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Part Two: 1944 to 1968

NBHEA continued to grow throughout the war and post war years. While this growth was not reflected in the size of its membership (active membership hovered between 30 and 60 from 1944 to 1950), it was evident in the strides the association was making. In 1944 there were eight active committees within the provincial association, half of which were headed by professional Home Economists who worked within the school system, hospitals the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture.

The Education Committee was quick to see the needs of a changing society. In 1944 it was pressing for the inclusion of boys in home economics courses program of Health and Community Living for grade six students and vocational guidance within the schools to encourage students to pursue the field of Home Economics. The committee was working toward the standardization of Home Economics curricula in the province with the aim of establishing a definite standard of matriculation prerequisites.

The idea of setting up a scholarship for the purpose of helping Home Economics students pursue post secondary training was first introduced at the 1944 convention in Fredericton. The question of salaries for professional Home Economists was discussed and it was felt that women would simply not go into this field if salaries were low.

At this time national surveys showed that Canadian’s diets were nutritionally low. Through its nutrition committee NBHEA played an active role in Canada’s Nutrition Campaign and was functioning within the schools through the school lunch programs. It was the hope of the association in 1944 that there would be lunch rooms in every rural school and that the teachers would have the nutritional knowledge to make the most of them. With the passing of the Rural Schools Assistance Act in 1943, rural schools with lunch programs had become eligible for grants.

In 1945 the executive of the NBHEA passed the following resolutions:

  1. the New Brunswick Women’s Institute would be asked to give $100.00 to help support a rural student specializing in Home Economics,
  2. the Canadian Home Economics Association would be asked for its support of the association’s demand that equal pay be given for equal work, and
  3. NBHEA would recommend to the Department of Education that university credits be given for summer school courses.

Throughout this time NBHEA had started Garment Making Clubs and was offering short courses in sewing through the Department of Agriculture. Two of its members had compiled a cookbook for “English Brides” coming to NB after the war and the association was beginning to examine the need for sex education in its Family Life course. By 1948 there were at least 43 members, among them extension workers in the Departments of Agriculture and Health, teachers in schools, vocational schools and colleges. Some of the teachers reported at the conventions on the summer courses they had taken in dressmaking, special diets, clothing, methods, psychology and child care.

In 1949 the first Maritime conference was held in Amherst, attended by over 150 Home Economists from NB, NS and PEI. The links that were first formed in 1918 had indeed expanded. The mood was enthusiastic; guest lecturers included dieticians and professors of Home Economics and Biochemistry. Under discussion were such topics as Family Life Education, Mental Hygiene and Institutional Food Service. The convention was an unqualified success and membership in the NBHEA had reached an unprecedented 69 by this time.

Between 1945 and 1955 a federal provincial agreement known as the Vocational School Assistance Agreement provided the funds needed for the expansion of vocational education. In 1949 the province’s third vocational school, the New Brunswick Technical Institute, was opened in Moncton. By this time a uniform program of Household Science was offered at 11 urban composite and 7 regional high schools throughout the province. In the fall of 1950 five more regional high schools were opened for a total of twenty-three.

This was a period of post war affluence. Membership in the NBHEA swelled to eighty-six in 1955 and included 50 teachers, 18 non-employed Home Economists, 10 dieticians and 5 extension workers. There were over 200 names of Home Economists on file in NB. At the same time NBHEA was looking forward, making plans for the future, reflecting on where it had come from and taking action to safeguard its past.

At the 1950 convention in Sussex, in her president’s address Florence Swan encouraged the NBHEA members to consider developing closer liaisons with the Canadian Council of Women, the Canadian Dietetics Association and the Canadian Association of Consumers. She recommended that standing committees be expanded and that their work reflect closer cooperation with that of the Canadian Home Economics Association. Florence Swan also suggested the association work of the promotion of local and student home economics clubs. At this convention it was voted to present an honorary membership to Bessie Almira Young Bowden. Mrs. Bowden, one of NB’s first Home Economics teachers, graduated from the School of Household Science, Mount Allison University in 1905.

By the time of the next convention in 1951 there were 82 members, an archives committee had been formed and there were NBHEA home economics clubs in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.

Meanwhile the Department of Education was making changes that would directly affect Home Economists in NB. In 1952 the Vocational High School License was introduced and in 1953 the two-year teacher-training program in Home Economics was transferred from Saint John Vocational School to Teachers College in Fredericton. At this convention in Amherst, the NBHEA struck a committee to study the question of certification of NB Home Economics teachers.

At the 1956 convention, Helen Crocker, chair of the Family Life Committee, suggested NBHEA publish a cookbook that could be sold in advance of the CHEA convention slated for St. Andrews in 1958. The cookbook was published and 500 copies of “New Brunswick Recipes”, were distributed to the three Maritime associations at the convention. In 1961 Elaine Neilson, a Mount Allison student from New Denmark, NB, was awarded the first NBHEA Scholarship of $300.00. A need identified 17 years earlier was now being addressed.

While the archival record is sketchy for the years between 1962 and 1968, existing documents indicate the NBHEA was alive and well. In 1966 the province hosted a convention of the Atlantic Home Economics Association for the first time in NB. The Education Committee was working on behalf of NBHEA, sending letters to Premier Louis Robichaud and Minister of Education W.W. Meldrum opposing the government’s decision to delete Home Economics from the grade seven compulsory courses. In 1967 because of the ongoing work of the Cookbook Committee, the NBHEA was able to provide two scholarships (a practice that carries on today) and publish the cookbook in French.

In 1967 it was decided that no new students would be accepted for the degree program in Home Economics at Mount Allison University. The same year l’École de Science Domestiques was opened at Université de Moncton., offering a Baccalaureat en Science Domestiques thus providing at this time the only degree program in Home Economics in the province.