History of N.B. Teacher Education 1784 to 1973



   The creation of the Province of New Brunswick in 1784 necessitated the drawing up of plans for its administration. In the area of education, for example, procedures for the licensing of teachers were outlined in The Royal Instructions issued in August, 1784. Individuals coming from Great Britain with the intention of teaching in the new province were to be licensed by the Lord Bishop of London. Individuals already in the province wishing to teach there were required to petition the Lieutenant-Governor for a license permitting them to do so (Hawkes, 9).

   To facilitate administration of the province the authorities created counties that they subdivided into units to be known as parishes. For example, the county of Queens with four parishes was among the first to be created. Within four years of its creation the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (the SPG) was operating a school in its shire town, the village of Gagetown.

   However, it was not until 1802 that provincial leaders signaled their willingness to offer support for the establishment of parish schools. This they did by passing the Parish School Act of 1802. One of the provisions of this Act was the maintenance of the procedures set forth in the 1784 instructions for the licensing of teachers.


   It is of interest to note, however, that in her study The Evolution of Business Education in New Brunswick: 1784-1984 Margaret Macdougall referred to one non-governmental attempt to provide for the training of teachers. Her reference is to an offer made in 1818 by the Governor and Trustees of the St. John Madras School that their school would instruct gratis at the Central School "all properly recommended masters of such schools" (54).

   The second Act relating to parish schools was passed on May 16, 1816. Its purpose was to encourage the establishment of parish schools throughout the province. The procedures for the licensing of teachers remained the same as it had in the Act of 1792; that is, licensing according to The Royal Instructions of 1784.

   In this Act the trustees, who were to be appointed by the Justices of the Peace in each county, were to look from time to time into the conduct of the teachers in their employ. As well, they were required to report to the Justices the names of those individuals teaching in the schools and the dates they had been doing so. In turn, the Justices were required to send a compilation of the Trustees' Reports to the Provincial Secretary in Fredericton in order for government grants mandated by the Act of 1816 to be paid to the teachers.

   While the third Act relating to parish schools, the Act of 1833, did not alter the established procedure for the licensing of teachers, the fourth Act dealing with parish schools, the Act of 1837, did so. This Act established in each of the counties a Board of Education consisting of three persons appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council. According to Katherine F. C. MacNaughton in her study The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick: 1784-1900, each board was to receive applications from persons desiring to obtain parish school licenses (90). Applicants for license were then to be examined for moral character, literary attainments and loyalty (the latter considered to be of prime importance because of the spirit of rebellion said to be afoot across Canada).

   While one might expect competency to teach would be uppermost in the minds of those recommending individuals for a license to teach, such does not seem to be the case. In support of this assertion, for example, in his study of 145 references supporting applicants to teach in Queens County between 1816-1837 the ability to teach seemed important to only about one-half of the referees (Hawkes, 11). It is also of interest to note the importance of good moral character seemed important to 42 per cent of the referees, while loyalty to the Crown seemed to be a very important qualification to be recommended for a license.


   In The Development of Education in Canada C. E. Phillips wrote that "the one who instructed children...was likely to be a man unfit for regular employment…and unfortunately...sometimes had no qualifications of a positive nature to [fit] him for teaching" (63). Professor W. D. Hamilton noted that in New Brunswick, while basic literacy was all that had to be demonstrated at the community level, "handwriting was the basis of assessment for the granting by the province of licenses to teach" (Miramichi Papers, 29).

   In the decade following the Act of 1837 there were calls for a systematic approach to the preparation of teachers. In 1845 the provincial Legislative Assembly received the report of the three men it had appointed to inspect all the schools receiving money from the public purse. The contents of the report gave convincing evidence that something had to be done about improving the quality of teaching throughout the system.

   Part of the answer to having better qualified teachers lay in the opening of a Normal School, a move that the Act of 1847 empowered a newly established Board of Education to do. And on February 10, 1848 a Provincial Normal School officially opened with Joseph Marshall, Baron d'Avray, as its principal. The period of training in this institution was to be 10 weeks in duration, a period which d'Avray very soon realized was woefully inadequate, given the qualifications of those enrolled in the program and the expectation that those enrolled in it would be prepared to teach subjects corresponding to requirements set by the Board of Education in 1847.

   The expectations set forth in 1847 required that the lowest class of teachers (those holding third-class licenses) be able to teach spelling, reading and simple arithmetic. As well as being able to teach these subjects, second-class licensees were expected to be able to teach English grammar, geography and bookkeeping. In addition to what teachers of the other two classes were to teach, teachers of the highest class (first-class licensees) were to be able to teach natural philosophy, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, mensuration, land surveying and navigation (McNaughton, 118).

   The opening of the Normal School brought with it the question of what should be taught there. Should the curriculum consist only of concepts relating to the theory and practice of teaching or should it also include concepts relating to the knowledge to be taught? d'Avray himself deplored the amount of time that had to be spent on teaching his students at the Normal School fundamentals of knowledge rather than on the practice of teaching itself.

   The Training School established in Chatham in 1867 to prepare teachers in the four northern counties dealt in a different way with the dilemma d’Avray had encountered. Under William Crocket, principal of the Presbyterian Academy there, instruction in the professional aspects of teaching was given at the conclusion of the regular school hours. However, this Training School operated for only three years, so it is a matter of conjecture as to how long such a policy would have continued.

   While the relationship between academic knowledge and the theory and practice of teaching was undoubtedly difficult for Baron d’Avray to deal with, it may be said that the debate is one that has been going on for a long time. For example, planners of the curriculum for the four-year Bachelor of Education degree programs established at the University of New Brunswick in 1973 (and those making revisions of it ever since) could cite their experience as living proof about the seriousness and intensity of such a debate.

   In addition to the quality of the students and the question of what should be emphasized in the institution's curriculum, d’Avray was further hampered by the lack of a permanent Model School.

   However, these problems became moot for him when in November 1850 fire destroyed the premises housing the Normal School. At this point he began a career as a professor of Modern Languages at King's College, a position he held even while serving as the second provincial Superintendent of Education during the period 1853-1858.

   As well as establishing the Normal School in Fredericton in 1848, the Board of Education also approved the opening of a second training school in Saint John under the principal ship of Edmund Duval, who continued in this position until 1858 when it came under the direction of William Mills. At this time the training school operation was relocated to his Commercial and Mercantile School where it remained for the next 12 years.

   Since Duval could only grant second- and third-class licenses, those he deemed capable of pursuing a first-class license were to transfer to the Normal School in Fredericton for a further four weeks of training so long, of course, as it was in existence. In fact, from 1850 until 1867 the Training School in Saint John was the only official one in the province (McNaughton, 139).

   In 1849 Martha Hamm Lewis was admitted under very strict conditions to the program at the Training School in Saint John. She is said to have been the first woman to be admitted to the teacher training program operated by the province. However, Dr. J. E. Picot reported in A Brief History of Teacher Training in New Brunswick: 1848-1973 that Miss Rachel Martin, "one of the oldest female teachers of the Province was admitted to the Fredericton Training School on February 1848 on the recommendation of Governor Wm. Colebrooke. She left on March 11, 1848" (13). and Picot continued, "no other female teacher was admitted that year" (13).

   Certainly the admission of Miss Lewis established a trend that has persisted up to the present day, for by 1852 49 of the 92 students in the Saint John Training School were female. From that date the number of female students has always greater than the number of males enrolled.

   The Act of 1852 authorized the appointment of a Superintendent of Education (the position d'Avray held for five years), authorized the appointment of county Inspectors and gave permission to districts or parishes to assess themselves in support of schools. This Act also extended the period of training to 12 weeks at the Training School in Saint John (MacNaughton, 148-149).

   In 1854 a Commission was established to consider the value of King's College. Among the commissioners were Egerton Ryerson of Toronto and J. W. Dawson (later principal of McGill University) of Nova Scotia. Of the Commission's report MacNaughton wrote:

         Referring to the Normal and Model Schools, the Commission indicated ,
         that these institutions had only been partially successful, if not failures,
         and implied that this was because of inadequate facilities and meager
         financial support. New Brunswick could have premises as spacious, and
         buildings as noble as those in Canada West, at the expense of 1000 pounds
         for procuring and fitting up the premises and apparatus, and 1000 pounds
         a year for the support of the institution. A good Normal School and public
         libraries were, the Commissioners thought, absolutely indispensable (152).

   The regulations of the Act of 1858 concerning the qualification of teachers remained virtually the same as those outlined in the Act of 1852. As did the Act of 1847, it stipulated what subjects the male and female holders of the three classes of license were to teach.

   Males of the first class were to teach spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, English  grammar, geography, history, bookkeeping, geography, geometry, menstruation, land surveying, navigation and algebra, Females of the same class were to teach needlework and the first seven subjects listed for males.

   Males of the second class were to teach the first eight subjects listed for males of the first class, while females of the second class were to teach the same subjects as the males of the second class except for history and bookkeeping. They were, however, to teach needlework.

   Both male and female teachers of the third class were to teach spelling, reading, writing and arithmetic with the addition of needlework for females. As well, teachers of both sexes holding first- and second-class licenses were "to impart a knowledge of the Geography, History and Resources of the Province of New Brunswick and the adjoining North American colonies" (MacNaughton, 169).

   As noted, when William Mills took over the operation of the Saint John Training School in 1858, he moved it to his own premises. However, he did not have sufficient space to accommodate all the female students who wished to enroll, so he placed them in another building and engaged the daughter of Edmund Duval to instruct them. The lack of space experienced at that time was not resolved for another dozen years.

   In 1870 it was decided to close the Training Schools in both Chatham and Saint John and offer teacher training only in Fredericton. Such a move, it was reasoned, would lead to more efficient supervision of its operation. With the move to Fredericton came the return to the designation Normal School. William Crocket was appointed principal, a position he held twice with service as chief superintendent of education and as a professor of Classics at Morin College, Quebec City intervening between his two terms as principal.

   The relocation to Fredericton, however, did not bring with it an immediate move to permanent quarters, for, while the Government did commit itself to building a new facility, it was several years before it did so. As a consequence, the Normal School found yet another temporary home in the Stone Barracks, where the rent was 10 pounds per annum.

   The first Normal School had been housed in a jail. Perhaps a barracks might be considered a step-up in respectability. But whatever the location, the move from a basement and a leaking semi-loft in Saint John must have seemed to those who had experienced it a move in the right direction.

   The Government finally acted on its commitment to construct a new building for the Normal School, which opened in 1877 on a site at the corner of Queen and York Streets. It was an impressive building into which 148 students were admitted for classes in the middle of May. The rooms for the Model Department were ready for accepting students on June 12. The official opening at which Lieutenant-Governor S. L. Tilley presided took place on August 14.

   For the preparation of French-speaking teachers a French Preparatory Department was established in the Normal School in 1878. According to J. E. Picot this Preparatory Department "became no more than an academic school" (42). Most students completing the Department's program accepted the third-class license valid for two years (and later for three years) without receiving any teacher training per se.

   As a result of the inadequacy of the program to prepare French-speaking teachers, the Preparatory Department was phased out and replaced by the French Department in 1883 under the direction of Alphée Belliveau, who held this position until his retirement in 1920.

   The change in name also saw a change in the program designed for French-speaking student teachers. “The change,” Dr. Picot wrote, “was to provide for training in teaching as well as for academic instruction so that Acadian students could receive a permanent license…[and] French student teachers were to receive instruction in French as well as in the English language…and graduates received permanent third class licenses” (43).

   They were to receive instruction in professional subjects from the Principal of the Normal School, but if they were “deemed sufficiently well qualified to be presented at the close of the term for examination in advance of class three, they received professional and academic instruction in the English Department” (MacNaughton, 233). MacNaughton continued, “At the close of the term they were examined for license on the same subjects as were prescribed for other candidates, but an additional paper in French was set for all French candidates, for which they received credit by adding the examiner’s estimate upon it to the other estimates without including the subject in the divisor” (233).

   In 1900 a course in manual training was instituted for male teachers and a course in domestic science for female teachers followed soon after. In 1903 the Macdonald Consolidated School, which opened on the Kingston Peninsula, offered courses in both domestic science and manual training and just one year later, a special class formed for the preparation of manual teachers in New Brunswick became one of the Provincial Normal School’s programs.

   In 1910 all graduates of the Normal School were required to obtain a certificate in physical training. This requirement of all Normal School/Teachers College students was still in effect in as late as 1947.

   Coinciding with the conclusion of World War I in 1918, a period during which enrollment at the Normal School declined, the Government of New Brunswick passed the Vocational Education Act whose purpose was to establish vocational education in the province. This Act also placed the administration of vocational education in the hands of a newly established Vocational Education Board.

   In 1919 the Government of Canada passed the Technical Education Act to promote vocational education across the nation and the New Brunswick Vocational Education Board established an office and named Fletcher Peacock as director and secretary with the mandate to organize a Vocational Education Branch and to prepare for the school year 1919-1920.

   Since there was a dearth of teachers prepared to teach vocational subjects, the Vocational Board developed a “two-track” policy to prepare competent vocational teachers: The operation of a provincial summer school and the subsidization of study outside the province. For the next two decades-and-a-half summer schools for vocational teachers were conducted in various centers, the first being the one held in 1919 in Fredericton for Home Economics teachers.

   An important step in teacher education was taken with the agreement of Mount Allison University (1926) and the University of New Brunswick (1928) to offer summer school courses that allowed for the academic upgrading of teachers. With this agreement summer schools for both vocational and academic teachers assumed a presence that has continued into the twenty-first century.

   In 1929 the Normal School Building  (except for some of the front façade and the Model School Annex) was destroyed by fire. On December 10, 1931 a new Normal School Building, the second one built on the same site, was officially opened. In his remarks during the occasion Dr. H. V. B. Bridges, principal of the Normal School, reported that since 1877 approximately 15,000 students had undertaken teacher training (Picot, 77).

   During the decade of the 1930s several important steps were taken in the program offered at the Normal School. In 1933-1934, for example, it was decided the Normal School faculty would be responsible of discussing and demonstrating methods relating to the subjects they were teaching. It was also decided during the same academic year that all examinations for teachers’ licenses were to be set and marked by the Normal School principal and faculty. And during 1936-1937 14 student teachers spent one week in a rural school for the purposes of observation, an experiment which proved so successful that rural practice teaching “was adopted as a regular part of the [teacher education] programme” (Picot, 87).

   In 1934 teacher education became a postgraduate degree program at Mount Allison University. However, only one BEd degree was awarded by that institution until 1947. Of interest is the fact that it was in 1923 that the first course in Education – Educational Psychology – was offered there, the professor being G. J. Trueman, who had just become the fifth president of the University that same year (Reid, 81).

   During the summer of 1937 both academic and vocational teachers attended the summer school conducted in Saint John by the provincial Department of Education. They also did in the summers of 1938 and 1939. It is of interest to note that 610 teachers (about one-quarter of all the public school teachers in the Province) attended the 1938 New Brunswick Summer School of Education and Fine Arts. Also in the same year (1938) St. Joseph’s University began to offer summer school courses.

   "The year 1940-1941," as Dr. Picot noted, “was the final one for the French Department as a separate entity… No third class licenses were issued after December 1940 and French-speaking students were enrolled in the regular program after that date” (90).

   The teacher shortage, exacerbated by World War II, was still very acute so that beginning in July, 1946 two classes of students were accepted at the Normal School: One in July and one in January. Students who graduated from this accelerated program received licenses valid for two years with the licenses being made permanent after two years of successful teaching and attendance at two summer schools offered by the provincial Department of Education.

   In 1946 two very important events in the training of vocational teachers occurred. In Saint John a two-year program for the training of Home Economics teachers was instituted. Rheta Inch, Supervisor of Home Economics Education for the Province of New Brunswick, played a key role in its development and served as the head of the program until it was transferred to the Teachers College in Fredericton in 1953.

   Applications from veterans with trade skills for a teacher training course led to the organization of a course at the Canadian Veterans’ Rehabilitation Center #3 in Millidgeville and Center #4 in Moncton in May, 1946 (Dow, The Tech: Moncton NBCC, 1946-1986, 18). Four student teachers were enrolled in Center #3 and one in Center #4.This program for training industrial teachers did not disappear when in 1947 the Federal Government scaled down its program of vocational training for veterans. Rather it became an integral part of the Provincial Technical Institute established by the Province of New Brunswick in 1948 under the direction of Clinton L. Dow with the teacher education students at Center #4 moving to Moncton and the program coming under the direction of W. B. Thompson (McNutt, 326).

   In 1947 the name of the Provincial Normal School was changed to the New Brunswick Teachers College, the change reflecting trends in teacher education that were occurring across North America. For those older teachers who had attended the institution known as P.N.S. the change in name was felt keenly and many of them continued to say for the rest of their lives that they were graduates of the old P.N.S.

   While summer school courses had been offered at Saint Joseph’s University in the late-1930s, it was in 1947 that the first seven degrees in teaching were awarded by that institution. Three years later a Baccalaureate in Education began to be offered during the regular year. In 1953 the Degree in Education was moved to the Moncton campus of Saint Joseph’s and when the Université de Moncton was founded in 1963, the name of the Faculty of Education was changed to the School of Psychology and Education (Cormier, 164-165).

   In 1949 the policy of accelerated classes at the New Brunswick Teachers College was discontinued and the teacher training program became once more a 10-month one. However, hand in hand with the growing need for more teachers was the realization that the period of teacher preparation needed to be lengthened. The growth of regional schools with more diversified programs, the growing technology and more complex industrial operations, the growing body of knowledge about how children learn - all of these developments were factors in the belief that more time was needed to educate the teachers of an increasingly more complex society.

   In 1950 the University of New Brunswick began to offer a post-graduate Bachelor of Education degree and in the same year a Department of Education was established with Dr. Robert J. Love as its chair. Over the next two decades he was instrumental in promoting initiatives that brought the provincial teacher education responsibility into a closer relationship with the University. Serving first as an administrative assistant to University of New Brunswick president Milton Gregg and as a professor of Economics, this former high school principal was also a champion for New Brunswick teachers, a role for which he will long be remembered and for which he was awarded an honorary LLD by his alma mater upon his retirement in 1972.

   In 1952 Saint Thomas University began to offer a post-graduate Bachelor of Education degree. As the decades passed, this program continued to increase its number of graduates and programs designed to meet the changes of the twenty-first century.

   A Bachelor of Teaching degree was offered at the University of New Brunswick in 1956 and at Mount Allison University in 1957. This degree initially meant that three years of study beyond the one year taken at Teachers College would be of particular benefit of teachers in the field, for they could pursue a degree program through summer school attendance if they did not wish to take time off teaching to attend university on a full-time basis.

   Two events in 1959 were of signal importance in the preparation of teachers. One was the move to establish a two-year program for the training of secondary teachers. This new program enabled teachers to pursue a BA or BSc degree upon completion of an additional two years’ coursework at university. As with candidates for the BT degree secondary teachers had the option of pursuing their degree either through summer school attendance or attendance at university during regular academic sessions.

   The second significant event was the establishment in that year of a two-year course for business education teachers at the New Brunswick Technical Institute (Moncton) under the direction of Margaret Macdougall (later a professor of Business Education at the University of New Brunswick). This program was the culmination of approximately four decades of meeting the supply of business education teachers by “licensed academic teachers with business training and/or business experience, experienced business teachers from private business colleges and church schools, or individuals with a good business background desirous of entering the field"(Macdougall, 279). These individuals, either at personal or government expense, had pursued specialized study either in Ontario or in the United States.

   However, these sources were proving inadequate to meet the need of business education teachers as the number of students enrolled in these programs increased in the 1940s and 1950s. In an attempt to meet the need for teachers recent graduates of business colleges or of high school commercial programs with only one summer of preparation were called upon to fill the demand. Hence the launching of the new program at the New Brunswick Technical Institute.

   Beginning in 1961 with the completion of one full university course they were made eligible to receive Certificate II. As well, those wishing to pursue a university degree program were able to do so beginning in the same year when the University of New Brunswick‘s Bachelor of Teaching, “having been adapted to meet the needs of Home Economics and Industrial Teachers, was further adapted to provide for the special needs of Commercial Teachers” (Macdougall, 285). With the completion of 14 full year courses or the equivalent they were eligible to receive Certificate IV.

   At a later date the Universite de Moncton made an arrangement requiring completion of 12 courses so that graduates of the two-year N.B.I.T. Business Education Teacher Training Program could proceed to the Bachelor of Teaching degree in Moncton. As well, in 1970 a two-year Business Education Teacher Training program began to be offered in French at the New Brunswick Technical Institute.

   In September 1962 it was decided all teacher education programs, “with the exception of the one-year unit shop course at the New Brunswick Technical Institute were to be of two years’ duration” (Picot, 113). This change to all teacher education programs being of two-years’ duration required more space than was available, so plans to build a new facility were launched. The result was a move from downtown Fredericton to the University of New Brunswick campus, where a building – later named Marshall d’Avray Hall – was opened in September, 1964.

   In 1968 the Ecole Normale opened on the campus of the Universite de Moncton with the Fredericton campus now being considered essentially as the Teachers College for anglophone student teachers. However, in 1973  regardless of where student teachers were being prepared to teach, talk was of extending the two-year programs to four years and – following the appointment and recommendations of University of New Brunswick Professor Harvey Malmberg and Ecole Normale principal Yvan Albert – teacher education programs were transferred to the Universities of Moncton and New Brunswick.

   Degree programs were designed to be of four years’ duration with an extensive practice teaching component (internship) with the various levels and subjects taught in the public schools of New Brunswick being integral to them. At the same time the one-year post-secondary BEd degree remained available for those who wished to pursue it as a post-graduate degree. Graduate MEd degree programs continued but with a wider selection of areas to specialize in.

   Business education and Industrial teacher education programs for anglophone students were transferred to the University of New Brunswick campus. And a new era in teacher education had begun.



Cormier, Clement. (1975). L’Universite de Moncton: Historique. Moncton: Centre d’etudes Acadiennes.

Dow, Clinton L. (1986). The TECH: Moncton NBCC 1946-86. Moncton: The New Brunswick Community College (Moncton).

Macdougall, Margaret. (2001). The Evolution of Business Education in New Brunswick:; 1784-1984, Saint John: ImPresses.

MacNaughton, Katherine F. C. (1947). The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick 1784-1900, Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Historical Studies No. 1.

McNutt, James Willard (c.1983). History of Vocational Education in New Brunswick. (PANB:RS865.C.2).

Picot, J. E. (1974). A Brief History of Teacher Training in New Brunswick: 1848-1973. Fredericton: The Department of Education.

Reid, John G. (1984). Mount Allison University: A History. Vol. II. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.