Nova Scotia’s first superintendent of education, J. William Dawson of Pictou (1820–1899), the renowned principal of McGill College, was among the first to attempt to “crack the tough nut” of teacher education in the province. After establishing a provincial Education Office in 1850, he set out to prepare the ground for a teacher education program. 1 Much like his Upper Canadian forerunner Egerton Ryerson, he saw his initial work as primarily exploratory and investigative, involving visits to educational institutions, in the United States and Canada, to enable him to “speak with more authority on questions of school improvement.” 2 In his role, Dawson travelled, listened, researched, and absorbed a few lessons. Everywhere he went in the province, he met with “men of age, standing and experience” trying, gently, “to unsettle old ways” and, as superintendent, was discouraged by “the fatigue” of starting a large teachers’ institute and local resistance to provincial initiatives indicative of “a degree of backwardness not found in other colonies.” 3 In his third year, Dawson was only too happy to resign, turning the task over to a successor whom he deemed much better suited to managing the “details educational reform” and serving as principal of the Normal School, located in Truro, a town more centrally located in the province. 4