1902 Encyclopedia > Canada > Canada - Education

(Part 13)

Education. – Almost from the first organization of Upper Canada as a separate province, steps were taken for providing means for the establishment of efficient schools and colleges. So early as 1797 a grant of 500,000 acres of the unoccupied lands of the province was set apart for the purpose of establishing and endowing a university and four royal foundation grammar schools. Of this one half was appropriated as a university endowment, and one-fourth of the remainder was granted to Upper Canada College, which assumed in Canada the functions of the great public schools of England, and still continues to hold its place at the head of the grammar or high schools of the province.

In the earlier years of Upper Canada, the "Clergy Reserves" set apart originally the support of a "Protestant" clergy, were appropriated exclusively by the ministers of the Church of England. Upper Canada became an archdeaconry of the diocese of Quebec; and the venerable Archdeacon Strachan, whose first labors in Canada had been as master of the Cornwall Grammar School, became the leader both in ecclesiastical and educational matters, and ultimately a privy councilor, member of the legislative council, and bishop of the diocese of Toronto. He was a man of great energy and decision of character; and under his guidance the lands set apart for the endowment of a provincial university were appropriated to the purpose, and a royal charter was granted by George IV. establishment at Toronto, or York, as it was then called, "one college, with the style and privileges of an university, for the education and instruction of youth and students in arts and faculties," under the name of King’s College. The bishop of the diocese became, ex officio, visitor; and when at length the college was organized, it had its divinity faculty, and its professor of divinity, along with its daily religious services according to the use of the Church of England. The special denominational character thus given to the provincial university excited opposition., and led to the establishment of Queen’s College, at Kingston, under the control of the Church of Scotland, and of Victoria College Cobourg, under the Wesleyan Methodist Church. To those have since been added Albert College, Belleville, under the management of the Episcopal Methodist Church; and Ottawa College, and Regiopolis College, Kingston, in connection with the Church of Rome. All of those possess university powers, either by Royal Charter, or by Acts of the provincial legislature. By subsequent enactments the constitution of King’s College has been greatly modified. Its divinity faculty has been abolished, all denominational restrictions have been removed, and its functions divided between a university proper, modeled after the university of London, with a senate on which devolves the fixing of the requirements for degrees, the appointment of examiners, and all other university work, as distinct from teaching. The latter is under the conduct and regulation of the professors, who constitute the council, of University College, and undertake all the duties of preparing the under-graduates for the university examinations in arts and science. Other colleges and schools, both in the faculty of arts in those of law and medicine, are affiliated to the university, and part of the funds at the command of the senate is appropriated for scholarships, to be competed for at the examinations in the different faculties. On the passing of the Act of 1853, by which the divinity faculty and professorship were abolished, a royal charter was obtained for the establishment of Trinity College, in connection with the Church of England, with all the powers of a university.

The system of public instruction for Ontario has hitherto been carried out under the direction of a permanent officer, styled the Chief Superintendent of Education, with the advice of the Council of Public Instruction, originally nominated by the Crown, but latterly including representatives of the universities, of the school inspectors, and the masters of high and public schools. But by a recent Act of the Ontario Legislature, the functions of the Council of public Instruction have been transferred to a committee of the executive council; and the functions and duties of the chief superintendent are vested in one of its members, to be designated the Minister of education. The introduction of the representative element into the Council of Public Instruction was immediately followed by a conflict between that body and the officers of the department in reference to various proposed modifications; and the changes now introduced aim at bringing the administration of the system of education more directly under the control of the people through their representatives.

There are two normal schools for the training of teachers, one at Toronto, and one at Ottawa; and it is proposed to established others at Kingston and London. The high schools are divided into (1) collegiate institutes and (2) high schools for teaching classical English subjects, and (3) high schools, in which instruction may be limited chiefly to English subjects. Of those there were 108 in all, including 8 collegiate institutes, in 1875, with an attendance of 8437 pupils.

The primary schools for junior pupils are styled public schools. The school population, including those between 5 and 16 years of age, was returned in 1874 as numbering 504,869. At the same date there were 4732 schools in full operation, with an attendance of 460,984 pupils. In all the above schools every feature of a denominational character is excluded. The collegiate institutes and high schools are under the control of trustees appointed by the country municipalities, and their maintenance depends on their share of the legislative grant and endowment, supplemented by the annual assessments of the city and county municipalities. The public schools are in like manner supported by legislative grants, and by assessments levied on the requisition of the school trustees in each school section. the essential feature of the whole system is that the people, directly or through their representatives, have the entire control of the schools, including the selection of the teachers, the fixing of their salaries, and the management of the school funds.

The one exceptional feature is the Roman Catholic separate schools. Any Roman Catholic can require his school-tax to be paid for the maintenance of the separate schools of his own church; and with this fund, supplemented from other sources, there were, in 1875, 170 separate schools in Ontario, with an average attendance of 11,123 pupils, or of 22,073 on the school rolls. According to the proportion of the Roman Catholic population, this is less than a third of their children of school age. A large proportion of the remainder attend the public schools. Masters of high schools are required to be graduated of universities, and to have had previous experiences in teaching. Teachers of public schools must hold a normal school or other recognized certificate of qualification.

The principal features of the system of education thus brought into efficient operation have been modeled on those of the states of New York and Massachusetts, and on the normal schools of the Irish National Board of Education. The system of the other Canadian provinces, with the exception of Quebec, have been framed on this model. In the last-named province, where the great mass of the people are Roman Catholics, the education is in the hands of the clergy, and is avowedly carried on in connection with the Church of Rome. But dissentient or Protestant schools are recognized as a part of the public school system; and the permanency of this state of things is guaranteed by a clause in the Act of Confederation, which excludes it from the interference of the general legislature.

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