Description of Historic Place
King's College National Historic Site of Canada is located south of the Avon River in Windsor, Nova Scotia. The location was chosen because it was situated away from the distractions of major cities, and because many influential Nova Scotians owned homes in the surrounding area. The site designated as King’s College in 1923 is still an educational facility today, and consists of King’s-Edgehill School and a number of landscape features, early educational buildings, staff buildings and student residences. These include Alexandra Hall, Hensley Memorial Chapel, Convocation Hall, Buckle House, and Marshall House. Official recognition refers to the site of King’s College as it existed at the time of designation in 1923, including approximately 28 hectares of land.
King's College was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1923 because:
- it was founded in 1789, it is the oldest university in what was to become Canada, and educated many distinguished leaders in church and state. [1927 Minutes]
The University of King’s College was founded by Reverend Charles Inglis, the first Bishop of Nova Scotia, and other Anglican United Empire Loyalists in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1789. King’s was the first university to be established in Britain’s overseas Dominions. There was significant anxiety in the colony about education following the American Revolution. While there were several universities in New York, New England and other American states, there were no institutions for higher education in the remaining British colonies. King’s College was established to prevent young men from becoming alienated and traveling abroad to receive an education. In 1802, King’s College received a Royal Charter from King George III. Graduates of the university attained positions of prominence in the ministry, in law, in the army, in political life and in the literary world. Since its foundation, the College has also been the primary educational institution for members of the clergy in the Maritime Provinces.
Constructed between 1861 and 1863, Convocation Hall is the oldest surviving building on the original campus of King’s College. It is situated in an isolated location so as to remain protected from the threat of fire. Convocation Hall was used as the museum and library at King’s College from the time of its completion in 1863 until 1923, when the college moved to Halifax.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes 1927.
The key elements relating to the heritage value of the site include:
- its location within the city of Windsor, Nova Scotia;
- its predominantly wooded setting, on a hilltop south of the Avon River;
- the mixed-use character of the site including early educational buildings, staff buildings, student residences and landscape features;
- the spatial relationship between the various buildings and the surrounding landscape;
- Convocation Hall, including its isolated setting, integrity, sandstone construction, two-storey rectangular massing, main entrance marked by a pointed arch of Tudor design and surmounted by a grouping of three semi-circular headed windows, Romanesque windows with stepped buttresses between each pair, steep gabled roof, shallow eaves with stone dentil trim, and the two tiered end-chimneys of stone construction;
- Hensley Memorial Chapel, including its integrity, stone construction, rectangular massing, Romanesque windows with stepped buttresses between each pair, rose window, steep gable roof and its overall architectural integrity;
- Alexandra Hall, including its two-and-a-half storey irregular massing, evenly-spaced sash windows, steep gable roof with double gable dormers, its architectural integrity and treed landscape;
- Marshal House and Buckle House including their two-and-a-half story irregular massings with evenly-spaced sash windows with plain trim, gable roofs, and their architectural integrity;
- any remaining landscape features including playing fields, treed lawns and trails;
-viewscapes from the site across the town of Windsor to the Avon River.