As the 1900s began, an increased focus on conservation led to the establishment of a forestry school in Toronto in 1907, advocating for an advanced, technical approach to forestry. Dr. C.C. Jones, Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick (UNB), repeatedly expressed his vision of a forestry department at the university, influenced by events like the Canadian Conservation Commission meeting and the Forestry Convention in Ottawa. From as early as 1904, the UNB senate had been suggesting the formation of a forestry chair. Chancellor Jones continually championed the creation of a forestry program to meet this demand.
In 1908, a Forestry Department was created within the Faculty of Applied Science. Dr. Robert “Dusty” B. Miller assumed the role of the first department head, earning an annual salary of $1,400 and having no staff members. His resources included three rooms in the Old Arts Building’s basement, functioning as a classroom and laboratories. By 1927, Professor Horace P. Webb (BScF’20, MScF’23) took over leadership, managing eighteen weekly lectures on twelve different topics, overseeing ten weekly labs, and supervising Saturday fieldwork. The Senate decided to employ an extra forestry professor to support the department’s growth.
A four-year bachelor’s degree, comprising two theoretical years and two practical ones, was offered (Dickson 1983). Years later, Dr. Colin B. Mackay, UNB’s president from 1953 to 1969, remarked, “A primary reason for the establishment of a forestry school at NB’s provincial university was the urgent need for individuals trained in both theoretical and practical knowledge to conserve our forest wealth.”
By 1937, several forestry schools in Canada were producing professional foresters. Ontario, British Columbia, and New Brunswick’s forestry schools had collectively graduated around 450 individuals by then, with UNB, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Toronto accounting for 147, 38, and 264 graduates respectively (Bunyan 2005). The same year, the Foresters Act of NB led to the creation of the Association of Registered Professional Foresters (RPF) in NB.
Post-WWII saw a notable expansion in professional forestry education in NB. In April 1946, the Maritime Forest Ranger School was established by the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia provincial governments in collaboration with the wood-using industries of both provinces. UNB’s forestry department became a faculty in 1947 with Dr. J. Miles Gibson as its first dean. Between 1949 and 1950, UNB’s forestry graduates exceeded 252 as returning servicemen availed of government-funded education programs. By 1947, the Forestry and Geology building at UNB had gained a third floor.
In 1947, the original four-year Bachelor’s program was extended to five years, with the introduction of new courses such as photogrammetry, forest products, report writing, public speaking, and a broad array of electives. In 1968, a five-year Bachelor’s degree in Forest Engineering was launched, with the first batch of five graduates in 1971. Sixty years on, both the forestry and forest engineering programs are being condensed to four years.
The completion of an annex to the old Forestry and Geology building, named the New Forestry Building, in 1976 added space for faculty offices, student computing facilities, and various research labs.
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