A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #3: TOC
The Road To Being Canada
Chapter 13, The Establishment Of King's

As already indicated, the children of the wealthy and the well connected sent their children away for a higher education. They were sent not just across the seas to England but, more and more, down into the New England states to attend such institutions as Harvard. There was much concern about the democratic influence of the new United States and the material that would be inculcated into impressionable minds. As the turn of the century approached there was a growing movement to create an institution of higher learning, here in Nova Scotia. People of the upper class, which consisted principally of Loyalists and members of the Church of England, were keen on establishing a Collage in Nova Scotia.1

King's College came into legal existence by a legislative act in 1789. Actually, King's opened in a rented house at Windsor in 1788.2 Upon its incorporation in 1789, the House of Assembly granted £500 for land at Windsor (the summer retreat for the wealthy at Halifax) and another like sum annually for its operation. Further funds were provided in the following year when the English Parliament granted £1,000 to King's. In 1791 Bishop Inglis, a principal supporter of the institution, laid the cornerstone for the new building at Windsor.

King's College had been in operation for more than a decade, when, in 1802, its prestige and authority was extended when George III signed a royal charter which proclaimed that it was to be a "Mother of an University for the education and instruction of youth and students, to continue forever and to be called King's College." This move made by the highest British authority was "a necessary step to help restore shattered British influence on the Western Continent."3 In October of 1802, Governor Wentworth reported that he was in receipt of the "King's charter for incorporating King's College."4 Appointed governors then set out to prepare a constitution, rules and regulations conformable to the University of Oxford. Thus, in September of 1803, King's University opened at Windsor.5 It carried on for a number of years without any change, especially as an exclusive preserve of those who espoused the Anglican faith.

In 1829, Captain Moorsom wrote of King's:

"The College at Windsor is constituted upon the plan of the English Universities, and is provided with a President and three or four Professors for the various branches of a classical education; the mathematics being but secondary. During the last five years, the average number of students may be stated as twenty annually. The number of ordinations during the same period has been fifteen; the greater number of those who leave the College being destined for the church."6
The political struggles in Nova Scotia, which we will outline in a future chapter, were tinged with high religious feelings. This was entirely due to the favour shown to the Anglican Church. The result was that education had long remained in its hands. King's College at Windsor was a product of the Anglican Church and for a while the only institution of higher learning in the province. It was, however, initially, not open to any person who was a Roman Catholic, a Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Methodist, nor any other dissenters from the Church of England. This would strike a person today as totally unfair. Back during the early part of the 19th century, in Nova Scotia, it struck many people as unfair, too, and led to political unrest and a proliferation of universities in Nova Scotia -- more than she needed then and indeed, more than she needs today.7 This setting up of a university exclusively for the adherents of the Anglican church, in England, was no great problem8 back then as most of the church going population were Anglicans; well, at least, the cultivated and leisured classes. This was not the case in Nova Scotia.

A concluding note on King's might now be made. King's was originally set up as a Royal Institution by Royal Charter. The king, should we need reminding, was not only the Sovereign but also the Head of The Church of England. So, anytime it was thought to makes changes in the constitution of King's it was necessary to get the Royal Nod through the Offices of The Bishop of Canterbury. The Bishop for a number of years saw no need to open up King's to anyone other than the children of those of the Anglican Church. For example, there was a petition presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury by Governor, Lord Dalhousie, and others in Nova Scotia, in 1818, to remove the requirement that only members of The Church of England should be admitted to King's. It was dismissed. In 1830 a similar petition was made; and, finally, it was granted. King's as of that date became open to all students no matter their religious beliefs.9

NEXT: [Chapter 14, The Establishment Of Dalhousie And Acadia]


Found this material Helpful?

Custom Search
[TOC -- Book 1 (1500-1763)]
[TOC -- Book 2 (1760-1815)]
[TOC -- Book 3 (1815-1867)]


Peter Landry