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Acadia Seminary

Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1987/01/19

Front elevation, Acadia Seminary, Wolfville, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005
Front Elevation
North-east view, Acadia Seminary, Wolfville, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005
North-East View
North view, Acadia Seminary, Wolfville, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005
North View

Other Name(s)

Acadia Seminary
Seminary House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1879/01/01 to 1879/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/02/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Situated in the heart of the Acadia University campus, Acadia Seminary is an architecturally impressive landmark for both the university community and the town of Wolfville. It is a late nineteenth-century, four-storey, wooden structure with Second Empire architectural features. The building’s elevated front façade overlooks the university’s parkland setting that is dotted with several mature trees and paved walk-ways connecting to other campus buildings. Only the building and the land it occupies is included in the designation.

Heritage Value

The Acadia Seminary building is valued for its unique architecture, its association with the history of Acadia University, its association with the history of women’s education at Acadia, and as the oldest building in Canada used for women’s post-secondary education.

Designed by Andrew Dewar, the Seminary is the oldest building on the Acadia campus, and is architecturally unique to the university and displays many Second Empire features, including a Mansard roof with projecting dormers and moulded brackets, and a projecting frontispiece with a five-paned fan transom window over the main entrance. The first-floor windows on the front elevation are semi-circular with broken architraves.

Established by progressive Baptist leaders in order to give young women more educational opportunities, the Seminary is the oldest structure in Canada used to house women pursuing post-secondary education. When the residence opened in 1878, known at the time as the Acadia Ladies’ Seminary, it was a secondary or finishing school affiliated with the university to serve as residence and classrooms for female students who at the time were unable to enrol in academic classes at Acadia.

Many Seminary graduates went on to seek further education, and by 1881 women were finally permitted to enrol in classes at Acadia. Seminary student Clara Marshall was the first woman to earn a degree at Acadia in 1884, and she is also credited as one of the first women to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Canada. Alice Fitch, also a Seminary student, graduated the following year with a Masters of Arts degree, the first Masters degree awarded to a woman at Acadia. Fitch went on to become the first woman to sit on the university senate.

In 1926, Seminary courses were amalgamated with regular university curriculum and the building became an academic building and residence of Acadia University. In the 1980s, it became a co-ed residence with its first floor functioning as classroom and office space. The Seminary is currently home to Acadia’s School of Education.

Source: Town of Wolfville Heritage Property Program files, Acadia Seminary file.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of Acadia Seminary include:

- large scale of the building, standing four storeys high;
- steep-pitched Mansard roof of the Second Empire style;
- clapboard siding with wide corner boards;
- projecting frontispiece;
- decorative, arched cornices;
- mix of gabled and flat dormer windows;
- classical-style mouldings and ornate brackets;
- semi-circular windows with broken architraves on front elevation.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts

Function - Category and Type


Group Residence
Post-Secondary Institution


Architect / Designer

Andrew Dewar



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Inventory Site Form found at Planning and Development Services, Town of Wolfville, 200 Dykeland Street, Wolfville, NS, B4P 1A2

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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