Nova Scotia Training School

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Nova Scotia Training School
Established 1926
Opened 1929
Closed 1997
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Brookside, NS
Alternate Names
  • Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre


The Nova Scotia Training School at Brookside was built as a result of legislation meant to control the fecundity of the “sub-normal” population of the province as revealed by a 1926 Royal Commission that surveyed the population of the province in collaboration with the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene. ( The Bulletin, 1929, 2). The school officially opened in 1929, and closed in the late 1990s.

By 1931 the school consisted of two dormitories with 50 beds for boys and 70 for girls, classrooms, gymnasium, assembly hall, laundry and the facilities to teach the children carpentry, shoe making, barbering and farming. The institution was under the control of Mr. and Mrs. MacKay and by 1931 was at capacity. (Spaulding, 1931, 40) Dr. Eliza Brison who had previously been in charge of the International Daughters of Empire Home for feeble-minded girls in Halifax was appointed as the first medical superintendent; she had also worked at the Walter S. Fernald State School in Waverley, Massachusetts.

Fred MacKinnon, a senior civil servant who worked for the Nova Scotian government for 56 years and who died in 2006 described the discipline at the school as strict and the institution’s purpose as a place of custody where “undesirables” were held “so that they wouldn’t contaminate or weaken the human race by producing “feeble-minded” offspring.” (Wark, 2006) MacKinnon helped to reform the school and believed that by “the late 1970s it was doing excellent work caring for ‘mentally challenged’ children.” (Wark, 2006)