Studley Campus, Dalhousie University, 1915

Dalhousie College Studley campus [after 1915]

I was surprised to learn that although Dalhousie University was founded in 1818,1 it was still relatively small at the time my grandmother Velma Jane Moore attended (1915-1918). The total number of students enrolled in 1918 was 339: 188 in Arts & Science, 30 in Law, 67 in Medicine, 18 in Dentistry, 28 in Engineering, and 8 in Music.2 The teaching staff comprised 80 professors, assistant professors, lecturers, and demonstrators.3

When Velma arrived at Dalhousie in the fall of 1915 to begin her studies in Arts and Science, the University had just moved to a new campus:

The new home of the University [the Studley campus] contains more than 40 acres and is beautifully situated on a partly wooded eminence overlooking the North West Arm. The corner stone of the first of the new buildings, the Science Building, was laid . . . on Aug. 15th, 1912. The Science Building and the Macdonald Memorial Library were opened for occupancy in the fall of 1915, and the work of the Faculty of Arts and Science is now carried on in these buildings.4

Digging into the Dalhousie University digital archives, I was able to find several photographs of the Studley Campus from that time to get a feel for what Velma’s walks to class would have been like:

Science Building, Studley Campus

Macdonald Memorial Library, Studley Campus

Macdonald Memorial Library, Studley Campus

And of course the reading room of the library, where Velma would have spent a great deal of her time:

Macdonald Library Reading Room

Here is a picture of Velma (l.) on her way to or from class with her friend Christine. Note their heavy fur-trimmed coats and the fur muff Velma carried. It was a very cold day on the Studley campus!

1A. E. Southall, ed., Imperial Year Book for Dominion of Canada 1917-1918 (Ottawa: Mortimer Co. Limited, 1917), 3: 387.

2Southall, Imperial Year Book, 3: 387.

3Southall, Imperial Year Book, 3: 387.

4Dalhousie University, “Introduction: Historical Sketch,” Calendar of Dalhousie University: Halifax – Nova Scotia, nos. 1916-1917 (1916): 3-4.

Photograph of Dalhousie College Studley campus, [after 1915], PC1, Box 38, Folder 52, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Photograph of Science Building, Studley Campus, 1916, PC1, Box 46, Folder 1, Item 23 , Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Photograph of Macdonald Memorial Library, Studley Campus, PC1, Box 46, Folder 1, Item 25, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Photograph of Macdonald Memorial Library, Studley Campus, 1916, PC1, Box 46, Folder 1, Item 24, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Photograph of Macdonald library reading room, February 1916, PC1, Box 31, Folder 11, Item 1, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Some Highlights of Truro, Nova Scotia in 1903

Street View, Truro (Image: McLeod, Markland or Nova Scotia)

Before I leave my grandmother Velma’s high school years behind as she enters Dalhousie University in the fall of 1915, I’ll share a few details about the town of Truro, where the high school she attended, Colchester County Academy, was located. My source for these details is Markland Or Nova Scotia: Its History, Natural Resources, and Native Beauties, by Robert Randall McLeod. Published in 1903, Markland Or Nova Scotia is the work of another of those obscure nineteenth-century historians in whose prose I take such delight.

Truro was about thirty-four miles from the Moore farm in Economy Point, so it was necessary for Velma to stay with her father’s sister, Addie Moore, when school was in session, returning to the farm in the summer.

When Velma entered high school in 1910, living in town would have been quite different from living on the farm. As McLeod’s history tells us:

Streets, dwellings, and stores are lighted by electricity. There are eleven churches and two superior hotels.1

. . . .

Quite a number of manufactories are in successful operation. There is the Truro Foundry Company, the Truro Knitting Mills Company, the Truro Condensed Milk and Creamery Company.

This town is also a railway center of considerable importance, being on the Intercolonial Line, also the point of departure for Pictou and all points in Cape Breton. Recently, the Hants Central Railway has been opened to Truro, and it will doubtless add not a little to the business importance of the place.2

As for Colchester County Academy itself, “[it] is a credit to the town, and its equipments are of a high order. . . . The academy has a good laboratory and is well-equipped with apparatus for scientific work.”3 Velma was well-served by the academy’s laboratory and faculty, as they provided her with the foundation needed to later pursue a university degree in biology. Opportunities for cultural experiences would also have been available to her in Truro: “A Conservatory of Music is among the later institutions of the town, and is reported to be in a flourishing condition.”4

Architect’s Rendering of Colchester County Academy, 1902 (Image: Annual Report of the Superintendent of Education of the Public Schools of Nova Scotia, 1902)

Another of Truro’s attractions was Victoria Park, with which McLeod was obviously very taken:

I have before me an elaborate description wherein the writer can hardly keep his feet for the tendency to take flight. Here too at my hand are half-tone views of rustic summer loveliness as they were caught by the camera, and they fill me with “longings for spring.” Here are driveways following cycloidal sweeps of a curve system that has delved under the sheltering hillside, where it frets the roots of ancient trees, and gets itself tented under their friendly branches.

It is very evident that the spell of the place is on me also, and to stop while I can is prudent.5

Image: McLeod, Markland or Nova Scotia

Image: McLeod, Markland or Nova Scotia

Before I return McLeod’s virtual dusty tome to its proper place in the Google Books stacks, I must give him credit for the following digression on his way to discussing the founding fathers of the town–which echoes the genealogist’s lament:

Alas that the mothers are so often overlooked in the records of people, and often in the written lives of illustrious sons. John Stuart Mill wrote his life and never once mentioned his mother, who was a worthy woman, and did more for him than his father, whom he never tires of admiring.6

Image: McLeod, Markland or Nova Scotia

1Robert Randall McLeod, Markland or Nova Scotia: Its History, Natural Resources and Native Beauties (Toronto: Markland Publishing Company, 1903), 326.
2McLeod, Markland or Nova, 327.
3McLeod, Markland or Nova, 327.
4McLeod, Markland or Nova, 326.
5McLeod, Markland or Nova, 326.
6McLeod, Markland or Nova, 327.