Throughout 2017, the Association shines a spotlight on the two men truly responsible for giving the Association the opportunity to create the Annapolis Community Mapping Project. In fact, there would be no COGS in Annapolis County in the first place. And without COGS, none of what has been accomplished by the Association would exist today.

J.B. Hall and Major James Church  never met, yet it was the vision of the former finally realized by the persistence of the latter – over decades – which resulted in the County landmark institution, now called The Centre for Geographic Sciences.

Our thanks to the Nova Scotia Department of Community, Culture and Heritage and it’s 150 Forward Fund. Our celebration of this not-widely-known example of Nova Scotian innovation and achievement during Canada’s 150 th birthday year is made possible by the Department. It recognized the Association’s idea as a good fit with it’s theme of notable personalities and their achievements in the Province.

Hall and Church, in brief:

1866: a twenty three year old blacksmith from rural Annapolis County who could neither read nor write.

1888: a five year old in India, having lost both parents to cholera, finds himself living in presbyterian Scotland with his aunts. His four siblings were taken in by other relatives, it is thought.

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 1ST World War German trenches, and leading a bomb disposal unit.

Both Hall and Church had Lawrenceton in common. J.B. Hall was born there in 1843 and was a life-long benefactor of his hometown. Major James Church “retired” to the town in 1931 and remained there for the rest of his life. Church came to know Hall, who died in 1928, only by his reputation and through his thoughtful last bequest.

A 30-year career educator, Hall had a high regard for German and other vocational schools he’d visited while traveling in Europe. Perhaps this is why upon his death,  his estate included a $25,000 legacy for the eventual building of a vocational school in Annapolis County. Who would champion the idea and push it forward?

Major Church, fifty eight years old at the outbreak of the 2nd World War, served his country by teaching 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 under various departmental jurisdictions in temporary venues in several Lawrencetown buildings. During the same  period he persevered in his unrelenting campaign of persuasion. That his surveying schools stayed in Lawrencetown during those years demonstrates just how determined he was to fulfill Hall’s vision.

By October, 1958, and using $80,000 of the Hall legacy, the Nova Scotia Land Survey Institute (NSLSI) had been built in Lawrencetown. By 1975  a much, much bigger “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 unlikely Hall and Church partnership, a shared innovative vision, and unwavering perseverance, proved to be the formula for the extraordinary development, in rural Annapolis County, of a world-leading technical education facility.