Collection UA-43-REF - Nova Scotia Agricultural College archival reference collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Nova Scotia Agricultural College archival reference collection

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  • Textual record
  • Moving images

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1830-2012 (Creation)
    Nova Scotia Agricultural College

Physical description area

Physical description

4.91 m of textual records, 87 volumes, 2 cm of DVDs, and 7 VHS cassettes.

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Administrative history

The Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) was the third centre for agricultural education and research to be established in Canada. The college was created in 1905 through a merger of the School of Agriculture, set up in 1885 at the Provincial Normal School; the Provincial Farm, founded in 1889 at Bible Hill; and the School of Horticulture, established in 1894 in Wolfville. The new agricultural campus was centred around the farm at Bible Hill and a newly constructed science building. While NSAC's primary role was to educate and prepare farmers for practice, some students completed degrees at Macdonald College at McGill University or at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph. Many of these graduates entered government and were among the early Canadian leaders in agricultural public service.

In 1913, campus facilities and programs were expanded in response to federal funding for agricultural education; among the initiatives were home economics education, women’s institutes, rural science and youth training. Government demand for increased food production during World War One further enhanced agricultural education, while pressures from NSAC field staff led to the formation of the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and, later, the Department of Agriculture. During the 1920s and 1930s, the college made significant contributions to improving the genetic base of Atlantic Canadian farm livestock.

After World War Two there was a surge in enrolment in response to veterans seeking agricultural training, and the college was further challenged when a fire in 1946 destroyed the science building. A temporary campus at the military hospital facilities in Debert, NS, served until 1953, when a new science building—now known as the Harlow Institute—and a central heating plant enabled the move back to the Bible Hill campus. In 1959 the first campus residence was opened.

During the 1960s, requirements for a more comprehensive vocational and technical agricultural education spurred the development of additional residences, three new academic buildings, new barns and campus services. NSAC's central role was formalized by the four Atlantic provinces in the 1960s, and the degree program was officially recognized through the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. Continued growth throughout the 1970s saw women enrolling in larger numbers, and women’s sports teams and new student services were created, including the Athletic Centre and a new dining hall. The former auditorium in Cumming Hall was redeveloped as the Alumni Theatre.

Provincial legislation in the 1980s enabled an academic agreement with Dalhousie University for degree granting purposes, and September 1981 was the first year that NSAC students were registered into a full four-year BSc program in one of four areas of specialization: Agricultural Economics, Animal Science, Plant Protection and Plant Science. More facilities were built during the 1980s, including the library, Animal Science building, and an extension to the Cox Institute. Growth in faculty and expanded research activities followed, along with increased opportunities in international development programs. In the early 1990s, graduate studies were developed, with MSc and PhD degrees conferred by Dalhousie University.
On July 1, 2012, NSAC became Dalhousie University's Faculty of Agriculture, remaining a distinct campus within the university, led by a principal/dean, a dual role that oversees both academic programs and local campus services and supports.

Custodial history

Records were transferred to the Agricola Archives from various donors, including alumni and people in the agricultural industry, as well as transfers from departments on the Nova Scotia Agricultural College campus.

Scope and content

Collection contains Nova Scotia Agricultural College archival reference materials including books, calendars, journals, magazines, DVDs, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings published between 1830-2012.

Notes area

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Immediate source of acquisition


The MacRae Library established the Nova Scotia Agricultural College archival reference collection to consolidate and provide access to a variety of archival reference material related to the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. The library imposes thematic and chronological order during archival processing.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions on these materials. All materials are open for research.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the MacRae Library. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

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Further accruals are expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Nova Scotia Agricultural College archival reference collection, UA-43-REF, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives, Agricola Archives, Bible Hill, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Language of description

  • English

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