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Pictou Academy National Historic Site of Canada

Pictou, Nova Scotia, B0K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1937/05/20

General view of Pictou Academy, showing the plaque and cairn located on the corner of Church Street and Willow Street, 2007.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2007.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Pictou Academy National Historic Site of Canada
Pictou Academy
Académie de Pictou
West End School
West End School

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/11/16

Statement of Significance

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.

Heritage Value

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.

Character-Defining Elements

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.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1816/01/01 to 1816/01/01
1818/01/01 to 1932/01/01
1831/01/01 to 1831/01/01
1880/01/01 to 1880/01/01
1932/01/01 to 1932/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts
Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type


Commemorative Monument


Post-Secondary Institution
Primary or Secondary School

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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