Alexander Forrester was a Presbyterian clergyman and educationist; b. 1805 in Scotland; d. 20 April 1869, buried at Truro, Nova Scotia. He was a member of the North British Society.
He was a champion of free education in Nova Scotia. Forrester campaigned for better school books, compulsory city assessment, and teacher training. In 1854 he was asked to become superintendent of education. Forrester accepted the post the following winter after resigning the charge of Chalmers’ Church, and he also became principal of the projected provincial normal school. After decades of debate over the need for teacher training, the new co-educational normal school opened at Truro on 14 Nov. 1855 with about 60 students.
From 1855 until 1863 Forrester was an instructor of natural science and the theory and practice of education for two terms at the normal school, and inspection of the province’s schools during the recesses in April and October, when he lectured on education and held teachers’ institutes. From 1858 to 1860 he edited, financed, and largely wrote the Journal of Education and Agriculture, for the province of Nova Scotia.
In 1864–65 many of Forrester’s supported Charles Tupper’s legislation for free schools. He believed in the contribution of education to national improvement, prosperity, security, and morality. His conception of schooling and teacher training was closely patterned on David Stow’s ideas as embodied in the Glasgow Normal School. His enthusiasm for science, especially for horticulture and agriculture, explains his determination to establish a model experimental farm at the Truro institution; it foreshadowed a provincial agricultural college. Many of the expenses of the early years were borne by Forrester himself. Until his death he remained principal of the normal school, and worked at his natural history specimens and the organization of his normal school lectures into a manual for teachers, The teacher’s textbook (1867).