Tantramar Tantramar Acadian


Owens Art Gallery
61 York Street, Sackville, N.B.



The Owens Art Gallery was opened in 1895 in a historically significant, Beaux-Arts style building designed by Toronto architect Edmund Burke, one of Canada’s most important and influential architects. It was designed initially to accommodate the teaching of fine arts at the Mount Allison Ladies’ College, and to house a collection of approximately 300 works of art and statuary acquired by Mount Allison in 1893. The essentially windowless facade of olive sandstone is divided into panels holding terracotta friezes which feature the names of leading Western artists. The central door is in Classical style with Corinthian pilasters and pediment.

The Owens is the oldest university art gallery in Canada and one of the oldest institutions devoted to art in the country. It was originally used for the teaching of fine arts at Mount Allison. The Gairdner Fine Arts building, opened in 1965, was designed to house the Department of Fine Arts; as a result the Owens ceased to be a teaching facility and became solely an art gallery.

In 1972 the building underwent extensive renovations, including a new roof, which provided expanded exhibition space and a Conservation Laboratory. A new entrance was created at the rear of the building, facing into the upper quad. It was officially reopened on 20 October 1972.


On the centenary of
Canada's oldest university art gallery,
opened in 1895 on the campus
of Mount Allison University
this plaque was unveiled by
the Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain,
Province of New Brunswick,
23 September, 1995.


Plaque placed by Mount Allison University, in 1995

On the transfer of the Owens collection from Saint John, and the building of the Owens Art Gallery, see Reid, John G., Mount Allison University: A History to 1963, Vol. I: 1843-1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1984), pp. 208-210.

History of Owens Art Gallery

Leroux, John and Thaddeus Holownia, A Vision in Wood and Stone: The Architecture of Mount Allison University (Kentville, N.S.: Gaspereau Press, 2016), pp.51-55, 188-190.

Jackson, Kip and Charlie Scobie, Sackville Then and Now: New Brunswick's Oldest Town in Photographs (Sackville, N.B.: Tantramar Heritage Trust, 2013), pp.82-83.

This site is listed in the Canadian Register of Historic Places ; see Owens Art Gallery


List of 19th CENTURY sites