering at McGill and Queen’s Universities and the University of Toronto, 1880s to 1920s” (PH.D. thesis, Queen’s University 1992).
6. Senate Minutes, 24 May 1902, Dalhousie University Archives. For Rhodes, see John Flint, Cecil Rhodes (Boston 1974) especially p. 241 and note.
7. Letter from the faculty to Board of Governors, 11 May 1839, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 4, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives; Senate Minutes, 24 Apr. 1867, Dalhousie University Archives. There is a comprehensive history of the whole Dalhousie library system, warts and all, by J.P. Wilkinson, “A History of the Dalhousie University Main Library, 1867-1931” (PH.D. thesis, University of Chicago 1966).
8. Dalhousie Gazette, 26 Feb. 1881; Dalhousie Gazette 7 Dec. 1883; Senate Minutes, 26 May 1897, Dalhousie University Archives.
9. Dalhousie Calendar, 1904-5, pp. 111-16, Dalhousie University Archives Reference Collection.
10. Dalhousie Gazette, 4 Apr. 1903; 27 June 1910.
11. For George S. Campbell, see Dalhousie Gazette, 25 Nov. 1927.
12. Letter from Brenton H. Collins to G.S. Campbell, addressed to Campbell in London, 6 June 1906, from Tunbridge Wells, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 4, Folder 17, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 8 Mar. 1909, letter from the Dartmouth Board of Trade, 17 Feb. 1909, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives. Dalhousie thanked Dartmouth for “their very generous offer,” but found it impossible to move Dalhousie from Halifax. The offer from the City of Halifax was officially accepted by Dalhousie on 4 June 1909. Carleton Street itself was specifically excluded from the grant by subsequent decision (Board of Governors Minutes, 3 Jan. 1912).
13. Board of Governor Minutes, 3 Feb., 4 July, 15 Aug. 1910, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
14. Dalhousie Gazette, March 1911.
15. See Carol Anne Janzen, “Sir Alexander Croke,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vii: 216-19. Jim Bennett has a lively article on the history of Studley, “Shades of Studley Past,” in Dalhousie Alumni Magazine (Winter 1988), pp. 7-9. (The issue has a handsome watercolour of the Murray Homestead on the cover.)
16. Presbyterian Witness, 17 Dec. 1910. Robert Murray was born at Earltown, Colchester County; he came to Halifax in the early 1850s to go to the Free Church College on Gerrish Street. He was soon editor of the Presbyterian Witness. For earlier offers of Studley, see President’s Office Correspondence, “Studley Campus, 1908-1963,” Eastern Trust to Hector Mclnnes, 24 June 1908, to the effect that Dalhousie’s offer was not accepted, UA-3, Box 347, Folder 10, Dalhousie University Archives; R.H. Murray to G.S. Campbell, 31 Mar. 1909, UA-3, Box 347, Folder 10, Dalhousie University Archives.
17. Board of Governors Minutes, 18 Jan., 7 Feb., 5 May 1911, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; Dalhousie Gazette, Feb. 1911, “The Future of Dalhousie.”
18. Board of Governors Minutes, 6 Feb., 5 Mar. 1912, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; Dalhousie Gazette, January 1911; Letter from Campbell to A.S. MacKenzie, 27 Mar. 1912, from New York, President’s Office Correspondence, “G.S. Campbell 1908-1927”, UA-3, Box 252, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives. The board asked one of the Murray sons to occupy the building as caretaker rent free; President’s Office Correspondence, “Murray Homestead,” Letter from W.E. Thompson (secretary of the board) to George T. Murray, 9 May 1912, UA-3, Box 286, Folder 11, Dalhousie University Archives. Eventually in 1921 the building would become the temporary home of the Dalhousie YMCA.
19. Senate Minutes, 18 Mar. 1919, Dalhousie University Archives; Abraham Flexner, Medical Education in the United States and Canada (New York 1910); D.A. Campbell, “Medical Education in Nova Scotia,” Maritime Medical News, 1910. See also T.J. Murray, “The Visit of Abraham Flexner to the Halifax Medical College,” Nova Scotia Medical Bulletin 64, no. 2 (February 1985), pp. 38-41.
20. [Abraham Flexner], I Remember: The Autobiography of Abraham Flexner (New York 1940) pp. 120-2.
21. H.B. Atlee, “Dalhousie Medical School, 1907-1957,” Dalhousie Medical Journal 91, no. 1 (1958), p. 22.
22. Senate Minutes, 18 Mar., 9, 16 May 1910, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 7 Feb., 5 May 1911, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; letter from A.W.H. Lindsay, interim secretary, Provisional Medical Faculty, to G.S. Stairs, 13 June 1911; 7 Nov. 1911, President's Office Correspondence, Dalhousie University Archives. There is an informative letter on the negotiations in President’s Office Correspondence, “Faculty of Medicine 1868-1912,” A.W.H. Lindsay to [G.S.] Campbell, 11 May 1910, UA-3, Box 278, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives.
23. G.R. McKean in Dalhousie Alumni News 1, no. 3 (June 1938); Dalhousie Alumni News 2, no. 2 (February 1939), “Lord John,” by G.F., pp. 4-5. There is reference to this song in Dalhousie Alumni News (April 1944), p. 15.
24. Board of Governors Correspondence, Letter from Henry S. Pritchett, president of the Carnegie Corporation for the Advancement of Teaching, to John Forrest, 10 July 1906, Board of Governors Correspondence, UA-1, Box 1, Folder 19, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 2 Aug. 1906, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
25. Dalhousie Gazette, March 1911, has a good photograph of President Forrest; Archibald MacMechan, The Life of a Little College and Other Papers (Boston 1914), pp. 23, 47-9; for MacMechan’s Christmas Eve, 1909, see Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Scrapbook H, p. 112, MS-2-82, Box 48, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives; Presbyterian Witness, 4 Feb. 1911.
26. Board of Governors Minutes, 5 May, 28 June, 18 July 1911, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
27. W.A. Craick, “How Personality Creates: The Task of President A. Stanley MacKenzie of Dalhousie University” in Maclean’s Magazine (December 1913), pp. 21-24 is a good contemporary piece; Walter C. Murray, “Stanley MacKenzie of Dalhousie,” Dalhousie Review 18 (1938-9), pp. 427-34 is by an old friend and colleague. There are brief accounts of his marriage and life in Indianapolis Star, 7 Oct. 1938, and New York Times, 3 Oct. 1938. For MacKenzie’s correspondence, see MS-2-43; Charles Macdonald to Arthur Stanley MacKenzie, 1 Sept. 1899, from Halifax, MS-2-43, Box 1, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
28. John Forrest to Arthur Stanley MacKenzie, 2 June 1905, from New York, Arthur Stanley MacKenzie Fonds, MS-2-43, Box 1, Dalhousie University Archives; W.A. Craick, “MacKenzie,” passim; for MacMechan’s poem, see his Late Harvest (Toronto 1934), pp. 52-3.
29. Scrapbook H, 28 May 1910, Archibald MacMechan Fonds, MS-2-82, Box 43, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. For MacKenzie’s “marching orders,” see a circular letter addressed “To All Fellow Alumni” dated Halifax, 5 Dec. 1911, recounting the history of 1911 and the Dalhousie campaign for funds. This is in the Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Dalhousie Campaign Scrapbook, p. 71. MacKenzie’s letter is ibid., MacKenzie to MacMechan, 30 Dec. 1912.
30. Letter from Arthur Stanley MacKenzie to J.E. Creighton at Cornell, 10 Nov. 1911, President’s Office Correspondence, “Faculty of Law”, Dalhousie University Archives; Letter from H. Joyce Harris to Hector Mclnnes, chairman of the board, 19 Nov. 1934, President’s Office Correspondence, “Eddy-Shirreff Foundation", Dalhousie University Archives; interview with Lola Henry, 18 Apr. 1990.
31. Board of Governors Minutes, 7 Nov. 1911, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives, record James Hamet Dunn’s gift. It is usually assumed James Dunn got his LL.B. in April 1898. For some reason he did not. Dunn wrote his final examinations in March 1898 but some academic rule got in the way, for it was only on 14 Sept. 1898 that Senate recommended him for LL.B. That was the day Dunn was admitted to the bar of Nova Scotia. In November 1911 alone there were numerous articles in the Herald and the Morning Chronicle. For details of the June campaign, see Morning Chronicle, 31 May 1912. For MacKenzie’s speeches, and the Titanic, see Daily Echo (Halifax) 15, 16 Apr. 1912.
32. See President’s Office Correspondence, “Campaigns, 1911-1912”, UA-3, Box 324, Folder 6; President’s Office Correspondence, Edwin Ross to Arthur Stanley MacKenzie, 22 Jan. 1914, from Vancouver; Arthur Stanley MacKenzie to Ross, 2 Feb. 1914; ibid., Arthur Stanley MacKenzie to William H. Chase, Kentville, 19 Oct. 1912; ibid., Lord Strathcona to Campbell, 4 June, 23 Nov. 1912.
33. See Judith Fingard, “College, Career and Community: Dalhousie Coeds, 1881- 1921” in Axelrod and Reid, eds., Youth, University and Canadian Society: Essays in the Social History of Higher Education (Kingston and Montreal 1989), pp. 33-35. Landladies preferring men students is in a clipping from an unknown Toronto newspaper, April 1920, in President’s Office Correspondence, “Mrs. E.B. Eddy, 1920,” UA-3, Box 322, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. For the board’s discussion with Dr. Eliza Ritchie, see Board of Governors Minutes, 28 Apr., 7 Nov. 1913, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
34. Letter from Darling to Campbell, 6 Feb. 1911, telegram from Campbell to Darling, 29 Nov. 1911, President’s Office Correspondence, “Frank Darling, 1911-1920”, UA-3, Box 313, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 7 Nov. 1911; 9 Dec. 1912, letter to the city, UA-1, Box 20, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
35. Letter from Darling to Campbell, 4 Mar. 1912, President’s Office Correspondence, UA-3, Box 313, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives.
36. Letter from Arthur Stanley MacKenzie to Darling, 29 Mar. 1912; Darling to Campbell, 31 Mar. 1912; Darling to Arthur Stanley MacKenzie, 4 Apr. 1912, President’s Office Correspondence, UA-3, Box 313, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives.
37. The Carnegie conditions are summarized by Arthur Stanley MacKenzie in President’s Office Correspondence, Arthur Stanley MacKenzie to James Bertram of the Carnegie Corporation, 13 Jan. 1912, UA-3, Box 260, Folder 5, Dalhousie University Archives. As to the building itself, Campbell was anxious that a start should be made in 1912, but told MacKenzie that “it must not be a false start. Better to take the summer to mature our plans than begin wrong.” President’s Office Correspondence, Campbell to Arthur Stanley MacKenzie, 27 Mar. 1912; Campbell to Darling, 30 Apr. 1912, Dalhousie University Archives. For the Duke of Connaught’s visit to Halifax, Daily Echo (Halifax), 14, 15, 16 Aug. 1912.
38. Telegram from Darling to Cobb, 3 Feb. 1913, President’s Office Correspondence, UA-3, Box 313, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives.
*. Portland cement is a specific preparation of lime, very strong, and which, when dry, resembles the whitish colour of Portland stone. That was the limestone from the Portland peninsula, off the south coast of Dorset, used for St. Paul’s Cathedral.
39. President’s Office Correspondence, Falconer and McDonald to Cobb, 14 June 1913, “Science Building, 1912-1932,” UA-3, Box 239, Folder 4; ibid., H.C. Burchell to Cobb, 27 June 1913, “A.R. Cobb, 1912-1932,” UA-3, Box 254, Folder 2; C.D. Howe to Cobb, 25 June 1913; Cobb to Arthur Stanley MacKenzie, 30 June 1913, UA-3, Box 254, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. Andrew Randall Cobb (1876-1943) was born in Brooklyn, New York, educated at Horton Academy and Acadia, and took degrees at MIT, Boston. He worked in Cleveland, studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, and settled in Halifax in 1909. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia had an exhibit of his work in 1990, and published a catalogue: Rich in Interest and Charm: the Architecture of Andrew Randall Cobb, 1876-1943 (Halifax 1990). His drawing of the south elevation of the Science Building, March 1913, is illustrated on p. 13.
40. President’s Office Correspondence, Arthur Stanley MacKenzie to Johnson, 23 Mar. 1914, “Macdonald Memorial Library,” UA-3, Box 236, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives; Johnson to Arthur Stanley MacKenzie, 31 Mar. 1914, UA-3, Box 236, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives. MacKenzie’s notes for his speech are in this file. John Johnson’s moving letter was read by MacKenzie and is in Dalhousie Gazette, 22 Jan. 1915. Johnson died in his house at Drummondville in December 1914. For Allan Pollok, see Archibald MacMechan Fonds, Scrapbook Q, MS-2-82, Box 52, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives. Pollok died in 1918.
41. Senate Minutes, 2 Oct. 1909; 14 Oct., 13, 20 Nov., 11 Dec. 1913; 12 Feb. 1914, Dalhousie University Archives. It is also discussed in the Dalhousie Gazette, December 1913.
42. Dalhousie Gazette June 1912, “Omar at College.” The poem is a twisted version of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

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