Dalhousie University - Weldon Law Building

Home of "The Weldon Tradition"

Named after the first dean of the Dalhousie Law School, Richard Chapman Weldon, this building is the latest home for the law school that marked its beginning in 1883.

In 1967, the Weldon Law Building became the latest home for the Dalhousie Law School. It bears the name of Richard Chapman Weldon (1849-1925), the founding dean and one of the most important figures in the history of Dalhousie's law school.

Under Weldon's leadership from 1883 to 1914, Dalhousie's became the first university common-law school in the Commonwealth. The "often referred to, seldom defined" Weldon Tradition defines the essence of Dalhousie law, which emphasizes public service and an expectation that graduates will "leave their ivory towers to see the world as it really is," and to apply their knowledge of the law to improve their communities and society.

It took more than more than 80 years, however, for the Dalhousie Law School to find its current home in the Weldon Law Building. The school's first home was in two rented rooms in a high school at the corner of Brunswick and Sackville streets. In 1885, it moved into Halliburton House on Morris Street, and two years later, into the Forrest Building (now Carleton Campus). From 1952 to 1967, the law school was housed in the University Club. Burgeoning enrolments, however, meant that a larger and more appropriate space had to be built.

The Weldon Law Building became possible in 1965 through significant capital funding from the province. Twenty percent of the cost - totalling just over $1.8 million - was covered by Dalhousie. An opening convocation took place on March 18, 1967, that included the official opening of the Sir James Dunn Law Library. Sir James Dunn was a generous and longstanding donor to the university after his graduation from the Law school in 1898, and after his death in 1956 his wife, Lady Beaverbrook, continued his generosity through the Sir James Dunn Foundation.

The 78,000 square foot Weldon Building included classrooms, lounge space, faculty offices, and a library on the fourth and fifth floors. The architects and faculty members collaborated to try and accommodate future needs in a functional building that would facilitate student-faculty connection. The building was also the first at Dalhousie for which an interior decorator was hired. It was thought by some that the starkness of other campus buildings justified the expenditure to make Weldon more stylish and inviting.

In August 1985, a lightning strike caused an electrical malfunction, igniting a fire which destroyed the library on the fifth floor. Hundreds of books were lost and many more damaged; however, the fire was called a "mixed tragedy" for the law library because it had been so rundown and overfilled. The fire spurred the construction of a four-storey addition on the north side of the building in 1987-1988 to house a bright - and improved - library. This project was made possible by Lady Beaverbrook, Law Foundations across Canada, and alumni and friends of the university.

In 2009, in recognition of a significant endowment, Dalhousie's Law School was renamed the Schulich School of Law. It is the largest law school in Atlantic Canada and continues to honour Richard Chapman Weldon not only as the building's namesake, but through the annually-awarded Weldon Award for Unselfish Public Service.



6061 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia