Our history

80+ Years of Creativity


The Beginning

Sometimes seen as a luxury, handmade goods were once understood to be a very powerful economic driver for our province.

Ivan Crowell

Creation of cloth was one of the first skills taught through a series of one-month courses offered in rural communities with the support of a Dominion-Provincial Youth Training Project. In the first year alone, 600 women and girls were taught to weave in 62 rural communities. Though the workshops were suspended during WWII, Dr. Ivan Crowell was hired to lead the Handicrafts Branch in 1946 and develop these rural outreach and classroom programs. Eventually a training centre on the UNB Fredericton campus was created in a surplus WWII army hut, and later a different hut on the Exhibition grounds.

The Deichmanns

Perhaps the most successful of the many artists and craftspeople who were attracted to New Brunswick because of the province’s natural beauty and affordable land prices were Erica (1913-2007) and Kjeld Deichmann (1900-1963), husband and wife studio potters. Their success was influential in the launching of government outreach programs in New Brunswick in 1937 and the creation of a Handicrafts Branch in 1946, the heritage of NBCCD.

FundyGrand Opening

Meanwhile, in 1948, Fundy National Park was created. This opened up a new opportunity to create a summer craft school in the wild and coastal setting – The New Brunswick School of Arts & Crafts, launched in 1950. Workshops were delivered within a natural setting overlooking the ocean, fostering a learning environment combining creative discovery with recreational adventure. Over 17 years the program evolved with the addition of handicraft training in enamelling and jewellery, rug hooking, basketry and lampshade making.


In the 1960s, the Fredericton school moved to the Palmer-McClellan Building on Argyle St, in proximity to the Hartt Shoe Factory and Chestnut Canoe Factory. In 1969 the school came under the direction of Alan Crimmins. As The Craft School in Fredericton was developing, the School of Arts & Crafts in Fundy continued to offer summer courses. In 1969 a program in Clothing Construction was first offered at both the Fredericton and Fundy locations.

1970s & 80s

Director George Fry complemented traditional handicraft studios in ceramics, weaving and woodcraft with the 1978 launch of new, synergistic art courses. Design and drawing, photography and surface design were added to the curriculum. In 1989 a Native Arts Studies program was launched, designed to help maintain traditional craft techniques of indigenous Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations. In 1980, the College moved to another location overlooking the St John River – its permanent home at 457 Queen St.


The Creative Graphics program was launched in 1991, just shortly after the word “design” was incorporated into the title of the College. During his long tenure as Director and Principal (1976-1993) George Fry was able to raised the College’s profile within the culture sector. In 2015, the College Gallery was named The George Fry Gallery in recognition of his contributions. Launched successfully in 1999, the Bachelor of Applied Arts was a unique hybrid program where students completed two years each at NBCCD and UNB.


Business courses became a mandatory component of an NBCCD education in 1985, but in 2005, the value of entrepreneurship was once again raised to the forefront. What quickly developed was ceramic instructor Craig Schneiders vision for what was then called the Advanced Studies program. In 2010, renovations began in the Barracks Building, to accommodate an expansion of the NBCCD campus. Digital Media was Established in 2010 with the expertise of Instructor Alan Edwards, originally called Integrated Media.

Looking Ahead

The New Brunswick College of Craft & Design is, like the powerful artisans it trains, always finding its place, never settling but always striving to find the right way of doing things for this exact moment in time.

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