Fonds UA-10 - Technical University of Nova Scotia fonds

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Technical University of Nova Scotia fonds

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  • Textual record

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15 m of textual records. - ca. 4000 photographs and other materials

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Administrative history

The Nova Scotia Technical College (NSTC) was established in 1907 to provide the final two years of Bachelors degree instruction in Engineering, and to engage in industrial and scientific research. In 1978, NSTC was re-named the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS). In 1997, TUNS amalgamated with Dalhousie University, temporarily becoming DalTech, a separate college within Dalhousie.

Early Origins

The Halifax Board of Trade and the Mining Society of Nova Scotia, aware of the need for technical education in Nova Scotia, prevailed on the four colleges who had already established fledgling, competing engineering programs to meet in Halifax on April 19, 1906. Because no single college could afford the expense of operating a full engineering program, all parties agreed to request that the provincial government establish a degree-granting technical college.

The Technical Education Act (N.S. Laws 1907 Chapter 1 -- April 25, 1907) established the Nova Scotia Technical College and a system of local technical education schools. Dr. Frederick Henry Sexton was appointed Principal (post re-named President in 1925) and Director of Technical Education.

The province of Nova Scotia, through the Council of Public Instruction (later the Department of Education) funded the establishment and operation of NSTC until 1963 when a revision to the Nova Scotia Technical College Act made the NSTC’s Board of Governors responsible for the financial affairs of the College.

Classes began in Halifax in September 1909 in a new building which, initially, also housed the Provincial Museum. The Spring Garden Road site was former military land obtained from the federal government with the proviso that the province would require military instruction in the College’s curriculum. The faculty and students of the College were directly involved in the war effort for both world wars. Compulsory military training was discontinued in 1945.

NSTC began with courses in Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Mining Engineering. The disciplines of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering were added in 1947; Geological Engineering in 1964; Industrial Engineering in 1965. The School of Architecture was added in 1961 (the first in Atlantic Canada) and the School of Computer Science was established in 1982.

The first two years of engineering courses were offered by the affiliate, later called associate universities of Acadia, Dalhousie, King’s and Mount Allison, and later St. Mary’s (1916), Memorial (1933), the University of New Brunswick (1949), St. Francis Xavier University, University College of Cape Breton, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, the University of Prince Edward Island and St. Dunstan’s (1964). Graduate degrees were later offered; a Master of Engineering in the 1950s and a Ph.D. programme in 1962. The TUNS Advisory Board was established in 1986 to ensure liaison between TUNS and its Associate Universities.

In 1947, the tenure of Dr. Sexton ended and brought changes to NSTC through the Technical College Act (Chap. 6-11 George VI). Vocational education was no longer the responsibility of the College President, but continued within the provincial education department. The College was expanded to include a graduate programme and the Board of Governors and Senate structure were formalized.

Buildings and Grounds

Until 1965 the Provincial Department of Public Works was responsible for the maintenance of NSTC buildings and construction. In 1965, the College became responsible for all maintenance and renovations, while the Dept. of Public Works continued to arrange contracts for new construction. Title of College lands remained with the Province until the 1980s. From the original Main Building, the NSTC/TUNS campus grew, especially through construction spurts in the 60s and 90s, to encompass much of the large block bounded by Spring Garden Road, Barrington St., Morris St. and Queen St., minus the Halifax Infirmary grounds in the southwest corner.

Technical University of Nova Scotia

NSTC’s name change to the Technical University of Nova Scotia, in 1978, came after 40 years of lobbying to avoid confusion with the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology and the Nova Scotia Teachers’ College and to end the institution’s inappropriate identity as a "college."

The mission of TUNS was to contribute to the development of Nova Scotia by providing high quality education, research and community and industry collaboration in architecture, computer science and engineering.

Amalgamation with Dalhousie

In the 1970s, attempts to integrate the similar courses offered by TUNS and Dalhousie failed because other Nova Scotia colleges feared the dominance of one institution in the field of Engineering. Provincial pressure to amalgamate the two universities grew until a 1996 agreement between the Province of Nova Scotia and the two universities brought about an amalgamation effective April 1997 (Dalhousie-Technical University Amalgamation Act chapter 24 of the acts of 1996).

TUNS became DalTech (Dalhousie Polytechnic of Nova Scotia) and existed as a constituent college within Dalhousie until approximately 2000. DalTech offered courses in the Faculties of Engineering, Computer Science and Architecture. The physical buildings of the former TUNS were re-named the Sexton Campus.

See series descriptions for administrative history details on college governance.

Custodial history

Records were transferred from DalTech offices to Dalhousie University Archives in several accessions from 1998 to 2004. Additional records were transferred from Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of the records of the Technical University of Nova Scotia, predominanty from its first 40 years as the Nova Scotia Technical College and from its final decade before amalgamation with Dalhousie University.

College governance is well documented through the minutes and correspondence of the Board of Governors and the Senate, and the President’s records.

The administration of technical education courses in communities throughout Nova Scotia, 1907-1947, is minutely detailed in the records of the Director of Technical Education, as well as through the series of beautiful glass plate negatives of Technical Education classes.

The Public Relations office created files, photographs, sound and video recordings of events, faculty, staff and students of TUNS.

A selection of student records is available in the series of records from the Registrar’s Office; however access is restricted to protect privacy.

The development of the TUNS campus is well documented through construction photographs, aerial photographs, historical overviews, and files on land acquisition and renovations to historic buildings.

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  • English

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Registrar's Office student records are closed.

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Associated materials

Records of the Council of Public Instruction, 1864-1949 are located at the Nova Scotia Archives (RG 14, vol. 44; Accession 1995-203/002 (Use microfilms 12849-12852)).

Administration of early mining schools is documented in the Nova Scotia Archives’ Mining certification examination records, 1870-1913 (RG 21 Series A, vol. 15, 16, and 39 no. 30).

Administration of vocational education post-1947 (NSTC responsible 1907-1947) is documented in the Nova Scotia Archives’ Vocational Education Division correspondence and other material, 1944-1958 (RG 27, vols. 45 nos. 6-16; 46; 47 nos. 1, 9, 10; 48-50; 52-54).

Publications of NSTC/TUNS, including Annual Reports and the TechFlash yearbook are available in the Dalhousie University Libraries, accessible through Novanet.

The Sexton Design and Technology Library holds many publications, reports and records from the Technical University of Nova Scotia, including Annual Reports, Tech Flash, Academic Calendars, Convocation Booklets, Student and Staff Directories and published articles and reports. Appointments must be made to view this material. Contact

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General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Technical University of Nova Scotia fonds, UA-10, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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This fonds description comes from the Dalhousie University Archives Catalog. The complete, original description is available there.

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