St. John Ambulance, Nova Scotia Council, fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

St. John Ambulance, Nova Scotia Council, fonds

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Reference code

Accession 2003-039/001 - 2003-039/011

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  • 1913-1981, predominantly ca. 1940-ca. 1970 (Creation)
    St. John Ambulance. Nova Scotia Council

Physical description area

Physical description

  • 1.8 m of textual records
  • 25 cm of photographs

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Administrative history

The St. John Ambulance Association of Nova Scotia was founded in 1892 in Halifax in co-operation with the Dalhousie Medical College, the City of Halifax, the navy and the army. The basic goals of the new association were to provide training in first aid and home nursing and to assist the community in times of need. The Provincial Council was to be administered by a volunteer management board composed of local business leaders and physicians. In 1911 the Halifax local centre was established, supervised by the provincial council, and soon other local centres in the province were organized. The first wartime medical service for the Nova Scotia Council came with the South African War, and later, during the Halifax Explosion in 1917, the council, especially its three nursing divisions, provided notable service in the aftermath of the disaster. During World War I it also provided assistance in the operation of the Cogswell Street Station Hospital in Halifax; and during World War II it sent volunteer nursing assistance divisions (known as VADs) overseas. It also helped run the Merchant Seamans' Infirmary in Halifax. With the expansion of public health care in the 1960s and 1970s, interest in home nursing and participating in ambulance or nursing divisions declined. By the early to mid 1980s both home nursing instruction and the ambulance brigade itself were defunct. Instead the association began to focus on training and education. Today the council is the largest provider of first aid training for both individuals and institutions in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records created and accumulated by the Nova Scotia Council and its predecessor body (called the Provincial Council) in its headquarters in Halifax. Includes minutes of annual meetings with annual reports, 1915-1980 (incomplete); minutes of meetings of the provincial executive committee (includes officers' reports) 1954-1981; constitutions, by-laws, and general regulations followed by the provincial council, 1913-1970; printed histories by such members as R.V. Harris and Col. E. W. Mingo, 1940-1959; correspondence of the provincial commissioner, 1941-1967; records of services at first aid stations during the war, 1941-1943; award and examination certificates,1914-1979; newspaper clippings, 1940-1980; in-house newsletters and pamphlets, 1948-1997 and commissioned photographs, 1925-1977. Also includes a scrapbook compiled by member Florence Longard, 1945-1970, containing clippings and memorabilia, and a case book, 1938-1949, a daily record of medical treatment provided at special events such as exhibitions and Halifax Natal Day. The general correspondence of the provincial commissioner, 1917-1918, contains reports on conditions during the Halifax Explosion. Some of the nursing division correspondence includes experiences of nurses working overseas during World War II. The photographs depict of a wide variety of SJA activities including first aid classes and demonstrations, parades, exhibitions, fairs, inspections, investiture services, awards' ceremonies and providing assistance during the Springhill Mine Disaster in 1958.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by the Executive Director of St. John Ambulance NS/PEI Council in 2003, with the facilitation of Professor Frances Gregor of Dalhousie University.


The original arrangement of the fonds is unknown. Some physical organization was undertaken by the archivist.

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Finding aids

File list available, adapted from a database compiled by Katherine Loker, Dalhousie University MLIS student, in 2003.

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