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Schooling and Scholars in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

Schooling and Scholars in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 418
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  • Book Info
    Schooling and Scholars in Nineteenth-Century Ontario
    Book Description:

    Houston and Prentice tell the story of how Ontario came to have a universal school system of exceptional quality and shed valuable light on an area of current concern.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7962-7
    Subjects: History, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Picture Credits
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. The Ontario Historical Studies Series
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  6. Part One: Interpreting Pioneer Schooling

    • [Part One: Introduction]
      (pp. 3-7)

      WHEN SCHOOLMASTER JOSEPH SPRAGG penned the first annual report of the Upper Canada Central School in York in 1822, he noted that most of its pupils had received little previous education. ‘During the first year,’ he reported, ‘158 Children, 95 Boys and 63 Girls have been instructed in the School.’ Ninety-one of these, he pointed out, ‘had never before received any Education’; the others had received ‘but very little.’¹

      What did Spragg mean by education? Did he actually wish to imply that ninety-one of his pupils had never received training or instruction of any kind? Or merely that they had...

    • 1 Family and State in Upper Canadian Education
      (pp. 8-32)

      Looking inside households and families to see how Upper Canadians reared their children is an intriguing challenge. From a rich literature of letters, diaries, and travellers’ accounts, not to mention more mundane documents such as apprenticeship indentures, we can learn much. Some of our letter and diary writers, after all, were parents or youngsters themselves. And even those merely travelling through were fascinated with Upper Canadian attitudes towards children who, to the pioneer household in need of labour, were often seen as an exceedingly valuable commodity. Upper Canadian families may not have been as large as we imagine traditional families...

    • 2 Creating Schools and Scholars
      (pp. 33-60)

      From the earliest decades in Upper Canada a variety of interests were brought into play in the development of schools. Spiritual concerns no doubt predominated in the minds of many early settlers and pioneer founders of schools. Certainly that would seem to be the case with François-Xavier Dufaux, the Roman Catholic missionary who started one of the very first schools in 1786 when he brought Mile Ademard and Mile Papineau to the parish of Assumption near Fort Detroit to instruct the French-speaking girls who lived there. Dufaux established the teachers in a house so that they could take in boarders,...

    • 3 Schoolmistresses and Schoolmasters
      (pp. 61-88)

      One way or another teachers were at the centre of the Upper Canadian quest for schooling. Theirs was an entrepreneurial spirit. Young or old, married or single, female or male, they were often the creative forces behind their schools, and thus were justly styled the mistresses or masters of their worlds. On the other hand, the status incongruity noted by Jeanne Peterson for nineteenth-century governesses, caught between the authority they had over their charges and their inferior status within the households of their employers, was also true for many Upper Canadian teachers. Mistresses and masters of their schools far more...

  7. Part Two: Mid-Nineteenth-Century School Reform

    • [Part Two: Introduction]
      (pp. 91-96)

      IF COBOURG WAS CONSIDERED a most eligible place for the education of the young in 1841, it was also a thriving community economically. According to Charles Rubridge, a traveller and promoter of immigration to upper Canada who had come to the town several years earlier, this pioneer port had become, by the third decade of the nineteenth century, a busy and prosperous place.¹ In 1819, Rubridge reminded his readers, there had been no more than ‘six or seven wretched houses’ in Cobourg. By the time of writing it boasted a court-house and a college ‘that would not disgrace any town,’...

    • 4 Towards a Government School System
      (pp. 97-123)

      Perhaps the most striking initial impression that emerges from an examination of mid-nineteenth-century school reform is the overblown rhetoric of its promoters. School ‘promoters’ and school ‘reformers’ were a ubiquitous breed in the middle decades. While they figure prominently in the discussion that follows, it is well-nigh impossible to provide a specific social profile of this pioneering lobby. Known in local communities for a willingness to support – indeed frequently to campaign publicly for – a coherent, province-wide school policy, they appear to have been drawn primarily from an arc in rural and town society stretching from the indeterminately middling to well...

    • 5 The Battle for Control over Public Schools
      (pp. 124-156)

      If the opposition to provincial educational policy that emerged in the very shadow of the education department during the 1840s was potent, it was no less so in some of the outlying regions of Canada West. In the Bathurst District, feelings of alienation reached such a height that they finally coalesced to produce what Egerton Ryerson and his supporters identified a major attack on the entire provincial common school system, the legislative initiative that John George Hodgins later labelled the ‘abortive’ Cameron school act of 1849. The law (named after the radical Reformer Commissioner of Public Works Malcolm Cameron, who...

    • 6 Forging a Public School Teaching Force
      (pp. 157-186)

      Educated and effective school officers were the ideal, and school reformers clearly hoped that eventually such officers would sort things out at the local level so that the schools would run more smoothly. But all too often the reality was James Stevenson and the disorganization of Cambridge Township. A second line of attack and one for which educational reformers had more hope in the long run was the campaign to ‘upgrade’ people who taught the schools. A more highly trained and respectable teaching force, they no doubt thought, would make the work of the local superintendents and trustees less onerous...

  8. Part Three: Behind the Schoolroom Door

    • [Part Three: Introduction]
      (pp. 189-198)

      THE MEASURES PROMOTED by the education department to increase the of the efficiency of the common school system deserve close scrutiny. One must ask what effect they might have had on the behaviour of young people. After all, the dimensions of the social, economic, and cultural changes that took place over the course of the first eight or so decades of Ontario’s history were staggering. By the mid-1870s even the back concessions of most southern townships had lost their pioneer look, while the cities and major towns had become more recognizable to someone who would know them in the mid-twentieth...

    • 7 Going to School
      (pp. 199-234)

      Egerton Ryerson was not far wrong when he foresaw that the establishment of a provincial school system would provide a valuable training ground in civic responsibility. The complexities of changing legislative requirements and administrative directives, the stream of inquiries for information that went back and forth between the education department local school authorities, the disagreements over local assessments, school boundaries, and school sites that often set neighbour against neighbour – all these brought home to taxpayers and parents the realization that schooling was now public policy as well as a parental responsibility. At the heart of the enterprise, however, were the...

    • 8 What One Might Teach and Another Learn
      (pp. 235-272)

      As ‘going to school’ became an expected, if often abbreviated, experience of Victorian childhood, what one might expect to learn from elementary instruction became more predictable. The provincial school system triumphed in the market-place in the mid-century decades, but more was at stake than the displacement of a tradition of private venture and voluntary schooling. A less obvious but more profound revolution in the very nature of schooling accompanied the property taxes and numerous regulations to which communities and families adjusted. In contrast to the familial ambience of earlier colonial instruction, ‘public’ schooling was deliberately formal in structure as well...

    • 9 Exceptions to the Rule
      (pp. 273-309)

      City politicians and prominent and not-so-prominent local ratepayers met with the Toronto Board of Common School Trustees in the St Lawrence Hall on the evening of 9 January 1852. The occasion was one that, in substance, was repeated through the 1850s and 1860s in nearly 4,000 school sections across the province. This particular meeting had been called in response to a petition critical of the trustees’ decision to defray entirely by property assessment the expenses of running the city’s common schools, over and above the government grant, and to forgo the income received from the monthly charge – or rate bill...

    • 10 ‘I Wish I Were Not Here at the Present Juncture’
      (pp. 310-344)

      The changes transforming Ontario social life in the third quarter of the century were obscured in important ways from the vision of the education department. The remarkably long service of its key personnel and their responsible subordinates ensured continuity in the handling of day-to-day affairs, which in turn reinforced a deliberately conservative policy aimed at consolidating the school system.¹ Through the mid-century decades Egerton Ryerson continued to insist, as he had in the 1840s, that educational questions remain immune from the rival claims of theory or party (by the late 1860s he would prefer the word ‘faction’); but that was...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 345-407)
  10. Index
    (pp. 408-418)