Skip to main content Skip to site utility navigation Skip to main site navigation Skip to site search Skip to footer

Historical timeline

While the Nova Scotia Community College we know today was officially created in 1996, our history can be traced back well beyond 25 years to 1872, when Nova Scotia’s first technical and vocational school opened.

As we celebrate our success over the last 25 years and beyond, we're taking a look back at our extensive roots, achievements and groundbreaking initiatives that continue to make a positive impact for many.

Explore our history by viewing the timeline of NSCC’s major milestones.

Halifax Marine School building 1872 - Halifax Marine School

Nova Scotia’s first vocational and technical educational institution is established. Between 1872 and 1987, when it opens at its current location in Port Hawkesbury, the school’s name changes several times.

Today, the Nautical Institute of Strait Area Campus continues the legacy of that first institution, delivering training that meets the needs of the marine industry.

Headshot of Major James Church 1946 - Major James Church

Following WWII, Major James Church moves the Canadian Army’s No. 6 Vocational Training School from Halifax to Lawrencetown and begins offering land survey training at the Annapolis Valley Exhibition.

In the years that follow, the program moves to the Legion Hall and Hankinson's Store in Middleton before its permanent home is established with the construction of the Nova Scotia Land Survey Institute in 1963.

Today, the building is better known as the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS).

Vintage image of school building 1950 - Predecessor schools

Many of the facilities that remain part of NSCC open in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Although the Halifax County Vocational High School opens in 1950 and becomes the NSCC Bell Road Campus, the building closes in 2005 as part of a province-wide effort modernize the College’s facilities.

Of the existing facilities, Truro Campus’s Forrester Hall is the oldest, opening in 1961 as the Nova Scotia Teacher's College. Today, it houses classrooms, a lecture theatre, study spaces, offices and a café.

Vintage photo of a vocational school building 1988 - A beginning

The Province of Nova Scotia creates a community college system under the Department of Advanced Education and Job Training. It brings together 19 specialized, technical training institutions, many of which were founded in the 1960s.

Large group photo of men and women in professional attire 1996 - Bill 55

On April 1, the province proclaims the Community Colleges Act and NSCC is born in its modern form. In August, NSCC confirms its first Board of Governors.

photo with caption from a vintage year book of two men and a woman 1997 - Student Services

NSCC forms a task force to expand the quality and range of services and programs for students. The group leads the development of a province-wide admission and registration approach and creates Centres for Student Success at each campus. These centres form the foundation for Student Services, Accessibility Services, the Writing and Testing Centres, and Career and Employment Services.

A female teacher instructing a class of men and women in a boardroom 1997 - Professional Development

The Community College Education Diploma program launches for faculty and professional support staff. Today, NSCC Organizational Learning offers employees dozens of online and in-person learning options to help them build the skills and confidence they need to be successful, regardless of their role.

Two women walking on a path 1998 - Diversity and Inclusion

NSCC develops dedicated roles to support the needs of Black and African Nova Scotian students, Indigenous students and those who experience physical or mental barriers to education.

The following year, NSCC launches college-wide disability services in partnership with the Province of Nova Scotia.

Today, the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion Department aims to eliminate systemic barriers throughout NSCC and to foster an ecosystem that's welcoming to students, employees and community partners.

Image of a laptop sitting on a woman's lap in a livingroom 1998 - Online Learning

On May 20, NSCC launches online programming to support apprenticeship training. In 2018, the College introduces nine fully-online programs and eCampus officially becomes the College’s 14th campus.

a colorful envelope branded year one 1999 - Strategic Plan

The College’s first strategic plan is published, with the added values of diversity and accessibility. In 2001, NSCC partners with the Province of Nova Scotia to deliver the Adult Learning Program.

An instructor wearing a hard hat talking to a male and female student next to machine shop equipment 1999 - Customized Learning

NSCC launches its first customized training program with CIBC and readies call centre operators for work across the province.

Today, we collaborate with start-ups, non-profits, private sector businesses, industry, First Nations communities and others to design and deliver specialized training, upskilling courses and continuing education programs.

Image of a 3D digital map of the Halifax waterfront 2000 - Applied Research

The College establishes an Applied Research division, which allows students, researchers and instructors to support external collaborators by developing practical solutions to industry's real-world challenges.

Today, we specialize in four applied research areas — energy, engineered technologies, geomatics, and environment and agriculture technology — and are considered one of Canada’s top 50 research colleges.

NSCC Make Way postcard featuring an image of woman in grad gown hugging a man also in graduation attire 2001 - NSCC Foundation

The NSCC Foundation is incorporated and brings together eight separate campus-based charitable organizations. In 2019, the Foundation’s Make Way Campaign concludes, raising $33M+ in support of student financial aid, programming, instructional equipment and centres of expertise. Thanks to the generous support of donors, the Foundation distributes $2.3M in student awards and urgent aid across the College in 2020.

NSCC Make Way postcard featuring an image of woman in grad gown hugging a man also in graduation attire 2003 - Historic Investment

The Province of Nova Scotia makes a landmark investment of $123M in NSCC. The investment supports the modernization of existing facilities across the province and the creation of a new campus, resulting in increased student capacity and enhanced programming.

A group of alumni sitting at a table 2006 - Alumni Program

NSCC’s Strategic Plan recognizes alumni relations as a key activity to organizational growth. In 2015, the first college-wide alumni program launches.

Sideview of a building covered in vegetation 2007 - Sustainability

NSCC Executive pledges to become a leader in sustainability for the benefit of all Nova Scotians and soon commits that all new buildings and those undergoing major renovations must achieve LEED* Certification.

The following year, the first campus is BOMA Best Certified. In 2013, NSCC enrols in STARS** to track and improve the sustainability of all campuses and activities.

* Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

** The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System

Arial view of campus building on Dartmouth waterfront 2007 - Waterfront Campus

NSCC opens the Waterfront Campus in Dartmouth. Four years later, it opens the Centre for the Built Environment wing.

In 2017, the campus is renamed in honour of former NSCC President Ray Ivany.

A female wearing a grad gown holding a diploma 2008 - Milestone Enrolment

NSCC welcomes more than 10K students into its diploma and certificate programs for the first time. The College welcomes thousands more through apprenticeship, continuing education, continuous intake and customized training.

A group of men and women outside cheering in front of a rural school in Africa 2009 - International

The College establishes NSCC International to infuse a global outlook into its curriculum, student learning and employee experiences, and to forge new relationships with global experts.

Woman wearing wielding mask in shipyard building 2012 - Pathways

NSCC and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. form the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence to support students from equity-seeking groups. Today, more than 135 individuals have received bursaries or participated in diploma programs, including graduates from Pathways to Shipbuilding Programs for African Nova Scotians, Indigenous Canadians and women.

Two men standing beside a fish tank, one is holding a fish 2016 - Work Integrated Learning

NSCC introduces a policy to formally tie curriculum outcomes to applied learning experiences completed outside the classroom. This brings added structure to the many on-the-job training opportunities that pre-date the creation of NSCC. Today, 99% of students complete some form of work-integrated learning, such as work teams, practicums, co-ops and sea time.

Woman walking beside a man in a wheel chair, approaching a wide open door in a hallway 2018 - Accessibility

The College partners with the Rick Hansen Foundation and becomes the first educational institution outside of British Columbia to offer the Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) training program.

Work also begins on the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Accessibility Framework. Completed in 2020, the document outlines Nova Scotia’s post-secondary sector’s commitment to ensuring access for persons with disabilities and others who experience barriers to accessibility through the proactive design and revision of programs, policies, practices, services and infrastructure.

Arial view of Marconi Campus being constructed on Sydney waterfront 2020 - Breaking Ground

NSCC breaks ground on the Downtown Sydney Campus, which is set to open in 2024. The project is following LEED, BOMA Best and Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ standards.

Ariel view of the Cogs residence building 2021 - New Buildings

The College announces the opening of the IT Campus Information Technology Innovation Centre, the Campus housing and Innovation Centre at Annapolis Valley Campus - Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) and the Strait Area Campus housing.

Woman in grad gown holding diploma 2021 - 25th Anniversary

Celebrating the positive impact made by students, alumni and employees on Nova Scotia's economy and quality of life from 1996-2021; and calling on our community to help envision and inspire the resilient, equitable, sustainable College that can prepare our province for what’s to come.