About the Macdonald Museum

Our museum is located in the former Macdonald Consolidated School building, which was:

  • The first consolidated school building in Canada
  • Founded by Sir William C. Macdonald, educational philanthropist
  • School operated from 1903 to 1979
  • Museum collections include historical artifacts of the area.
  • Research Library for genealogical historical research.
  • Recreated classroom and general store.
  • A small natural history exhibit, including species at risk.
Incorporated in 1978, the Annapolis Valley Historical Society acts as a governing body for the Museum. The Society meets at 7:30 PM on the fourth Tuesday of each month from September to November and in April. The annual general meeting is held the fourth Tuesday of May.

Sir William Christopher Macdonald (1831- 1917)

Sir William Christopher Macdonald was born in Tracadie, Prince Edward Island in 1831. He was educated at the Central Academy in Charlottetown, now known as the University of PEI and later moved to Montreal where he earned a considerable fortune as a tobacco manufacturer. He was knighted in 1898 by Queen Victoria for his vast contributions, mainly in the education field.

Sir William was a very generous philanthropist and a great believer in the educational philosophies of James Wilson Robertson. They felt that children could be offered a better education if small rural schools were consolidated. With this in mind, Macdonald funded the building and equipment for four consolidated schools in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Ontario. The first one built was the Macdonald Consolidated School in Middleton, N.S. in 1903.

His generosity extended across Canada. He also founded McGill University’s Macdonald Agricultural College in 1905 and served as Chancellor of McGill for many years. He never married and died in Montreal on June 9, 1917, leaving his tobacco company to the Stewart brothers, Walter and Howard, who were longtime employees and the sons of Macdonald’s “right hand man” manager David Stewart.

The legacy of Sir William is still at work through the Macdonald Stewart Foundation based in Montreal. The Foundation contributed funds to build a greenhouse at the south end of the Macdonald school in 1975 and provided financial assistance to transform the school into the Macdonald Museum in the early 1980s.