Pictou Academy National Historic Site of Canada
Pictou, Nova Scotia
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2007.)
corner of Church and Willow Streets, Pictou, Nova Scotia
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1818 to 1818
1816 to 1816
1818 to 1932
1831 to 1831
1880 to 1880
1932 to 1932
Event, Person, Organization:
West End School
FIRST PICTOU ACADEMY
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Mounted on monument at corner of corner of Church and Willow Streets Pictou, Nova Scotia
Site of the first Pictou Academy which was erected in 1818 and demolished in 1932. Under the leadership and example of Dr. Thomas McCulloch it opened the door of opportunity to a hitherto neglected element of the population of the Maritime Provinces and gave many prominent men to Nova Scotia and the Dominion of Canada in journalism, literature, science, theology, education, and government.
Description of Historic Place
Pictou Academy National Historic Site of Canada, of which there are no extant remains, is marked by a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque on a cairn located on the corner of Church Street and Willow Street in Pictou, Nova Scotia. A pathway leads to the monument, enclosed by an iron fence, located on the southeast corner of the property. Official recognition refers to the site of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada monument commemorating the Pictou Academy.
Pictou Academy was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1937 because: founded by Presbyterian minister and educator, Thomas McCulloch, in 1818, it introduced non-sectarian education to the Maritime Provinces.
In 1803, Thomas McCulloch, a Presbyterian minister, stopped over in Pictou on his way to Prince Edward Island due to inclement weather. He was persuaded to stay there and become the local Scottish congregation’s pastor. In a bid to establish a school for the Scottish community, McCulloch set up a grammar school and (in 1816) founded Pictou Academy. During the 1820s, McCulloch fought for provincial endowment of the Academy as a degree-granting institution and for public support of all educational institutions. Finally, in 1831, the Academy received a permanent endowment from the British to teach both collegiate and grammar school subjects. From that date, Pictou Academy offered classical and scientific education, though collegiate subjects were eventually abandoned. In 1880, the Pictou Academy was moved to a larger building, and the original building served as the West End School until its demolition in 1932. Alumni of Pictou Academy included various prominent Canadian professionals and businessmen.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Plaque Texts, 1937, 1968; Minutes, July 2007.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its location in Pictou, Nova Scotia; its urban setting at the intersection of Church Street and Willow Street; the monument’s siting on the property of the original Pictou Academy which was demolished in 1932; the cut stone monument, erected in 1938, one side of which features the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque and the other a concrete bas-relief of the Academy building; the viewscapes of urban Pictou and of the Northumberland Strait.