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Idea of Popular Schooling in Upper Canada

Idea of Popular Schooling in Upper Canada: Print Culture, Public Discourse, and the Demand for Education

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Idea of Popular Schooling in Upper Canada
    Book Description:

    In The Idea of Popular Schooling in Upper Canada, Anthony Di Mascio analyzes debates about education in the burgeoning print culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In it, he finds that a widespread movement for popular schooling in Upper Canada began in earnest from the time of the colony's first Loyalist settlers. Reviving the voices of Upper Canada's earliest school advocates, Di Mascio reveals the lively public discussion about the need for a common system of schooling for all the colony's children. Despite different and often contentious opinions on the means and ends of schooling, there was widespread agreement about its need by the 1830s, when the debate was no longer about whether a popular system of schooling was desirable, but about what kinds of schools would be established. The making of educational legislation in Upper Canada was a process in which many inhabitants, both inside and outside of government, participated. The Idea of Popular Schooling in Upper Canada is the first full survey of schooling in Canada to focus on the pre-1840 period and how it framed policy debates that continue to the present day.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8703-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-19)

    “Backwater,” “backwoods,” “the bush,” “howling wilderness.” If you consider some of the words that have been used to describe Upper Canada, it would seem unlikely that a region with such depictions, as well as a lingering reputation in our historical imagination as a nascent society devoid of culture, the arts, and an intellectual elite, would be a maverick in the development of popular schooling. Yet it was. Within six years of the region’s founding, Upper Canadians drew up legislation that made provisions for a university and a relatively complex system of grammar schools. Only a decade later, with a non-Aboriginal...

  5. 1 Between Vision and Impetus: The Deep Roots of Schooling, 1784–1799
    (pp. 20-36)

    Studies of the history of Upper Canada usually begin with the arrival of Loyalist settlers in the western portion of Quebec in 1784 and the creation of the colony of Upper Canada through the Constitutional Act of 1791, which divided Quebec into Upper Canada, with a predominately Protestant and English-speaking population, and Lower Canada, with a predominately Catholic and French-speaking population. The central theme in the early history of Upper Canada is usually considered to be the transformation of a “howling wilderness” into fruitful settlements and towns containing most of the comforts of modern life as it was understood in...

  6. 2 From Educational Expansion to Educational Deadlock, 1800–1811
    (pp. 37-53)

    In the first issue of the year 1800, the editors of theCanada Constellation, Gideon and Sylvester Tiffany, after having aroused “official displeasure” as editors of the government-sanctionedUpper Canada Gazetteby beginning a newspaper of their own in 1799, offered a short review of the progress of Upper Canada in the last century.¹ The editors rejoiced in the transformation of “howling wildernesses” into populated settlements and towns, and an air of optimism blanketed the editorial. “In 1700,” the newspaper read, “the quarter of the globe which we inhabit was scarcely known; in 1800, we see an extensive and populous...

  7. 3 War and Schooling, 1812–1815
    (pp. 54-65)

    In 1815, one decade and a half after being called to Upper Canada to spearhead educational developments in the colony, John Strachan prepared a report for the colonial government that would leave a mark on the educational history of Upper Canada, Canada West, and Ontario. Scholars of educational history in Upper Canada have concluded that the design and content of the colony’s first common school act in 1816 is largely attributed to the educational ideas found in that report.¹ Indeed, only a cursory reading of both the report and the school act will reveal that much of the content of...

  8. 4 The Rise and Fall of Common Schooling in the Postwar Era, 1816–1824
    (pp. 66-86)

    In 1816, Lieutenant Governor Gore, recently returned from his recovery in England, opened the postwar throne speech by referring to two matters of concern: first, the need to reform the militia code, so as to have regular forces should they again be required; and second, the common schools issue.¹ Addressing objectives he shared with Strachan, Gore suggested that in addition to securing further aid for the district schools and advancing higher education, legislators ought to make the matter of common schooling their first priority. “The dissemination of Letters is of the first importance to every Class; and to aid in...

  9. 5 Education and the Rise of Radical Political Thought, 1824–1826
    (pp. 87-103)

    Several months after the War of 1812, Upper Canada’s colonial administrators established a common school system that “the people themselves” had promoted; then, only a few years later, because this system did not seem to serve their purposes, they attempted to dismantle it unilaterally. The seeds of government-aided common schooling, however, had been planted, and out of those seeds would come the roots of a contentious public discourse concerning the direction that mass universal schooling should take. This educational discourse reflected the increasingly contentious debates surrounding other political matters in the province. Such a discourse was fuelled, beginning in 1824,...

  10. 6 Ecclesiastical Exclusivity Denounced: Religious Discourse and the Politics of Education, 1826–1828
    (pp. 104-123)

    The bitter public discourse that was cultivated with the release of Strachan’s sermon highlighted what some inhabitants regarded as the arrogance and sense of entitlement with which the executive elite governed the colony. Still, radical politics was no alternative for many of them. Radical ideas emerging from the reform press and certain political leaders in the middle years of the 1820s remained controversial, but for the most part, Upper Canadians made sure to express both their loyalty to the British metropolis and their opposition to the new forms of radical thought. John Huston and certain inhabitants of the Newcastle District,...

  11. 7 Renewal or Regression? Educational Discourse in a Time of Political Discord, 1828–1830
    (pp. 124-141)

    “Glorious News!” exclaimed theColonial Advocateon 25 September 1828. Word that Maitland had been replaced with Colborne suggested to the newspaper “that the exalted and liberal views of the great statesmen who first offered the blessing of a free constitution upon these provinces, are not as yet forgotten at home, however our official characters here may be inclined to trample them under foot.”¹ What would follow, the newspaper believed, was that Strachan’s “school of intolerance” would be remodelled and established upon principles representative of broader public views in the colony.

    Upper Canadian historiography has identified the replacement of Maitland...

  12. 8 Toward Mass Universal Schooling: Societal Reorganization in the Age of Movable Type, 1830–1832
    (pp. 142-157)

    By the 1830s, Upper Canada’s political culture had been transformed, even if its political system had not. On issues of public policy, the province was more divided in opinion than it had ever been. Yet, despite the divisions, considerable optimism about Upper Canada’s future was still expressed daily in the popular press. Much of this optimism stemmed from the widespread discourse concerning the social institutions, including universally accessible schools, that provided a unifying force in the colony. Nevertheless, Upper Canada’s political scene was unstable. A divided legislature, a radical faction in the House of Assembly, and certain elected representatives seemingly...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 158-172)

    Ideas, according to twenty-first-century popular thinker Malcolm Gladwell, have tipping points at which moment they cross a threshold and, like an epidemic, begin to spread like wildfire.¹ It is difficult to say precisely when the idea of popular schooling reached its tipping point in Upper Canada, but by the 1830s the fire was raging. Despite varying opinions on the means and ends of popular schooling, there was widespread agreement about its need. The debate was no longer about whether a system of popular schooling was desirable, but rather about what specific kinds of schools should be established.

    Understanding the origins...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 173-204)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-236)
  16. Index
    (pp. 237-243)