About the project

The Dalhousie Originals 200th anniversary storytelling project acknowledges and celebrates the impact and contributions made to our campus, country and world by some of the outstanding individuals associated with the university since 1818.

Each week during Dal’s anniversary year in 2018, we revealed one of 52 Dalhousie Originals with a story and feature video. The Originals’ stories  also formed the start of an oral history repository for the University Archives.

Who are the Originals?

Among the Originals, you’ll find pioneers, life-changers, creators. The list includes influencers, thinkers and leaders from all sectors of society. The Originals are students and alumni, faculty and researchers, donors and supporters. What unites them is how they’ve inspired, strengthened and at times challenged their university, their communities, their fields of study, and our broader world.

The Originals are not ranked, nor are they simply a list of the 52 most important people in Dal’s history. Rather, they are a collection that, considered as individuals or as a whole, represent the values and impact of Dalhousie University across our 200 years of history.

How the Originals were selected

In early 2016, the university and alumni communities were invited to submit names of individuals who reflected the values, actions and intent of a Dalhousie Original. More than 200 nominations were received.

The Dalhousie Originals working group (membership listed below) established the criteria by which the 52 Originals would be selected. These included:

  • Influence and legacy and Dalhousie and within the community
  • Impact/achievement on field of study or scholarship
  • “Firsts,” either within the university or broader society
  • Representing a historic moment within Dalhousie and/or the world
  • Teaching excellence and/or impact on students
  • Helping advance Dalhousie in the public domain or on the national/international stage
  • Contribution to building breadth and diversity

The working group also identified additional filters to be applied during the selection process to achieve broad, inclusive, diverse and equitable representation on the list among different groups, academic disciplines, historical eras, etc.

After reviewing all of the nominations, and considering a small number of additional candidates to ensure the list remained true to the established criteria and filters, the working group narrowed the 200+ candidates down to the 52 Originals that will be unveiled as part of Dal’s 200th anniversary year.

With only 52 spots available, some deliberate choices were required. For example, not every president, ‘first dean of,’ award-winning researcher or significant donor could be included. All of those groups (and many more), however, are represented within the selections.

Preparing the stories

For each of the living Originals, an in-depth interview about their Dalhousie experience was completed with the help of volunteers from across the Dal community. The audio files of these interviews will be held by University Archives and Special Collections as part of a broader oral history project.

For all 52 Originals, existing secondary and primary documents were identified by Project Manager Erica Gagnon to form the basis of the text and video stories, the production of which was subsequently managed by Communications and Marketing.

The videos were produced by Dalhousie’s Marketing unit with the support of Firefly Digital Media, who were selected form an impressive list of proposals following a RFP process. All of the featured performers are students from the Fountain School of Performing Arts, selected from an audition process with the support of faculty members Susan Stackhouse, Margot Dionne and Rob McClure. Profs. McClure and Stackhouse also were on-site during the filming of the videos to help support and guide the students’ performances.

Credits (Thank you to all involved)

Working group

  • Gail Tomblin Murphy (Professor and Director, School of Nursing)
  • Kevin Hewitt (Chair of Senate; Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science)
  • Kim Brooks (Professor, Schulich School of Law)
  • Randy Barkhouse (President, Association of Dalhousie Retirees and Pensioners)
  • Shirley Tillotson (Professor [Retired], Department of History)
  • Michael Moosberger (University Archivist and Associate University Librarian)
  • Ryan McNutt (Dal News Editor, Communications and Marketing)
  • June Davidson (Project Manager, Communications and Marketing)


Project manager

  • Erica Gagnon

Interview volunteers

  • Dylan Ames
  • Randy Barkhouse
  • Fallon Bourgeois
  • Mike Drane
  • Maya Churbaji
  • Clare MacDermott
  • Lyle Quinn
  • Ann Vessey
  • Mary Jane Webber
  • Lacey Wilson
  • Kirk Yanofsky



  • Ryan McNutt


  • Cheryl Bell
  • Cory Burris
  • Miriam Breslow
  • Niecole Comeau
  • Angela Crozier
  • Jane Doucet
  • Lindsay Dowling
  • Allison Gerrard
  • Tyler LeBlanc
  • Lindsay Loomer
  • Ryan McNutt
  • Matt Reeder
  • Stephanie Rogers
  • Emily Sollows
  • Joanne Ward-Jerrett
  • Jordan Whitehouse


Student performers

  • Maggie Andersen
  • Ursula Calder
  • Andrew Chen
  • Lisa Corey
  • Zachary Comeau
  • Ian French
  • Claudia Gutierrez-Perez
  • Kayla Gunn
  • Stepheny Hunter
  • Michael Kamras
  • Brandon Liddard
  • Zoë Mackey-Boenner
  • Stephanie Mah
  • Delany McCormick
  • Taylor McMillen
  • Erin McQueen
  • Michelle Raine
  • Lindsey Ross
  • Nathan Simmons 


  • Matt Semansky
  • Stefanie Wilson


  • Firefly Digital Media


  • Emily Moore

Location scouting

  • Keri Irwin & Firefly Digital Media

Casting support

  • Margot Dionne
  • Rob McClure
  • Susan Stackhouse