September 11, 2009

Antigonish Movement, Coady history open to the world

ANTIGONISH, NS – A portal to the history and archives of the Antigonish Movement, the St. Francis Xavier University Extension Department and the Coady International Institute has been launched thanks to the efforts of The Coady International Institute, StFX’s Angus L. Macdonald Library, StFX Archives, and the StFX Faculty of Education.

Master’s of their own destiny: The Coady Story in Canada and Across the World ( was launched on Wednesday, September 16, 2009.

Master’s of their own destiny: The Coady Story in Canada and Across the World tells the story of how the response to the Maritime province’s socio-economic problems of the early 1900s shaped a movement recognized worldwide for leadership in co-operation and community development, still vibrant today in the work of the Coady International Institute and the StFX Extension Department.   

It relates the history of the two most well known pioneering figures of the Antigonish Movement, Fr. Jimmy Tompkins and Dr. Moses Coady. Also told are stories not so well known such as the role of the Scottish Catholic Society of Canada in influencing StFX to formally establish the extension department; the influence of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Martha in extension work; the regional, national and international impact of the Movement; and the people who championed, led and worked in the extension department and the Coady; as well as Coady graduates.  

The Angus L. Macdonald Library Digitization Lab digitized more than 1,400 items including newsletters, letters, reports, audio recordings, and photographs, some of which have never been publicly accessible before. Now one can listen to Dr. Moses Coady or Fr. Michael Gillis describe the history, philosophy, and development of the Antigonish Movement, hear a 1955 “Life in these Maritimes” radio program on loose stabling of dairy cattle, or watch the keynote speech of the 1997 Topshee Memorial Conference.

Some of the highlights of the digital collection are more than 800 photographs, including co-operatives and credit unions throughout the Maritimes, the complete run of The Extension Bulletin, 1933-1939, Coady annual reports, newsletters, yearbooks and overseas reports from 1961–present, extension department annual reports 1930-present, rural and industrial conferences, transcripts for radio broadcasts, letters, posters and promotional leaflets, some of Dr. Moses Coady’s personal papers including the original manuscript of Master’s of Their Own Destiny with editor’s comments, letters written while on speaking tours, and letters, telegrams and acknowledgements following his death in 1959.  

The majority of the materials came from the StFX Archives, augmented by material from the StFX Extension Department, Bethany Archives, Marie Michael Library and a number of generous local contributors.

There is a teacher resource section that is evolving with the assistance of the faculty and students of the StFX Faculty of Education. Detailed lesson plans including a wide variety of appropriate grade-level activities are being prepared using this new web site as primary-source material  targeting the various learning outcomes from Grade 5 to senior high and even some university courses. The focus will be on social studies courses at the senior elementary, junior high and senior high level to provide teachers and students with a quick and easy way to access information related to the Antigonish Movement and the Coady Institute.

The project was made possible through the Canadian Culture Online Program of Canadian Heritage, Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives, and co-funded by Dr. Sean Riley. The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Martha, The Beaton Institute, CBU, The Casket Printing & Publishing Co. Ltd., The Chronicle Herald and CJFX Radio has generously permitted inclusion of their materials in the digital collection.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Shelley Cameron-McCarron
StFX Communications