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Education in Upper Canada,
FROM THE PASSING OF THE
CONSTITUTIONAL ACT OF 1791
CLOSE OF THE REVEREND DOCTOR RYERSON'S ADMINISTRATION
OF THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT IN 1876
VOL. XXV., 1871-1874.
FORMING AX APPENDIX TO THE ANNUAL REPORT OF THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION.
J. GEORGE HODGINS, I.S.O., M.A., LL.D.
OF OSGOODE HALL, BARRISTER-AT-LAW, Ex-DEPUTY MINISTER
The most noteworthy Educational event which occurred in 1873, as recorded in this Volume, was the adoption by Members of the Provincial Council of Public Instruction of a strongly worded Petition to the House of Assembly against what they regard as the arbitrary conduct towards them by the Government of the Day. Gather than attempt to give a summary of the objections of Members of the Council to the action of the Government in this matter, I give it in their own words from the Petition, as follows:
That, in consequence of certain statements and imputations against this Council and the Education Department, the Honourable Edward Blake, then President of the Executive Council, brought in a Bill last Session of the Legislature, which was passed into an Act, declaring that,
“The Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council shall have power to cause enquiry to be made into the working of any Rules, Regulations, Instructions, or Recommendations, which have been, or may be, made, or issued, by the Council of Public Instruction, or by the Chief Superintendent of Education; and to abrogate, suspend, or modify, any such Rules, Regulations, Instructions, or Recommendations."
That, as contemplated by this Act, the Government instituted a most severe and exhaustive inquisition into the acts of this Council since 1867, requiring explanations, statutory authority and also reasons for every proceeding, and act of this Council in regard to the following subjects :
(1) The Preparation, Publications, Sanctioning and Providing of Text Books for the Public and High Schools.
(2) The Examination of, and Certificates of Qualification to, Public School Teachers. (3) The Management and Teaching of the Normal and Model Schools.
(4) The Programmes, Course of Study, and General Regulations for the Organization, Government, Discipline and Inspection of the Public and High Schools.
(5) The Official Regulations, providing for Adequate Accommodations in the Public Schools.
(6) Special Regulations for the admission of Pupils to the High Schools.
That the Council promptly and fully answered every Enquiry and Demand of the Government, and assured its ready Obedience to every Order and Instruction which the Government had issued, or might issue, explaining and giving Statutory Authority for each Regulation, or Recommendation, which it had made since 1867; and this Council believes that the Chief Superintendent of Education, an ex-officio Member of this Council, gave, in like manner, the Authority and Reasons which were required of him for his Acts and Instructions.
That when your Honourable House had passed an Act to make thorough Enquiries into the then impugned Regulations and Acts of this Council; and when that Enquiry has been made in a manner of thoroughness and severity very unusual, if not unprecedented, this Council submits that it is justly due to its character and past labours, that its Answers in explanation of its own Acts, and in reply to the Charges preferred against it, should be laid before Your Honourable House and printed for the information of Members and of the Public.
That the Members of this Council are prepared at any moment to retire from the position and work which they have so long sustained; but they deem it due to themselves, as it is the right of the humblest Subject of the Queen, to be heard in their own Defence before having their labours of more than twenty-five years legislatively stamped, as they have been, with the character of "Inefficiency."
As the result of this hostile attitude of the Government to the Council of Public Instruction and the Chief Superintendent of Education, stimulated, as it was, by the Bookselling interest, represented by Mr. G. Mercer Adam, an active agitation was promoted by the same interest, with a view professedly to give Teachers and Inspectors a right to representation on the Council of Public Instruction.* This the Government consented to do; and a Bill was framed by the Attorney-General to give effect to this scheme.
The Chief Superintendent remonstrated with the Attorney-General on the subject, and objected to the application of the principle of popular election to a Body constituted as was the Council of Public Instruction, which was originally designed to be a consultive and co-operative agency, intended to aid him in his administration of the Education Department, but which, as the result of the elective system, would become both partizan and obstructive, which it actually did, as the after records of this Documentary History will show.
With these untoward exceptions, the Educational results of the year, as recorded in this Volume, were highly satisfactory, and showed a gratifying progress, not only in the Schools of various degress, but a substantial increase in the means provided for their support and maintenance. ! TORONTO, July, 1908.
J. GEORGE HODGINS. Historiographer of the Education Department of Ontario.
* It is a singular fact that, although the elective principle, as applied to the Council of Public Instruction, was professedly designed to give Inspectors and Teachers a practical, personal and Professional representation on that Body, yet, as a matter of fact, neither classes elected a member of its own order to the Council, but chore outsiders.
CHAPTER V. EDUCATIONAL PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO,
CHAPTER IX. ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SENATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO,