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Meeting of the People

Meeting of the People: School Boards and Protestant Communities in Quebec, 1801B1998

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  • Book Info
    Meeting of the People
    Book Description:

    The authors show that Protestant families often had to make a difficult choice between supporting better educational facilities in a central place far away or encouraging the survival of the local community through maintaining one of its key institutions, the local school. They explore the ambiguous nature of Protestant education, at times understood as schooling reserved for a religious minority and at others as a liberal approach similar to public schooling across North America. The Protestant community, begun as a British element within a small colony, has developed into a diverse array of people from across the religious spectrum, periodically redefining itself to meet the needs of a changing Quebec society.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7183-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  7. Chronology of Key Events Pertaining to Protestant Education in Quebec
    (pp. xxiii-xxxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxv-2)
  9. Introduction: Searching for Community
    (pp. 3-19)

    The records of Quebec’s Protestant school system are kept in places like the basement of St Mary’s Elementary School in Longueuil, across the river from Montreal. This archive contains the material generated by dozens of distinct communities across this large region, some dating back to the middle of the nineteenth century. In stark contrast to the public archives in Quebec City, where government records are fastidiously organized and easily accessible, documents here are stored in cardboard boxes. Some of them lie on metal shelves but others are simply stacked in a corner. In these cartons are the jumble of papers,...

  10. 1 An Earnest Desire for Education: Early Protestant Schools in Quebec
    (pp. 20-49)

    Sometime towards the end of 1801, a certain Miss Kimball was hired to teach the local children, in the Cushing family home. Elmore and Lydia Cushing, the first settlers in Richmond County, had arrived at their concession in Shipton Township in the spring of 1797, having travelled with their extended family from New England, by way of Montreal, to the mouth of the St Francis River, and from there upstream in nine canoes, paddled by their Abenaki guides. A cow and two oxen followed, led ploddingly by two men along the river bank, and by winter the party had cleared...

  11. 2 Without Distinction of Creed: Common Schools and Protestant Communities
    (pp. 50-77)

    On a spring morning in 1842, a group of men assembled at William Scriver’s Hotel in the village of Hemmingford to form a school commission. Five of them – William Barrett, John Wilsie, Donald McFee, Daniel Heffernan, and Christopher Irvine – had been elected to this office the previous January at a public meeting of all male heads of households from Hemmingford Township. A sixth man, Leon Lalanne, the town clerk, who had coordinated the election, took charge of the first meeting until Barrett was appointed chair, and then continued to serve as the board’s recording secretary. (In subsequent years...

  12. 3 The Dissenters
    (pp. 78-100)

    Robert Cross was one of six Longueuil school commissioners elected in July 1845, following the passing of the Education Act (8 Victoria, cap. XLI). He was an English-speaking Anglican on a board that was otherwise French-speaking and Catholic. Since the French regime, the village of Longueuil had been an important settlement, commercially and strategically, across the river from Montreal, but it had never operated a public school. During the 1830s a number of schools were set up by thefabrique– that is to say, under the auspices of the parish (St Antoine de Longueuil) for the benefit of the...

  13. 4 Progress and Civilization: The City Boards
    (pp. 101-135)

    It is a long way from the rows of workers’ houses amid the railway yards of Pointe St Charles to the slopes of Mount Royal where the Protestant Board of School Commissioners had their offices in the High School of Montreal: a bare three kilometres on foot, but a daunting climb in terms of social class. The Protestants of Pointe St Charles, though perhaps tending more to skilled labour than their Irish and French-Canadian counterparts, consisted of working families whose lives were bound up with the railway and related industries. The duplexes and triplexes in which they lived, and the...

  14. 5 Local Matters: Protestant Boards and One-Room Schoolhouses
    (pp. 136-164)

    When Miss Grace Simpson resigned as teacher of the Lochaber Bay School in July 1905 to return to her home in Ormstown to care for her ailing mother, forty of the local citizens gathered to bid her farewell. They sang, dined, played games, and made speeches in tribute to her worthiness as a teacher and as a friend. At the end of the evening, the chairman of the board of school trustees presented Miss Simpson with a gift – a gold ring set with pearls, and a gold bracelet – as a token of the community’s esteem and their appreciation...

  15. 6 Central Places: Protestant Communities and Secondary Schools
    (pp. 165-194)

    In 1913, when the school commissioners of the Township of Cox decided to rebuild the school in New Carlisle as the first Protestant academy in the Gaspé, they found it a hard sell. While the government had agreed to fund two-fifths of the $25,000 projected cost, the rest would have to be raised from taxes. Ratepayers were generally uncomfortable with having to pay for something that did not directly benefit their district, and the residents of what had been District No. 1 (the village of New Carlisle) did not relish having to foot the entire bill themselves. The commissioners stressed...

  16. 7 Honorary Protestants: Jewish Pupils and the Protestant Boards
    (pp. 195-222)

    The Protestant Dissentient School Board of Ste Sophie was established at a gathering of thirteen local landowners in July 1914. A rural community lying some forty kilometres north of Montreal at the foot of the Laurentian mountains, Ste Sophie originally formed part of an area known as New Glasgow, which had been settled by Scots in the 1820s, though over the course of the following half century it had seen its Protestant population dwindle and Catholic settlers become the majority. In the 1830s the Scots operated a school in the village of New Glasgow, which later came under the jurisdiction...

  17. 8 Daughters of the Empire, Soldiers of the Soil: Protestant School Boards, Patriotism, and War
    (pp. 223-243)

    The last year of World War I saw an unprecedented buzz of activity at St Lambert High School. A mood of general tension prevailed, caused not only by the continuous news of the war’s progress – which could at any moment include word of the death of a loved one – but also by the war effort at home, which occupied much of a student’s time both in and out of school. As in most of the province’s Protestant schools, a parade of charitable groups organized fundraising for a variety of patriotic causes: the Red Cross, the Imperial Order of...

  18. 9 Pillars of the Community: School Boards and Social Welfare
    (pp. 244-261)

    The Medical Officer of Health sent his report for the previous school year, dated 5 October 1918, to the Protestant school trustees of Lachine.³ Dr Baudouin had made weekly visits to the homes of children absent from school, and recorded the total number of visits for each month. These ranged from only 13 in September and 17 in June to 94 in February and 158 in January; sickness was naturally more common in winter. Of these absences, 17 were due to toothache, 98 to “diseases of the respiratory tract,” and the remaining 525 to other causes. The report listed the...

  19. 10 Riding the Catholic Bus: The Decline of Rural Protestant School Boards
    (pp. 262-284)

    During the last seven years of its life, the school board of Inverness Township’s principal task was running a bus service. Since the 1940s it had been conveying pupils of all ages by bus from outlying parts of the township to the village, where the Inverness High School was located, but by the 1960s, with fewer and fewer pupils, it became clear that the board would have to cut back on the number of teachers. At the end of the 1961–62 year the board’s secretary wrote to his counterpart in Thetford Mines, an industrial town some thirty kilometres away,...

  20. 11 Meeting the Needs: Modern Schools, Protestant Architecture
    (pp. 285-314)

    The group of men who gathered at Cowansville High School on 19 January 1965 comprised the new regional board for the District of Bedford, the somewhat arbitrary name given to the western portion of the Eastern Townships. These men (women could have been chosen, but were not) had been delegated by their local boards: Bedford, Stanbridge East, Sutton, Cowansville, Farnham, Granby, Waterloo, and Knowlton. Their first task was to evaluate the secondary schools within their area of jurisdiction, and it did not take long to find them wanting. The network that had been forged in the first half of the...

  21. 12 The Protestant Metropolis
    (pp. 315-342)

    On a late spring day in 1959 Dr Giles, the province’s new Director of Protestant Education, took a drive up to the Lake of Two Mountains area and was very impressed by the number of new homes. The local Protestant population was growing and the three schools under the control of the Two Mountains board were already overcrowded: 178 students were registered in the school in the town of St Eustache (the historic centre of the parish); another 465 attended the Laval West school; and 670 went to the high school in St Eustache sur le Lac. The board projected...

  22. 13 Numerous and Varied Origins: Immigrants, Human Rights, and the Protestant Tradition
    (pp. 343-360)

    When Gertrude Katz’s six-year-old daughter Linda came home from Hampstead School in tears complaining that Jesus did not love her, it was clear that a revolution was on the cards. Mrs Katz had herself been brought up in a secular environment, her parents having put much more emphasis on political activism than on religion. Like almost all Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe in the 1920s they lived near the Main and like most such families of liberal or left-leaning political views they sent their children to a Protestant public school. Gertrude’s days at Fairmount School had begun with a...

  23. 14 The Language Bath: Protestant Boards and French Language Instruction
    (pp. 361-379)

    Concerned that their children’s education was not preparing them for survival in modern Quebec society, parents at Roslyn School in Westmount decided to campaign for changes to the way Protestant schools taught French. The Westmount school commissioners were not particularly convinced such a move was necessary; this well-established and well-heeled community had always functioned in English and saw little reason to provide more French instruction than it already did. Parents disagreed, having lived through the early years of the Quiet Revolution and the establishment of a Royal Commission to study Canada’s bilingual and bicultural character. French, they argued, was taught...

  24. 15 Paths to Wisdom: The Cree and Kativik School Boards
    (pp. 380-399)

    On 11 November 1975 Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees Billy Diamond, and Charlie Watt, President of the Inuit Association of Northern Quebec, met with federal and provincial officials, Premier Robert Bourassa, Quebec representative John Ciaccia, Treasury Board President Jean Chrétien, and Minister of Indian Affairs Judd Buchanan, to sign the historic document, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (jbnqa). Within its text – specifically sections 16 and 17 – the federal and provincial governments recognized the right of the Cree of James Bay and the Inuit of Northern Quebec to control their education. Although the...

  25. Conclusion Strange Bedfellows: The Imposition of Linguistic Boards
    (pp. 400-416)

    On a late September evening in 1998 a group of men and women met in the music room of Elizabeth Ballantyne School in Montreal West, having been elected members of the school’s governing board the previous week. These eight parents (joined by eight representatives from the school staff) were from a variety of social backgrounds; the school drew pupils from ndg, Côte St Luc, Ville St Pierre, and Lasalle. They also represented a range of ethnic groups: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Greek Orthodox.² They were united by a common language, English, which was the defining characteristic of the new school...

  26. Notes
    (pp. 417-456)
  27. Bibliography
    (pp. 457-478)
  28. Index
    (pp. 479-508)