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THE INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE CANADIAN PEOPLE
AN HISTORICAL REVIEW
BY JOHN GEORGE BOURINOT
This series of papers has been prepared in accordance with a plan marked out by the writer, some years ago of taking up, from time to time, certain features of the social, political and industrial progress of the Dominion. Essays on the Maritime Industry and the National Development of Canada have been read before the Royal Colonial Institute in England, and have been so favourably received by the Press of both countries, that the writer has felt encouraged to continue in the same course of study, and supplement his previous efforts by an historical review of the intellectual progress of the Canadian people.
HOUSE OF COMMONS, OTTAWA, February 17th, 1881.
EFFECT OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CHANGES ON MENTAL DEVELOPMENT.
Introductory Remarks—Conditions of Settlement in Canada—Her History divided into three Periods—First Period, under the French Regime; Second, from the Conquest to the Union of 1840; Third, from 1840 to 1867—New Period since Confederation—Intellectual Lethargy in New France—Influence of U. K. Loyalists on Political and Social Life of the Canadian Provinces—Formation of two Governments in the East and West—Effect of Parliamentary Institutions on the Public Intelligence —Remarkable impulse given to Canadian Communities by the Union of 1840—Difficulties of the Old Settlers—Results of the improvement of Internal Intercourse, the growth of Education and Political Progress—Population in 1760, 1840 and 1870—Rapid increase of the Professional and Educated Classes—Wider Field of Thought and Activity opened to Canadians by Confederation—Effect of Climatic Influences on National Development—Distinctive traits of French Canadians—Influence of Union of Races—Usefulness of Religious Teachers in early times—Labours of the Journalist—Influence of Political Discussion— Development of Public Intelligence through the extension of Political Rights.
State of Education under the French Regime—Its slow progress after the Conquest—Schools in Upper Canada—Dr. Strachan's famous Academy —Stimulus given to Public Schools by the Union of 1840—Schools in the Maritime Provinces—Higher Education in Canada—The Quebec Seminary—King's College—Roman Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian Institutions—First Colleges in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick—Laval University—Kingston Military College and other Educational Experiments—Female Colleges—Statistics of Educational Progress— Status of Teachers—Defects of the Public School System—Review of the University System—Advantages of Special Professional Courses as in Germany—A National University.
Influence of the Newspaper Press on the Intellect of the Country—First Newspapers in Canada—Review of Political Journalism up to 1840—Quebec Gazette, Montreal Gazette, Quebec Mercury, Le Canadien, etc.—Journalists of mark in old times—Gary, Bedard, Neilson, Mackenzie, Horne, Fothergill, Gurnett, Dalton, Parent—Mrs. Jameson on the Upper Canada Press—Advent of Joseph Howe—Journalism since 1840—Sir Francis Hincks—The Globe and Hon. George Brown—Le Journal de Quebec and Hon. Joseph Cauchon—The New Era and Hon. D'Arcy McGee—The Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Leader and other Journals of note established—Oldest Newspapers in Canada—Number of Papers, and their probable total Circulation—Influential Journals since 1867—Leading Journalists—The Religious Press—Illustrated Papers—Influence of the Press in Canada—Its Improvement in tone and its great Enterprise—The Old and New Times, as illustrated in two Toronto Papers.
Society in New France—Intellectual lethargy—First Books published after the Conquest—Bouchette's Works—New Era in French Canadian Letters—Periodicals, Histories, Poems—Garneau, Ferland, Cremazie, Frechette—Antiquarian Research—Canadian Ballads—Literary Progress of English-speaking People—Society previous to the Union of 1840—Early Libraries and Magazines—Authors of Repute—'Sam Slick'—Professor Dawson—Charles Heavysege—Poetry—Romance—History—Miscellaneous Works of Merit—Mr. Alpheus Todd's Constitutional Researches— Contributions to Colonial Literature by Public Men—Talent in the Legislature—Results of a Century of Progress summed up—Mental Activity among the Intelligent and Educated Classes—Increasing Issue of Works and Pamphlets from Canadian Press—Signs of General Culture—Public Libraries—Literary and Scientific Societies—Mechanics' Institutes—School Libraries—A Grand Opportunity for the Rich Men of Canada—Literary, Artistic and Scientific Topics engaging greater Attention—Writers of Intellectual Power on the Increase—Encouraging Signs of Intellectual Development—Brighter Auguries for the Future.
EFFECT OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CHANGES ON MENTAL DEVELOPMENT.
Should the title of this review come by any chance under the notice of some of those learned gentlemen who are delving among Greek roots or working out abstruse mathematical problems in the great academic seats on the banks of the Cam or Isis, they would probably wonder what can be said on the subject of the intellectual development of a people engaged in the absorbing practical work of a Colonial dependency. To such eminent scholars Canada is probably only remarkable as a country where even yet there is, apparently, so little sound scholarship that vacancies in classical and mathematical chairs have to be frequently filled by gentlemen who have distinguished themselves in the Universities of the parent state. Indeed, if we are to judge from articles and books that appear from time to time in England with reference to this country, Englishmen in general know very little of the progress that has been made in culture since Canada has become the most important dependency of Great Britain, by virtue of her material progress within half a century. Even the Americans who live alongside of us, and would be naturally supposed to be pretty well informed as to the progress of the Dominion to their north, appear for the most part ignorant of the facts of its development in this particular. It was but the other day that a writer of some ability, in an organ of religious opinion, referred to the French Canadians as a people speaking only inferior French, and entirely wanting in intellectual vigour. Nor is this fact surprising when we consider that there are even some Canadians who do not appear to have that knowledge which they ought to have on such a subject, and take many opportunities of concealing their ignorance by depreciating the intellectual efforts of their countrymen. If so much ignorance or indifference prevails with respect to the progress of Canada in this respect, it must be admitted—however little flattering the admission may be to our national pride—that it is, after all, only the natural sequel of colonial obscurity. It is still a current belief abroad—at least in Europe—that we are all so much occupied with the care of our material interests, that we are so deeply absorbed by the grosser conditions of existence in a new country, that we have little opportunity or leisure to cultivate those things which give refinement and tone to social life. Many persons lose sight of the fact that Canada, young though she is compared with the countries of the Old World, has passed beyond the state of mere colonial pupilage. One very important section of her population has a history contemporaneous with the history of the New England States, whose literature is read wherever the English tongue is spoken. The British population have a history which goes back over a century, and it is the record of an industrious, enterprising people who have made great political and social progress. Indeed it may be said that the political and material progress that these two sections of the Canadian people have conjointly made is of itself an evidence of their mental capacity. But whilst reams are written on the industrial progress of the Dominion with the praiseworthy object of bringing additional capital and people into the country, only an incidental allusion is made now and then to the illustrations of mental activity which are found in its schools, in its press, and even in its literature. It is now the purpose of the present writer to show that, in the essential elements of intellectual development, Canada is making not a rapid but certainly at least a steady and encouraging progress, which proves that her people have not lost, in consequence of the decided disadvantages of their colonial situation, any of the characteristics of the races to whom they owe their origin. He will endeavour to treat the subject in the spirit of an impartial critic, and confine himself as closely as possible to such facts as illustrate the character of the progress, and give much encouragement for the future of a country even now only a little beyond the infancy of its material as well as intellectual development.
It is necessary to consider first the conditions under which the Dominion has been peopled, before proceeding to follow the progress of intellectual culture. So far, the history of Canada may be divided into three memorable periods of political and social development. The first period lasted during the years of French dominion; the second, from the Conquest to the Union of 1840, during which the provinces were working out representative institutions; the third, from 1840 to 1867, during which interval the country enjoyed responsible government, and entered on a career of material progress only exceeded by that of the great nation on its borders. Since 1867, Canada has commenced a new period in her political development, the full results of which are yet a problem, but which the writer believes, in common with all hopeful Canadians, will tend eventually to enlarge her political condition, and place her in a higher position among communities. It is only necessary, however, to refer particularly to the three first periods in this introductory chapter, which is merely intended to show as concisely as possible those successive changes in the social and political circumstances of the provinces, which have necessarily had the effect of stimulating the intellectual development of the people.
Religion and commerce, poverty and misfortune, loyalty and devotion to the British Empire, have brought into the Dominion of Canada the people who, within a comparatively short period of time, have won from the wilderness a country whose present condition is the best evidence of their industrial activity. Religion was a very potent influence in the settlement of New France. It gave to the country—to the Indian as well as to the Frenchman—the services of a zealous, devoted band of missionaries who, with unfaltering courage, forced their way into the then trackless West, and associated their names to all time with the rivers, lakes, and forests of that vast region, which is now the most productive granary of the world. In the wake of these priestly pioneers followed the trader and adventurer to assist in solving the secrets of unknown rivers and illimitable forests. From the hardy peasantry of Normandy and Brittany came reinforcements to settle the lands on the banks of the St Lawrence and its tributary rivers, and lay the foundations of the present Province of Quebec. The life of the population, that, in the course of time, filled up certain districts of the province, was one of constant restlessness and uncertainty which prevented them ever attaining a permanent prosperity. When the French regime disappeared with the fall of Quebec and Montreal, it can hardly be said there existed a Canadian people distinguished for material or intellectual activity. At no time under the government of France had the voice of the 'habitants' any influence in the councils of their country. A bureaucracy, acting directly under the orders of the King of France, managed public affairs; and the French Canadian of those times, very unlike his rival in New England, was a mere automaton, without any political significance whatever. The communities of people that were settled on the St. Lawrence and in Acadia were sunk in an intellectual lethargy—the natural consequence not only of their hard struggle for existence, but equally of their inability to take a part in the government of the country. It was impossible that a people who had no inducement to study public affairs—who could not even hold a town or parish meeting for the establishment of a public schools—should give many signs of mental vigour. Consequently, at the time of the Conquest, the people of the Canadian settlements seemed to have no aspirations for the future, no interest in the prosperity or welfare of each other, no real bonds of unity. The very flag which floated above them was an ever-present evidence of their national humiliation.
So the first period of Canadian history went down amid the deepest gloom, and many years passed away before the country saw the gleam of a brighter day. On one side of the English Channel, the King of France soon forgot his mortification at the loss of an unprofitable 'region of frost and snow;' on the other side, the English Government looked with indifference, now that the victory was won, on the acquisition of an alien people who were likely to be a source of trouble and expense. Then occurred the War of American Independence, which aroused the English Ministry from their indifference and forced into the country many thousands of resolute, intelligent men, who gave up everything in their devotion to one absorbing principle of loyalty. The history of these men is still to be written as respects their real influence on the political and social life of the Canadian Provinces. A very superficial review, however, of the characteristics of these pioneers will show that they were men of strong opinions and great force of character—valuable qualities in the formation of a new community. If, in their Toryism, they and their descendants were slow to change their opinions and to yield to the force of those progressive ideas necessary to the political and mental development of a new country, yet, perhaps, these were not dangerous characteristics at a time when republicanism had not a few adherents among those who saw the greater progress and prosperity of the people to the south of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. These men were not ordinary immigrants, drawn from the ignorant, poverty-stricken classes of an Old World; they were men of a time which had produced Otis, Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Washington—men of remarkable energy and intellectual power. Not a few of these men formed in the Canadian colony little centres from which radiated more or less of intellectual light to brighten the prevailing darkness of those rough times of Canadian settlement. The exertions of these men, combined with the industry of others brought into the country by the hope of making homes and fortunes in the New World, opened up, in the course of years, the fertile lands of the West. Then two provinces were formed in the East and West, divided by the Ottawa River, and representative government was conceded to each. The struggles of the majority to enlarge their political liberties and break the trammels of a selfish bureaucracy illustrate the new mental vigour that was infused into the French Canadian race by the concession of the parliamentary system of 1792. The descendants of the people who had no share whatever in the government under French rule had at last an admirable opportunity of proving their capacity for administering their own affairs, and the verdict of the present is, that, on the whole, whatever mistakes were committed by their too ardent and impulsive leaders, they showed their full appreciation of the rights that were justly theirs as the people of a free colonial community. Their minds expanded with their new political existence, and a new people were born on the banks of the St. Lawrence.
At the same time the English-speaking communities of Upper Canada and the Maritime Provinces advanced in mental vigour with the progress of the struggle for more liberal institutions. Men of no ordinary intellectual power were created by that political agitation which forced the most indifferent from that, mental apathy, natural perhaps to a new country, where a struggle for mere existence demands such unflagging physical exertion. It is, however, in the new era that followed the Union that we find the fullest evidence of the decided mental progress of the Canadian communities. From that date the Canadian Provinces entered on a new period of industrial and mental activity. Old jealousies and rivalries between the different races of the country became more or less softened by the closer intercourse, social and political, that the Union brought about. During the fierce political conflicts that lasted for so many years in Lower Canada—those years of trial for all true Canadians—the division between the two races was not a mere line, but apparently a deep gulf, almost impossible to be bridged in the then temper of the contending parties. No common education served to remove and soften the differences of origin and language. The associations of youth, the sports of childhood, the studies by which the character of manhood is modified, were totally distinct. [Footnote: Report of Lord Durham on Canada, pp. 14-15.] With the Union of 1840, unpalatable as it was to many French Canadians who believed that the measure was intended to destroy their political autonomy, came a spirit of conciliation which tended to modify, in the course of no long time, the animosities of the past, and awaken a belief in the good will and patriotism of the two races, then working side by side in a common country, and having the same destiny in the future. And with the improvement of facilities for trade and intercourse, all sections were brought into those more intimate relations which naturally give an impulse not only to internal commerce but to the intellectual faculties of a people. [Footnote: Lord Macaulay says on this point: Every improvement of the means of locomotion benefits mankind morally and intellectually, as well as materially, and not only facilitates the interchange of the various productions of nature and art, but tends to remove natural and provincial antipathies and to bind together all the branches of the human family.] During the first years of the settlement of Canada there was a vast amount of ignorance throughout the rural districts, especially in the western Province. Travellers who visited the country and had abundant opportunities of ascertaining its social condition, dwelt pointedly on the moral and intellectual apathy that prevailed outside a few places like York or other centres of intelligence; but they forgot to make allowance for the difficulties that surrounded these settlers. The isolation of their lives had naturally the effect of making even the better class narrow-minded, selfish, and at last careless of anything like refinement. Men who lived for years without the means of frequent communication with their fellow-men, without opportunities for social, instructive intercourse, except what they might enjoy at rare intervals through the visit of some intelligent clergyman or tourist, might well have little ambition except to satisfy the grosser wants of their nature. The post office, the school, and the church were only to be found, in the majority of cases, at a great distance from their homes. Their children, as likely as not, grew up in ignorance, even were educational facilities at hand; for in those days the parent had absolute need of his son's assistance in the avocations of pioneer life. Yet, with all these disadvantages, these men displayed a spirit of manly independence and fortitude which was in some measure a test of their capacity for better things. They helped to make the country what it is, and to prepare the way for the larger population which came into it under more favourable auspices after the Union of 1840. From that time Canada received a decided impulse in everything that tends to make a country happy and prosperous. Cities, towns and villages sprang up with remarkable activity all over the face of the country, and vastly enlarged the opportunities for that social intercourse which is always an important factor in the education of a new country. At the same time, with the progress of the country in population and wealth, there grew up a spirit of self-reliance which of itself attested the mental vigour of the people. Whilst England was still for many 'the old home,' rich in memories of the past, Canada began to be a real entity, as it were, a something to be loved, and to be proud of. The only reminiscences that very many had of the countries of their origin were reminiscences of poverty and wretchedness, and this class valued above all old national associations the comfort and independence, if not wealth, they had been able to win in their Canadian home. The Frenchman, Scotchman, Irishman, and Englishman, now that they had achieved a marked success in their pioneer work, determined that their children should not be behind those of New England, and set to work to build up a system of education far more comprehensive and liberal than that enjoyed by the masses in Great Britain. On all sides at last there were many evidences of the progress of culture, stimulated by the more generally diffused prosperity. It was only necessary to enter into the homes of the people, not in the cities and important centres of industry and education, but in the rural districts, to see the effects of the industrial and mental development within the period that elapsed from the Union of 1840 to the Confederation of 1867. Where a humble log cabin once rose among the black pine stumps, a comfortable and in many cases expensive mansion, of wood or more durable material, had become the home of the Canadian farmer, who, probably, in his early life, had been but a poor peasant in the mother country. He himself, whose life had been one of unremitting toil and endeavour, showed no culture, but his children reaped the full benefits of the splendid opportunities of acquiring knowledge afforded by the country which owed its prosperity to their father and men like him. The homes of such men, in the most favoured districts, were no longer the abodes of rude industry, but illustrative, in not a few cases, of that comfort and refinement which must be the natural sequence of the general distribution of wealth, the improvement of internal intercourse, and the growth of education.
When France no longer owned a foot of land in British North America, except two or three barren islets on the coast of Newfoundland, the total population of the provinces known now as Canada was not above seventy thousand souls, nearly all French. From that time to 1840, the population of the different provinces made but a slow increase, owing to the ignorance that prevailed as to Canada, the indifference of English statesmen in respect to colonization, internal dissensions in the country itself, and its slow progress, as compared with the great republic on its borders. Yet, despite these obstacles to advancement, by 1841 the population of Canada reached nearly a million and a half, of whom at least fifty-five per cent. were French Canadians. Then the tide of immigration set in this direction, until at last the total population of Canada rose, in 1867, to between three and four millions, or an increase of more than a hundred per cent. in a quarter of a century. By the last Census of 1870, we have some idea of the national character of this population—more than eighty per cent. being Canadian by birth, and, consequently, identified in all senses of the term with the soil and prosperity of the country. Whilst the large proportion of the people are necessarily engaged in those industrial pursuits which are the basis of a country's material prosperity, the statistics show the rapid growth of the classes who live by mental labour, and who are naturally the leaders in matters of culture. The total number of the professional class in all the provinces was some 40,000, of whom 4,436 were clergymen, 109 judges, 264 professors, 3,000 advocates and notaries, 2,792 physicians and surgeons, 13,400 teachers, 451 civil engineers, 232 architects; and for the first time we find mention of a special class of artists and litterateurs, 590 in all, and these evidently do not include journalists, who would, if enumerated, largely swell the number.
Previous to 1867, different communities of people existed throughout British North America, but they had no general interest or purpose, no real bond of union, except their common allegiance to one Sovereign. The Confederation of the Provinces was intended, by its very essence and operation, to stimulate, not only the industrial energy, but the mental activity as well, of the different communities that compose the Dominion. A wider field of thought has, undoubtedly, been opened up to these communities, so long dwarfed by that narrow provincialism which every now and then crops up to mar our national development and impede intellectual progress. Already the people of the Confederated Provinces are every where abroad recognised as Canadians—as a Canadian people, with a history of their own, with certain achievements to prove their industrial activity. Climatic influences, all history proves, have much to do with the progress of a people. It is an admitted fact that the highest grade of intellect has always been developed, sooner or later, in those countries which have no great diversities of climate. [Footnote: Sir A. Alison (Vol. xiii. p. 271). says on this point: 'Canada and the other British possessions in British North America, though apparently blessed with fewer physical advantages than the country to the South, contain a noble race, and are evidently destined for a lofty destination. Everything there is in proper keeping for the development of the combined physical and mental qualities of man. There are to be found at once the hardihood of character which conquers difficulty, the severity of climate which stimulates exertion, and natural advantages which reward enterprise.'] If our natural conditions are favourable to our mental growth, so, too, it may be urged that the difference of races which exists in Canada may have a useful influence upon the moral as well as the intellectual nature of the people as a whole. In all the measures calculated to develop the industrial resources and stimulate the intellectual life of the Dominion, the names of French Canadians appear along with those of British origin. The French Canadian is animated by a deep veneration for the past history of his native country, and by a very decided determination to preserve his language and institutions intact; and consequently there exists in the Province of Quebec a national French Canadian sentiment, which has produced no mean intellectual fruits. We know that all the grand efforts in the attainment of civilization have been accomplished by a combination of different peoples. The union of the races in Canada must have its effect in the way of varying and reproducing, and probably invigorating also, many of the qualities belonging to each—material, moral, and mental; an effect only perceptible after the lapse of very many years, but which is, nevertheless, being steadily accomplished all the while with the progress of social, political, and commercial intercourse. The greater impulsiveness and vivacity of the French Canadian can brighten up, so to say, the stolidity and ruggedness of the Saxon. The strong common-sense and energy of the Englishman can combine advantageously with the nervous, impetuous activity of the Gaul. Nor should it be forgotten that the French Canadian is not a descendant of the natives of the fickle, sunny South, but that his forefathers came from the more rugged Normandy and Brittany, whose people have much that is akin with the people of the British islands.
In the subsequent portions of this review, the writer will endeavour to follow the progress in culture, not merely of the British-speaking people, but of the two races now working together harmoniously as Canadians. It will not be necessary to dwell at any length on the first period of Canadian history It is quite obvious that in the first centuries of colonial history, but few intellectual fruits can be brought to maturity. In the infancy of a colony or dependency like Canada, whilst men are struggling with the forest and sea for a livelihood, the mass of the people can only find mental food in the utterances of the pulpit, the legislature, and the press. This preliminary chapter would be incomplete were we to forget to bear testimony to the fidelity with which the early Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries laboured at the great task devolving upon them among the pioneers in the Canadian wilderness. In those times of rude struggle with the difficulties of a colonial life, the religious teachers always threw a gleam of light amid the mental darkness that necessarily prevailed among the toilers of the land and sea. Bishops Laval, Lartigue, Strachan, and Mountain; Sister Bourgeois, Dr. Burns, Dr. Jas. McGregor, Dr. Anson Green, are conspicuous names among the many religious teachers who did good service in the early times of colonial development. During the first periods of Canadian history, the priest or clergyman was, as often as not, a guide in things temporal as well as spiritual. Dr. Strachan was not simply the instructor in knowledge of many of the Upper Canadian youth who, in after times, were among the foremost men of their day, but was as potent and obstinate in the Council as he was vigorous and decided in the pulpit. When communications were wretched, and churches were the exception, the clergyman was a constant guest in the humble homes of the settlers, who welcomed him as one who not only gave them religious instruction, but on many a winter or autumn evening charmed the listeners in front of the blazing maple logs with anecdotes of the great world of which they too rarely heard. In those early days, the Church of England clergyman was a man generally trained in one of the Universities of the parent state, bringing to the discharge of his duties a conscientious conviction of his great responsibilities, possessing at the same time varied knowledge, and necessarily exercising through his profession and acquirements no inconsiderable influence, not only in a religious but in an intellectual sense as well—an influence which he has never ceased to exercise in this country. It is true as the country became more thickly settled and the people began to claim larger political rights, the influence of many leading minds among the Anglican clergy, who believed in an intimate connection between Church and State, even in a colony, was somewhat antagonistic to the promotion of popular education and the extension of popular government. The Church was too often the Church of the aristocratic and wealthier classes; some of its clergy were sadly wanting in missionary efforts; its magnificent liturgy was too cold and intellectual, perhaps, for the mass: and consequently, in the course of time, the Methodists made rapid progress in Upper Canada. Large numbers of Scotch Presbyterians also settled in the provinces, and exercised a powerful influence on the social, moral and political progress of the country. These pioneers came from a country where parish schools existed long before popular education was dreamed of across the border. Their clergy came from colleges whose course of study cultivated minds of rare analytical and argumentative power. The sermon in the Presbyterian Church is the test of the intellectual calibre of the preacher, whose efforts are followed by his long-headed congregation in a spirit of the keenest criticism, ever ready to detect a want of logic. It is obvious then that the Presbyterian clergyman, from the earliest time he appeared in the history of this country, has always been a considerable force in the mental development of a large section of the people, which has given us, as it will be seen hereafter, many eminent statesmen, journalists, and litterateurs.
From the time the people began to have a voice in public affairs, the politician and the journalist commenced naturally to have much influence on the minds of the masses. The labours of the journalist, in connection with the mental development of the country, will be treated at some length in a subsequent part of the review. At present it is sufficient to say that of the different influences that have operated on the minds of the people generally, none has been more important than the Press, notwithstanding the many discouraging circumstances under which it long laboured, in a thinly populated and poor country. The influence of political discussion on the intellect of Canada has been, on the whole, in the direction of expanding the public intelligence, although at times an extreme spirit of partisanship has had the effect of evoking much prejudice and ill-feeling, not calculated to develop the higher attributes of our nature. But whatever may have been the injurious effects of extreme partisanship, the people as a rule have found in the discussion of public matters an excitement which has prevented them from falling into that mental torpor so likely to arise amid the isolation and rude conditions of early times. If the New England States have always been foremost in intellectual movement, it may be attributed in a great measure to the fact that from the first days of their settlement they thought and acted for themselves in all matters of local interest. It was only late in the day when Canadians had an opportunity given them of stimulating their mental faculties by public discussion, but when they were enabled to act for themselves they rapidly improved in mental strength. It is very interesting to Canadians of the present generation to go back to those years when the first Legislatures were opened in the old Bishop's Palace, on the heights of Quebec, and in the more humble structure on the banks of the Niagara River, and study the record of their initiation into parliamentary procedure. It is a noteworthy fact that the French Canadian Legislatures showed from the first an earnest desire to follow, as closely as their circumstances would permit, those admirable rules and principles of procedure which the experience of centuries in England has shown to be necessary to the preservation of decorum, to freedom of speech, and to the protection of the minority. The speeches of the leading men in the two Houses were characterized by evidences of large constitutional knowledge, remarkable for men who had no practical training in parliamentary life. Of course there were in these small Assemblies many men rough in speech and manner, with hardly any education whatever but the writers who refer to them in no very complimentary terms [Footnote: For instance, Talbot, I, chap. 23. He acknowledges, at the same time, the great ability of the leading men, 'who would do credit to the British Parliament.'] always ignore the hardships of their pioneer life, and forget to do justice to their possession, at all events, of good common-sense and much natural acuteness, which enabled them to be of use in their humble way, under the guidance of the few who were in those days the leaders of public opinion. These leaders were generally men drawn from the Bar, who naturally turned to the legislative arena to satisfy their ambition and to cultivate on a larger scale those powers of persuasion and argument in which their professional training naturally made them adepts. With many of these men legislative success was only considered a means of more rapidly attaining the highest honours of their profession, and consequently they were not always the most disinterested guides in the political controversies of the day; but, nevertheless, it must be admitted that, on the whole, the Bar of Canada, then as now, gave the country not a few men who forgot mere selfish considerations, and brought to the discussion of public affairs a wide knowledge and disinterested zeal which showed how men of fine intellect can rise above the narrower range of thought peculiar to continuous practice in the Courts. As public questions became of larger import, the minds of politicians expanded, and enabled them to bring to their discussion a breadth of knowledge and argumentative force which attracted the attention of English statesmen, who were so constantly referred to in those times of our political pupilage, and were by no means too ready to place a high estimate on colonial statesmanship. In the earlier days of our political history some men played so important a part in educating the people to a full comprehension of their political rights that their names must be always gratefully remembered in Canada. Papineau, Bedard, DeValliere, Stuart, Neilson, Baldwin, Lafontaine, Howe, Wilmot, Johnstone, Uniacke, were men of fine intellects—natural-born teachers of the people. Their successors in later times have ably continued the work of perfecting the political structure. All party prejudice aside, every allowance made for political errors in times of violent controversy, the result of their efforts has been not only eminently favourable to the material development of the country but also to the mental vigour of the people. The statesmen who met in council in the ancient city of Quebec during the October of 1864 gave a memorable illustration of their constitutional knowledge and their practical acumen in the famous Resolutions which form the basis of the present Constitution of Canada.
But it is not within the limits of this review to dwell on the political progress of Canada, except so far as it may influence the intellectual development of the people. It will be seen, as we proceed, that the extension of political rights had a remarkable effect in stimulating the public intelligence and especially in improving the mental outfit of the people. The press increased in influence and ability; but, more than all, with the concession of responsible government, education became the great question of the day in the legislatures of the larger provinces. But to so important and interesting a subject it will be necessary to devote a separate chapter.
The great educational advantages that the people of Canada now enjoy, and more especially in the premier Province of Ontario—as the splendid exhibit recently made at Paris and Philadelphia has proved to the world—are the results of the legislation of a very few years. A review of the first two periods of our political history affords abundant evidence that there existed in Canada as in Europe much indifference in all matters affecting the general education of the country. Whatever was accomplished during these early times was owing, in a great measure, to the meritorious efforts of ecclesiastical bodies or private individuals. As long as France governed Canada, education was entirely in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. The Jesuits, Franciscans, and other religious male and female Orders, at an early date, commenced the establishment of those colleges and seminaries which have always had so important a share in the education of Lower Canada. The first school in that province was opened in 1616 at Three Rivers, by Brother Pacifique Duplessis, a Franciscan. The Jesuits founded a College at Quebec in 1831, or three years before the establishment of Harvard and the Ursulines opened their convent in the same city four years later. Sister Bourgeoys, of Troyes, founded at Montreal in 1659 the Congregation de Notre Dame for the education of girls of humble rank, the commencement of an institution which has now its buildings in many parts of Canada. In the latter part of the seventeenth century Mgr. Francois Xavier de Laval-Montmorency, a member of one of the proudest families in Europe, carried out a project of providing education for Canadian priests drawn from the people of the country. Consequently, in addition to the Great Seminary at Quebec, there was the Lesser Seminary where boys were taught in the hope that they would one day take orders. In this project the Indians were included, and several attended when the school was opened in 1668, in the humble dwelling owned by Mme. Couillard, though it was not long before they showed their impatience of scholastic bondage. It is also interesting to learn that, in the inception of education, the French endeavoured in more than one of their institutions to combine industrial pursuits with the ordinary branches of an elementary education. For instance, attached to the Seminary was a sort of farm-school, established in the parish of St. Joachim, below Quebec, the object of which was to train the humbler class of pupils in agricultural as well as certain mechanical pursuits. The manual arts were also taught in the institutions under the charge of the Ursulines and Congregation. We find, for example, a French King giving a thousand francs to a sisterhood of Montreal to buy wool, and the same sum to teach young girls to knit. We also read of the same Sovereign maintaining a teacher of navigation and surveying at Quebec on the modest salary of four hundred francs a-year. But all accounts of the days of the French regime go to show that, despite the zealous efforts of the religious bodies to improve the education of the colonists, secular instruction was at a very low ebb. One writer tells us that 'even the children of officers and gentlemen scarcely knew how to read and write; they were ignorant of the first elements of geography and history.' These were, in fact, days of darkness everywhere, so far as the masses were concerned. Neither England nor France had a system of popular education. Yet it is undoubted that on the whole the inhabitants of Canada had far superior moral and educational advantages than were enjoyed during those times by the mass of people in England and France. Even in the days of Walpole and Hannah More the ignorance of the English peasantry was only equalled by their poverty and moral depravity. [Footnote: Green in his 'History of the English People' says:—Purity and fidelity to the marriage vow were sneered out of fashion; and Lord Chesterfield, in his letters to his son, instructed him in the art of seduction as part of a polite education. At the other end of the social scale lay the masses of the poor. They were ignorant and brutal to a degree which it is hard to conceive, for the vast increase of population which followed on the growth of towns and the development of manufactures had been met by no effort for religious or educational improvement. Not a new parish had been created. Hardly a single new church had been built. Schools there were none save the grammar schools of Edward and Elizabeth. The rural peasantry, who were fast being reduced to pauperism by the poor-laws, were left without moral or religious training of any sort. 'We saw but one bible in the parish of Chedda,' said Hannah More, at a far later time, 'and that was used to prop a flower pot.' p. 707, Harpers' ed. 1870. Parkman also admits that 'towards the end of the French regime the Canadian habitant was probably better taught, so far as concerned religion, than the mass of French peasants.'—The Old Regime in Canada.]
Sensuality was not encouraged in Canada by the leaders of society, as was notoriously the case in the best circles of England and of France. Dull and devoid of intellectual light as was the life of the Canadian, he had his places of worship, where he had a moral training which elevated him immeasurably above the peasantry of England as well as of his old home. The clergy of Lower Canada confessedly did their best to relieve the ignorance of the people, but they were naturally unable to accomplish, by themselves, a task which properly devolved on the governing class. But under the French regime in Canada, the civil authorities were as little anxious to enlighten the people by the establishment of schools as they were to give them a voice in the government of the country. In remarkable contrast with the conduct of the French Government in this particular were the efforts of the Puritan pioneers then engaged in the work of civilization among the rocks of New England. Learning, after religion and social order, was the object nearest to the hearts of the New England fathers; or rather it may be said that they were convinced that social order and a religious character could not subsist in the absence of mental culture. As early as 1647, Governor Winthrop sanctioned a measure [Footnote: This measure provided that 'every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord has increased them to the number of 50 householders, shall then forthwith appoint one within their town, to teach all such children as shall resort to him, to write and read, whose wages shall be paid, either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general, by way of supply.' And it was further ordered that 'when any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families, or householders, they shall set up a grammar school, the master thereof being able to instruct youth so far as they may be fitted for the University.'] which was the first school law ever passed in America, and outlined just such a system as we now enjoy on an extended scale in Canada. Wise men those stern Puritans of the early colonial times! It is not surprising that intellectual food, so early provided for all classes, should have nurtured at last an Emerson, an Everett, a Hawthorne, a Wendell Philips, a Longfellow, a Lowell, a Howells, and a Parkman.
After the Conquest the education of the people made but little progress in Lower Canada. Education was confined for the most part to the Quebec Seminary, and a few other institutions under the control of religious communities, permitted to remain in the country. Lord Dorchester appointed a Commission in 1787, to enquire into the whole subject, but no practical results followed the step. In 1792 the Duke de Rochefoucauld wrote that 'the Canadian who could read was regarded as a phenomenon.' The attempt of the 'Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning' to establish schools was comparatively a failure; for after an existence of twenty years it had only 37 schools, attended by 1,048 pupils altogether. The British Government, at no time after it came into possession of the province, ever attempted anything for the promotion of general education. Indeed, the only matter in which it appeared in connection with education was one by no means creditable to it; for it applied the Jesuits' estates, which were destined for education, to a species of fund for secret service, and for a number of years maintained an obstinate struggle with the Assembly in order to continue this misappropriation. No doubt the existing antagonism of races, then so great an evil in Lower Canada, prevented anything like co-operation in this matter; but added to this was, probably, a doubt among the ruling class in Canada, as in England, as to the wisdom of educating the masses. An educational report of 1824 informs us that 'generally not above one-fourth of the entire population could read, and not above one-tenth of them could write even imperfectly.' In the presentments of the grand juries, and in the petitions on public grievances so frequently presented to Parliament, the majority of the signers were obliged to make their marks. During the year 1824, the Fabrique Act was passed with the view of relieving the public ignorance, but unhappily the political difficulties that prevailed from that time prevented any effective measures being carried out for the establishment of public schools throughout the province.
Nor was education in the western province in a much better state during the first period of Parliamentary Government, that is from 1792 to 1840. It is noteworthy, however, that high schools for the education of the wealthier classes were established at a very early date in the province. The first classical school was opened in the old town of Kingston by the Rev. Dr. Stuart. In 1807 the first Education Act was passed, establishing grammar schools in each of the eight districts in which the province was divided, and endowing them with an annual stipend of one hundred pounds each. In 1816 the first steps were taken by the Legislature in the direction of common schools—as they were then, and for some time afterwards, designated—but the Acts that were then and subsequently passed up to the time of the Union were very inadequate to accomplish the object aimed at. No general system existed; the masters were very inferior and ill paid. A very considerable portion of the province was without schools as well as churches. Of the lands which were generally appropriated to the support of the former by far the most valuable portion was diverted to the endowment of King's College. In 1838 there were 24,000 children in the common schools, out of a population of 450,000, leaving probably some 50,000 destitute of the means of education. The well-to-do classes, however, especially those living in the large towns, had good opportunities of acquiring a sound education. Toronto was well supplied with establishments, supported by large endowments: Upper Canada College, the Home District Grammar School, besides some well conducted seminaries for young ladies. For years Cornwall Grammar School, under the superintendence of the energetic Dr. Strachan was the resort of the provincial aristocracy. Among the men who received their early education in that famous establishment were Robert Baldwin, H. J. Boulton, J. B. Macaulay, Allan McNab, John Beverley Robinson, Dean Bethune, Clark Gamble, and many others afterwards famous in politics, in law and in the church. Dr. Strachan was not only a sound scholar but an astute man of the world, admirably fitted to develop the talents of his pupils and prepare them for the active duties of life in those young days of Canada. 'In conducting your education,' said he on one occasion, 'one of my principal duties has always been to fit you for discharging with credit the duties of any office to which you may hereafter be called. To accomplish this it was necessary for you to be accustomed frequently to depend upon and think for yourselves. Accordingly, I have always encouraged this disposition, which, when preserved within due bounds, is one of the greatest benefits that can possibly be acquired. To enable you to think with advantage, I not only regulated your tasks in such a manner as to exercise your judgment, but extended them for you beyond the mechanical routine of study usually adopted in schools.' [Footnote: Scadding's 'Toronto of Old,' p. 161.] None of the masters of the high schools of the present day could do as much under the very scientific system which limits their freedom of action in the educational training of their scholars. But whilst the wealthier classes in the larger centres of population could avail themselves of the services of such able teachers as the late Bishop of Toronto, the mass of people were left in a state of ignorance. The good schools were controlled by clergymen of the different denominations; in fact, the Church of England was nearly dominant in such matters in those early times, and it must be admitted that there was a spirit abroad in the province which discredited all attempts to place the education of the masses on a more liberal basis.
The Union of 1840 and the extension of the political rights of the people gave a new impulse to useful and practical legislation in a country whose population commenced from that time to increase very rapidly. In 1841, 1843 and 1844 measures were passed for the improvement of the school system of both provinces. In 1846, the system of compulsory taxation for the support of public schools was, for the first time, embodied in the law, and education at last made steady progress. According as experience showed the necessity of changes, the Legislature improved the educational system of both provinces—these changes having been continued to be made since Confederation. In Lower Canada, the names of two men will always be honourably associated with the working out of the School Law, and these are Dr. Meilleur and Hon. Mr. Chauveau, the latter of whom succeeded in establishing Normal Schools at Montreal and Quebec. In the Province of Ontario, Egerton Ryerson has perpetuated his name from one end of the country to the other, where the young are being educated in large, comfortable school-houses by a class of teachers whose qualifications, on the whole, are of a high order.
Great as has been the progress of education in Quebec, yet it must be admitted that it is in some respects behind that of Ontario. The buildings are inferior, the teachers less efficient, and insufficiently paid in many cases—and efficiency, no doubt, depends in a great measure on the remuneration. The ratio of children who are ignorant of the elements of knowledge is greater than in the Province of Ontario, where, it must be remembered, there is more wealth and, perhaps, more ambition among the people generally. Still the tendency in Quebec is in the direction of progress, and as the people become better off, they will doubtless be induced to work out their system, on the whole so admirable, with greater zeal and energy.
In the Province of Ontario every child can receive a free education, and can pass from the Public School to the High School or Collegiate Institute, and thence to the University, where the fees are small and many scholarships are offered to the industrious student. The principles which lie at the basis of the system are local assessment to supplement State aid; thorough inspection of all schools; ensuring the best teachers by means of Normal Schools and competitive examinations, complete equipment, graded examinations, and separate schools. The State recognises its obligation to the child, not only by contributing pecuniary aid, but by exercising a general supervision, by means of a Superintendent in Quebec and by a Minister of the Crown in Ontario. The system of Ontario, which has been the prototype for the legislation of all the smaller provinces, is eclectic, for it is the result of a careful examination of the systems that prevail in the United States, Prussia, and Ireland.
As in the larger provinces, much apathy was shown in Nova Scotia for many years on the subject of the education of the people. Unhappily this apathy lasted much longer; for the census of 1861 proved that out of a population of 284,000 persons over five years of age, no less than 81,469 could not read a printed page, and 114,877 could not write their names. It was not till 1864 that Sir Charles Tupper, then Premier, brought in a comprehensive measure containing the best features of the Ontario system; and the result has been a remarkable development in the education of the province. In New Brunswick, where the public schools were long in a very inferior state—though parish schools had been established as early as 1823—the system was remodelled, in 1871, on that of Ontario, though no provision was made for Separate Schools—an omission which has created much bitterness in the province, as the political history of Canada for the subsequent years abundantly testifies. In Prince Edward Island the first free schools were established in 1852, and further improvements have been made of recent years. In British Columbia, the Legislature has adopted substantially the Ontario School Law with such modifications as are essential to the different circumstances of a sparse population. In the North-west, before the formation of the Province of Manitoba, education was in a much better condition than the isolation and scattered state of the population would have led one to expect. In 1857 there were seventeen schools in the settlements, generally under the supervision of the clergy of the Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian bodies. In the Collegiate School, managed by the Church of England, and supported, like all other institutions in the country, by contributions from abroad, Aeschylus, Herodotus, Thucydides and Livy were read with other classics besides mathematics. In 1871 a school law of a liberal character was passed, provision being made for Protestant and Roman Catholic schools separately.
The higher branches of education have been taught from a very early date in the history of all the provinces. In the Jesuit College, the Quebec Seminary, and other Roman Catholic institutions founded in Montreal, St. Hyacinthe, Three Rivers, and Nicolet, young men could always be educated for the priesthood, or receive such higher education as was considered necessary in those early times. The Quebec Seminary always occupied a foremost position as an educational institution of the higher order, and did much to foster a love for learning among those classes who were able to enjoy the advantages it offered them. [Footnote: Mr. Buller, in his Educational Report to Lord Durham, says: 'I spent some hours in the experimental lecture-room of the eminent Professor M. Casault, and I think that I saw there the best and most extensive set of philosophic apparatus which is yet to be found in the Colonies of British North America. The buildings are extensive, and its chambers airy and clean; it has a valuable library, and a host of professors and masters. It secures to the student an extensive course of education.'] It has already been noticed that a Grammar School system was established in the years of the first settlement of Ontario. Governor Simcoe first suggested the idea of a Provincial University, and valuable lands were granted by George III., in 1798, for that purpose. The University of Toronto, or King's College, as it was first called, was established originally under the auspices of the Church of England, and was endowed in 1828, but it was not inaugurated and opened until 1843. Upper Canada College, intended as a feeder to the University, dates back as far as the same time, when it opened with a powerful array of teachers, drawn for the most part from Cambridge. In 1834, the Wesleyan Methodists laid the foundation of Victoria College, at Cobourg, and it was incorporated in 1841, as a University, with the well-known Rev. Dr. Ryerson as its first President. The Kirk of Scotland established Queen's College, at Kingston, in 1841, and the Presbyterian Church of Canada, Knox's College, at Toronto, in 1844. The Roman Catholics founded Regiopolis, at Kingston, in 1846; St. Joseph's College, at Ottawa, in 1846; St Michael's, at Toronto, in 1852. Trinity College, under the auspices of the Church of England, was the issue of the successful effort that was made, in 1849, to throw King's College open to all denominations. Bishop Strachan determined never to lend his countenance to what he called 'a Godless University,' and succeeded in founding an institution which has always occupied a creditable position among the higher educational establishments of the country. The Baptists established the Woodstock Literary Institute in 1857; the Episcopal Methodists, Albert College, at Belleville, in 1866; and the Evangelical section of the Church of England, in 1878, obtained a charter for Huron College, under the name of the Western University of London.
But the great Province of Ontario cannot lay claim to the honour of having established the first Colleges with University powers in British North America. King's College at Windsor, in Nova Scotia—the old home of 'Sam Slick'—was the first institution of a high order founded in the provinces, its history as an academy going as far back as 1788, when Upper Canada had no government of its own. This institution has always remained under the control of the Church of England, and continues to hold a respectable position among educational institutions. Dalhousie College was established at Halifax in 1820, chiefly through the efforts of the Presbyterian Church. In 1831 the Baptists founded Acadia in Horton, and in 1843 the Wesleyans an Academy at Sackville, N. B.—a neutral ground as it were—which was afterwards elevated to the dignity of a University. The Catholics founded St. Mary's at Halifax in 1840, and St Francois Xavier at Antigonishe in 1855. In 1876 the experiment was commenced, at Halifax, of a University to hold examinations in arts, law, and medicine, and to confer degrees. In New Brunswick, King's College was established at Fredericton in 1828 under the control of the Church of England, but in 1858 it was made non-sectarian under the designation of the University of New Brunswick. Even the little Provinces of Prince Edward Island and Manitoba have aspirations in the same way, for the University of Manitoba was established a year or two ago, and the Prince of Wales College followed the visit of His Royal Highness to Charlottetown in 1860.
The establishment of Laval University was an important event in the annals of education of the Province of Quebec. Bishop Bourget of Montreal first suggested the idea of interesting the Quebec Seminary in the project. The result was the visit of the Principal, M. Louis Casault, to Europe, where he obtained a Royal charter, and studied the best university systems. The charter was signed in 1852, and the Pope approved the scheme, and authorized the erection of chairs of theology and the conferring of degrees. The University of McGill is an older institution than Laval. The noble bequest to which it owes its origin was for many years a source of expensive litigation, and it was not till 1821 that it received a charter, and only in 1829 was it able to commence operations. In fact, it cannot be said to have made any substantial progress till 1854, when it was re-organized with a distinguished Nova Scotian scientist as its Principal—Dr. J. W. Dawson—to whom his native province previously owed much for his efforts to improve education at a time when it was in a very low state, owing to the apathy of the Legislature. Bishop's College at Lennoxville was established in 1844, for the education of members of the Church of England, through the exertions of Bishop Mountain, but it was not till 1853 that it was erected into a University. Besides these institutions, the Roman Catholics and other denominations have various colleges and academies at different important points—such as St. Hyacinthe, Montreal, Masson and L'Assomption Colleges. The Government of the Dominion have also established, at Kingston, an institution where young men may receive a training to fit them for the military profession—an institution something on the model of West Point—the practical benefits of which, however, are not as yet appreciable in a country like this, which has no regular army, and cannot afford employment suitable for the peculiar studies necessarily followed in the Academy. The Ontario Government are also trying the experiment, on an expensive scale, of teaching young men agriculture, practically and scientifically—a repetition, under more favourable circumstances, of what was tried centuries ago by the religious communities of Quebec. Nor, in reviewing the means of mental equipment in Canada, must we forget the many establishments which are now provided for the education of young women outside of the Public and High Schools, the most notable being the Roman Catholic Convents of Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, Ottawa Ladies' College, Wesleyan Ladies' College at Hamilton, Brantford Ladies' College, Bishop Strachan School at Toronto, Helmuth Ladies' College at London, Albert College, and Woodstock Literary Institute, besides many minor institutions of more or less merit. Several of our universities have also shown a liberal progressive spirit in acknowledging the right of women to participate in the higher education, hitherto confined to men in this country—an illustration in itself of the intellectual development that is now going on among us.
When we proceed to review the statistics of educational progress, they present very gratifying results. The following table, carefully prepared to the latest date, from the voluminous official returns annually presented to the different Legislatures of the Provinces of Canada, will be quite sufficient for the purposes of this paper:
Total number of public educational institutions in the Dominion 13,800
Number of pupils in attendance throughout the year 925,000 Amount now annually contributed by the State and People $6,700,000
Number of Colleges and Universities 21 Number of Undergraduates in Arts, Law, Medicine, Theology, about 2,200
Number of Superior and High Schools, including Academies and Collegiate Institutes 443 Aggregate attendance in same 141,000
Number of Normal Schools 8 Number of students in same 1,400
Amount expended in Ontario alone during 30 years (from 1850 to 1880,) for erection and repairs of School-houses, fuel and contingencies, about $15,000,000
[Footnote: The educational statistics preceding 1850 are not easily ascertained, and in any case are small. I have not been able to obtain similar figures for other provinces; in fact, in some cases, they are not to be ascertained with any degree of accuracy.]
Total amount expended in same province, for all educational purposes during same period, upwards of $50,000,000
Total amount (approximate), available for public school purposes, in all Canada, since Confederation, i.e. in 12 years $64,000,000
These statistics prove conclusively, that Canada occupies a foremost position among communities for its zeal in developing the education of the people, irrespective of class. The progress that has been made within forty years may be also illustrated by the fact that, in 1839, there were in all the public and private schools of British North America only some 92,000 young people, out of a total population of 1,440,000, or about one in fifteen, whilst now the proportion may be given at one in four, if we include the students in all educational institutions. But it must be admitted, that it is to Ontario we must look for illustrations of the most perfect educational system. There, from the very commencement, the admirable municipal system which was one of the best results of the Union of 1840, enabled the people to prove their public spirit by carrying out with great energy the different measures passed by the Legislature for the promotion of Public Schools. 'By their constitution, the municipal and school corporations are reflections of the sentiments and feelings of the people within their respective circles of jurisdiction; their powers are adequate to meet all the economic exigencies of each municipality, whether of schools or roads, of the diffusion of knowledge, or the development of wealth.' [Footnote: Hon. Adam Crooks, Minister of Education, Report on Educational Institutions of Ontario, for Philadelphia Exhibition, p. 45.] As a result of such public spirit, we find in Ontario the finest specimens of school architecture, and the most perfect school apparatus and appliances of every kind, calculated to assist the teacher and pupil, and to bring into play their best mental faculties. But there can be no doubt that the success of the system rests in a very great measure on the effort that has been made to improve the status of the teacher. The schoolmaster is no longer a man who resorts to education because everything else has failed. He is no longer one of that class of 'adventurers, many of them persons of the lowest grade,' who, we are told, infested the rural districts of Upper Canada in olden times, 'wheresoever they found the field unoccupied; pursuing their speculation with pecuniary profit to themselves, but with certainly little advantage to the moral discipline of their youthful pupils.' [Footnote: Preston's 'Three Years in Canada' (1837-9), p. 110, Vol. ii.] The fact that such men could be instructors of youth, half a century ago, is of itself a forcible illustration of the public indifference to the question of popular education. All the legislation in Ontario, and in the other provinces as well, has been framed with the object of elevating the moral and intellectual standing of a class on whose efforts so much of the future happiness and prosperity of this country depends. On the whole, the object has been successfully achieved, and the schoolmasters of Ontario are, as a rule, a superior class of men. Yet it must be admitted that much can still be done to improve their position. Education, we all know, does not necessarily bring with it refinement; that can only come by constant communication with a cultured society, which is not always, in Canada, ready to admit the teacher on equal terms. It may also be urged that the teacher, under the system as now perfected, is far too much of an automaton—a mere machine, wound up to proceed so far and no farther. He is not allowed sufficient of that free volition which would enable him to develop the best qualities of his pupils, and to elevate their general tone. Polite manners among the pupils are just as valuable as orderly habits. Teachers cannot strive too much to check all rudeness among the youth, many of whom have few opportunities to cultivate those social amenities which make life so pleasant, and also do so much to soften the difficulties of one's journey through life. [Footnote: Since the above was written, I find the following remarks by Mr. Adam, editor of the Canada Educational Monthly, to the same purport: 'The tone of the Schools might be largely raised and the tender and plastic nature of the young minds under training be directed into sympathy with the noble and the elevating. Relieved of much of the red-tapism which hampers the work of the High-School teacher, the masters of the Public Schools have more opportunity to make individuality tell in the conduct of the school, and of encircling the sphere of their work with a bright zone of cultivation and refinement. But the Public School teacher will accomplish much if, reverently and sympathetically, he endeavours to preserve the freshness and ingenuousness of childhood and, by the influence of his own example, while leading the pupil up the golden ladder of mental acquisition, he encourages the cultivation of those graces of life which are the best adornments of youth.'—Feb. 1879.] Such discipline cannot be too rigidly followed in a country of a Saxon race, whose brusquerie of manner and speech is a natural heritage, just as a spirit of courtesy seems innate in the humblest habitants who have not yet forgotten, among the rude conditions of their American life, that prominent characteristic of a Gallic people. [Footnote: More than forty years ago, Mr. Buller, in his report to Lord Durham on the State of Education in Lower Canada, pays this tribute to the peasantry: 'Withal this is a people eminently qualified to reap advantages from education; they are shrewd and intelligent, never morose, most amiable in their domestic relations, and most graceful in their manners.']
It is quite probable that the Public School system of this country is still defective in certain respects, which can only be satisfactorily improved with the progress of experience. The remarks of a writer in a recent number of a popular American magazine, Scribner's Monthly, may have some application to ourselves, when he says that there is now-a-days 'too decided an aim to train everybody to pass an examination in everything;' that the present system 'encourages two virtues—to forgive and forget, in time to forgive the examiner, and to forget the subject of the examination.' The present writer does not wish—in fact, it is rather beyond the limit he has marked out for this review—to go into any lengthy discussion of matters which are worthy, however, of consideration by all those interested in perfecting the details of the educational system in Ontario; but he may refer, en passant, to the somewhat remarkable multiplication of text-books, many of which are carelessly got up, simply to gratify the vanity and fill the purse of some educationist, anxious to get into print. Grammar also appears to be a lost art in the Public Schools, where the students are perplexed by books, not simple, but most complex in their teachings, calculated to bewilder persons of mature analytical minds, and to make one appreciate more highly than ever the intelligible lessons of Lennie's homely little volume, which was the favourite in those times when education was not quite so much reduced to a science. But these are, after all, only among the details which can be best treated by teachers themselves, in those little parliaments which have grown up of recent years, and where educationists have admirable opportunities of comparing their experiences, and suggesting such improvements as may assist in the intellectual development of the young, and at the same time elevate their own social standing in this country. On the whole, Canada has much reason for congratulation in possessing a system which brings education in every province within the reach of all, and enables a lad to cultivate his intellectual faculties to a point sufficient to place him in the years of his mature manhood in the highest position that this country offers to its sons. As to the objection, not unfrequently urged, that the tendency of the public school education of this country is to withdraw the young from the industrial avocations of life, it may be forcibly met by the fact, that it is to the New England States we look for the best evidences of industrial, as well as intellectual, development. The looms of Massachusetts and Connecticut are not less busy—the inventive genius of those States is not less fertile, because their public schools are teeming with their youth. But it is not necessary to go to the neighbouring States to give additional force to these remarks; for in no part of the Dominion, is there so much industrial energy as in the Province of Ontario, where the school system is the best. An English gentleman, who has devoted more attention than the majority of his countrymen to the study of colonial subjects, has well observed on this point: 'A key to one of the principal causes of their successful progress in the development of industrial art is probably to be found in their excellent and superior educational system.' [Footnote: Address of Mr. Frederick Young on the Paris Exhibition, before the Royal Colonial Institute, 1878-9.]
A review of the University system of this country, on the perfection of which depends the higher culture of the people, shows us that the tendency continues to be in the direction of strengthening the denominational institutions. The Universities of Toronto and McGill are the principal non-sectarian institutions of a higher class, which appear to be on a popular and substantial basis. It is natural enough that each denomination should rally around a college, which rests on a religious basis. Parents seem in not a few cases to appreciate very highly the moral security that the denominational system appears to afford to their sons—a moral security which they believe to be wanting in the case of non-sectarian institutions. Even those colleges which do not shut their doors to young men of any particular creed continue to be more or less supported by the denominations under whose auspices they were first established. No doubt, these colleges, sufficiently numerous for a sparsely peopled country like Canada, are doing a valuable work in developing the intellectual faculties of the youth of the several provinces. It is a question, however, if the perpetuation of a system which multiplies colleges with University powers in each province, will tend to produce the soundest scholarship in the end. What we want even now are not so many 'Admirable Crichtons' with a smattering of all sorts of knowledge, but men recognised for their proficiency in special branches of learning. Where there is much competition, there must be sooner or later an inclination to lower the standard, and degrade the value of the diplomas issued at the close of a college course. Theoretically, it seems preferable that in a great province like Ontario, the diplomas should emanate from one Central University authority rather than from a number of colleges, each pursuing its own curriculum. No doubt it is also quite possible to improve our higher system of education so as to make it more in conformity with the practical necessities of the country. An earnest discussion has been going on for some time in the United States as to the inferiority of the American University System compared with that of Germany. [Footnote: An article, in the July number of Harper's for 1880, by so distinguished an authority as Professor Draper, is well worthy of perusal by those who wish to pursue this subject at greater length. Among other things he says (pp. 253-4): 'There is therefore in America a want of a school offering opportunities to large and constantly increasing classes of men for pursuing professional studies—a want which is deeply felt, and which sends every year many students and millions of dollars out of the country. Where in the United States can a young man prepare himself thoroughly to become a teacher of the ancient classics. A simple college course is not enough. The Germans require that their teachers of Latin and Greek should pursue the classics as a specialty for three years at a University after having completed the gymnasium which, as a classical school, would be universally admitted to rank with our colleges.... If an American (or a Canadian) wishes to pursue a special course in history, politics and political economy, mathematics, philosophy, or in any one of many other studies lying outside of the three professions, law, medicine, and theology, he must go to Europe. Again, whoever desires even in theology, law and medicine to select from one branch as a specialty, must go to Europe to do so.' Hon. Mr. Blake, in his last address as Chancellor of Toronto University, also dwelt very forcibly on the necessity of post graduate courses of study in special subjects.—Canada Educational Monthly, Oct. 1880.] John-Hopkins University in Baltimore, Michigan University, and Cornell University, are illustrations of the desire to enlarge the sphere of the education of the people. If we had the German system in this country, men could study classics or mathematics, or science, or literature, or law, or medicine, in a national University with a sole view to their future avocations in life. It is true, in the case of law and medicine Laval, Toronto, McGill and other Universities in the provinces have organized professional courses; and there is no doubt a desire on the part of the educational authorities in these institutions to ensure proficiency so far as the comparatively limited means at their command permit them. It is certainly a noteworthy fact—lately pointed out by Mr. Blake—that during the last five years only one fourth of the entrants into Osgoode Hall were graduates of any University, and three-fourths were men who had taken no degree, and yet there is no profession which demands a higher mental training than the Bar. In medical education there is certainly less laxity than in the United States; all the efforts of medical men being laudably directed to lengthen the course and develop the professional knowledge of the students. Still, not a few of our young men show their appreciation of the need of even a wider knowledge and experience than is afforded in the necessarily limited field of Canadian study, by spending some time in the great schools and hospitals of Europe. Of course, in a new country, where there is a general desire to get to the practical work of life with as little delay as possible, the tendency to be carefully guarded against is the giving too large facilities to enter professions where life and property are every day at stake. It is satisfactory, however, to know that the tendency in Canada is rather in the other direction, and that an institution like McGill College, which is a Medical College of high reputation, is doing its best with the materials at command, to perfect the medical knowledge of those who seek its generous aid. No doubt the time is fast approaching when the State will be obliged to give greater assistance to Toronto University so as to enable it to enter on a broader and more liberal system of culture, commensurate with the development of science and literature. Unless the State makes a liberal effort in this direction, we are afraid it will be some time before University College will be in a position to imitate the praiseworthy example set by Columbia College, which, from its situation in the great commercial metropolis, and the large means at its command, seems likely to be the great American University of the future. It must be remembered that the intellectual requirements of the Dominion must continue to increase with great rapidity, since there is greater wealth accumulating, and a praiseworthy ambition for higher culture. The legislature and the public service are making very heavy requisitions on the intellect of this much governed country, with its numerous Parliaments and Cabinets and large body of officials, very many of whom are entrusted with the most responsible duties, demanding no ordinary mental qualifications. [Footnote: It is a fact worthy of mention in this connection, that in the English House of Commons dissolved in 1880, 236, or more than a third out of 658, members were Oxford or Cambridge men, while about 180 were 'public school men,'—the 'public schools' being Eton and such high class institutions. In a previous English Cabinet, the majority were Honor men; Mr. Gladstone is a double first of Christ Church, Oxford.]
The public schools, collegiate institutes, and universities, apart from the learned professions, must also every year make larger demands on the intellectual funds of the Dominion, and as the remuneration of the masters and professors in the educational institutions of this country should in the nature of things improve in the future, our young men must be necessarily stimulated to consider such positions more worthy of a life's devotion. Under such circumstances, it should be the great object of all true friends of the sound intellectual development of Canada to place our system of higher education on a basis equal to the exigencies of a practical, prescient age, and no longer cling to worn out ideas of the past. In order to do this, let the people of Ontario determine to establish a national University which will be worthy of their great province and of the whole Dominion. Toronto University seems to have in some measure around it that aroma of learning, that dignity of age, and that prestige of historic association which are necessary to the successful establishment of a national seat of learning, and will give the fullest scope to Canadian talent.
In the development of Canadian intellect the newspaper press has had a very large influence during the past half-century and more. What the pulpit has done for the moral education of the people, the press has accomplished for their general culture when schools were few and very inferior, and books were rarely seen throughout the country. When the political rights of the people were the subject of earnest controversy in the Legislatures of the Provinces the press enabled all classes to discuss public questions with more or less knowledge, and gave a decided intellectual stimulus, which had a valuable effect in a young isolated country like Canada. In the days of the French regime there was not a single printing press in Canada, though the News Letter was published in Boston as early as 1704. [Footnote: The first printing press in America wag set up at Cambridge, in the ninth year of the Charter Government (1639); the first document printed was the 'Freeman's Oath,' then an almanack, and next the Psalms.—2 Palgrave, 45. In 1740, there were no less than eleven journals—only of foolscap size, however—published in the English Colonies.] It is generally claimed that the first newspaper in Canada, was the Quebec Gazette, which was published in 1764, by Brown & Gilmour, formerly Philadelphia printers, with a subscription list of only one hundred and fifty names. The first issue appeared on the 21st June, printed on four folio pages of 18 by 12 inches, each containing two columns of small type. The first article was the prospectus in larger type, in which the promoters promised to pay particular attention 'to the refined amusements of literature and the pleasant veins of well-pointed wit; interspersed with chosen pieces of curious essays, extracted from the most celebrated authors, blending philosophy with politics, history, &c.' The conductors also pledged themselves to give no place in the paper to 'party prejudices and private scandal'—a pledge better kept than such promises are generally. There was a very slender allowance of news from Riga, St. Petersburg, London, New York and Philadelphia; but there was one ominous item, that Parliament was about imposing taxes on the Colonies, though they were without representation in that Parliament. The latest English news was to the 11th April; the latest American to the 7th May. Only two advertisements appeared—one of a general store, of dry goods, groceries, hardware, all the olla podrida necessary in those days; the other from the Honourable Commissioner of Customs, warning the public against making compositions for duties under the Imperial Act. This sheet, for some years, had no influence on public opinion; for it continued to be a mere bald summary of news, without comment on political events. Indeed, when it was first issued, the time was unfavourable for political discussion, as Quebec had only just become an English possession, and the whole country was lying torpid under the military administration of General Murray. It is, however, a fact not very generally known even yet, except to a few antiquarians, that there was a small sheet published in British America, called the Halifax Gazette [Footnote: In a letter of Secretary Cotterell, written in 1754, to Captain Floyer, at Piziquid (Windsor), he refers to M. Dandin, a priest in one of the Acadian settlements: 'If he chooses to play bel esprit in the Halifax Gazette, he may communicate his matter to the printer as soon as he pleases, as he will not print it without showing it to me.—See Murdoch's History of Nova Scotia, vol. 2, p. 234] just twelve years before the appearance of the Quebec paper. From 1769 we commence to find regular mention of the Nova Scotia Gazette and Weekly Chronicle, published on Sackville Street by A. Fleury, who also printed the first Almanac in Canada, in 1774. One of the first newspapers published in the Maritime Provinces was the Royal Gazette and New Brunswick Advertiser, which appeared in 1785 in St. John, just founded by the American Loyalists. The first paper appeared in Upper Canada on the establishment of Parliamentary Government, and was published by Louis Roy, at Newark, on the 18th April, 1793, under the title of The Upper Canada Gazette, or the American Oracle. The sheet was in folio, 15 by 9-1/2 inches, of coarse, but durable paper—not a characteristic, certainly, of our great newspapers now-a-days, of which the material is very flimsy; the impression was fairly executed; the price was three dollars a year. In 1794, the form was changed to a quarto, and one Tiffany had become the proprietor. When the Gazette was removed to York, in 1800, with all the Government offices, the Messrs. Tiffany started the Constellation, which, Dr. Scadding tells us, illustrated the jealousy which the people of the Niagara district felt at seeing York suddenly assume so much importance; for one of the writers ironically proposes a 'Stump Act' for the ambitious, though muddy, unkempt little town, 'so that the people in the space of a few months, may relapse into intoxication with impunity, and stagger home at any hour of the night without encountering the dreadful apprehension of broken necks.'
The Constellation only lived a year or two, and then gave way to the Herald and other papers at subsequent dates; and it is an interesting fact, mentioned by the learned antiquarian of Toronto, that the imposing stone used by Mr. Tiffany, was in use up to 1870, when the old Niagara Mail, long edited by Mr. W. Kirby, at last ceased publication. The Gazette and Oracle continued to be published at York by different printers, and, like other journals in America, often appeared in variegated colours—blue being the favourite—in consequence of the scarcity of white paper. The title, American Oracle, was dropped from the heading when Dr. Horne became the publisher, in 1817; it continued to publish official notices, besides meagre summaries of general news, and some miscellaneous reading matter.
The second paper in Upper Canada was the Upper Canada Guardian or Freeman's Journal, which was edited and printed by Joseph Willcox, who fell under the ban of the Lieutenant Governor, for his Liberal opinions. It was printed in 1807, and exercised much influence for a time as an organ of the struggling Liberal party. Like others, in those days of political bitterness, its editor was imprisoned, ostensibly for a breach of parliamentary privilege, though in reality as a punishment for presuming to differ from the governing party; but, able man as he undoubtedly was, he marred his career by an infamous desertion to the Americans during the war of 1812, before the expiration of which he was killed. The first newspaper in Kingston, the third in the province, was the Gazette, founded in 1810, by Stephen Miles, who afterwards became a minister of the Methodist denomination, and also printed the Grenville Gazette, the first journal in the old town of Prescott. [Footnote: Morgan's 'Bibliotheca Canadensis,' Art. Miles.] The first daily paper published in British North America, appears to have been the Daily Advertiser, which appeared in Montreal, in May, 1833—the Herald and Gazette being tri-weekly papers at the time. The Daily Advertiser was issued in the interests of the Liberals, under the management of the Hon. H. S. Chapman, subsequently a judge in New Zealand. One of the chief inducements held out to subscribers was the regular publication of full prices current and other commercial information. The British Whig, of Kingston, was the first newspaper that attempted the experiment of a daily issue in Upper Canada.