From 1928 to 1943
The First Twenty Five Years : 1918-1943
In July 1918 the NB Home Economics teachers were in Fredericton for a special convention of four days at the Provincial Normal School. At the close of the convention the teachers met to consider organizing themselves into a provincial association.
Just fifteen years earlier the Household Science teachers in Ontario had formed a support organization for “manual training” teachers at the request of the Provincial Department of Education. Further west, in 1911, the Manitoba Home Economics Association was organized as a means of establishing bonds among the home economics in that province.
To the south, the American Home Economics Association was created in 1910 as a result of a home economics conference in Lake Placid, New York 1899.
NB Home Economists were among the leaders in North America to see the need to form an organization for the professionals in this field and to take actions towards that end.
Ethel Swanson took the chair at the 1918 organizational meeting in Fredericton. After she explained the object of this meeting, Miss Gladys Borden of Sackville led a brief discussion. Miss Swanson vacated the chair for the nominations. Miss Peacock presided and the following slate of officers was elected:
Honorary president: Miss Jean Peacock
President: Miss Ethel Swanson
Vice-president: Miss Margaret Burgess
Secretary: Miss Sadie M. Barnett
It was decided that the new organization should be known as the New Brunswick Home Economics Association. The first meeting of the association could be held in August, during the Maritimes Teachers Convention.
With the first NBHEA meeting at the Aberdeen school in Moncton, one month later, Sadie Barnett resigned as secretary. Miss E. Reed was elected in her place, membership dues were set at 25 cents, there were twelve paid up members and program for school work to be used by the province’s teachers was outlined.
NBHEA thrived for the next six years. At the annual meeting of 1921 membership dues were raised from 25 cents to one dollar. The following year, 16 members were in attendance at the convention at Saint John High where a committee of four was struck to frame up a constitution and the course of instruction for schools, outlined at the organizational meeting was adopted. The minutes from this 1922 meeting recorded that members were considering “taking the necessary steps to affiliate with the American Home Economics Association.”
The first newsletter of the NBHEA was published in November 1923 and a Library Committee a Membership Committee had been formed.
Until 1924, NBHEA performed an important role in creating links among the Home Economists in this province. But after the annual meeting in May that year, the association fell dormant. The recorded minutes indicate that the association was having difficulty in find a suitable date to everyone for the AGM. As teachers, the association’s members were obligated to attend all the meetings the NB Teachers Association convention and this was found to be too strenuous. Summer vacation was considered but too many members would be out of the province.
Throughout this time, vocational education in NB was carving out a path for itself. In 1917 a committee had been set up to study vocational needs in the province. After visiting centres in North America where vocational education was part of the secondary school programs, the committee recommended a system of vocational education to the provincial government. The NB Vocational Education Act was made available for teacher’s salaries and equipment for schools. The first vocational programs were organized and in 1920 there were 52 students in Agriculture and Home Economics at the Carleton County Vocational School in Woodstock.
The passing of the federal government’s Technical Education Act in 1919 provided the needed federal assistance and thus the impetus to continue the development of vocational education in the province’s schools. In 1922 the Department of Education appointed its first director of Vocational Education. With the construction of Fredericton High School in 1924 and the Saint John Vocational School in 1926 the number of facilities offering home economics courses now totalled 5 urban composite high schools and 2 vocational schools.
The study of “Domestic Economy” was among the required courses for all candidates for teacher’s licenses when formal training for NB teachers was established under the Act of 1847. In 1904 teacher training in Home Economics was given a boost with the opening in January of the Lillian Massey Treble School of Household Science at what was then Mount Allison Ladies College. In the spring of that year the province’s Board of Education agreed to accept as qualifications for teaching “Household Science” in the public schools, a NB Teacher’s License with a diploma or certificate from Mount Allison’s Household Science School. This regulation resulted in the setting up two Teacher Training Programs at the college: one of one year and the other of two years.
In 1924 Mount Allison University became the first in the province to offer a degree program in Home Economics. The four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Household Science offered majors in Nutrition, Institution Management and Clothing. Until the program was discontinued in 1970, Mount Allison University played a leading role in education as the only Anglophone University with a degree program in home economics.
Despite falling revenues during the depression years and the termination in 1931 of federal assistance under the Technical Education Act, all essential vocational programs were maintained in NB schools.
There was renewed vigour within NBHEA during the war years. Home economists had important roles to play. The annual NBHEA convention in 1943 in Saint John hosted home economists from Ottawa, Mount Allison and Nova Scotia. Membership dues were dropped to 50 cents and Miss Anna Spears, a post-graduate of the University of Manitoba, then with War Services in Ottawa, addressed the issue of “Food Distribution and Supply Problems in Canada”. Perhaps just as important as her presentation was her plea to the NBHEA “…to have complete and absolute pride in our profession and in what that profession as a group can do.”