In 1854 the Methodist Episcopal Church, recognizing the need to improve the training of its clergy, began the construction of a seminary on this site.
Designed to accommodate 150 residents with classroom facilities for 400 students.
Belleville Seminary was opened in July 1857.
Under the able direction of its principal Rev. Albert Carman, the school flourished, producing
several eminent graduates.
In 1866 it was rechartered as Albert College, an affiliate of the University of Toronto, and five years later it became an independent degree-granting institution.
When Victoria College in Cobourg was chosen as official for the newly-formed Methodist Church in 1884, Albert College became a private collegiate. Moved in 1926 to the present location overlook the Bay of Quinte, it remains a distinguished residential school. …from Historical Plaques of Ontario
From its beginning, the Belleville Seminary was in difficult circumstances. Many in the Methodist Episcopal community were suspicious of learning and of an educated ministry. Moreover, the denomination was divided over whether the school should seek provincial grants or follow the church’s voluntarist policy. Under Rev. Albert Carman’s forceful direction, and with the backing of his bishop, Rev. James Richardson, and of the superintendent of education for Upper Canada, Egerton Ryerson, it prospered modestly. Its survival owed much to Carman’s administrative and teaching skills and to his effective advocacy of its interests. His contribution was shaped and informed by the powerful blend of evangelical spirituality, ambition, self-confidence, patriotism, and intellectual and moral rigidity that constituted the core of his personality and convictions. He managed the meagre resources of the school prudently and sought energetically to strengthen its position in his church. Within the college, secular knowledge and the knowledge of God were imparted in an evangelical, morally conformist, and intellectually conservative context.
As principal, Carman was often discouraged but remained convinced of the need for the seminary to educate Methodist Episcopal youth and to provide trained leadership for the church. Doubtless at his urging, it became affiliated with the University of Toronto in 1861 and in 1866, as Albert College, secured a charter empowering it to grant degrees in arts. Although women were not admitted to degree programs, they were offered a diploma course; in 1868 Alexandra College was created for women students, who were permitted also to attend undergraduate classes. In 1870, moreover, Carman initiated the establishment of a faculty of divinity, and organized as well faculties of arts, engineering, law, and music.
Carman’s work at the college and his evangelical preaching and writing had a strong impact on his brethren. Between 1868 and 1874 he defended the Methodist Episcopal position in the negotiations for the union of Methodist churches, but its entry into the union foundered on its insistence on an episcopate and its opposition to lay representation in governing bodies. In 1874 Carman was elected as the colleague and eventual successor of James Richardson. Ordained bishop at Napanee on 4 September, he was sole head after Richardson died in March 1875.