Hall and Church: The story of COGS celebrated April 13 in Lawrencetown

Published on April 12, 2017

COGS student Katie Chute, right, looks at a map with several community members who are writing down suggestions to place on the digital version at an information session in Lawrencetown last year to unveil the Annapolis Community Mapping Project. This year’s session is April 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the college.

©Lawrence Powell

LAWRENCETOWN - 1866: a 23-year-old man is a blacksmith in rural Annapolis County. He can neither read nor write.

1888: a five-year-old living in India, having lost both parents to typhoid, finds himself living in Scotland with relatives.

By age 34 the blacksmith had earned a BA from Acadia University, and an MA and a PhD from Boston University, both degrees in a single year.

By age 34, the five-year-old has studied at Glasgow Technical School, emigrated to Canada, been a prospector and mining engineer in Alberta, joined the Canadian Army and finds himself tunneling under First World War German trenches.

Who are they? J.B. Hall, born in Lawrencetown in 1843, and Major James Church, who “retired” there in 1931 and stayed the rest of his life, never met.

Lifelong educator Hall, having high regard for German vocational schools, upon his death in 1928 left a $25,000 legacy for the eventual building of a vocational school in Annapolis County.

Major Church, during the 2nd World War, taught soldiers surveying in Halifax. Parlaying that experience by graduating his last surveying class as civilians, in 1946, Church lobbied politicians for a provincial survey school for veterans.

For the next decade and a half, Church taught surveying in a variety of Lawrencetown buildings, and persevered in his unrelenting campaign of persuasion.

By 1961, and using $80,000 of the Hall legacy, the Nova Scotia Land Survey Institute (NSLSI) was built in Lawrencetown. By 1975 “The Centre for Geographic Sciences” (as it was renamed in 1986) was built to meet increasing demand for skilled NSLSI graduates. In the ‘70s and ‘80s the Institute became synonymous with Geomatics training excellence nationally and internationally.

The Annapolis Community Mapping Project celebrates this singular Nova Scotian innovation and achievement at COGS, April 13 as a grateful recipient of a 150 Forward grant from the Department of Community, Heritage and Culture. The event runs from 1 to 3 p.m. at COGS.

See previous story about Community Mapping here.