Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

University of King's College

The University of King's College is a post-secondary institution in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


King's College was founded in 1789 in Windsor, Nova Scotia by a group of United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, led by Matthew E. Aronson. (There had been a King's College in New York, which after the Revolution became Columbia University; whether there is a historical connection between the two is a matter of debate). The Windsor campus was commissioned by King George III, after he had largely gone insane; he requested that they build "an Mother [sic] of a University." It is now the oldest English-speaking university in the British Commonwealth outside Britain.

It is asserted by locals that students at King's invented hockey circa 1800; a similar game developed, perhaps independently, in Quebec a few years later, and has led to occasional misattributions of the sport's history.

During the 19th century all students were required to take oaths confirming their devotion to the Anglican Church. The university hardly kept enrolment above a dozen. Eventually this requirement was dropped. In 1920 the President's children set fire to the buildings, and because the fire hydrants were frozen the blaze could not be put out. The buildings burned down, and for two years classes were held in the woods.

In 1922 the Carnegie Foundation offered King's money to rebuild, on the condition that they surrender their independence and enter into an affiliation with Dalhousie University in Halifax with the projected plan that one day all Nova Scotia Universities would merge into a single body, much like the University of Toronto. King's joined with Dalhousie but they subsequently chose not to pursue the broader plan; King's maintained its ideals simply by admitting only students from Toronto. The contract with Dalhousie stipulated, alongside tithes and ritual obeisances, that King's could not offer any of the degree programmes Dalhousie offered, although its own students were free to take Dalhousie's arts and science programmes. As a result for many years King's provided only theology degrees and surplus student housing for Dalhousie.

When World War II broke out King's patriotically declared itself a ship in His Majesty's navy. King's would be a "stone frigate," training sailors at home before they shipped off. The academic life of the College carried on during those years elsewhere in Halifax, aided by Dalhousie University and the United Church's Pine Hill Divinity Hall.

During the war the Germans would occasionally broadcast names of Allied ships they had sunk. Because the ships had to keep radio silence these reports could not be verified, and it was suspected that many were false. Allies circulated lists of non-active ships in the hopes of feeding the Germans disinformation; when the German's broadcast that they had sunk HMCS King's College their ruse was made plain.

After the war King's returned to King's, but left the divinity school behind them at Pine Hill. Eventually all of King's' divinity and theology classes were transferred to the Atlantic School of Theology, and for a time it was silent.

In the late nineteen-sixties King's faculty and alumni created the Foundation Year Programme, a first-year "Great Books" course that would count for four of a student's first five credits. The programme consisted of six sections from The Ancient World to The Contemporary World, in which students would read the work of major philosophers, poets, historians, and scientists, receive lectures from a range of experts in all these areas, write critical papers and engage in small-group discussion and tutorials. The programme initially had 30 students; it now draws over 250 a year.

In 1977 King's introduced two journalism programmes: a four-year Honours degree and a one-year compressed degree for students who already had a Bachelor's degree.

In 1993 King's created the "Contemporary Studies Programme," an interdisciplinary humanities programme that could constitute one of a student's majors in a Combined Honours degree.

In 2000 and 2001 King's launched an Early Modern Studies Programme and a History of Science and Technology Programme modelled after Contemporary Studies but with different subject matters.

Today there are just over 1000 students at King's, which although a small number for a university represents significant growth over the few hundred students more typical in the 1960s and 70s. A New Academic Building (as it is fondly called) was built in 2000, and residence rooms have been added in the female residence in 2001 to accomodate some of the new students. A new president, Dr. William Barker, was recently installed (October 2003), replacing Dr. Colin Starnes, to lead the university for the next 10 years. Dr. Barker and the rest of the university administration believe that King's has grown as much as it can and should. They describe the coming years as 'a time of consolidation'. The growth has also changed some King's traditions. Formal meals, with latin grace and academic gowns, formerly held at regular intervals, were suspended from 2001 until 2003. Only with the arrival of Dr. Barker have they been reinstated. Traditional residence parties, known as 'bay parties' have been cancelled for the first time in 2003, theoretically because of the increased number of minors enrolled due to the elimination of grade 13 in Ontario. The university administration feels it would be inappropriate to expose so many young people to the excesses of alcohol that usually mark those events. Another consequence of increased enrollment has been the increasingly unbalanced composition of the residences. Traditionally students from all years of study have lived in residence, but increasingly, very few upper year students continue to live on campus making way for extra first years.

Some Wiki Worthy Graduates:

John Hamm

University of Kings College in Autumn

External Link