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Grammar School Period

Grammar School Period

In attempting to take advantage of this decision compromise was necessary. Those representing the " Established Church of Scotland" with the Universities and Theological Halls in. Scotland were not interested in the higher work of a college which would under local conditions very materially aid the preparation of candidates for the ministry of the dissenting Presbyterians known as anti-burghers, while the established Kirk expected to draw their ministers from Scotland or from among Pictonians educated in Scotland. These wanted nothing more than a grammar school; but if there were to be college studies they would have to be conducted in the same building not in a separate. one. The Trustees under the reform Act of 1832 represented the two parties; but the internal friction prevented the successful development of either the college or grammar school grades of the academy.

In 1838 Dr. McCulloch with $800 of grant, was at last transferred to Dalhousie College and made president, which position he continued to hold until his death in 1843. His remains rest in the old Pictou cemetery where his students erected a monument to his memory. From 1832-1842, the academy was reduced to the level of a Grammar school, with Michael McCulloch, Geo. A. Blanchard, Wm. McDonald and Mr. McNaughton as teachers. In 1842 the grant totally failed. The academy lingered on until August 1844 when its doors were closed. The building was in a state of dilapidation. The library was moldering on the shelves, the scientific collections were sold abroad.

The Union Academy Period

This state of affairs, however, soon aroused the people. Public meetings were called by the two great parties of the county. The Act of 1845 carried in its preamble a record of the desire of the people interested in the Pictou Academy to cooperate "as to unite the two parties existing in that county in the support thereof." It is at this time the motto "Concordia Salus" was probably adopted. It was certainly the first time an effective local effort was made to carry out the principle. This period is therefore well known as one of union in academic development; and united local support has since carried the academy on through subsequent changes with ever growing success. The old board of trustees resigned and a new union board was elected. The new board of trustees set to work energetically in repairing the building, organizing the departments, and securing teachers.

In 1846 the academy re-opened and next year the three departments were in good working order. Basil Bell was Principal and classical master, with Charles H. Hay and

Alexander McPhail in the other two departments. In December 1847 Mr. McPhail resigned and was succeeded by Wm. Jack, who continued in this department until 1865. At this time John William Dawson delivered a course of lectures on natural history. Mr. Hay suddenly died in 1847 and some time elapsed before his place was filled.

In 1850 William R. Mulholland was appointed mathematical teacher. At the same time W. G. T. Jarvis succeeded Mr. Bell, and three years later, he was succeeded by T. R. Mulholland. In 1855 W. R. Mulholland was transferred to the Normal School, Truro, and T. R. Mulholland resigned. In the same year, John Costley became classical master, and continued in charge until 1865, when a new era was inaugurated throughout the province in educational matters. In that year the Nova Scotia Free School system was enacted, and the academy was organized into a special academy.

The Special Academy Period

The Free School Act of 1865 provided grants of $600 each for county academies, to which students passing the entrance examination from any part of the county would be admitted free. Pictou Academy and about a half a dozen other leading institutions were classed as special academies. It was to function as a county academy; but on account of its superior equipment received a grant of $1000 instead of $600 per annum. Until the Act to encourage Academic education in 1885, the academy and public schools of the town of Pictou was governed by a board of trustees from the Board of the academy and the board of the public schools, thus making the academy the head of the Pictou public school system. This arrangement proved most satisfactory, and under this plan the academy made another forward step. Herbert A. Bayne was appointed first principal and the organizer of the new order of things, which he did most successfully. In the autumn of 1867 Mr. Bayne left to complete his course in Dalhousie College and Aubrey Lippincott, B. A., one of the first graduates of Dalhousie College, was appointed substitute principal for a year. He also, was very successful in winning the respect and affection of his students and carried forward the work most efficiently. He is now a successful eye specialist in Pittsburgh, Pa.

In the following year Mr. Bayne returned accompanied by J. J. MacKenzie. Mr. MacKenzie at first taught the preparatory department, but shortly afterwards the two departments were combined, Principal Bayne teaching classics and science and Mr. MacKenzie English and Mathematics. These gentlemen both resigned in 1873 to take a post graduate course in Germany where each won a Doctor's degree. Returning to Canada, Dr. Bayne took a position in the Military College, Kingston, and Dr. MacKenzie the professorship of Physics in Dalhousie College. Both were cut down by death in early manhood.

In 1873 A. H. MacKay (now Dr. MacKay, Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia) became principal. With him were associated F. W. George, M. A., Principal MacKay teaching, Mathematics and Science and Mr. George, English and Classics. In October 1876, Mr. George resigned to enter upon Church work. In 1876, Robert Maclellan, the present principal, was appointed to the Classical and English department which position he held until 1883, when he resigned to take the position of Inspector of Schools for Pictou and South Colchester.

Under Principal MacKay's strong administration the Academy made rapid strides. It became celebrated throughout the province and far beyond its limits. Students flocked in from all quarters until there was not room enough to receive. Larger quarters became absolutely necessary, and the citizens of Pictou, with a public spirit worthy of their ancestors, raised about $20,000 for a new building. It was erected in 1880 on the site of the present building. Although it would be entirely inadequate for the present day, it was far in advance of any other high school building in the province. It contained four class rooms, Convocation hall, a small chemical laboratory capable of accommodating five or six students. At the same time a third instructor became necessary and Roderick MacKay, B. A., was appointed teacher of Mathematics. After two years Mr. MacKay resigned to enter the ministry and is now pastor of a congregation in Ontario. Mr. W. R. Fraser, B. A., (now Ph. D., Johns Hopkins) was appointed as his successor. Mr. Fraser taught until 1888 when he resigned to take a post graduate course in Johns Hopkins.

Meanwhile in 1883 Mr. Maclellan resigned as before stated, and was succeeded by Mr. Hector McInnes, now K. C., and head of one of the most influential law firms in Halifax. Mr. McInnes taught Mathematics while the Classical subjects were divided between Principal MacKay and Mr. Fraser.

Pictonians at Home and Abroad, 1914


Pictou County

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