History of the NSTU

Yesterday ...1850 to 1920 -- Developing a Union

Upper Stewiacke was the site of the first teachers' association in Nova Scotia; by 1851 at least 12 were formed in the province. In 1862 the Educational Association of Nova Scotia was formed for the general advancement of education and the elevation of the professional and social status of teachers. In 1895 the Nova Scotia Teachers Union was founded. Margaret Graham, Central Economy, exhorted the group on the need for organization. Robert MacLellan, principal of Pictou Academy, was elected president of the Union, and W. T. Kennedy, a principal in Halifax City was named secretary-treasurer. The next year, an NSTU constitution was adopted to elevate and unify the profession; bring claims of the profession to the public and Legislature; keep abreast of worldwide trends; increase the capabilities, salaries and working conditions of teachers; and provide teacher protection. In 1903 the NSTU was reorganized following seven years without an annual meeting. Later meetings of the Union were recorded for the years 1908, 1910, 1912, 1916, 1918 and 1920. Some names prominent in Union activity in these years were W. A. Creelman, J. A. Smith, David Soloan, A. W. Woodhill and R. W. Ford.

1921 to 1982 - Some Developments

In 1921 the NSTU was reorganized, a new constitution prepared and a special Annual Council held. The first president of the reorganized Union was H. H. Blois; Dr. M. M. Coady was secretary. In January 1922, the first NSTU Bulletin was published, predecessor of The Teacher. In 1942 a minimum provincial salary plan was established, and in 1946 the minimum salary scale was implemented. The first NSTU Handbook was printed in 1949. In 1953 Justice V. J. Pottier was named a one-member Royal Commission on Public School Finance. The Foundation Program, implemented in 1955 as the system of education finance, was described as providing equalization with stimulation. In 1974 the Royal Commission on Education Finance (Graham) was finalized and the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act passed. The Anti-Inflation Review Board (AIB), in 1976, rolled back negotiated teacher salaries. In 1981 the Commission on Education Finance (Walker) reported to the province. In 1982, school boards were amalgamated into 21 district boards; NSTU locals adopted the district model.

The NSTU Today

The present NSTU maintains the original concepts of its founding members: to unify and elevate the teaching profession and to improve the quality of education offered our young people.

In its makeup, NSTU is governed by a 23-member provincial executive including a full time president. The executive director and professional staff execute the policy and programs of the Union as directed by its Annual Council and meetings of the executive. To manage the affairs of 10,000 plus members, the NSTU functions through district locals, a provincial committee structure, and more than 20 professional associations. Organizational structure provides communication to members in every area of the province. Through school representatives, Local councils, and the provincial executive and staff, the needs and concerns of teachers are passed to important partners in public school education: the provincial Department of Education, government, Nova Scotia School Boards Association, Nova Scotia Federation of Home and School Associations, parents and publics.


The NSTU, with its mandate to both the profession and its publics, will continue to communicate the views of the teaching profession on important educational matters. In 1995, the NSTU observed its 100th anniversary with a continued commitment to quality education for the young people of Nova Scotia.

A full history of the NSTU is available in pdf format:  Landmarks and Challenges: A Short History of the NSTU.