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Title: Ryerson Memorial Volume
Author: Hodgins, J. George (John George)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ryerson Memorial Volume" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's note:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.

Page 3: "+JOHN JOSEPH LYNCH"--the + denotes a cross symbol.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: cover]

[Illustration: Ryerson statue]











I have two reasons to give for the part which I have taken in the
preparation of the latter part of this Memorial Volume. The first is
mentioned in the following paragraph from the brief _resumé_ of the
historical and personal facts given in the volume, and which I read
on the day of the unveiling of the statue, as follows:--

     "It devolves upon me, as Chairman of the (Ryerson Memorial
     Statue) Committee, and at the kind request of my colleagues--no
     less than as the life-long friend and fellow-labourer of him
     whose deeds and memory we honour to-day--to trace back to their
     source the origin and underlying principles of our system of
     education, and to show that these underlying principles and
     other vital forces were so combined by a master-hand as to form
     the groundwork, as they have, in their combination, become the
     charter of our educational system of to-day."

The second reason is contained in the following
paragraphs--containing a brief record of Dr. Ryerson's thirty-two
years in the Public Service, taken from _The Story of My Life_, page

     "During my connection with the Education Department--from
     1844 to 1876--I made five educational tours of inspection
     and enquiry to educating countries in Europe and the United
     States. I made an official tour through each county in Upper
     Canada, once in every five years, to hold a County Convention
     of municipal councillors, clergy, school trustees, teachers and
     local superintendents, and thus developed the School system as
     the result of repeated inquiries in foreign countries, and the
     freest consultation with my fellow-citizens of all classes,
     in the several County Conventions, as well as on many other

     "During the nearly thirty-two years of my administration of the
     Education Department, I met with strong opposition at first from
     individuals--some on personal, others on religious and political
     grounds; but that opposition was, for most part, partial and
     evanescent. During these years I had the support of each
     successive administration of Government, whether of one party
     or the other, and, at length, the co-operation of all religious
     persuasions; so that in 1876 I was allowed to retire, with the
     good-will of all political parties and religious denominations,
     and without diminution of my public means of subsistence.

     "I leave to Dr. J. George Hodgins, my devoted friend of over
     forty years, and my able colleague for over thirty of these
     years, the duty of filling up the details of our united labours
     in founding a system of education for my native Province which
     is spoken of in terms of strong commendation, not only within,
     but by people outside of the Dominion."[1]

  [1] It is the purpose of the writer of this Retrospect (in
  accordance with Dr. Ryerson's oft expressed wish) to prepare another
  volume, giving, from private letters, memoranda, and various
  documents, a personal history of the founding and vicissitudes of
  our educational system from 1844 to 1876 inclusive.

My own estimate of Dr. Ryerson's educational life and labours is
contained in the following paragraphs, which were written by me in

Dr. Ryerson's fame in the future will mainly rest upon the fact
that he was a distinguished Canadian Educationist, and the Founder
of a great system of Public Education for Upper Canada. What makes
this distinguishing excellence in his case the more marked, was the
fact that the soil on which he had to labour was unprepared, and
the social condition of the country was unpropitious. English ideas
of schools for the poor, supported by subscriptions and voluntary
offerings, prevailed in Upper Canada; free schools were unknown;
the very principle on which they rest--that is, that the ratable
property of the country is responsible for the education of the
youth of the land--was denounced as communistic and an invasion of
the rights of property; while "compulsory education"--the proper
and necessary complement of free schools--was equally denounced
as of the essence of "Prussian despotism," and an impertinent and
unjustifiable interference with "the rights of British subjects."

It was a reasonable boast at the time that only systems of popular
education, based upon the principle of free schools, were possible
in the republican American States, where the wide diffusion of
education was regarded as a prime necessity for the stability and
success of republican institutions, and, therefore, was fostered
with unceasing care. It was the theme on which the popular orator
loved to dilate to a people on whose sympathies with the subject he
could always confidently reckon. The practical mind of Dr. Ryerson,
however, at once saw that the American idea of free schools was
the true one. He moreover perceived that by giving his countrymen
facilities for freely discussing the question among the ratepayers
once a year, they would educate themselves into the idea, without
any interference from the State. These facilities were provided
in 1850; and for twenty-one years the question of free schools
_versus_ rate-bill schools (fees, etc.) was discussed every January
in from 3,000 to 5,000 school sections, until free schools became
voluntarily the rule, and rate-bill schools the exception. In 1871,
by common consent, the free school principle was incorporated into
our school system by the Legislature, and has ever since been the
universal practice. In the adoption of this principle, and in the
successful administration of the Education Department, Dr. Ryerson
at length demonstrated that a popular (or, as it had been held in
the United States, the democratic) system of public schools was
admirably adapted to our monarchical institutions. In point of
fact, leading American educationists have often pointed out that
the Canadian system of public education was more efficient in all
of its details, most practically successful in its results, than
was the ordinary American school system in any one of the States of
the Union. Thus it is that the fame of Dr. Ryerson as a successful
founder of our educational system, rests upon a solid basis. What
has been done by him will not be undone; and the ground gone over
by him will not require to be traversed again. But I forbear, as I
hope to devote a volume to the private and personal history of our
educational system.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first part of this volume contains an interesting account from
the leading daily papers of Toronto of the ceremony of unveiling
the great statue to a distinguished native of Ontario and a truly
representative man--representative of her enterprize, energy and
progress. As such, many of the leading men of the Province assembled
on the Queen's Birthday to do honour to his memory. It also contains
the addresses in full of those gentlemen who were appointed by
their respective institutions, etc., to that duty, and who kindly
consented to take part in the ceremonies and proceedings of the day.

The second part of the volume contains a statement of the origin,
with illustrations, of the underlying principles of our system of
education--primary, secondary and university.

There has also been added at the end some historical and personal
sketches--some of them of a humorous cast--but all illustrative of
the early days of education in this Province, and its vicissitudes
of light and shade. They admirably serve to bring out in strong
relief the present state of efficiency of our system of public
instruction, as well as the substantial progress which has been
made by it in its various departments since the early educational
pioneers of Upper Canada first attempted to give it form and
substance, over fifty years ago.

The photograph from which the frontispiece is printed was by Mr. J.
Bruce, of 118 King street west, Toronto.

  J. G. H.

TORONTO, 24th May, 1889.


A few days after the ceremony of unveiling the Statue, I received
the following very kind note from Rev. Dr. Ryerson's only son:--

  May 28th, 1889.

MY DEAR DR. HODGINS,--The 24th of May was indeed a red-letter day to
me and to my family; and one I shall never forget.

The Statue and Pedestal are beyond anything I expected; and the
likeness is excellent.

Allow me to thank you very heartily for your eloquent Historical
Paper, and the touching references to my dear Father.

I know that all you did was a labour of love. But I cannot allow
this event to pass without expressing to you our deep gratitude for
the time and pains you have taken in successfully carrying out this
splendid memorial to my revered Father. Mrs. Ryerson joins me in
very kind regards.

  Believe me,
  Yours very faithfully,




  Title and Prefatory Note                                        iii.


  Preliminary Remarks                                                1

  Appeal for Funds for the Erection of the Statue                    3

  The Financial Results of the Appeal Made--Particulars of the
      Statue                                                         5

  Programme of Arrangements for Unveiling the Statue                 5

  Inscription on the Statue Pedestal                                 6

  Record of Rev. Dr. Ryerson's Services                              7


  Report of Ceremony of Unveiling the Statue (from _The Globe_)      8

  Address of the Hon. G. W. Ross, Minister of Education              9

  The Statue Unveiled by Sir Alexander Campbell,
      Lieutenant-Governor                                           11

  Report of the unveiling by _The Empire_ and _The Mail_            13

  Comments of the Press on the Unveiling of the Statue              15



      1. By Mr. Robert McQueen, President of the Teachers'
             Association of Ontario                                 17

      2. By Alderman McMillan, Acting Mayor of Toronto              19

      3. By Hon. Senator Macdonald, representing the University
             of Toronto                                             20

      4. By Rev. Dr. Burwash, representing the University of
             Victoria College                                       22

      5. By Sandford Fleming, LL.D., C.M.G., representing the
             University of Queen's College                          23

      6. By Rev. Professor Clark, M.A., representing the
             University of Trinity College                          24

      7. By Professor T. H. Rand, D.C.L., representing McMaster
             University                                             25



  Significance of the Event of the Day                              27

  The Ontario System of Education--Its Influence Abroad             27

  Comprehensive Character of the Ontario Educational System         28

  Character and System of Education Abroad, and Lessons Therefrom   29

  Educational Lessons to be Learned Outside of Ontario              29

  Three Educational Periods in the History of Ontario               30

  Colonial Chapter in the History of American Education             30

  The Nine British Colonial Universities in the Thirteen Colonies   32

  The United Empire Loyalist Period in Upper Canada                 36

  Governor Simcoe's Educational Views in 1795                       37

  Early Beginnings of Education in Upper Canada, 1785-1805          37

  State of Education in Upper Canada, 1795-1799                     38

  First Official Educational Movements in Upper Canada, 1797,
      1798                                                          38

  Educational Pioneers in Upper Canada                              39

  Early Efforts to Establish Common Schools, 1816-1820              40

  State of Education in Upper Canada, 1784-1819                     41

  Fitful Educational Progress from 1822 to 1829                     41

  State of Education in Upper Canada, 1827-1829                     42

  Rev. Dr. Strachan's Course of Study in Grammar Schools, 1829      43

  Rev. Dr. Strachan's System of School Management                   44

  Rev. Dr. Strachan's Career as a Teacher                           45

  Mr. Joseph Hume's Essay on Education, edited by Mr. W. L.
      MacKenzie                                                     46

  Vicissitudes of Education in Upper Canada, 1830-1839              46

  Educational Efforts in the House of Assembly, by Mr. M. Burwell,
      1831-1836                                                     47

  Efforts at Educational Legislation, by Dr. Charles Duncombe,
      1831-1836                                                     48

  Continued Educational Efforts of Mr. Burwell in the House
      of Assembly                                                   50

  Early Opinions on the Necessity for Manual or Industrial
      Education in our Schools                                      51

  Later Opinions (on the same subject)                              51

  Further Educational Efforts in the House of Assembly, 1835,
      1836                                                          52

  Analysis of Dr. Charles Duncombe's Report on Education, 1836      53

  Summary of, and Reflection on, these Educational Efforts from
      1830 to 1839                                                  54

  Extracts from Official Reports on Education in Upper Canada
      in 1838                                                       55

  Influences by American Teachers and School Books Deprecated       55

  Extracts from Report of an Education Commission in 1839           57

  Educational Opinions of Prominent Public Men in 1839              58

  Separate Educational Forces Shaping Themselves in Upper Canada    59

  Noted Educational Leaders--Dr. Strachan and Dr. Ryerson           59

  The Educational Efforts of the U. E. Loyalists and the
      Ruling Party                                                  60

  An Educational Glance Backwards                                   60

  Provision for Higher Education in Upper Canada by the Imperial
      Government                                                    62

  Rev. Dr. Strachan as an Educator                                  62

  Rev. Dr. Strachan's Reasons for Establishing a University
      in Upper Canada                                               64

  Rev. Dr. Strachan, the Founder of Two Universities in Toronto     65

  The University of Toronto                                         66

  The University of Victoria College                                66

  The Queen's College University                                    69

  The University of Trinity College                                 70

  The R. C. University College at Ottawa                            70

  The Western University, London                                    70

  The McMaster University                                           71

  Upper Canada College--Albert College--Woodstock
      College--The School of Practical Science, and
      various colleges and schools, etc.                            71

  Rev. Dr. Ryerson's advocacy of Popular Rights, 1827-1841          72

  Educational Legislation in the United Parliament of 1841
      and 1843                                                      72

  Origin of the annual grant of $200,000 for Common Schools
      in 1841                                                       73

  Educational efforts of Rev. Dr. Ryerson up to this time           74

  First appointment of a Superintendent of Education for Upper
      Canada, 1842                                                  74

  Appointment of Rev. Dr. Ryerson as Superintendent of
      Education, 1844                                               75

  Rev. Dr. Ryerson's Report on a System of Public Instruction for
      Upper Canada                                                  75

  Chief features of Dr. Ryerson's first report and School Bill,
      1846                                                          77

  Objections to Dr. Ryerson's School Bill of 1846, answered.        77

  First and Second Councils of Public Instruction, 1846 and 1850.   78

  Religious Instruction in the Common Schools, 1846.                79

  State of Common School Education in Upper Canada, 1845.           80

  School Houses and School Teachers in 1845-1850.                   81

  Combined opposition to the projected system of Education.         82

  Educational Proceedings of District Councils in 1847, 1848.       83

  Estimate of Lord Elgin's character by Hon. W. H. Draper.          84

  Invaluable assistance given to Dr. Ryerson by Lord Elgin.         85

  Proceedings of the First Council of Public Instruction. The
      Normal School.                                                86

  Laying the corner stone of the New Normal School Buildings,
      1851.                                                         87

  The County Model Schools of 1843-1850.                            88

  Fundamental Principles of Dr. Ryerson's Scheme of Education.      90

  Can Upper Canada Emulate the State of New York in Educational
      Matters?                                                      90

  Establishment of the Educational Depository and its Results.      92

  Abstract of Depository Schedule Presented to the Legislature
      in 1877.                                                      92

  Dr. Ryerson a Commissioner on King's College, New Brunswick,
      in 1854.                                                      93

  Chronological Sketch of Dr. Ryerson's Educational Work,
      1855, etc.                                                    94

  Bishop Fraser's Estimate of the Upper Canada System of
      Education in 1863.                                            95

  Character of the Important School Legislation of 1871.            97

  Review of the School Legislation of 1871.                         98

  Objections to Improve our School System Answered.                 98

  Necessity for the Change in the School Law of Ontario in 1871.   100

  Hon. Adam Crooks on the School Inspection Legislation of 1871.   101

  Inspector Harcourt's opinion of the effect of the School Act
      of 1871.                                                     101

  Inspector McKee, of the County of Simcoe, on the School Act
      of 1871.                                                     101


      TIME IN UPPER CANADA.                                        103

  Hon. J. Sandfield Macdonald's School Days--His Reminiscences
      of them.                                                     103

  Hon. Charles Clarke on Education in the County of Wellington
      under Dr. Ryerson's Administration.                          104

  Early School Legislation in 1841, 1843 and 1846.                 104

  Inferior Qualification of Teachers and Varied Methods of
      Teaching.                                                    105

  Dr. Ryerson's Test of the Intelligence of a School Section.      105

  The Character of the School-House, also a Test.                  106

  School Condition of the County of Wellington in 1847.            106

  Great Educational Advance made by the Province of Ontario
      since 1847.                                                  107

  Great Advance also in the Standard of Teaching Ability.          108

  Rev. W. H. Landon on the State of Education in Upper Canada
      in 1847-1849.                                                109

  The Old Log School-House and its Belongings.                     110

  The Pioneer Teacher and the Trials of "Boarding-Round".          111

  The Old School House (Poetry).                                   113

  Mr. Canniff Haight on the Schools Fifty Years Ago.               113

  A School Teacher's Personal Experience in 1865.                  114

  Mr. James Cumming's Reminiscences of Education in Hamilton
      in 1847-1852.                                                116

  Education in the County of Simcoe, 1852-1872.                    117



  His Early Life, as Sketched by Himself                           119

  Rev. Dr. Ryerson as a Teacher                                    121

  The Rev. Dr. Ryerson and His Native County of Norfolk            122

  Closing Official Acts and Utterances of Dr. Ryerson              124

  Reasons for Dr. Ryerson's Retirement as Chief Superintendent
      of Education                                                 125

  Dr. Ryerson's Letter of Resignation in 1868 and Reply to it      126

  Dr. Ryerson's Letter of Resignation in 1872 and Reply to it      128




The Rev. Dr. Ryerson's death occurred on the 19th of February, 1882.
Early in the next month the following circular was issued:--

A preliminary meeting of trustees, inspectors and teachers connected
with Public, Separate and High Schools--past and present--will be
held in the theatre, or public hall, of the Education Department,
on Tuesday afternoon, the 14th instant, at 4.30, to consider the
proposal to erect a monument or other tribute of love and esteem to
the memory of the late revered founder of the educational system of

  Toronto, March, 1882.      Convener.

The following account of the meeting appeared in _The Mail_
newspaper of the 15th March:--

A meeting of those connected with educational matters was held in
the theatre of the Normal School yesterday afternoon, to consider
the proposal to erect a monument or other token of esteem to the
memory of the late Dr. Ryerson.

There were present, Drs. Hodgins, Davies, Carlyle, Tassie;
Inspectors Hughes, McKinnon, McBrien, Little, Fotheringham; Messrs.
James Bain, G. McMurrich, and Crombie, Public School trustees,
Toronto; Thomas Kirkland, M.A., Normal School; Mrs. Riches, Misses
E. A. Scarlett, M. L. Williams, Boulton and Tomlinson; Messrs.
McAllister, Doan, Lewis, Spence, McCausland, Martin, Clarke, Coyne,
Parker, Cassidy, Campbell, teachers of Toronto city schools. Dr.
Hodgins was appointed chairman, and Mr. James L. Hughes secretary.

Letters expressing regret at inability to attend were read from Mr.
G. W. Ross, M.P., Inspectors Scarlett, Bigg and Platt, and Mr. W. J.
Gage. Also a letter from the Minister of Education, to the effect
that every inspector and teacher was at full liberty to take such
action as he might think proper in connection with so laudable an
object as the erection of a memorial to the late superintendent.

Dr. Hodgins related the circumstances which had led to the calling
of a meeting, and said that the object was to unite all persons in
any way connected with schools in a tribute of affection to the late
chief, even the children might contribute a mite. There was some
difference of opinion as to whether the tribute should take the form
of a monument in the cemetery, or a statue in the Normal School
grounds. He mentioned Dr. Ormiston as having taken a very strong
interest in the matter.

On motion of Mr. McAllister, seconded by Mr. McMurchy, a resolution
expressing the approval, by the meeting, of the proposal to erect a
memorial was unanimously adopted.

Mr. Hughes suggested that a central committee of organization be
appointed, and that local associations be formed in every county.

Messrs. Fotheringham, McMurchy, George McMurrich, McAllister and
Brother Odo, were appointed to nominate the central committee.
Their report was presented to the meeting, and adopted with some

In the discussion which took place, the general opinion was that
the memorial should take the form of a statue of the late Chief
Superintendent, to be erected in the Normal School grounds, Mr. Bain
being one of those who strongly urged this view.

Mr. Inspector Fotheringham thought that the amount of the
contribution should be limited so as to make it general, and
suggested one dollar for each teacher and trustee, and ten cents for
each child, corporate bodies being left to their own discretion.

The chairman having called for suggestions as to the formation of
local committees, Mr. Little, Inspector for Halton, thought that the
inspector for each county should appoint the teachers and trustees
of each school to open a subscription list.

Mr. McBrien, Inspector for Ontario County, suggested that the
inspectors should send a postcard to every teacher in the county,
requesting him to convene a meeting in his section.

Mr. McKinnon, Inspector for Peel, was in favor of Mr. Little's plan.

There was also considerable discussion as to whether others besides
those directly connected with the schools should be asked to
contribute. It was urged on the one hand that the tribute would come
more fittingly from those more peculiarly interested in education,
and on the other that it should be made national in its character,
especially as a large majority of the people had been educated, and
their characters formed under the school system of which Dr. Ryerson
was the founder.

These questions were left for future consideration, and, after a
vote of thanks to the chairman, the meeting adjourned.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the result of that meeting the following circular was issued by
the secretary on the 15th March:--

At a preliminary meeting of trustees, inspectors and teachers
connected with Public, Separate and High Schools, held in the public
hall of the Education Department on the 14th instant, the following
gentlemen were appointed members of a central committee to carry
out the resolution unanimously agreed to by the meeting, viz.: to
collect funds with which to erect a monument or other tribute of
love and esteem to the memory of the late revered founder of the
educational system of Ontario, viz.:--

Dr. _Hodgins_, chairman; Rev. Principal _Davies_; Principal
McCabe; Rev. Dr. Ormiston, of New York; President Wilson and Prof.
G. P. Young, Toronto University; Archbishop Lynch; Rev. Provost
Body, Trinity College; Rev. Principal _Caven_, Knox College; Rev.
President Castle, Toronto Baptist College; Rev. Father Vincent,
Superior, St. Michael's College; Rev. President Nelles, Victoria
University; Very Rev. Principal Grant, Queen's University; _A.
McMurchy_, M.A., President of Ontario Teachers' Association; Very
Rev. Dean Grassett, Chairman of Collegiate Institute Board; Edward
Galley, Esq., Chairman, Public School Board; Vicar-General Rooney,
Chairman, Separate School Board; Dr. McLellan, Inspector, High
Schools; Mr. White, Inspector, Separate Schools for Ontario; Rev.
Brother Tobias, city Inspector of Separate Schools; J. S. Carson,
Esq., Chairman of inspectors' section Ontario Teachers' Association;
R. Lewis, Esq., chairman of Public School section; D. C. McHenry,
M.A., chairman of High School section; also the Public School
Inspectors throughout the Province as _ex officio_ members, (Messrs.
_D. Fotheringham_ and _J. R. Miller_). Mr. _James L. Hughes_ was
appointed secretary of the committee, and Mr. _Walter S. Lee_,

  [2] James Carlyle, Esq., M.D., Master in the Normal School, was
  subsequently appointed joint secretary with Mr. Hughes. Both
  rendered most valuable service in promoting the object in view.--J.
  G. H.

  As some gentlemen here named declined, and others ceased to act,
  the committee was finally reduced to nineteen members, including
  the chairman, secretaries, treasurer and the new appointments.
  Only those whose names are printed in italics were members of the
  committee at the time the statue was unveiled in 1889--seven years
  after their appointment. The following were the members of the
  committee at the time of the unveiling, viz.:--

  Rev. Principal Caven, D.D., Rev. Dr. Potts, Hon. G. W. Ross,
  Minister, Rev. H. W. Davies, D.D., Hon. Senator Macdonald, Principal
  Kirkland, M.A., Rev. W. H. Withrow, D.D., Principal Dickson, M.A.,
  Rev. Hugh Johnston, D.D., Rector McMurchy, M.A., Mr. G. H. Robinson,
  M.A., ex head master Collegiate Institute; Mr. David Fotheringham,
  Inspector of North York; Mr. R. Doan, Mr. S. McAllister, public
  school teacher, Toronto, and Mr. J. R. Miller, ex-inspector.
  Chairman, J. George Hodgins, LL.D.; joint secretaries, Mr. James
  L. Hughes and James Carlyle, M.D.; treasurer, Mr. Walter S. Lee.
  The artist-sculptor was Mr. Hamilton McCarthy, R.C.A., and the
  contractor for pedestal, Mr. F. B. Gullett, monumental sculptor.


At a subsequent meeting of the committee, Rev. Dr. Ormiston and Dr.
Hodgins were requested to draw up an appeal soliciting aid for the
proposed memorial. Dr. Ormiston did so as follows:--

    _Appeal to Trustees, Inspectors, Teachers and Pupils--past and
       present--connected with Public, Separate[3] and High Schools,
       and to the other friends of Education in the Province of
       Ontario; from the General Committee appointed at Toronto on
       the 14th March, 1882, for the collection of funds with which
       to erect a Monument, or other Tribute of Esteem and Admiration
       to the memory of the late Rev. Dr. Ryerson, founder of the
       Educational System of Ontario:_

  [3] Having asked Archbishop Lynch to commend this and subsequent
  appeals to the teachers of the Separate Schools, he replied as

    "ST. MICHAEL'S PALACE, Toronto, December 12, 1882.

       "MY DEAR DR. HODGINS,--I do not like to assume a prominent part
       in writing to the teachers of the Separate Schools outside of
       my own diocese, or to set an example which I fear would be
       criticized. However, I send you my subscription ($10) towards
       the erection of the statue to the late lamented Dr. Ryerson.

    "I am, yours very sincerely,
    "Archbishop of Toronto.

    Chairman, etc."

       (The Very Reverend Vicar-General Rooney also sent $10, as his
       subscription to the fund).

  I also wrote to the Rev. Father Stafford, of Lindsay, on the
  subject. In his reply, dated March 9th, 1882, he said:--

       "You ask my opinion as to whether the erection of a monument
       to the late Dr. Ryerson will receive support from the Separate

       "Not much from Separate Schools as such, nor much from Separate
       School supporters. The recollection of the old controversy with
       the bishops of our Church, is still fresh in the memories of

       "I think some of the Separate School teachers will
       subscribe--perhaps many of them.

       "Personally, I must give my mite. I always found Dr. Ryerson,
       as you are aware, very kind with me, and very attentive to any
       suggestions I had to offer, and very just in all his dealings
       with me.

       "I admired his ability and his love and enthusiasm for his
       work. No one knows better than you my admiration for that
       man. My idea is that the monument ought to be something very
       respectable--say, got up something like the one to Grattan, or
       Moore, or Burke, near Trinity College, Dublin; and it ought to
       be erected in the Normal School grounds.

       "I wished to send a word of sympathy to Dr. Ryerson's family,
       but I did not know where to address them. Will you kindly say a
       word for me to the proper person?

    "Yours faithfully,
    "M. STAFFORD, Pr.


"Although still young our Province has already been called to mourn
the removal of not a few of her gifted sons, who have severally
adorned the different walks of public life. In weight of character,
wealth of manhood, and width of human sympathy, the late Chief
Superintendent of Education, stood amongst the foremost and
mightiest of them all.

Egerton Ryerson was a man of rare diversity of gifts, of remarkable
energy, and of abundant mental resources. It would have been easy
for him to have excelled in any one sphere of human greatness,
but it was his to stand high in several. He was a many-sided man;
richly endowed in various ways. He was a laborious farmer--a zealous
student--a successful teacher--an eminent preacher--a prominent
ecclesiastic--an influential editor--a forcible writer--a sagacious
counsellor--a most efficient principal and professor--but he was
chiefly noted as a great public educationist.

For a third of a century he was the head and inspiring genius of our
school system, establishing, moulding, adapting, controlling it;
and this, the main work of his life, will endure and command in the
future, as it has in the past, the admiration of all, both at home
and abroad. During all these years he was the teacher's true friend,
and the ardent well-wisher of the young. His sympathies--tender and
true--as helpful as they were healthy, went out to every earnest
worker, whether in acquiring or imparting knowledge. The enquiring
left his presence directed; the downcast, cheered; the doubtful,

Unselfish, generous, disinterested, he devoted himself wholly to
his work. How often did his lip quiver and his eye fill when he
addressed the gatherings of teachers and pupils, upon whom he looked
not only with the eye of a patriot, but of a parent,--"Ye are my
children all."

We can never forget him; we profoundly mourn our loss; we fondly
cherish his memory. Affection, gratitude, a sense of what is due
to so eminent a man, impel us to perpetuate that memory in some
suitable way, which will render such a noble life an inspiring
example to young men now and in the coming days.

In obedience then, to one of the purest and loftiest instincts of
our nature, let us unite in paying a common tribute of admiration
and regard to the memory of him to whom we all sustained a common
relationship, and to whom we also, without distinction as to
nationality, political preferences, or religious belief, can
pay sincere homage, as the founder of our present excellent and
comprehensive system of education.

In honoring him we do honor to our common country, and recognize our
obligation to pay fitting homage to the great men of our Dominion,
whose names, with his, are inscribed high upon the roll of Canada's
famous sons."

At intervals, during the years 1882-1886, circulars were issued by
the committee to inspectors, trustees and masters of High, Public
and Separate Schools, urging the collection of the necessary funds
to erect the proposed memorial. In order to aid in this work, 7,500
copies of a biographical sketch of Dr. Ryerson and his educational
work, prepared by the chairman, was sent to the inspectors for
distribution. The chairman also made the following suggestions to
inspectors (with a view to facilitate the collections from pupils),
which was generally acted upon, viz.:--

     "Permit me to suggest a simple way of securing a response from
     each school: You might request the teacher to give notice that,
     on the following week, he would devote _five minutes_ at noon
     of each day to taking down a list of contributions (from a cent
     upwards) to the fund.

     "In this way the pupils--and everyone in the locality, through
     the children--would have an opportunity of contributing his or
     her mite to the erection of a statue to one of Canada's most
     honored sons."

The final circular issued by the committee was as follows:--

     The appeal on behalf of the Ryerson Memorial Fund has been
     responded to by about two-thirds of the public, and less than
     one-third of the High-Schools in Ontario. The sum thus received
     amounts to $4,425.00, including accrued interest on the moneys
     received and invested.

     The 7,520 masters and teachers now employed in the Public and
     High Schools of Ontario, have not yet been appealed to, as
     a body, to contribute to this most desirable and patriotic
     object, although many of them have sent in their subscriptions.
     The General Committee have, therefore, decided to make this
     appeal to them through the various teachers' associations. The
     committee trust, therefore, that the individual masters and
     teachers concerned (if they have not already done so) will
     heartily and promptly respond to this appeal.

     The words with which Dr. Ormiston closes his appeal on behalf of
     this fund we would heartily commend to your sympathy and kind
     consideration. We do so with the earnest hope that you will
     give them a substantial and practical application. Dr. Ormiston

     "In obedience then, to one of the purest and loftiest instincts
     of our nature, let us unite in paying a common tribute of
     admiration and regard to the memory of him to whom we all
     sustained a common relationship, and to whom we also, without
     distinction as to nationality, political preferences, or
     religious belief, can pay sincere homage, as the founder of our
     present excellent and comprehensive system of education.

     "In honouring him we do honour our common country, and recognize
     our obligation to pay fitting homage to the great men of our
     Dominion, whose names, with his, are inscribed high upon the
     roll of Canada's famous sons."

     The Rev. T. Bowman Stephenson, L.L.D., delegate from the British
     to the General Conference of the Methodist Church in Canada, in
     his recent address to that Conference, said, referring to the
     late Rev. Dr. Ryerson:--

     That gentleman "visited us in England twice. Old man as he then
     was, he seemed younger than most of us. I take him to have been
     one of those rare men who are never young and never old--old in
     wisdom whilst young in years--young in heart and feeling when
     already the snow is on the head. Eloquent, logical, far sighted,
     generous, independent, courageous, with an unhesitating faith in
     duty, and a boundless love of freedom and justice, he 'served
     his generation.'--O how well the inspired words describe him--by
     the will of God, 'he fell on sleep.'"


The following is the financial result of the labours of the
committee up to the date of its final meeting on the 1st of June,
1889, viz.:--

  Subscriptions received            $4,647 95
  Legislative grant                  2,000 00
  City of Toronto grant                500 00
  Interest on deposits               1,119 14
                                    --------- $8,267 09

  Cost of bronze statue             $5,100 00
  Coat of granite pedestal           2,600 00
  Fees and incidentals                 381 09
                                    --------- $8,081 09
                                                $186 00
  To be expended on the Memorial Volume          186 00

  Height of bronze figure                9 feet 6 inches.
  Height of granite pedestal            10 feet 6 inches.

The granite of the pedestal is from a quarry at St. George, in
New Brunswick--a Province which was the first early home of Dr.
Ryerson's father and mother, after the close of the American
Revolutionary War. Dr. Ryerson's mother was a native of New
Brunswick as were his elder brothers and sisters.


The following was the programme of arrangements agreed to by the
Committee to be observed on the Queen's Birthday, 1889, at the
ceremony of unveiling of the statue of the Rev. Egerton Ryerson,
D.D., LL.D., founder of the school system of Ontario, 1844-1876,
ceremony to commence at two o'clock p.m.:--

_Chairman for the Day._--The Hon. George W. Ross, LL.D., Minister
of Education for Ontario. _Dedicatory Hymn._--("All People that
on Earth do Dwell," Old Hundred) to be announced by the Rev. John
Burton, B.D. _Selection of Scripture._--To be read by the Rev.
John Potts, D.D., Secretary of Education of the Methodist General
Conference. _Dedicatory Prayer._--By the Rev. G. M. Milligan,
B.A., Minister of Old St. Andrew's Church, Toronto. _Opening
Address._--By the Hon. George W. Ross, LL.D., Chairman of the Day.
_Unveiling of the Statue._--By the Hon. Sir Alexander Campbell,
K.C.M.G., Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. _Patriotic School Song
by the City School Children._--"Hurrah, Hurrah, for Canada!" to be
led by Mr. Perrin, Music Teacher, City Schools. _Historical Paper
on Education in Ontario._--The abstract only was read by J. George
Hodgins, M.A., LL.D., Deputy Minister of Education for Ontario.
_Address on behalf of the Ontario Teachers' Association._--By Mr.
McQueen, President of the Association, 1889. _Address on behalf of
the Citizens of Toronto._--By His Worship the Mayor, E. F. Clarke,
Esq., M.P.P. (Mr. Clarke having gone to England, the address
was read by Alderman McMillan, President of the City Council,
and Acting Mayor _pro tem_). _Patriotic Song by the City School
Children._--"The Maple Leaf for Ever!" _Address on behalf of the
University of Toronto._--By the Hon. John Macdonald, Senator.
_Address on behalf of Victoria University._--By the Rev. N. Burwash,
S.T.D., Chancellor of Victoria University. _Address on behalf of
Queen's University._--By Sandford Fleming, Esq., LL.D., C.M.G.,
Chancellor of Queen's University. _Address on behalf of Trinity
University._--By the Rev. Professor William Clark, M.A. _Address
on behalf of McMaster University._--By T. H. Rand, Esq., D.C.L.
_The National Anthem. Benediction._--Pronounced by the Right Rev.
Arthur Sweatman, D.D., D.C.L., Bishop of Toronto.

_Representatives present._--The Mayor and Corporation of the City
of Toronto, Chairman and members of the High School and Collegiate
Institute Board of Toronto, Chairman and members of the Public
School Board of Toronto. Upper Canada College, Hon. John Beverley
Robinson; Knox College, Rev. William McLaren, D.D.; Wycliffe
College, Colonel Gzowski, A.D.C.; McMaster Divinity Hall, Rev.
Chancellor McVicar, D.D. LL. D.; Brantford Ladies' College, T. M.
Macintyre, Esq., Ph. D.; Alma Ladies' College, Colin Macdougall,
Esq., Q.C.[4]; Oshawa Ladies' College, Rev. A. B. Demill.

  [4] In a kind note received from Mr. Macdougall, dated St. Thomas,
  May 29th, 1889, he said:--"The ceremonies of unveiling were
  everything that could be looked for, and were well carried out.
  The speaking was good and quite sufficient of it.... It must be to
  you and to your family a gratifying reflection that you will be
  remembered in history as having largely contributed by personal
  exertion towards the erection of a monument to the memory of one of
  Canada's greatest sons."

The following replies from other Colleges were received by the
Secretaries, viz.:--


     "DEAR SIR,--I beg to return thanks for your invitation to the
     unveiling of the Statue to the late Doctor Ryerson.

     "I do not think it will be possible for any representative of
     this College to be present on that occasion.

  "I remain, dear Sir, yours respectfully,

     "J. CARLYLE, Esq., Secretary."

  "ST. MICHAEL'S COLLEGE, TORONTO, 15th March, 1889.

     "DEAR SIR,--I received in due time your letter inviting me to
     the unveiling of the Statue to the late Dr. Ryerson on the 24th
     of May next. Your invitation I must respectfully decline, and
     thanking you for it.

  "I remain yours very sincerely,
  "(Sgd) P. VINCENT.

     "JAMES CARLYLE, Esq., Secretary."

  "COLLEGE OF OTTAWA, March 21, 1889.

     "DEAR SIR,--I am in receipt at your circular, dated March 12th,
     with which you kindly favored me. Please accept my best thanks
     for your cordial invitation to send a representative of our
     College to the unveiling of the Statue of the late Dr. Ryerson.
     I am greatly sorry to state that it will be hardly possible to
     anybody of us to go on the 24th of May. Please excuse us and
     believe me.

  "Yours sincerely,
  "(Sgd.) J. M. FEAYARD, O.M.J.

     "Mr. J. CARLYLE, Secretary."

No replies were received from the other Colleges in Ontario to
which invitations had been sent by the Secretaries. The following
representatives were also present:

Ontario Teachers' Association, Public School Section, Mr. Robert
Alexander; Inspectors' Section, Mr. David Fotheringham; High School
Section, Mr. Archibald McMurchy, M.A.

Inscription on the pedestal of the bronze statue of Rev. Dr.
Ryerson, as approved by the General Committee, November, 1887, to be
placed on the front of the pedestal, facing Bond Street:--

  of the

To be placed on the rear of the pedestal:--

  MARCH 24, 1803.

Record of Rev. Dr. Ryerson's services, as approved by the General
Committee, November, 1887, and intended to have been engraved on the
Pedestal. It was afterwards decided not to do so, but to insert the
name only, as founder of the Ontario School System.[5]

  [5] Having submitted the draft of this inscription to several of Dr.
  Ryerson's clerical friends, I received the following in reply:--

  From the Rev. Dr. Douglass, Montreal:--

       "Thanks for your very kind favor. The name of Dr. Ryerson will
       be forever sacred in my heart's best affection. I have read the
       proposed inscription with very much care and interest. I think
       it is comprehensive in its scope, and accurate and elegant in
       detail. I really can offer no suggestion. I congratulate you
       upon the completeness with which you have executed your talk.
       With best wishes, ever and truly yours, G. D."

  From the Rev. J. A. Williams, D.D., Toronto:--

       "I very much approve of the proposed inscription for the
       memorial to the late lamented Dr. Ryerson. It recognizes
       his worth and distinguished ability, as a writer, as an
       educationist, and as a patriot. It is a fitting tribute from one
       who knew him well and so long. With much and sincere respect, I
       am, yours very truly, J. A. W."

  From the Rev. John Potts, D.D., Toronto:--

       "No pen but yours should write the inscription for Dr. Ryerson's
       monument. What you enclose is an elegant and eloquent tribute
       to our dear departed father. The committee will accept the
       inscription with thanks. Ever yours, J. P."

  From the late Rev. Dr. Nelles, Cobourg (whom the committee wished to
  be consulted on the matter). He said:

       "The inscription, in its present form, pleases me best of all,
       and is well nigh perfect, doing 'credit to your head and heart,'
       as the phrase is.

       "I am sure we shall get the thing perfect before we leave it.
       And the old Doctor deserves that two such loving sons should
       bestow their best efforts in such a matter.

       "The 'final revise' [subsequently sent] may, I think, now
       be accepted. It will bear criticism.... You have in you an
       illimitable power of improvement, and this last is still better
       than any other. Affectionately yours, S. S. N."

  From the Rev. Alexander Sutherland, D.D., Toronto:--

       "I have read the draft of the proposed inscription for the
       Ryerson Statue with great care and a great deal of interest. It
       covers the whole ground, and contains nothing that could well
       be omitted. The extracts from the 'Letter of Acceptance' and
       'Official Circular' give it a completeness which leaves nothing
       to be desired. Yours faithfully, A. S."

  From the Rev. Ephraim B. Harper, D.D., Brampton:--

       "I have read over and over again with all possible attention
       and care your proposed inscription for Dr. Ryerson's Memorial,
       and candidly allow that I could not propose the change of a
       word, or even of a letter in it. I prepared something similar,
       twenty-three years ago, for a gravestone for the late Rev. Dr.
       Stinson, and know well the difficulty of compressing important
       facts within the limits permissible for an inscription. It could
       not have fallen into better hands, when it fell to your lot to
       write it. As ever, dear doctor, yours affectionately, E. B. H."

  From Rev. W. H. Withrow, D.D., Toronto:--

       "I think the inscription admirable. Yours, W. H. D."











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The ceremony of unveiling of the Statue is thus described by _The
Globe_ of May the 25th (abridged):--

The number of truly great men is not large in any country.

Ontario is not old yet in its physical and intellectual development,
and yet it is with pride her people recall the memory of a few great
men who are now with the overwhelming majority. Among the greatest
of Canadian public men was Rev. Dr. Egerton Ryerson, the founder of
the Ontario Public School system of education. Posterity recognizes
this, and posterity seeks to perpetuate his memory in that loving
manner which bespeaks gratitude, thankfulness and patriotism. The
generation that now is speaks affectionately and reverently of him,
who, by sheer force of character, founded a system of education
which places the child of the poor man on an equal equality with
that of the rich, and who so admirably developed his system that
every office in the State is open through a complete system of
elementary and secondary education to all classes in the Province.
But this generation has done more. It erected a monument to the
great man, so that generations yet unborn may not be unmindful of
the heritage which shall be theirs, as the result of the untiring
zeal and ability displayed by the Chief Superintendent of Education
in Ontario for the moral and intellectual advancement of his country.

The unveiling of this monument, fittingly erected in a commanding
position of the Normal School grounds, which were the scene of
the labors of the grand teacher, took place yesterday afternoon
before a large concourse of people. There were there statesmen
and politicians, presidents of universities and eminent divines,
men learned in the law and merchant princes, manufacturers and
agriculturists, teachers and pupils--all being assembled to do
honor to the name of him whose monument was unveiled and whose
virtues were extolled. The gathering was truly historical and
unique in its character--there being seen representatives of the
old class of teachers who presided over the school, houses of the
country when there was no system of education in Ontario, and who,
therefore, could the more appreciate the revolution wrought by the
master mind of Dr. Ryerson, when he undertook to mould into shape
the heterogeneous elements of public instruction over forty years
ago. Then, again, it is seldom in the history of a nation that all
classes, creeds and colors could be got together to do honor to the
memory of one man, and seldom could there be seen such an array of
intellectual leaders in all the walks of life as held seats on the
platform when Her Majesty's representative unveiled the form of
him whose memory is sought by it to be perpetuated. The sky itself
seemed to favor the auspicious occasion. The weather could not have
been finer if it had been designed to gladden and rejoice the hearts
of those who were present, and thereby to assist in making the
proceedings pass off as pleasantly as possible.

A temporary platform was erected nearly in front of the monument
commanding an admirable view of it, while seats were placed on both
sides of the centre of attraction.

(Among those present not mentioned in the programme were:
Ex-Governor Aikens, of Manitoba, Sir Daniel Wilson, Hon. Oliver
Mowat, Rev. Dr. Scadding, Rev. Dr. Rose, Judge McDougall, Rev. Leroy
Hooker, Thomas Hodgins, Q.C., Mr. F. E. Hodgins, Rev. Dr. Parker,
Rev. Dr. D. G. Sutherland, Mr. Wm. Houston, Lt.-Col. Allan, Rev.
John Hunt, Mr. D. Rose, Dr. H. H. Wright, Professor Ashley, Mr.
J. J. Withrow, O. A. Howland, Mr. A. Marling, James Beatty, Q.C.,
Rev. Dr. Thomas, Mr. J. E. Bryant, Mr. F. B. Hodgins, and Members
of the City Corporation, etc. A very large number of ladies were
also present, and many unenumerated old friends of the venerable

The proceedings were opened by Rev. John Burton giving out Psalm
100, which was sung by the audience. Rev. John Potts, D.D., read a
portion of Scripture, and the dedicatory prayer was offered by Rev.
G. M. Milligan.


Hon. G. W. Ross, Minister of Education, spoke as follows:--

We are assembled to-day to do honor to the founder of the school
system of the Province of Ontario. On the 18th of October, 1844, the
Rev. Egerton Ryerson received a commission from Sir Charles Metcalfe
as Superintendent of what was then called the Common Schools of
Upper Canada. At the time he entered upon his duties there were in
existence 2,885 Common Schools, with a registered attendance of
96,756 children of school age. The entire revenue from all sources
for school purposes amounted to $340,000. When he retired in 1876
there were 5,092 schools, with a registered attendance of 489,664
pupils, and a revenue of $3,373,035. Besides the Common Schools in
existence there were 25 Grammar Schools attended by 958 pupils, and
maintained at an expense of $16,320 annually. At the close of his
long career there were 104 High Schools attended by 8,541 pupils,
and maintained at an annual expense of $304,948. The accommodation
for the pupils attending the Common Schools was supplied by 2,887
school houses, of which 213 were brick or stone, 1,008 frame and
1,666 log. The teachers numbered 3,086, and were possessed of such
varied qualifications as might be expected when I tell you that
they obtained their certificates in most cases from the Boards of
Trustees which employed them. When he surrendered his commission
there were 4,926 school-houses, of which 1,931 were brick or stone,
2,253 frame, and only 742 log, all in charge of a staff of highly
educated and accomplished teachers, numbering 6,185.

The school law in existence at the time of Dr. Ryerson's appointment
to office consisted of 71 sections, and was as crude in many
respects as the education which was obtained under it. There were
practically no authorized text-books, no Boards of Examiners, no
Inspectors, no Department of Education. It was an era of primitive
simplicity, but an era, nevertheless, the possibilities of which
no man could estimate, the development of which no man could
foresee. "The deep surge of nations yet to be" had struck our
shores. Thousands of sturdy pioneers were at work hewing down our
forests and wrestling with such social and political problems as
are incident to a primitive order of things. The materials out of
which to organize society on a higher plane were abundant though
undeveloped. It was a great opportunity for a man possessed of a
genius for organization. In the appointment of Dr. Ryerson the
opportunity and the man met face to face, and the splendid system
of education which we to-day enjoy is the best proof that the man
was as great, if not greater, than the opportunity. But, while the
opportunity was a great one, it must not be forgotten that the
difficulties to be overcome, to a less vigorous and courageous man,
would have been overwhelming.

The executive machinery for administering the affairs of several
thousand distinct corporations, with all the complex details
necessarily connected with electing trustees, collecting rates,
appointing teachers, framing a curriculum of studies, regulating
the discipline of pupils and supplying text-books, had all to be
re-cast, if not invented, and put into operation. Cabinet Ministers,
Members of Parliament and Municipal Councils had to be indoctrinated
with the new education. The press had to be directed, and the
whole people educated to receive with favor a school system which
ignored well established theories and deeply founded prejudices.
Even popular indignation had to be set at defiance, and amid
misrepresentation and calumny the master builder had often to do his
work and to await the verdict of posterity for the vindication of
his wisdom and foresight.

It is well known, when Dr. Ryerson first proposed to make all the
Common Schools of Upper Canada free alike to rich and poor, to
citizen and alien, that he was charged with encroaching upon the
rights of the subject, that he was charged with appropriating the
money of the taxpayer who perhaps had no children to be educated
for the benefit of the thriftless and pauperised classes of the
community. What was his answer? It was this:--"The education of the
people irrespective of rank or race or creed is a better investment
even for the taxpayer than houses or lands, because it guarantees
the safe possession of all his goods--it does even more--it
guarantees his personal liberty and therefore the taxpayer must be
made to pay for the common safety of the people."

When he asked authority for trustees to erect school houses
wherever, in their opinion, the public interests required them, he
was told such a law would be arbitrary and harsh, that it would
place too much power in the hands of a few men. His answer was:
"School houses are cheaper than gaols, teachers are cheaper than
police officers, the taxpayer must be made to pay for the common
morality of the people." When he said: "Teachers must be educated
and trained for their work, the success of thousands of children
depend upon skilful handling and discipline in the school room, we
must have Grammar Schools and Normal School and Township libraries
and Boards of Examiners," he was told that the country could not
afford such luxuries, that he must wait till the people were
richer. His answer was: "Efficiency is the highest economy. If the
springtime of life is wasted, life's greatest opportunities are
wasted. The taxpayer must be made to pay for the common intelligence
of the people." As a result of all this courage--may I not call it
heroism--in the defence of sound principles of education he placed
his native Province in the van of all the States of America and all
the Colonies of the British Empire. Well may we to-day assemble to
do honor to his memory. Not only Ontario, but Canada, owes much
to his breadth of mind, his sagacity and his tremendous force of

For thirty-two years his active brain and busy pen were devoted to
the work of propagating sounder views on popular education. For
thirty-two years he labored to establish the democracy of mind--the
common citizenship of every child attending a Public School. With
a patriotism which no man ever questioned, with talents which no
man could fail to appreciate, with a tenacity of purpose which no
difficulty could daunt, he devoted his life to one purpose, the
establishment of a school system which would fully meet the wants
of a free, strong and progressive people. (Applause). It is said
of Augustus that he found Rome brick and left it marble. It may be
said of Dr. Ryerson that he found our school system without any
definite organisation, he left it highly organized. He found it weak
in influence and poor in circumstances, he left it endowed with
houses and lands and millions of treasure. He found it tolerated as
traditionally respectable, he left it enthroned in the affections of
a free people.

Well may we honor his greatness, for we share in all it has
produced. Well may we search our quarries for a fit emblem of the
durability of his work, on which to carve his name, that generations
yet unborn may recall the record of his life and be stirred to
emulate his example. And yet when we have done all this, when we
have committed his memory to the keeping of the bronze and granite
now before us, I believe the judgment of those who know his work
will be that all the monuments which mortal hands can erect, and
all the eulogies which affection or admiration can prompt his
contemporaries to utter, will be ephemeral and perishable compared
with the educational edifice which his own hands builded or the
intellectual life which of his own genius he imparted to his fellow


At the close of his address Mr. Ross invited the Governor to unveil
the statue. Before doing so the Governor, turning to the audience,
said in feeling terms:--

"Dr. Ryerson was known throughout the length and breadth of this
Province. No Representative of Her Majesty has had ever as pleading
a duty given to him to discharge as that which falls to my lot in
unveiling the monument of that great man."

Sir Alexander, accompanied by the Minister and Deputy Minister of
Education, proceeded then to the statue, and the work of unveiling
was only the question of a few moments. As soon as the British
Canadian flag, which covered the massive form of the statue, was
raised, the audience raised a cheer which is rarely heard within the
Normal School grounds, It was the reflex of the inner gratitude of
the sharers in a great heritage.

The sculptor, Mr. McCarthy, who did his work well, was then
introduced to the Lieutenant-Governor by the Minister of Education.

The statue having been exposed to full view the song "Hurrah for
Canada" was sung by city school children, led by Mr. Perrin, music
teacher, city schools. The children acquitted themselves admirably.


It was fitting that the next speaker should be a gentleman so
long and so closely connected with Dr. Ryerson in moulding the
educational institutions of the Province. The Chairman therefore
introduced Dr. Hodgins, Deputy Minister of Education, who read a
masterly and comprehensive historical paper on Education in Ontario.
Dr. Hodgins traced the growth of education in the Province from
1841, dealing minutely and with a thorough knowledge of details
with the difficulties encountered by Dr. Ryerson in gaining public
endorsation for his scheme of popular education, and the phases
through which the system passed until at the Centennial Exhibition,
held in Philadelphia in 1876, the Chief Superintendent of Education
was gratified by the Commissioners making the following award:--

For a quite complete and admirably arranged exhibition, illustrating
the Ontario system of education and its excellent results. Also
for the efficiency of an administration, which has gained for the
Ontario department a most honorable distinction among Government
educational agencies.

Dr. Hodgins concluded as follows:--Having been intimately concerned
in all of the events and educational matters to which I have
referred, it may not be out of place for me to add a few words of a
personal character in conclusion. At the end of this year I shall
have completed my more than 45 years' service, as chief of the staff
of the Education Department of Ontario. For over 40 years I enjoyed
the personal friendship of the distinguished man whose memory we
honor here to-day--32 years of which were passed in active and
pleasant service under him. How can I, therefore, regard without
emotion the events of to-day? They bring vividly to my recollection
many memorable incidents and interesting events of our educational
past known only to myself. They also deeply impress me with the
fleeting and transitory nature of all things human. The chief and
sixteen councillors, appointed and elected to assist him, have all
passed away. His great work remains, however, and his invaluable
services to the country we all gratefully recall to-day, while
his native land lovingly acknowledges those services in erecting
this noble monument to his memory. Truly indeed and faithfully
did Egerton Ryerson make good his promise to the people of this
Province, when he solemnly pledged himself, on accepting office in

To provide for my native country a system of education, and
facilities for intellectual improvement, not second to those of any
country in the world.

God grant that the seed sown and the foundations thus laid, with
such anxious toil and care--and yet in faith--may prove to be one of
our richest heritages, so that in the future, wisdom and knowledge,
in the highest and truest sense, may be the stability of our times!


The audience was then introduced to Mr. R. McQueen, President of the
Ontario Teachers' Association, who eulogised Dr. Ryerson for his
marked individuality, tenacity of purpose, and the grand results
he achieved through his influence for popular education in his
native country. He deserved a monument from a thankful posterity
because his whole aim in life was to ameliorate the condition of his
fellow-countrymen. He was there in behalf of the teachers of Ontario
to express their joy at the tribute paid to the memory of a great
teacher and founder of a system of education.


In the absence of Mayor Clarke, Ald. McMillan was called on to reply
in behalf of the citizens of Toronto. The Acting-Mayor said that
Canada owes Dr. Ryerson a deep debt of gratitude. His life was grand
and versatile; he was a teacher and a Christian; a combination of
the scholar and gentleman; a leader of men. He impressed his genius
on the educational institutions of the Province, he was loyal to
the country of his birth, and he abhorred falsehood and oppression.
Therefore it was eminently fitting that his greatness and worth
should be commemorated by a public tribute.

The school children at this stage sang the well-known Canadian song:
"The Maple Leaf for Ever."


The Universities of Ontario owe much to the painstaking care of the
late Dr. Ryerson over the development of Public and High School
education. The efficiency of the University and its possible
influence depend on a sound and thorough system of elementary
education. The High School depends on the Public School and the
University on the High School. Our Universities have made tremendous
strides during the last ten years, and without a doubt the cause
of this has been due to the fact of the elementary schools putting
forth the fruit of the good seed sowed thirty years ago. The
Universities therefore were not unmindful of what they owe to
the genius of Dr. Ryerson at yesterday's re-union. These five
institutions were well and ably represented on the platform. The
addresses of these representatives were one series of eulogies on
the life and labors of him, whose memory they met to do honor to.

Senator Macdonald, after praising the Ontario system of education,
turned to the young people of the audience and said: "You are
forcibly reminded to-day that Canada will cherish the memory of all
those of her sons who will work patriotically and nobly for the good
of their country."

Rev. Dr. Burwash spoke of Dr. Ryerson as a public educator, but he
would be great, the speaker said, in any other profession. Ontario,
however, remembers him as an educator, statesman, philanthropist and
Christian teacher in the highest sense of the word.

Chancellor Fleming honored the name of Dr. Ryerson for having laid
such a broad and national system of education as enables Ontario to
rank among the first of enlightened nations.

Rev. Professor Clark thought that the spirit of Dr. Ryerson was to
provide such a system of education as would make men of earnestness,
character and patriotic ardor. The University with which he was
identified honored the name of Dr. Ryerson, and he was there to add
his tribute to the worth of so great a Canadian.

Professor Rand, eulogised also the elementary and secondary system
of education in Ontario, declaring that its founder richly deserved
to be commemorated by a public monument.[6]

  [6] These addresses are given in full, commencing on page 17.

The audience then sang the national anthem. Bishop Sweatman
pronounced the benediction, and the statue of the great educationist
was left to posterity to admire and to preserve intact and inviolate.

The report of _The Empire_ necessarily traversed the same ground.
I can therefore only give the salient points in addition to those
referred to by the _Globe_, it said:--

The great educational lights of the Province were present in front
of the Education Department building yesterday afternoon, when the
statue of the Rev. Dr. Ryerson was unveiled. The day was appropriate
for doing honor to the memory of a man who had so ably served his
Queen and country. A large crowd of citizens witnessed the unveiling
and listened to the addresses that were delivered.

The following relatives of Dr. Ryerson were present: Mr. Charles
Egerton Ryerson, (his only son), Mrs. C. E. Ryerson and their
two sons, (Egerton and Stanley), Mrs. Edward Harris, (his only
daughter), Dr. G. S. Ryerson (his nephew) was absent with the
Grenadiers at Berlin, Mrs. G. S. Ryerson and son were present; also,
Mrs. Hardy (his niece) and her daughter, Miss Ethel Hardy, Dr. John
Beatty, of Cobourg, and Mr. James R. Armstrong, (brothers-in-law),
Mrs. J. R. Armstrong, Mrs. George Duggan, (sister-in-law), His Honor
Judge McDougall, (a connection by marriage)."

The main points of _The Mail_ report were as follows:--

It would perhaps be too much to say that, while the gay and
thoughtless were seeking amusements in other parts of the city,
it was only the wise who repaired to the grounds of the Education
Department to take part in the unveiling of the Statue of the late
Egerton Ryerson; yet it cannot but be admitted that those who
assembled to witness and assist in this ceremony were men and women
worthy to have the privilege of publicly honoring the memory of
Canada's greatest educationist. Among those present were men who
have attained to eminence in every department of public life, and
it was but right that they should pay the tribute they did to the
memory of him who was the founder and for many years the head of
the greatest of all departments. There were men present who for
years were associated with Dr. Ryerson in his great work; men whose
characters were to a great extent moulded by his example, and men
whose ambitions have been wakened and whose purposes have been
inspired by the contemplation of his achievements.

Early in the afternoon the crowd begin to gather around the statue,
the front part of which was veiled by a large British flag, the
folds of which hung almost to the foot of the pedestal. In front
of the statue, under the shade of a couple of the maples that help
to make the grounds of the Education Department and Normal School
so attractive, a platform had been erected for the use of those
who were to take part in the ceremony, and around it were placed a
number of seats.

At the close of his address (given on pages 9-11), Hon. Mr. Ross
invited Sir Alexander Campbell to unveil the statue. Before
proceeding with the ceremony Sir Alexander advanced to the front of
the platform and briefly expressed himself as feeling highly honored
by being called upon to perform such a task as the one that on
this occasion had devolved upon him. He thought no pleasanter duty
could fall to the lot of a Lieutenant-Governor of any province than
that of assisting in honoring one of the province's noblest men.
He then stepped down, and taking hold of the cords that kept the
flag in place, drew them aside and the drapery fell to the ground.
As the sunlight flashed on the exquisitely chiselled features, and
the form so well known to many of those present stood out for the
first time as it will stand, it is hoped, for many years to come, a
prolonged cheer burst from those who had up to this moment watched
Sir Alexander's movements with almost breathless interest. After a
pause of a few moments, during which the naturalness and finish of
the statue was freely commented on, Hon. Mr. Ross called forward Mr.
Hamilton McCarthy, the sculptor, and amid great applause introduced
him to Sir Alexander, who spoke in flattering terms of the pleasure
he felt in meeting a man who had shown himself capable of producing
so excellent a work of art.

The bronze statue, nine feet six inches in height, represents the
late Dr. Ryerson in the attitude of addressing an audience in the
cause of education. The head is turned a little to the right, with
the lips slightly parted, and with the massive brow and flowing
locks, give a correct and forcible expression, in harmony with the
action of the advanced arm and firm position of the right leg. The
proportions of the figure are well kept through the ample folds of
the Doctor's gown, which in their various lines, lend richness and
interest to the work, and take away the stiffness of the modern
costume. The left hand is raised nearly to the breast, and in it is
grasped a book. A little to the left and rear of the figure stands
a short pedestal bearing three books, carelessly laid one upon
another; and on one of the panels of the pedestal is the arms of the
Department of Education under Dr. Ryerson's _regime_. Dignity of
bearing, repose and action, and distinct force of character, eminent
qualities in the personality of the late doctor, mark the expression
of the figure; and it is evident that no pains have been spared by
the artist in the modelling of the details.[7] Mr. Hamilton McCarthy
has also been very successful in the design of the pedestal, which
has excited general admiration. It is 10 ft. 6 in. in height, and
is of New Brunswick granite. The conception is unique in character.
Pilasters at the four angles terminate in buttresses to the ground,
and support above beautifully designed capitols with dentils on the
face. The pyramidal form of the whole work gives it an effect of
rising out of the ground. The finely polished panels of the die, in
each of which a classic shield is outlined, contain the inscriptions.

  [7] In a note from Sir John Macdonald, he said:--

       "Many thanks for your note, and for the photographic model of
       our dear old friend, Dr. Ryerson. The apparent frown on the brow
       is perhaps too pronounced, [the expression was modified after
       receipt of this note]. The pose seems to me very good."

  Rev. J. K. Smith, D.D., of Galt, in a note to me also said:--

       "Please except my sincere thanks for the excellent photo of the
       lamented Dr. Ryerson which is an admirable likeness. It is I
       suppose, as nearly perfect in every respect as a statue could
       be. I am persuaded that the statue will be a splendid one, and
       I rejoice that his great name is thus to be handed down to
       successive generations of our Canadian youth as a sacred memory
       and a powerful stimulus."

Mr. McCarthy can be congratulated upon the success of his work, and
the province can be congratulated upon the possession of so noble an
addition to the few works of art now in the country. Mr. Gullett,
the contractor for the erection of the pedestal also performed
his duties carefully and faithfully, as not the slightest hitch
occurred, and no damage was sustained by the granite.


The _Evangelical Churchman_ of May the 9th, anticipating the
unveiling of Dr. Ryerson's statue, said:--

     "On the 24th of this month, the Queen's Birthday, Ontario will
     do honor to one of her most distinguished sons. On that day
     will be unveiled the statue to the memory of Egerton Ryerson,
     the founder of the school system of his native province. The
     ceremony will be unique in many ways, not the least interesting
     fact in connection therewith being that the statue of Dr.
     Ryerson will be the first one erected by the Province of Ontario
     to one of its own sons. Dr Ryerson was a thorough Canadian
     and was born in Ontario. Thus this signal honor to his memory
     acquires additional lustre, and does much to redeem Ontario from
     the reproach an often uttered that a prophet is not without
     honor save in his own country. It reveals, indeed, another fact
     which, in a new country, is not without a peculiar significance.
     It is this, that national life is commencing in earnest, and
     that national characteristics are developing themselves. A
     country which can step aside, as it were, in the rush and hurry
     of existence to do honor to one of its sons, is not without
     aspirations after a national existence, is not wholly given up
     to considerations of material interest, and possesses within
     it something that is full of promise of permanence and true

The Hamilton _Times_ of the 25th of May, under the beading of "The
Memory of a Great Canadian," said:--

     "The unveiling of the Ryerson statue in the Normal School
     grounds, at Toronto, yesterday, was the occasion of recalling
     the achievements of the late Dr. Ryerson in connection with
     Ontario's educational system. From 1844 until 1876 Rev.
     Egerton Ryerson was Chief Superintendent of Education in
     this Province.... But Dr. Ryerson's services to Canada did
     not begin in 1844. He was a great man before he touched the
     educational System. He was born in the County of Norfolk in
     1803, and when he was about 20 years of age he was studying
     in Hamilton in a little house on Jackson Street, not far from
     the place where the new Y.M.C.A. building is in the course of
     construction.... In 1826 Archdeacon Strachan preached a sermon
     on the death of Bishop Mountain. The Methodists at that time
     were the most numerous religious body in upper Canada but Dr.
     Strachan set forth the claim of the Church of England to the
     Clergy Reserves.... Mr. Ryerson was junior preacher under the
     late Rev. James Richardson, who had his arm shot off while in
     naval service near Sackett's Harbour during the war.... When
     Dr. Strachan's sermon was published, it was agreed that Mr.
     Richardson and Mr. Ryerson should each write a reply to it.
     They separated, each going to a different part of their large
     circuit, and when they met a few weeks later young Ryerson had
     prepared his paper, but Mr. Richardson had nothing ready. It was
     read before the other preachers and published. The battle had
     now begun, and it did not end until the Clergy Reserves were
     secularised in 1854. During nearly all that time Mr. Ryerson
     was a leading character in Canadian public life. He wrote, he
     spoke, he worked, appearing before Parliamentary committees,
     interviewing the statesmen of Great Britain and occasionally
     taking his stand upon the hustings.... Dr. Ryerson was born in
     1803 and became Superintendent of Education in 1844. He was
     only 42 years of age at the time of his appointment, yet he had
     performed a greater share of work, and had attained a greater
     degree of prominence in those forty-two years than most public
     men can boast of as the achievements of a lifetime. How many
     men in this latter end of the century get into the thick of the
     fight and make their influence felt while under 40 years of
     age? The point we wish to impress is this: Had Egerton Ryerson
     died in 1844, instead of becoming Superintendent of Education
     and living until 1882, his history would still have been worth
     writing, and he would have deserved a monument For the services
     he performed for his native Province. His long connection with
     educational affairs to a great extent blotted out the memory
     of his earlier work and struggles in another connection. He
     had much to do with founding Victoria College and getting that
     institution fairly established.... The impression remains with
     us to this day that if Dr. Ryerson had been a lawyer he would
     have made all other Canadian lawyers look small; if he had gone
     into politics he would have been perpetual Premier: in short,
     he was the ablest native Canadian who has so far helped to make

The _Christian Guardian_ of the 29th May, said:--

     The unveiling of the statue of the late D. Egerton Ryerson,
     last Friday, in the Normal School grounds in this city, recalls
     the memory of a worthy and honored Canadian, widely known as
     a successful journalist, a gifted and learned divine, and
     an eminent educationist. It will hardly be questioned that
     the principle of perpetuating the memory of benefactors of a
     country is a laudable one, or that the individual in this case
     was worthy of this honor. No one who has travelled in Britain
     or other European countries, has failed to have his attention
     arrested by statues, or other memorials, of eminent men whom the
     county delighted to honor. It is well adapted to inspire the
     young with high purpose to note that however partisan strife may
     obscure the patriotic services of public men during active life,
     when the work of life is over, as a general rule, men of all
     parties cheerfully recognize the value of the service rendered
     by those who have faithfully labored for the public good. Owing
     to the intensity of political feeling in Canada, there is a
     strong tendency to underestimate the work of our statesmen and
     politicians, until they have gone where human praise or blame
     cannot affect them.

     Though Dr. Ryerson passed through many fierce controversies, and
     at times came into conflict with hostile opponents, to-day men
     of all creeds and parties are ready to give him his due meed of
     praise as one of the greatest of Canada's sons, who achieved a
     work in organizing and building up a system of public education
     that shall tell powerfully for good through all coming time.
     He founded no cities; he led no armies to victory; he had no
     special influence on the material prosperity of the land; but in
     organizing a system of public schools, which placed the elements
     of a sound education within the reach of every boy and girl in
     this Province, he has exercised an undying influence over the
     future intellectual life of the country, that shall largely
     determine its place in the scale of civilization.

     It is not only since his death that the strife of tongues
     has ceased, and the value of his work has been generally
     acknowledged. For several years before his death the echoes of
     old battles had become silent; old strifes were healed; and he
     lived in a peaceful Beulah land awaiting the Master's call to
     cross the dark river. In the beginning of 1879 at the request
     of the editor of the _Guardian_, he wrote an article for the
     Jubilee number of this paper, of which he was the first editor.
     After giving an interesting account of the origin and growth
     of the paper, he concluded by saying; "May the success of the
     past be as a dim dawn to the success of the future! Such is
     the prayer and hope of the first editor of the _Guardian_--now
     retired from all office in Church and State, near the
     fifty-fifth year of his ministry and the seventy-seventh year
     of his age--_looking_ for a better country and _waiting_ for a
     heavenly home."

The _Presbyterian Review_ of the 30th May, said:--

     The various speakers dwelt upon the immense service which the
     late Dr. Ryerson rendered to the country in laying broad and
     deep the foundations of our educational system, and testified
     their satisfaction that gratitude and veneration had found
     expression in the noble work of art before them, which would
     perpetuate his name to many generations of students and
     scholars.... Dr. Hodgins and the other gentlemen associated
     with him on the Ryerson Statue Committee are to be heartily
     congratulated on the result of their well-directed efforts and
     well-sustained efforts to assist in perpetuating the memory
     of a native-born Canadian who, notwithstanding some errors
     of judgment, proved himself worthy to be held in grateful
     remembrance by his countrymen.

_The Week_ of the 31st May, said:--

     That was a grand purpose to which Rev. Egerton Ryerson pledged
     himself on accepting office as the first Superintendent of
     Education for Ontario in 1844, "To provide for my native
     country a system of education, and facilities for intellectual
     improvement, not second to those of any country in the world."
     The form and loftiness of the promise marked the courage,
     individuality and conscious strength of the man who made it.
     The statue in the Toronto Normal School grounds, which was
     unveiled with appropriate ceremonies on the 24th inst., will
     henceforth stand as the testimony of the people of Ontario,
     especially of its teachers and others interested in educational
     work, to the faithfulness and ability with which the pledge was
     redeemed through thirty-two years of indefatigable toil and
     struggle. The artistically wrought monument in bronze will also
     serve as a fitting reminder to all who visit the Educational
     Department that the people of Ontario do not mean to let those
     who faithfully served their country in its earlier days be
     forgotten. A monument "more enduring than bronze" stands out to
     view wherever a free public school is efficiently doing its work
     in training the young of both sexes and of all classes to become
     intelligent and patriotic citizens of this growing commonwealth.
     Whether it be literally true or not that Dr. Ryerson "placed
     his native Province in the van of all the States of America and
     all the colonies of the British Empire," as the Minister of
     Education avouches, his plan was certainly comprehensive and
     statesmanlike, and was followed out with a courage, perseverance
     and success, for which the Province must ever remain his debtor.

The Toronto correspondent of the _Montreal Witness_, under date of
31st of May, says:--

     One of the noblest public tributes ever paid to the memory of
     any man in Canada was paid the other day to the memory of the
     late Rev. Egerton Ryerson. From the time of his death, early
     in 1882, till now, the work of collecting subscriptions for
     the erection of a statue has gone steadily on. The amounts
     contributed were individually small, but the contributors were
     numerous, and now in front of the Departmental Buildings, in
     St. James' Square, stands a memorial of him which will fairly
     convey to future generations some idea of what the man himself
     was in personal appearance. The massiveness and rugged strength
     are there, and there were, after all, the most marked traits of
     Dr. Ryerson's personality, though he was by no means lacking
     in sympathy and intellectual ability.... The addresses were
     admirable alike for brevity and good taste, and nothing occurred
     to mar the success of the ceremony.

The _Educational Journal_ of June 1st, said:--

     The statue of the late Dr. Ryerson, which has been so long in
     course of preparation, has been set up on the Normal School
     grounds, and was unveiled, with appropriate ceremonies, on the
     24th ult.

     The ceremony of unveiling was performed by Sir Alexander
     Campbell, the Lieutenant-Governor, who said that he thought no
     pleasanter duty could fall to the lot of any Lieutenant-Governor
     than that of assisting in honoring one of the Province's noblest

     The status is of bronze, nine feet six inches in height, and
     stands upon a pedestal of New Brunswick granite, ten feet six
     inches high. It represents Dr. Ryerson in the attitude of
     addressing an audience in the cause of education. The head is
     turned a little to the right, with the lips slightly parted, and
     with the massive brow and flowing locks, gives a correct and
     forcible expression, in harmony with the action of the advanced
     arm and firm position of the right leg. The proportions of
     the figure are very well kept through the ample folds of the
     doctor's gown, which in their various lines, lend richness and
     interest to the work, and take away the stiffness of the modern
     costume. The left hand is raised nearly to the breast, and in it
     is grasped a book. A little to the left and rear of the figure
     stands a short pedestal bearing three books, carelessly laid one
     upon another; and on one of the panels of the pedestal is the
     arms of the Department of Education. Dignity of bearing, repose
     and action, and distinct force of character, eminent qualities
     in the personality of the late doctor, mark the expression of
     the figure; and it is evident that no pains have been spared
     by the artist, Mr. Hamilton McCarthy, in the modelling of the
     details of both statue and pedestal. The statue stands in a
     commanding position in the Normal School grounds. It will add
     a new object of interest to the many attractions which these
     grounds present to teachers and others visiting the Department.

The _Irish Canadian_ of the 6th of June, under the heading of "A
Graceful Tribute," said:--

     On the 24th of May (the Queen's Birthday), was unveiled the
     statue erected in the Normal School grounds to the memory of the
     Rev. Egerton Ryerson, the founder of the common school system of
     education in Ontario, and its Superintendent from its inception
     in 1844 till 1876, when he retired in the fullness of years,
     and after his labors had been crowned with signal success. The
     Catholics of this Province, in the matter of education, have
     nothing for which they should be thankful to the distinguished
     divine.... For all that, Dr. Ryerson was a man of great and good
     parts; and, from a Common School point of view, he has left a
     noble heritage in a system of education that will bear favorable
     comparison with the best of any land.

     It was the occasion of the unveiling of his statue that
     his co-laborer in the Education Department--Dr. J. George
     Hodgins--paid the memory of Dr. Ryerson a graceful tribute.
     Who so capable for so delicate a task as he who had been Dr.
     Ryerson's right-hand man, his able support, during his long and
     varied career in the Education office? And happily has the story
     of the ups and downs of the Common School system been told by
     the learned Deputy Minister, to whose ripe judgment, in no small
     degree, was due the system's unmeasured success. The part that
     Dr. Hodgins played, however, is kept in the background; and we
     see only what Dr. Ryerson done during his lengthened incumbency,
     and the difficulties with which he had to contend in maturing
     his plans and bringing them as nearly as possible to his own
     ideal of perfection.

     Dr. Hodgins' retrospect goes back to the period of the U. E.
     Loyalists, and thence downward to 1876. It leads us by degrees
     from the primitive system in vogue prior to the grammar schools
     (in one of which the late venerable Bishop Strachan taught
     as master), through a series of changes aiming at higher
     education, till we arrive at the year in which the foundations
     of the present system were laid. The corner-stone having been
     placed, the superstructure rose in fair proportions; and the
     edifice having been completed, to furnish it with all the
     adjuncts necessary to the best educational training was the
     Superintendent's constant care. How Dr. Ryerson finally overcame
     every obstacle to his darling object is told with tender
     affection by Dr. Hodgins, who, in laying a chaplet on the grave
     of his dead chief, does honor not only to the memory of a good
     man, but also to his own generous instincts.

The _Canada Educational Monthly_ for June-July, said:--

     The Rev. Dr. Ryerson has long been widely known as a gifted and
     learned divine, as well as a successful journalist, who took a
     prominent part in the religious and moral development of our
     country in its early days, ... but the fitting memorial which
     was unveiled on Her Majesty's seventieth birthday, is erected to
     him chiefly as a worthy Canadian and an eminent educationist....

     The life work of this able man has now passed into other
     hands; in itself it forms a whole superstructure, and if the
     enlightened principles which he laid down and acted upon are
     carried out in their integrity, they must exercise an undying
     influence for good upon the intellectual life of the country,
     upon its gradual advance in the scale of civilization and
     refinement, and upon its moral and religious life.

     The ceremony of unveiling the statue brought together many true,
     patriotic and representative men. Some of his personal friends
     and fellow-workers were there, and others who remembered him
     with affection and gratitude. The Government, the city, the
     public and secondary schools, the colleges and universities were
     all represented, and all united in honoring the memory of the
     founder of the Ontario school system.



  [8] The Historical Paper--an abstract of which was read by Dr.
  Hodgins, will be found on page 26.


Mr. Robert McQueen, President of the Ontario Teachers' association,
spoke as follows:--

_Your Honor_, _Mr. Chairman_, _Ladies and Gentlemen_:

We are gathered here to-day to do honor to the memory of one to whom
this country owes a debt of deep and lasting gratitude; and should
I fail entirely to give expression to any thought worthy of the man
or the occasion, I feel certain that all will be overlooked, when I
simply utter the two words "Egerton Ryerson." He was a man of marked
individuality of character, of energetic action, of great power of
will, and tenacity of purpose. His life-work bears the marks of his
individuality and energy, the results he achieved are evidences of
his power of will and his tenacity of purpose. And, in view of the
results which he achieved, it is a meet and a becoming thing, that,
as a people, we should meet and do honor to his memory, as we have
gathered here this day to do.

Men, even great men, only act permanently, as they act upon the
institutions of their country. The greatness that centres in the
individual is dependent upon and contingent on the existence of the
individual, and the influence exercised by him as it centres in him,
dies with him, passes away when he leaves the scene. But the man who
leaves his impress on the institutions of his country, exercises an
influence that is permanent in its action, pervasive in its power,
and, within the range of these institutions, is universal in its
beneficence. Every amelioration of these institutions is an abiding
good, shared in by all who come within their sphere of operation. It
becomes the common heritage of all.

Such was the impress made, such still is the influence exercised by
the individual to whose memory and life-work we have met this day to
do honor. His connection with, his charge over, and his influence
upon the educational institutions of this country, reaching
backward nearly half a century from the present time, and lasting
over a period of nearly thirty years, was that of a formative and
meliorating kind. From the time of his acceptance of office in 1844,
down to the period when he resigned his trust, his energies were
directed, his powers brought to bear on organizing, modelling and
consolidating the school system of this province.

Let us for a few moments trace briefly the history of that system
for the last fifty years. The Education Bill of 1837 may be said
to have been the first legislative attempt at organization. This
bill provided for the annual expenditure of fifteen thousand pounds
for common school purposes, and that as soon as the permanently
available Public School Fund of this Province amounted to ten
thousand pounds per annum, a superintendent of common schools should
be appointed by the Governor under the Seal of the Province, whose
duty it should be to report annually to the Legislature on all
matters pertaining to the administration of the public schools.
The union of the Provinces brought the Act of 1841, introduced
by the Hon. Mr. Day. This Act was simplified and improved by the
Bill of 1843, introduced by the Hon. F. Hincks. By the provisions
of that Act the Secretary of the Province was _ex-officio_ Chief
Superintendent of Schools. In 1844 that office was tendered to the
late Dr. Ryerson, and in the autumn of that year it was accepted by
him on two conditions: (1st), that the administration of the school
system should constitute a separate and distinct non-political
department; (2nd), that he should be permitted to act by a deputy
for one year and have leave of absence for that period, in order to
enable him to visit and examine the educational systems of other
countries, in Europe and America, before attempting to lay the
foundations of a system in Upper Canada. The whole of 1845 was spent
in these inquiries and investigations. The results were embodied
in a report to the Legislature in 1846. Along with this report was
a Draft School Bill, which was introduced and carried through by
the Hon. W. Draper, and became law in June, 1846. In a few mouths
a draft bill for cities and incorporated towns was submitted and
carried through by the Hon. J. H. Cameron, and became law in June,
1847; these two Acts, with modifications and improvements, suggested
by time and experience, were incorporated in the School Bill of
1850, which was introduced by the Hon. F. Hincks, and was the first
Act to which the Earl of Elgin gave the Royal Assent after the
removal of the Seat of Government to Upper Canada.

The provision of this bill embodied the basis of our present system.
It introduced the principle of free schools, leaving the adoption
of that principle to the option of each school section. Subsequent
changes and modifications were embodied in the Act of 1870, which
abolished the office of township superintendent, introduced the
county inspectorate, and made free schools compulsory. This Act
may be said to be the last touch of the "Master Hand." In order to
apprehend the true nature and extent of that impress which he made,
of that influence which he exercised and exerted, we have only to
look around, to look on that noble structure, whose foundations he
was permitted and honored to lay, and whose superstructure he was so
largely enabled to rear. Our school system is his true memorial.

I have already said that it is a meet and a becoming thing for a
nation to honor the memory of its public benefactors. The nation
that ceases to cherish and manifest a grateful remembrance of those
who have devoted their energies to the promotion of its welfare and
spent their lives in its service, gives evidence of deterioration
and decay, gives evidence that it is on the down grade of national
existence. To-day we have gathered here to give expression to our
gratitude in tangible form, by the erection in this public place,
of this costly and enduring memorial of the individual and his
life-work, that by its very presence it may speak to all who behold
of the grateful sense of benefits received, cherished by the people
of this Province. Yet there is another way in which we may manifest
our gratitude, viz., by seeking to conserve, to consolidate, to
ameliorate, our school system, which has thus come down to us from
the moulding hand of the departed; and not only seeking to preserve
what has thus been handed down to us, so far as the school system
itself is concerned, but to seek to make it practically effective
in its operation, so that all who live under its shadow, may share
to the full of the blessings and privileges which it is fitted to
confer and intended to bestow. Our sense of gratitude will thus
assume a practical and beneficent form. That the management of our
school system has fallen into, and now is in good and wise hands, we
all feel confident. That its success depends largely on the energy,
the zeal and the faithfulness of those who are entrusted with the
education of the youth of this Province, our high and public school
teachers, together with the co-operation of the people at large, of
all classes and of all creeds, all will be prepared to admit. In one
word: It is only by the united and concerted action of all three,
the executive skill, the zeal and energy of the teachers, and the
popular sympathy and support that we can hope to secure the full
benefit of our school system on the one hand; and on the other, show
ourselves worthy of the heritage that has been handed down to us by
those who have gone before us.


Alderman McMillan, President of the City Council and Acting Mayor of
Toronto, in the absence of Mayor E. F. Clarke, M.P.P., in England,
spoke as follows:--

I regret very much that His Worship the Mayor is not with us to-day
to represent the citizens of Toronto on this interesting occasion.

It is his loss, however, and I fear it will be your loss also, that
it has fallen to my lot to act as his substitute and to speak on his
behalf and on behalf of the citizens of Toronto.

Knowing my own unfitness for the task, I have hesitated; feeling my
own inability, I have shrunk from the duty imposed on me. Deeply
conscious as I am of the fact that it requires more eloquence than I
possess to do justice to the occasion, or to speak in fitting terms
of the great work of the eminent divine and educationist to whose
memory this statue has been erected.

No more appropriate place could have been selected for its erection
than here on the grounds of the department which is the creation of
his genius, and in front of a building which stands a monument to
the energy of its founder.

He will be but a poor student of the history of his country who
has not yet learned from its pages the deep debt of gratitude
which every Canadian owes to the man whose memory is held in most
affectionate rememberance by all classes of the community.

He will be a poor judge of mental power or moral worth who has
not yet learned to prize the grandeur of his life-work or the
versatility of the attainments of the man who was not only a
deep thinker and a notable teacher but an earnest and a humble
Christian--a happy combination of the scholar and the gentleman.

During a long and eventful career, and at a crucial period in our
country's history the active part he played in public affairs has
left on the institutions of our province the impress of his vigorous
intellect. Prompted by pure motives, and guided by sound judgment,
he gave evidences of an uncommon genius, which he devoted to the
service of his country and the best interests of the people, and
thus he became a leader among men.

In the school system of this province he built for himself a more
lasting monument than the granite and bronze we now raise to his

With fluent speech and ready pen he has oft been the defender of
our most sacred rights and cherished privileges. A lover of truth,
he abhorred falsehood. A lover of freedom, he hated oppression; and
the cause of truth and of freedom found in him an able and willing
champion. A staunch defender of British connection, he yet manfully
battled for equal rights and privileges to all classes of the

He loved the land of his birth with no ordinary affection and,
during a long and busy life, he helped to mould her destiny and
shape her course--guiding her feeble and often erratic steps,
leading her into the paths of truth and righteousness which, we are
assured, most surely exalteth the nation.

In the pages of Canadian history the "Story of his Life" and labors
will ever be instructive reading.

In the chronicles of the Methodist Church of Canada (the church of
his choice) his name will always stand pre-eminently conspicuous as
one of her ablest scholars and one of her most eminent divines--an
earnest preacher and a devoted missionary. Filled with a fervent
love for his Lord and Master, he labored earnestly in His vineyard
seeking souls for His hire.

I am proud of the privilege I enjoy of being here on behalf of the
citizens of this great city--pleased to be able to bear testimony
to the high appreciation we have of his services and the strong
affection we bear to the memory of the Rev. Egerton Ryerson. I am
also pleased to have this opportunity of being allowed to tender my
own humble tribute of respect to the memory of him who was both a
statesman and a scholar, a patriot and a Christian.


The Honourable Senator John Macdonald, speaking on behalf of the
University of Toronto, said:--

I wish first to express my regret--a regret I have no doubt in which
you share--that some one better fitted than myself had not been
selected to represent the University of Toronto upon this important
occassion. My embarrassment is lessened however, and possibly your
disappointment, in view of the handsome tribute paid to the memory
of the great man by the Minister of Education in his admirable
address, by the presentation of the historic paper by the Deputy
Minister, and last, though not least, by the speech of Alderman
McMillan on behalf of the city of Toronto.

Patriotism is that passion which aims to serve one's country,
either in defending it from invasion or protecting its rights and
maintaining its laws and institutions in vigour and purity. If
then we accord, as we ought to do, a place among the patriots of
our country to those who readily respond to its call in the hour
of danger, to those who bring their wisdom and judgment to bear
in the making of laws for its good and healthful government, to
those, also, who as diplomats in the carrying on of delicate and
subtle international negotiations do so in such a way as not only to
maintain their country's honor but to make their country respected,
what place shall we assign to him who devoted his life to the best
interests of the young of his own province in order that they might
be fitted rightly to take their part in life, to do this all the
better by reason of that educational system of which he was the
moving spirit and which it was his to found? What place I ask, if it
be not the very first place in the front rank of that distinguished
class. Egerton Ryerson may fairly be regarded as the founder of
the school system of his own province and as a consequence must,
throughout all time, occupy a foremost place in the history of his

His was a life spent not in the promotion of his personal ends.
Indeed it may be affirmed that his devotion to his life-work
so absorbed his time, his thoughts and his energies as to have
disqualified him for making that suitable provision for the close of
life for which his great abilities so eminently fitted him.

It would scarcely be fair to claim for him all the honour of
perfecting the school system of Ontario, scarcely fair to say that
to him exclusively belongs the results seen to-day which give to
the school system of Ontario so prominent a place among the school
systems of other countries. A measure of the praise is doubtless due
to the able staff of workers by which he was supported. His was the
directing mind; 'twas theirs to carry out his plans.

It would not be fair to ascribe to the architect all the credit
for the grace, symmetry and safety of the most magnificent public
buildings. True, he it was who planned the foundations, made them
deep and broad, as that they might be safe and enduring. True, he
it was who gave grace and beauty to the elevation, as that it might
not only answer its purpose, but that it might be at the same time
"a thing of beauty;" but how easily might not only the safety of
the building be imperilled but its beauty marred by careless and by
ignorant treatment; but skilful treatment has produced the needed
strength, and has secured the grace of outline, and the building is
perfect and harmonious in all its parts.

What the architect is to the building that was Egerton Ryerson to
our school system. His it was to lay the foundation upon which a
structure which might be at once the pride and the glory of our
Province could be erected; his it was to lay these deep and broad
and enduring. How wisely and how well he did his work. How well
his efforts have been supplemented by the able band of workers who
were associated with him the splendid school system of our Province
to-day abundantly testifies.

It is fitting, therefore, that his statue should be placed on these
grounds, so that the coming generations may be made familiar with
the general appearance of the man who has done so much for the
educational interests of his country.

But it is not here, faithful as the bronze may speak of the man,
that his most fitting and most enduring monument must be found.
The group of happy faced children which throng our sidewalks
wending their way each morning to our schools, the pupils of
our Model Schools, our High Schools, the under-graduates of our
Universities, and these seen not only in their school period, but
in their subsequent career taking their place in our country as
its legislators, its professional men, its merchants, mechanics,
farmers, its matrons, taking their places in life, and taking them
all the better for their own good and that of their country for the
training, sound, thorough and scholarly, which they have received in
the schools, colleges and universities of their own country, helping
them to make their homes homes of comfort, elegance and refinement.

Here must be found the true and abiding monument of the man; here
the enduring fruit of his life-work, more imperishable also than
either brass or marble.

Statistics have been freely given, and these need not be repeated.

Not often does it fall to the lot of one man to leave behind him
such a record as that left by Dr. Ryerson in his life-work of
thirty-three years.

To see the old-log school house, with its imperfect appliances,
supplanted by the palatial school buildings with their perfect
equipment of our own day.

To see the work done by our High Schools, our Colleges and
Universities, which challenges not the attention only, but the
admiration of other countries, that is an honour, even with the
capabilities which exist in a young country like ours, reserved
but for few, and yet among that number he stands out promptly
whose statue has this day been unveiled by His Honour the

Any words of mine are poor and weak indeed in dealing with a matter
so full of interest, not to the people of Ontario only but to the
people of Canada, but full of interest to my own mind, as it must
be to the mind of others, is the estimate placed upon Dr. Ryerson's
work by many eminent men, all well qualified to judge from an
educationalist standpoint. Dr. Hodgins has spoken of the late Dr.
Fraser, Bishop of Manchester.

Few men were so well able to form an opinion upon any educational
system. Himself a great scholar, an Oriel man, an enthusiast on all
matters connected with the educational system of his own country,
appointed by the Royal Commission as an assistant commissioner
to visit and report upon the educational system of the United
States and Canada, thus speaks of our school system and of Dr.
Ryerson. After referring to the system says: "It shows what can be
accomplished by the energy, determination and devotion of a single
earnest man. Through evil report and good report, he has found
others to support him in the resolution that free education shall be
placed within the reach of every Canadian parent for every Canadian

Egerton Ryerson has deserved well of his country. His best days
and his best energies were given to the upbuilding of its grandest
institution. Well should his country guard and cherish his memory,
so that the young who are here assembled to-day may learn this
lesson, that he who devotes his life for his country's good, his
country will hold his memory not in fragrant only, but in perpetual


The Rev. N. Burwash, S.T.D., President and Chancellor of Victoria
University, spoke as follows:

_Ladies and Gentlemen_:

It is particularly appropriate that on this occasion Victoria
University should speak. We meet to do honor to one of the greatest
of Canada's sons. Dr. Ryerson has written his name indelibly upon
the pages of his country's history. He has done so not merely
by superior gifts of intellect, although to few men have more
noble talents been entrusted. Nor has he done so merely as the
successful leader of a great party in Church or State, although he
was a leader, one of the first three in one of Canada's greatest
movements towards a perfect political constitution. The success of
this movement, after a struggle stretching through the lifetime
of a full generation, and its results of which all good men now
approve, might well ennoble the name of any man. But that for which
we honor Dr. Ryerson's name and memory to-day is his work as an
educator; and from Victoria University he first received the call
to consecrate his life to his work. He was the first President of
Victoria College. He, a Canadian of the Canadians, was the first
Canadian to occupy that position in our Province; and Victoria has
maintained the Canadian succession unbroken from his day to the
present. Victoria was the first institution in this Province in
active operation as a teaching institution with University powers.
And it fell to Dr. Ryerson to shape its character and curriculum,
and to give it a form, many features of which it has retained to
this present hour.

It was from this duty of laying the foundations of our University in
this young Province that Dr. Ryerson was called to the wider field
of fashioning the primary and intermediate education of the whole

It would be presumption on my part to attempt to speak to-day of
the difficulties which beset him in his task, and of the skill and
judgment with which those difficulties were met and overcome. That
has already been the more appropriate duty of one who has just
spoken, and who was for long years his most valued and honored
associate in his life-work.

But, as a Canadian of the fourth generation, and as a Canadian
school boy who has enjoyed the advantages of the great work which
to-day we commit to the perpetual memory of our country, I may
venture to refer to the peculiarly Canadian character of the system
founded by Dr. Ryerson. The early schools of this country were very
varied in their type. Prepossession and usage rule imperiously in
education. Each little colony or settlement, as it was called,
had its national prepossessions. Here was an attempt to reproduce
a miniature English Eton or Rugby. There was a genuine Scottish
parish school with its Bible and Catechism. Here was an Irish school
with its predilection for difficult problems in arithmetic and
algebra. There was a Yankee school with its spelling-matches and
dialogues on examination day. These were the heterogeneous elements
of forty-five and fifty years ago. To-day, we have everywhere the
Canadian school as unique in its character as any of these, and
as well-known in its results all over this continent. The skilful
mind that took possession of these materials, that carefully
separated the good from the bad, that patiently and wisely removed
or overcame prejudices, that calmly waited till the public mind was
ready for each progressive movement, and then with vigor pushed it
forward to speedy completion--this was the ----le gift which Dr.
Ryerson devoted to his country's service. Gathering his materials
for building up a perfect educational system from all lands, and
from the wisdom and experience of all ages, this great man wrought
out his life-task in the face of political prejudices, of national
prejudices and of sectarian prejudices. I know of no man of his day
who rose more fully than did he above the narrowness of all these.
From the elevation of a broad catholicity, he grasped the great
outlines of a comprehensive and national system of education for
the Upper Canadian people, and patiently did he work toward that as
his ideal. It would be too much to say that he completed the ideal.
Such is not often given to mortal man. There are problems in this
work still unsolved. There is still something for us to do. But in
the solution of these problems we may well thank God for the broad,
strong foundations, and structures planned, and so nearly completed
by this master workman.

In the inaugural address with which Dr. Ryerson opened his work in
Victoria College, I find this passage "The education imparted in
this college is to be British and Canadian. Youth should be educated
for their country as well as for themselves." This motto, never
forgotten, has given character to his great life-work, and has
given us a system of public schools and intermediate schools which
more enduring than any monument will perpetuate to our children for
generations to come, the name of Egerton Ryerson.[9]

  [9] W. Kerr, Q.C., Vice-Chancellor, of Victoria University, in
  explaining the causes of his absence from the ceremonies of
  unveiling, said:--"I thank you very much for your ever thoughtful
  kindness in sending me a programme of the ceremonies of unveiling
  of the statue of our late great chief founder of the peerless
  school system of Ontario. I should very much like to have the
  privilege of being present on the occasion and of listening to the
  speeches and addresses, but especially your 'Historical Paper on
  Education in Ontario,' which no man now living so well understands
  as yourself.... How often I think of the late chief's farsightedness
  and patriotic efforts in connection with the Upper Canada Academy
  and subsequently with Victoria University."...


Sandford Fleming, C.E., LL.D, C.M.G., Chancellor of Queen's
University, spoke as follows:--

_Your Honor_, _Mr. Chairman_, _Ladies and Gentlemen_:

In the name of Queen's University, and at the special request of
the Senate of that institution, I come here to-day to take part in
these interesting proceedings. On behalf of higher education in
Eastern Ontario I have the honor to bear tribute to the memory of
Dr. Egerton Ryerson.

However unworthy the individual whom Queen's has sent on this
occasion, I am warranted in stating that no institution in this
country is more thoroughly alive to the importance of sound
education for all classes of the community than the University I
come here to represent. Moreover, I venture to say that there is no
one here present who more fully appreciates the incalculable value
of the school system of Ontario and the work accomplished in its
establishment, by him to whose memory we are this day assembled to
do honor.

It is not simply an agreeable duty I am called upon to perform, I
feel it to be a high privilege to be allowed to take part by my
presence on this auspicious occasion. I have but to look back over
a period of forty years to recall the living form of the sculptured
figure before us, and to remember the time when in the zenith of
his strength and intellectual power, he brought to bear on the
great work of his life that wisdom and foresight, that indomitable
perseverance and patriotism, that zeal and devotion with which
he was gifted. I have but to recollect his persistent efforts to
initiate and put in successful operation a comprehensive system of
common school education in this province, to express my unalloyed
satisfaction that those efforts--those great and sustained efforts
were not in vain. I rejoiced then, as I rejoice now, that the noble
work in which he took so conspicuous a part has been crowned with
signal success. I thought then, and I think now, that the people of
this province, I may indeed say the people of the whole of Canada,
of all ages, of all classes, of all colors and of all creeds, owe a
deep debt of gratitude to Dr. Ryerson, and I cannot be wrong in the
firm opinion that we all do well to revere and perpetuate his memory.

While Dr. Egerton Ryerson attached most importance to the
establishment of the common schools of the country on a sound and
efficient basis, he also warmly sympathized with every effort
to promote higher education. He took an active part in founding
Victoria University, of which he was chosen the first president.
He was a strenuous supporter of that institution up to the day
of his death, firmly believing that the resources of the country
could support, and that the people of Ontario should possess, well
endowed, independent seats of learning of different types.

As a member of the community I have always had the highest esteem
and veneration for this great pioneer of education in Canada. I feel
now and have always felt with unnumbered thousands that his life has
indeed been that of a foremost public benefactor. I am, therefore,
greatly gratified that it has fallen to my lot, on behalf of
Queen's University and higher education in Eastern Ontario to bear
tribute to the memory of the founder and first administrator of our
system of public instruction, a far-seeing Canadian, an enlightened
statesman, a man who in his distinguished career rendered the most
important services to the country of his birth.

I am glad to have an opportunity of taking part in the formal
inauguration of the work of art which we see before us. At the same
time I cannot forget that Dr. Egerton Ryerson has left behind him
an inheritance to unborn generations of Canadians in the schools
which we behold everywhere throughout the land and the free public
instruction which they represent. These are now and must always be
recognized as his best and most enduring monument.[10]

  [10] In his letter enclosing the manuscript of his address,
  Chancellor Fleming, said:--"I write to congratulate you on the
  complete success of the affair of last Friday. Even the weather was
  every thing we could desire. It was a genuine pleasure for me to be
  present on the occasion. In the few remarks I offered I meant every
  word I said, The only omission was the absence of any reference, or
  sufficient reference, to the right hand man of Dr. Ryerson during
  all the years he laboured. This often happens; but you have the
  happy consciousness that your work and your life has so largely
  entered into the imperishable monument which he has raised in the
  school system of the century."


The Representative of Trinity University, Rev. Professor Clark,
remarked that he had the honor of representing the smallest of the
universities of Ontario, but one in which they strove to do their
work in a spirit of loyalty to their country as well as to their
own convictions. He had naturally prepared to make some remarks on
the distinguished and illustrious man in whose honor they were then
assembled; but, as he supposed, nearly everything which had occurred
to him as being suitable to be said had been anticipated by previous

As he looked upon those Normal Schools by which they were imprinted,
he could not help being reminded of the words inscribed on the
interior of St. Paul's in memory of its founder, Sir Christopher
Wren, "_Si monumentum requiris circumspice_." "If you ask for his
memorial look around you." With equal propriety we might point to
those schools as a monument and memorial of Dr. Ryerson, the founder
of the educational system of this Province, no less fitting than the
statue which had just been uncovered. But more enduring than the
building or the effigy was the intellectual and moral work which
he had accomplished in our educational institutions, for that work
was eternal. Its effects and influences would never pass away, but
would go on leavening generations yet unborn. Whatever changes or
revolutions might occur, his work and its consequences would still
live on.

In one respect, perhaps, it was fortunate that others should have
borne testimony to Dr. Ryerson's work and ability, and to the
greatness of the work which he had done. His own knowledge of the
man and of the work was only second-hand, and he could not speak
with the freshness and vividness of those who had personal knowledge
of them. "_Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem._" But although
he had not direct and immediate knowledge of Dr. Ryerson, he had
the opportunity of studying several of the publications which
gave an account of his history, and especially of his educational
work--more particularly some of those written by Dr. Hodgins. From
these he had learnt something of the spirit in which the work had
been accomplished, and the principles which were embodied in it;
and these would account for the eulogiums which had already been
bestowed upon the work and its principal doer.

They might learn from such investigations something that would
help to guard them from dangers which attended their educational
work. It seemed to him that Dr. Ryerson's conception of the work of
education was singularly simple, earnest, deep and comprehensive,
free from affectation and one-sidedness. They were in danger of
forgetting some of these elements, of making education showy instead
of solid,--of forgetting that it was the education and discipline
of the man and of the mind that we had to accomplish, and not the
outward adornment of him, or the mere imparting of knowledge. Some
of our dangers have been forcibly pointed out by the President of
University College, Sir Daniel Wilson, in the March number of the
_Canada Educational Monthly_. It would not be proper to go into
details on such an occasion, but he would recommend those who were
interested in these questions to study that article.

There was great danger of their being one-sided in education, of
their taking up cries on one side or another. We have often heard
of a foolish Anglomania by which some people were possessed. But
there are other manias which are quite as silly. There was an
Americano-mania and a Canada mania (_mania Canadensis_, said the
Minister), and they were all equally foolish. It was egregious
folly merely to imitate an Englishman or an American. But it was
equally foolish to imagine that we had everything and could do
everything by ourselves. Our business was not to make Englishmen or
Americans or Canadians, but to make men, furnished with sufficient
knowledge, with cultivated, disciplined minds, with vigorous wills.
This is our work, and we must do it with our might, remembering the
limitations of our position and realizing what we could and could
not accomplish. We must not at present expect the results of the
education given at the great German universities or at Oxford and
Cambridge, but we might make the best with the materials at our
disposal. We might foster in the rising generations a love of truth
and goodness, and instil into them a deep sense of duty, and thus
help to qualify them for the position they would have to occupy, and
the work which they had to perform.


  [11] Dr. Rand, in sending the manuscript of his address, said:--"I
  think the exercises were very successful indeed, and that the
  memorial volume, if brought out with some expedition, will prove
  very helpful in quickening a true appreciation of the great work
  done by Dr. Ryerson in building up the educational system of

Professor Theodore H. Rand, M.A., D.C.L., representative of McMaster
University spoke as follows:--

Twice before it has been my privilege to unite in doing honor by a
public memorial to the name of distinguished educationalists,--that
of Horace Mann, of Massachusetts, and Alexander Forrester, of Nova
Scotia; but in view of the breadth of the area over which Egerton
Ryerson wrought, and the really national character of his work, this
has been an occasion of surpassing interest to me, and one, I am
sure, which marks an epoch in the educational history of Ontario.
In speaking as a representative of McMaster University, which is
just now being organized as one of the instruments of the higher
education of this country, I may be permitted to say that the
Christian denomination which controls the destiny of that University
has in all parts of the world been in active sympathy with popular
education, and in two of our Canadian provinces has been foremost
in efforts to secure the efficient organization of systems of free
education under government control.

When a country has risen to the position of making adequate
public provision against the blighting and destructive influences
of ignorance, it has undertaken the discharge of one of those
contingent and great obligations which, perhaps, will always await
any people who are pressing forward to the attainment of the
possibilities of Christian civilization. With all its imperfections
our system of public education in an eminent degree commands the
affectionate regard of our people and the admiration of strangers.
While Ontario was not the first of our Canadian provinces to
organize a free system of public schools, and while she has not
maintained intact the principle which lies at the basis of the
common schools, the grandeur of the outline of our system and the
general completeness of its details are, I believe, unsurpassed
by those of any other system on this continent or throughout
the empire. This is especially true of the completeness of the
provision made for passing from the elementary schools into the work
of the higher education. Ontario occupies this advanced position
to-day, with all its immeasurable advantages, largely because of
Egerton Ryerson. He was possessed of a profound conviction that
mind is the great creative power by which all resources of nature
are to be turned to account. He had no idea that material good is a
good at all only as it is a means for the development of the moral
and social possibilities of the individual and of the nation. He
did not argue, as many others in the country did, that since the
area of the Province is vast, its population widely scattered, its
forests waiting to be felled, its lands to be cleared and drained,
therefore the organization of an efficient school system was a thing
of the far future. On the contrary, having before him such examples
as Prussia, Scotland, Ireland, the New England, Middle and Western
States, and believing that our civic institutions should afford
social conditions inferior to those of no country in the world, he
poured all the energy of his great heart and mind into the effort
to make available even to the remotest hamlets of the Province the
blessings of knowledge. Intelligence, industry and morality were
felt to be inseparably bound up with the progress of education.
A system good enough for the rich and poor alike, and supported
at the public expense, was his aim and his final achievement. The
Christian communism underlying our systems of public education on
this continent is proving one of the great safeguards of society
against the forms of a false communism; and there is yet room, in my
judgment, for a still wider application of kindred principles in our
social system.

The work of Egerton Ryerson furnishes an additional illustration of
the truth that systems of popular education are, so to speak, the
gift to the people of the Colleges and Universities. His relations
to the higher education enabled him to grasp all the elements
involved in the great problem he undertook to solve for Ontario,
and to bring all parts of the educational system into helpful and
sympathetic relations. Our Universities must always be sources of
stimulus and enrichment to the schools of the Province at large, if
they discharge in any original and adequate measure their functions
to society.

In attributing so important a share to Egerton Ryerson in the
establishment of our school system, I am not, of course, unmindful
of the public men who seconded his efforts, and above all, of the
teachers and inspectors by whose self-sacrificing toils educational
advance was rendered possible, and has been sustained. Were he whom
we honor in our midst to-day he would be the first to speak thus,
and especially of his friend, Dr. Hodgins, who for so many years
was his able assistant and valued confidant. This bronze memorial
is well--may it long testify to the patriotic virtues of a noble
man--but it is as nothing, I trust, in comparison with the living
and imperishable memorials of enriched and ennobled human lives.
As time witnesses the increasing development of the material and
spiritual forces of the present and coming generations of our
people, as our social and national institutions are more fully
perfected and widely recognized, we shall have hereby and herein
perennial memorials of the founder of the school system of Ontario
throughout all coming time.




To-day will long be memorable in the educational history of
Ontario--for to-day has been unveiled the first statue ever erected
in this province to one of its own sons.

It will be still more memorable from the fact that that special
subject of public interest and national concern which has been
signally honoured to-day, is the pre-eminently important one of
popular education. These two facts combined give to the celebration
and pleasant incidents of the day a peculiar significance and a
special interest.


One of the first indications of a growing national life and a
patriotic national spirit is the erection of statues to noble
sons who have rendered such valuable services to the state as are
recognized and honoured here to-day.

It is a most hopeful sign, as well as an assuring and happy augury
for the future of a country, when its patriotism takes the grateful
and graceful form of doing honour to those who have aided in laying
the foundation of its future greatness and prosperity. This, we all
rejoice has been done by Ontario to-day in the unveiling of the
statue of the distinguished founder of her educational system. She
has reared to-day to one of the sons of her soil a noble monument,
expressive of grateful acknowledgment for services of the greatest
importance and value to her and to the thousands of her sons and
daughters yet unborn.

The erection of this statue emphasizes in a striking manner a
notable fact, chronicled by John Milton, which the mature judgment
of the nineteenth century has everywhere endorsed, that--

  "Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war."

That is, that it is not heroic deeds of valor alone which call
forth a nation's gratitude. It further shows us that unswerving
devotion to duty in any of the departments of the public service, or
professional or private life, which have to do with matters which
concern a nation's progress and welfare, is equally recognized, if
not more signally honoured, than were deeds of prowess in the days
gone by. We have, at all events on this continent, many notable
examples of distinguished honour being done to literary men, to men
of science and to noted educationists. Any one who has visited the
chief city of Massachusetts cannot fail to have seen, on the broad
terrace in front of the capitol, a massive bronze statue to Horace
Mann, the well-known Founder of the Public School system, not only
of Massachusetts, but practically of the New England States.


So, in like manner we unveil to-day the statue, not only of the
Founder of the School System of Ontario, but of one, the impress
of whose hand, and the practical suggestions of whose mature
experience, may be recognized in the systems of education of some
of the Maritime Provinces, and in those of Manitoba and British
Columbia. The first Superintendent of British Columbia, and the
second of Manitoba were trained in the schools of Ontario, and were
thus experienced pioneers in the new Provinces of their educational
systems. Also in the West Indies the educational example of Ontario
was felt to be of some value by Sir Francis Hincks, when Governor of
the Windward Islands.[12]

  [12] In a letter from Barbados, dated 31st May, 1856, he said: As
  to education, in which you will take the greatest interest, all I
  can say is that my own hopes are centered in getting a good Normal
  School in humble imitation of yours. I think with that all will be
  well. If we could train good teachers we would have an admirable
  system. There have been some attempts, but not to much effect. I
  want your advice as to the establishment of this school. Tell me
  how to go to work to get good men, etc. I must have your plan of
  boarding the Normal School pupils at the public expense, which I
  think essential. I also want to introduce the national books (as you
  did). Any advice or information will be conducive to good results.

Even the grand old Mother Country has not failed to acknowledge her
indebtedness to him whom we honour to-day, for practical suggestions
in the solution of the educational problems which confronted her
public men, notably the Duke of Newcastle and the Right Hon. W. E.
Forster,[13] during the years reaching from 1860 to 1870.

  [13] Full information in regard to the working of our system of
  education was communicated from time to time to the Privy Council
  Committee on Education in England. This was of great practical value
  (as he assured us) to the Right Hon. W. E. Forster, promoter of
  the noted English School Bill of 1870. In 1875 Mr. Forster visited
  the Education Department of Ontario. The _Journal of Education_ of
  April, 1876, thus refers to Mr. Forster's visit:--

  "During the recent visits of the Right Hon. W. E. Forster and
  Hepworth Dixon, Esq., to the Ontario Education Department, they were
  kind enough to explain and discuss some of the new problems in the
  English Educational system, and made enquiries as to the success
  of our attempts at a practical solution of the same question. The
  two principal subjects referred to by Mr. Forster were compulsory
  education and denominational schools, and on these two points
  full explanation of our Ontario system were given."--_"Journal of
  Education," Province of Ontario, Volume xxviii., page 49._

In 1860, at the request of the Duke of Newcastle, who accompanied
the Prince of Wales to Canada, Dr. Ryerson prepared an elaborate
sketch of the system of education in Upper Canada, and contrasted
it with the English and other European systems of education. This
report was embodied in a letter to the Duke, dated 12th October,

As to the appropriateness of our erecting a Statue to Egerton
Ryerson in Ontario, as was done to Horace Mann, in Massachusetts,
I may here quote a reference to the equal value of the labors of
those two noted men which was made twenty-five years ago by that
acute observer and experienced educational commissioner, the late
well-known and distinguished Bishop Fraser, of Manchester. He said:

     "What Education in New England owes to Horace Mann, Education in
     Canada owes to Egerton Ryerson."

To-day we honour ourselves by seeking to discharge that obligation,
at least in part.

There is one circumstance connected with the erection of this statue
which, to my mind, gives it a peculiar value and significance. The
erection of statues by popular vote, or by the Legislature, gives
a _quasi_, if not a real national character to such erection,
but, a statue erected from the proceeds of thousands of small
contributions, as in this case, shows that deep down in the hearts
of the people of this country there must have been genuine regard
for the man whom they thus seek to honour. When a memorial takes
such a form as that we may well regard it as more enduring and
precious than either the bronze or marble which constitute the
material of its structure.


It devolves upon me, as Chairman of the Committee having charge of
this work, and at the kind request of my colleagues,--no less than
as the life-long friend and fellow-laborer of him whose deeds and
memory we honor to-day--to trace back to their source the origin and
underlying principles of our system of education, and to show that
these underlying principles and other vital forces were so combined
by a master-hand an to form the groundwork, as they have, in their
combination, become the charter of our educational system of to-day.

And here, in this connection, a thought or two strikes me; and each
thought contains for us a moral and a lesson.

The first is that educational systems are essentially progressive in
their character and purposes, and truly they "never continue in one

The second is that the earliest sources of what might be called our
educational inspiration are now uncertain guides, and, as such, are
to-day of doubtful authority.

No one will venture to affirm that even--as it was then
considered--the broad and comprehensive scheme of public education
sketched by Dr. Ryerson in 1846, should be considered as the acme
of our educational achievements of to-day. Nor would any one at all
conversant with the condition and progress of education on this
continent alone be content to draw his inspiration from, or limit
his range of observation to, the New England States as formerly. The
examples to be seen, and the experience to be consulted, and the
systems to be studied, must to-day, so far as the United States is
concerned--be sought for in the far-off Western States.

In this matter I speak of what I know; and I speak, therefore, with
the more emphasis on this point, because of the primary importance
of keeping this Province and the Dominion educationally abreast of
the most advanced States of the American Union--our near neighbors,
and our energetic and actively progressive educational rivals.

As an illustration of these notable facts, I may state that having
been selected by the United States Bureau of Education to act as one
of the seven international educational jurors, at the New Orleans
Exhibition in 1885, it was, during six weeks, my duty with others,
to examine into and report upon the condition and results of the
various state systems of education in the Union, and in other


I need not more than state, what you likely anticipate, that France,
by her enlightened educational legislation of 1881--providing for
manual, or industrial, training in all of her schools--and Germany,
by her earlier and more systematized educational legislation, stand
at the head of European States, as does Japan at the head of the
whole Eastern World. But, in this connection, the interest to us
should be to note the fact that the educational centre in the United
States has within the last few years been gradually shifted from the
east to the west. As an illustration, I may say that the highest
award for the extent, variety and completeness of its educational
system in all its details, was unanimously made by the jurors to
Minnesota, while Massachusetts and other New England States, with
New York, Pennsylvania, etc., were entitled to only second and third
class honors. France and Japan justly received first-class honors,
while England and other countries (omitting Germany) had to be
placed in the second and third class ranks as educating countries.

A revelation of these and other suggestive facts in regard to
the progress of education in countries outside of our own, more
than ever convinced me of the wisdom of Dr. Ryerson's policy of
observation while head of the Education Department. He laid it down,
not so much an educational axiom, as a wise dictum--the result of
his educational experience, that--

     "There is no department of civil government in which careful
     preparation, varied study and observation, and independent and
     uniform action, are so important to success and efficiency,
     as in founding, maturing and developing a system of public

He, therefore, wisely devoted a large portion of his time to this
"careful preparation," as well as to "varied study and observation"
of systems of education in Europe and America. And this fact
largely accounts for the "success and efficiency" of his efforts in
"founding, maturing and developing" our system of public instruction.

In a reply to a resolution from the Council of the County of
Norfolk, in 1851, Dr. Ryerson thus referred to this subject:--

"There is no poetry in the establishment and development of a public
school system; it is a matter-of-fact-work from beginning to end;
and its progress, like the growth of body and mind in an individual,
is gradual, and is the joint result of time and labour. I am happy,
however, to know that our school system has already become so far
developed in its principles, objects and character as to command the
attention and almost unanimous approbation of the country. I have
laid it down as a first principle to educate the people through the
people themselves, by their own voluntary co-operation and exertion,
through the usual elective municipalities and other acknowledged and
responsible organs of a free people."


When we reflect upon the fact of the immense growth, and the
comprehensive character of the educational machinery in operation
on this continent alone, and the vast sums expended to keep it
in motion, we cannot fail to be profoundly impressed with the
serious and grave responsibility which is constantly imposed upon
our educational leaders, of being forever on the watch-tower of
observation, to note the changes, improvements and advances which
are continually taking place in the educational world outside. We
are too apt to be content with our own progress, and to measure
ourselves by ourselves. In this connection the words recently
addressed to the Kingston Board of School Trustees by the Very Rev.
Principal Grant, are of special value as an apt illustration of my

     "During my absence I have studied the school systems of many
     countries, and have learned lessons that ought to assist me in
     coming to right conclusions. The world is wider than Canada,
     or than America. The British Empire itself is wider than
     this continent, and within its boundaries there are so many
     educational systems and methods that a man who travels with eyes
     and ears open cannot help learning many things that confirm
     opinions previously held, and suggest improvements on what he
     may have thought perfect, or the necessity of revising his
     former judgments. He gets new points of view, and that of itself
     is a great matter."

Our American neighbors became fully alive years ago to the evils of
the fluctuating and uncertain character of the prevailing system
of educational administration in vogue amongst them. They saw that
new and officially untrained men, of merely local experience and
knowledge, were constantly being elected to take charge of the
administrative department of the schools of a state. Such men were
often able educators, but by no means experienced educationists,
or masters of systems of education. The American people, shrewd
and practical as they are, felt the absolute necessity, therefore,
of furnishing such men, and the vast army of their educationists
and educators, with full and accurate information on systems and
plans of education all over the world. With this object in view,
they established a central observatory, or Bureau of Education at
Washington. I need hardly say how ably the work of this Bureau was
systematized and most efficiently performed under the direction
of the Hon. John Eaton, Commissioner of Education. His successive
reports and periodical circulars of information are mines of
educational wealth. Their fullness and comprehensiveness have been
a marvel. They have aroused and stimulated educational workers
everywhere. They are largely welcomed, and are highly prized in
these Provinces and elsewhere, as suggestive, and as invaluable
storehouses of information, and of the practical details of
education all over the world. They have, therefore, largely supplied
the place of personal inquiry and research, and yet have greatly
stimulated both.

It was Dr. Ryerson's ideal that sooner or later a similar Bureau
would be established by the Central Government at Ottawa, the object
of which would be, not only the supplying of abundant and reliable
information to each province on the subject of systems and plans
of education, but also, by intercommunication, to secure a general
harmony of aim and purpose. And that further, without attempting any
interference in local administration, the Bureau would be the means
of keeping up an active yet friendly intercolonial rivalry; and
thus, on Dominion and national lines, to build up the confederacy,
and to stimulate and encourage the efforts made in each province for
the promotion of substantial educational progress, combined with
efficiency and economy.


The educational history of Ontario naturally divides itself in three
periods, viz.:--

1. The early settlement, or United Empire Loyalist period.

2. The period preceding the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1840.

3. The period since that union, and including the administration of
the Education Department by the Rev. Dr. Ryerson, down to 1876.

The United Empire Loyalists period takes us back to a period
antecedent to that of their historical prominence as a factor in the
events of the war of the American Revolution. In order, therefore,
to estimate the value of the educational influence of those times
on the future of the provinces in which the U. E. Loyalists settle,
we must take a glance at the Colonial chapter in the History of
American Education.


It is, therefore, interesting in taking note of our educational
progress to give a brief glance at what was done by our fellow
colonists at a corresponding early period in the history of the "old
thirteen colonies," which formed the nucleus of the present American

It has been the custom, probably unwittingly, but chiefly on the
part of certain American writers, to exalt every good in their
political and social condition, as of revolutionary origin, and
reluctantly to admit that anything which was really excellent in
both, in the early colonial times, was of British origin. One
unacquainted with the processes and progress of civilization
in America would, on consulting such writers, suppose that,
Minerva-like, the young Republic had sprung from the head of
Revolutionary Jove, fully equipped, if not fully armed for the
battle of life, into the arena of the new world, and that this
phenomenon happened just at the extinction of British power in the
old colonies, and as the result of it. The policy of these writers
has been either to ignore the facts of history, or to keep entirely
out of view the forces which had been operating in the British
colonial mind, before and at the time of the Revolution. They have
never stopped to enquire as to the source whence they derived their
idea of political freedom, but have attributed it to their own
sagacity, or regard it as the outgrowth of their own enlightened
speculations and thinkings when emancipated from British control.
There never was a greater mistake as to fact, or a greater wrong
done to the memory and example of such noble English patriots as
Hampden and his compeers, who laid down their lives for political
principles which, considering the times in which they lived, were
even more exalted and ennobling than those which were professed by
the American revolutionists of 1776. In fact, no proper parallel can
be instituted between them. John Hampden, in our humble judgment,
was as far superior to John Hancock, "President of the Continental
Congress," in the purity of his political motives and aspirations,
as Cromwell was above Jack Cade.[14] However, it is not our purpose
to discuss this question, but rather to vindicate the sagacity
of the old colonists, who (at a time when loyalty was the rule,
and not the exception), laid the foundation of those educational
institutions, which to this day are the glory of the American

  [14] Thus, in regard to the chivalrous destruction of tea in Boston
  harbour, in 1773, an American historian says:

  "The object of the mother country in imposing a duty of three
  pence per pound on tea imported by the East India Company into
  America, while it was _twelve_ pence per pound in England, was
  mainly to break up the contraband trade of the colonial merchants
  with Holland and her possessions."... "Sons of the merchants [of
  Boston] had become rich in the traffic, and a considerable part
  of the large fortune which Hancock [President of the Insurgent
  Congress] inherited from his uncle was thus acquired."... "It was
  fit, then, that Hancock, was ... was respondent in the Admiralty
  Courts, in suits of the Crown, to recover nearly half a million
  of dollars, ... should be the first to affix his name to the
  [declaration of independence] which, if made good, would save him
  from ruin."...--_Sabine's American Loyalists_, Vol. I. (Boston,
  1865), pages 8, 9, 13.

  So much for the much-valued patriotic act, which was a vast
  pecuniary gain to Hancock and other contraband tea merchants of

Nor were the British colonists into those early times peculiar in
their zeal for the promotion of Education. The Dutch, Swedish, and
Irish colonists who settled in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland
did their part in his great work, and on the whole did it well,
according to the spirit of the times.

In 1633, the first schoolmaster opened his school in the Dutch
Colony of New Amsterdam; and in 1638, the "articles for the
colonization and trade of New Netherlands," provided that, "each
householder and inhabitant shall bear such tax and public charge
as shall hereafter be considered proper for the maintenance of
schoolmasters." General Eaton, the United States Commissioner of
Education, in his valuable report for 1875, says:

     "We find, in numerous instances, the civil authorities of these
     Dutch colonies acknowledging, (1) The duty of educating the
     young, (2) The care of the qualification of the teacher, (3)
     Provision for the payment of his services, and (4) The provision
     of the school-house. When, in 1653, municipal privileges were
     granted to the New Amsterdam [New York], the support of schools
     was included."

In 1642, the instruction sent to the Governor of New Sweden
[Pennsylvania], was "to urge instruction and virtuous education of
youth and children." In 1693-6, large numbers of primers, tracts
and cathechisms were received from Sweden, for these schools on the
Delaware. This was the educational state of the Swedish settlement
in what was afterwards known as Pennsylvania, on the arrival of its
noble English founder, William Penn. His views on education were
well expressed in the following declaration:

     "That which makes a good Constitution must keep it, viz.: men
     of wisdom and virtue; qualities which, because they descend
     not with worldly inheritance must be carefully propagated by
     virtuous education of youth, for which spare no cost; for by
     such parsimony, all that is loved is lost."

The first real systematic efforts to promote popular education began
in New England, from thence it has spread in all directions. In 1635
the first school was opened at Boston, Massachusetts, and brother
Philemon Purmount was appointed schoolmaster by the Town Committee.
Thirty acres of land were given for his support. In 1642 the General
Court, (or Legislature) passed a resolution enjoining on the local

     "To keep a watchful eye on their brothers and neighbors, and
     above all things to see that there be no family in so barbarous
     a state, that the head thereof do not himself, or by the help
     of others, impart instruction to his children and servants,
     to enable them to read fluently the English language, and to
     acquire a knowledge of the penal laws, under a penalty of twenty
     shillings for such neglect."

Speaking on this subject, in his inaugural address in 1853,
President Walker of Harvard University said:

What most distinguishes the early settlers of Massachusetts, is the
interest and care they took in education, and especially in the
institution of a system of common schools, to be sustained at the
public charge.

Here they were first. In other things they thought wisely and acted
nobly; but in this, and perhaps in this alone, they were original.
Honor, immortal honor to the men, who, while still struggling for a
scanty and bare subsistence, could yet find the means and the heart
to do what had never been done or attempted before: placing the
advantages of a competent instruction within the reach of all. By
taking this course, what a noble confidence they manifested in the
truth of their principles and in the justice of their measures....
But the founders and early settlers of Massachusetts did not limit
their views of education to common schools. Many of their leading
men had studied at the English Universities and were imbued with,
or at least, could appreciate the highest scholarship of that day.
They also knew, on general grounds and as practical men, that the
public good requires the advancement, as well as the diffusion, of
knowledge; in short, that both must go together; that the streams
will soon cease, if the fountains fail.--Pages 33, 34.

To be brief on this point I may state that in 1847, the first
legislative enactment in favor of schools was made in Massachusetts;
and in 1670, the Governor of Connecticut declared that "one-fourth
of her revenue was devoted to schools."

       *       *       *       *       *

General Eaton in his comprehensive report of 1875 says:

     "History, with hardly a dissenting voice, accords to the English
     Colonists of New England, the credit of having developed those
     forms of action, in reference to the education of children,
     which contained more than any other the distinct features of the
     systems adopted in this cuntry."

In the early colonial times, before the revolution, there were nine
colleges established in seven out of the thirteen colonies.

These colleges, with the date of their foundation, are as follow:--

  1. Harvard--Massachusetts, in                   1638
  2. William and Mary--Virginia, in               1693
  3. Yale--Connecticut, in                        1700
  4. Nassau Hall (now Princeton)--New Jersey, in  1748
  5. Kings (now Columbia)--New York, in           1754
  6. Brown--Rhode Island, in                      1765
  7. Dartmouth--New Hampshire, in                 1770
  8. Queen's (now Rutgers)--New Jersey, in        1771
  9. Hampden--Sydney, Virginia, in                1775

The Legislature of Massachusetts, aided by the Rev. John Harvard,
founded Harvard Congregational College, in 1638, and the colonists
of Connecticut, established the Yale Congregation College in

  [15] "The project of founding a College in Connecticut was early
  taken up (in 1652), but was checked by well-founded remonstrance
  from Massachusetts, who (sic), very justly observed that the whole
  population of New England was scarcely sufficient to support one
  institution."--President Dwight's _Travels in New England_, vol. I.
  p. 168.

  The Legislature made a grant of £50 a year to Yale College, from
  1701 to 1750, when "it was discontinued on account of the heavy
  taxes occasioned by the late _Canadian_ War."--C. K. Adams, in
  _North American Review_ for October, 1875, p. 381.

The New Hampshire colonists endowed the Congregational College at
Dartmouth with 44,000 acres of land in 1770. The Episcopalians of
the English colony of New York, aided by the Legislature, founded
King's now Columbia College, in 1753. Indeed, so true were the
English colonists to the educational instincts of the mother land,
that when the Dutch Province of New Netherlands fell into their
hands in 1644, the King's Commissioners were instructed "to
make due enquiry as to what progress hath been made towards ye
foundaçon and maintenance of any College Schools for the educaçon of
youth."--(Colonial History of N. Y., Vol. III. p. 53.)

The English Province, _par excellence_, of Virginia made various
praiseworthy efforts to promote education. In 1619, soon after the
settlement of Jamestown, Sir Edwin Sandys, President of the Virginia
Company, had 10,000 acres of land set apart for the establishment
of a University at Henrico for the colonists and Indians. The
churches in England gave £1,500 sterling in the same year to aid in
the education of the Indians. In 1621, 1,000 acres of land as an
endowment, and £150 were granted to establish a school at Charles
city. Other efforts were made in the same direction in 1660 and
1688. The colony also nobly determined to establish a University;
and in 1692-3, the project was practically realized by the founding
by the King and Queen, under royal charter, of the Church of England
College at Williamsburgh, of William and Mary. To this College the
King gave nearly £2,000, besides 20,000 acres of land, and one penny
per pound on all the tobacco exported from Maryland. The Legislature
also gave it in 1693, the duty on skins and furs exported, and on
liquors imported.[16] The plans of the College were prepared by
Sir Christopher Wren. Among the first donors to the College was
the celebrated Robert Boyle.[17] Of all the colonial Colleges few
exercised a greater educational influence among the leading men than
did this royal college. Jefferson, Munroe, Marshall (afterwards
Chief Justice of the United States), the two Randolphs, and Governor
Tyler, of Virginia, received their education here.

  [16] Circular of Information, U. S. Bureau of Education, No. 1,
  1887, page 15.

  [17] General Eaton, United States Commissioner of Education, in an
  educational retrospect in his Report for 1875, speaking of this
  college, says:--"The first commencement, in 1700, was a noted event.
  Several planters came in their coaches, others in sloops, from New
  York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Even Indians had the curiosity to
  visit Williamsburgh," the seat of the College.--Page xix.

The Irish Roman Catholic Province of Maryland was not, at least in
purpose, much behind her English sister. In 1671 an Act was passed
by one of the Houses of the Legislature for the establishment of
a School or College, but owing to religious differences the other
House did not concur. In 1692, the Legislature passed an Act for the
encouragement of learning; and in 1696, King William's Free School,
Annapolis (afterwards St. John's College), was established.

New Jersey was one of the colonies which early promoted higher
education by founding the Presbyterian College at Princeton, under
the name of Nassau Hall, in 1746, and the Dutch Reformed College
at New Brunswick (N.J.), under the name of Queen's, now Rutger's
College, in 1770.

The little colony of Rhode Island did not fail in its duty to higher
education, for in 1764 it founded the Rhode Island College, now
Brown University.

The Quaker colony of William Penn, following the example of the
Anglicized Dutch colony of New York, established the University of
Pennsylvania at Philadelphia--the metropolis of the colonies in 1755.

Of these nine ante-revolution Colleges, Harvard, Yale, Columbia
and Princeton maintain an equally high reputation, while Brown
University, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, William and
Mary and Dartmouth Colleges are more or less about the average
standard of American Colleges.

Governor Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, was a graduate of
Oxford. He, with other English University colonists, conceived
the idea of a College for this, the then youngest of the English
colonies. The project of his friend, the Irish Bishop Berkeley, of
Cloyne, of founding a College in the Bermudas having failed, he
secured £10,000 of the Bishop's funds to aid him in his settlement
of the colony. The seed sown by Oglethorpe bore fruit; and while
Georgia was still a colony, provision was made for a generous system
of education.

D. C. Gilman, Esq. (President of the John Hopkins' University,
Baltimore), in his admirable sketch of the growth of education in
the United States during the last century, pays a high tribute to
the nine Colonial Colleges to which we have referred. He says:--

     "These nine Colleges were nurseries of virtue, intelligence,
     liberality and patriotism, as well as learning; so that when
     the revolution began, scores of the most enlightened leaders,
     both in council and upon the field (on both sides) were found
     among their graduates. The influence of academic culture may be
     distinctly traced in the formation of the Constitution of the
     United States, and in the political writings of Adams, Hamilton,
     Jefferson, Madison, Munroe and many other leading statesmen of
     the period. A careful student of American politics has remarked
     that nothing more strikingly indicates the education given at
     Cambridge than the masterly manner in which different problems
     of law and government were handled by those who had received
     their instruction only from that source."[18]

  [18] In illustrating the fact that college-bred graduates are
  considerably less numerous and less conspicuous in the professions
  and in political life than were men of a similar education 50 or
  100 years ago, Mr. C. K. Adams, in the _North American Review_ for
  October, 1875, says that, "of the 56 signers of the Declaration of
  Independence, 36 were college-bred, and 15 of the 26 Senators in
  the first Congress; while now there are only 7 of the 26 Senators
  'college-bred.'" He thinks that the comparison, if extended to the
  House of Representatives and the State Legislatures, would be still
  less favorable as to the number of college-bred men in these bodies.

Prof. Charles Sprague Smith, A.M., (of Columbia College) in his
essay on _The American University_, read June, 1887, thus refers to
the character of these colonial colleges:--

     "In New England the higher system at general education, brought
     over from Old England, was divided here, as there, into the
     two studies of the College and the Grammar School; the latter
     being superceded in quite recent times by the so-called Academy.
     The curriculum of the American (or Colonial) College was, in
     the main, modelled upon that of the parent country, special
     consideration being given to theological science, etc."--Page 13.

A recent American publication on revolutionary topics, thus deals
with the question of the superior education of the British colonists
who formed the first American Congress:--

     "An examination of the Continental Congress, composed as it was
     of leading men of all the colonies, affords some light upon
     the topic of popular education at that period. The Congress,
     whose sessions extended through some ten years, comprised in
     all some three hundred and fifty members, of whom one-third
     were graduates of colleges. A recent writer in one of the most
     intelligent and accurate of American journals has[19] taken
     pains to collect and array a paragraph of important statistics
     upon this subject, which we have taken leave to insert here,
     though without verification, that, however, being hardly
     necessary for our present purpose.

  [19] New York _Evening Post_, January, 1876.

     "There were in the Continental Congress during its existence,
     350 members, of these 118, or about one-third of the whole,
     were graduates from Colleges. Of these, 28 were graduates from
     the College of New Jersey in Princeton, 23 from Harvard, 23
     from Yale, 11 from William and Mary, 8 from the University of
     Pennsylvania, 4 from Columbia College, 1 from Brown University
     and 1 from Rutger's College, and 21 were educated in foreign
     Universities. These 118 graduates were distributed in the
     Colonies as follows:--New Hampshire had 4 College graduates
     among her delegates; Massachusetts had 17; Rhode Island had
     4 graduates; Connecticut had 18 graduates; New York out
     of her large delegation had but 8 graduates; New Jersey
     had 11 graduates; Pennsylvania had 13 graduates; Delaware
     had 2 graduates; Maryland had 7 graduates; Virginia had 19
     graduates; North Carolina had 4 graduates; South Carolina had 7
     graduates; Georgia had 5 graduates. We find that Princeton had
     representatives from 10 of the colonies; Yale from 6; Harvard
     from 5; the University of Pennsylvania from 3; William and Mary
     from 2; and Columbia, Brown and Rutger's from 1 each. Fifty-six
     delegates signed the Declaration of Independence. Of these, 28,
     or just one-half, were College graduates."

Incidentally, and as illustrative of the influence of college-bred
men in the Legislature, Mr. Adams, speaking of the great liberality
of South Carolina in founding a college in that State, says:--

     "But no State ever made a better investment. During the first
     part of this century the general accomplishments and political
     ability of the statesmen of South Carolina were the just pride
     of the State, and would have been the pride of any State. In
     forming this high standard of intellectual and political power
     the influence of the College was immeasurable."--_North American
     Review_, January, 1876, pages 215, 216.

It is gratifying to us, British Colonists, and to the descendants
of the U. E. Loyalists, thus to have from so important a source, an
acknowledgment so candid and so honorable to men, many of whom were
the founders of Ontario and the Maritime Provinces of the Dominion.
It is an historical fact of equal significance, and an element of
social and political strength to us in these British provinces,
to know that it was to the thoroughness and breadth of culture
which the American "Revolutionary heroes" received in early days
in British colonial institutions which fitted them afterwards to
take so prominent and effective an intellectual part in the great
struggle which took place when they were in the prime of manhood.
Another gratifying reflection arises out of the fact that the high
place which the United States has taken in later years as a great
educating nation is due to her following out the traditional policy
of the Colonists of ante-revolution times.

This fact is clearly brought out by Mr. Gilman in the _North
American Review_ for January, 1876. We only quote the following
remarks on this point, he says:--

     "When the new constitution of Massachusetts was adopted in 1780
     public education received full recognition. An article (the
     spirit of which was fully in accordance with the legislation
     of 1647 [more than 200 years before]) was adopted, and _still
     remains the fundamental law of the State_.... The constitution
     of New Hampshire, as amended in 1784, transcribes very
     nearly the same words of that section of the constitution of
     Massachusetts already quoted," etc.--Pages 198, 199.

Thus Andrew Ten-Brook, Esq., in his _American State Universities_,

     "The introduction of an educational system into the New England
     Colonies may be deemed substantially contemporaneous with
     their settlement. It was of such a character, too, and so
     energetically prosecuted, that education suffered little if
     any deterioration in passing from Old to New England. It was
     even more on this side than the other side of the ocean....
     Thus Common School instruction at least was provided for all.
     Higher schools, too, had an early beginning. What afterwards
     was Harvard College was established but six years after the
     settlement of Boston.... Every town [township] of fifty families
     was obliged to support a school, and the same general state of
     facts existed throughout New England. Classical schools followed
     in regular succession. These were modelled after the Grammar
     Schools of England, in which the founders of the Colleges had
     themselves received their first classical training.... As early
     as 1701, the law of Connecticut required every parent to see
     that he had no child or apprentice in his household who could
     not read the Word of God, and 'the good laws of the colony.'
     The system embraced a High School in every town [township] of
     seventy families, a Grammar School in the four chief county
     towns to fit pupils for college, and a College to which the
     general court [Legislature] made an annual appropriation of
     £120."--Pages 1-3.

Mr. Ten-Brook, speaking of these New England schools, which were
afterwards transplanted to each of Western States, says:--

     "They were the elements of that noble system out of which has
     grown the present one, by the natural laws of development,"
     etc.--Page 18.

Mr. C. K. Adams, in his interesting paper on State Universities in
the _North American Review_ for October, 1875, in speaking of the
educational policy of the colonies, "pursued up to the time of the
Revolution, says:--

     "In general terms it may be stated that, through all the dark
     periods of our Colonial history, the encouragement of higher
     education was regarded as one of the great interests of the
     State. It was no doctrine of the Fathers that higher education
     was less entitled to the fostering care of the commonwealth than
     was the education offered by the Common Schools."--Page 374.

The "Free School" idea, of which we hear so much as the outgrowth
of "modern American civilization and enlightenment," was due to
Colonial thought and foresight. It was first broached by Jefferson,
three or four years before the treaty with Great Britain was
signed by which the United States became a nation. His plan was so
comprehensive that we reproduce it here. In a letter to the veteran
philosopher, Dr. Priestley, he thus unfolds it:--

     "I drew a bill for our [Virginia] Legislature, which proposed
     to lay off every county into hundreds, or townships, of five
     or six miles square. In the centre of each of them was to be a
     free English School [to be supported, as his bill provided, "by
     taxation according to property."]

The whole Commonwealth was further laid off into ten districts,
in each of which was to be a college for teaching the languages,
geography, surveying, and other useful things of that grade, and
then a single University for the sciences. It was received with
enthusiasm (he goes on to say), but as he had proposed to make
the Episcopal College of William and Mary the University, "the
dissenters after a while began to apprehend some secret design,"
etc.--_Ten-Brook's American State Universities_, pages 9, 10.

A writer in the _North American Review_ for October, 1875, in
referring to Jefferson's scheme, says:--

     "The view entertained by Jefferson was by no means exceptional.
     Indeed, a similar spirit had pervaded the whole history of our
     Colonial life."--Page 379.

Thus this comprehensive scheme of public instruction for Virginia
unfortunately failed; and that noble "Old Dominion" is in
consequence to-day immeasurably behind even the youngest of her then
New England contemporaries in the matter of public education.

As to the abiding influence of the old Colonial ideas in regard to
higher education, we quote the following additional remarks from Mr.
Gilman, in the _North American Review_, he says:--

     "In reviewing the history of the century, it is easy to see
     how the colonial notions of college organization have affected
     ... the higher education of the country, even down to our own
     times. The graduates of the older colleges have migrated to the
     Western States, and have transplanted with them the college
     germs ... and every Western State can bear witness to the zeal
     for learning which has been manifested within its borders by
     enthusiastic teachers from the East."--Page 217.

Mr. Ten-Brook, in his _American State Universities_, also says:--

     "The New England colonists left the mother country in quest
     of greater religious freedom. Their religious system was put
     first, and carried with it a school system as perfect in
     organization, and administered with equal vigor. This formed an
     active leaven, which, at a later day, was to spread to other
     parts.... Everywhere there was a considerable infusion of men
     who had received in the European universities a liberal culture,
     which they desired to reproduce on those shores. Early action
     was full of promise. Probably, at a period from just before
     the Revolution to the end of it, the average position of the
     colonies in regard to lighter education relatively as to age,
     and to the population and wealth, was quite as good as it is at
     the present time."--Pages 16, 17.

This opinion of the writer is a virtual admission that in reality
higher education in the United States has not advanced in quality,
though it has in quantity. To be in 1876 merely where education
was "relatively" in 1776, is no advance at all, but rather
retrogression. The cause of this declension, the writer thus
incidentally admits:--

     "Most of the colonies established, or aided, the
     (ante-revolution colleges named). The principle of the State
     support to higher learning was not merely accepted, but was the
     prevalent one."--Page 17.

Mr. Gilman, President of the Johns Hopkins' University, touching on
the same point, says:--

     "There was a civil as well as an ecclesiastical element in
     most of these foundations. Harvard and Yale were chartered,
     and, to some extent, controlled by colonial government of
     Massachusetts and Connecticut, and were for a long time nurtured
     by appropriations from the public chest....--Page 215.

     "These institutions were colleges of an English parentage and
     model, not Scotch nor continental universities.... They were
     disciplinary in their aim, and had more regard for the general
     culture of large numbers, than for the advanced and special
     instruction of the chosen few. They were also, to a considerable
     extent, ecclesiastical foundations--finding the churches and
     ministers their constant, and sometimes their only efficient
     supporters. Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth were controlled by the
     Congregationalists; Princeton was founded by the Presbyterians;
     and New Brunswick, N.J. (Queen's, now Rutgers) by the Dutch
     Reformed; William and Mary was emphatically a child of the
     Church of England; and King's College (now Brown University) was
     under the patronage of the Baptists....

     "The declaration of the original supporters of these colleges
     indicate a desire to train up young men for service of the
     State, not less distinctly and emphatically than to desire to
     provide an educated ministry. Individual aid was also expected
     and invited, and the names of Harvard and Yale perpetuate the
     remembrance of such generous gifts."

Then follows a eulogy upon these colonial colleges, and a tribute to
the intellectual vitality of their teaching, as shown in the mental
equipment and breadth of culture exhibited by men who took part in
the perilous and stormy times of the American revolution. To this we
have already referred. Mr. Gilman, in following up his remarks in
the extract which we have just given, says:--

     "Hence these nine colleges were nurseries of virtue,
     intelligence, liberality and patriotism, as well as of learning;
     so that when the revolution began, scores of enlightened
     leaders, both in council and in the field (and on both
     sides), were found among their graduates. The influence of
     academic culture may be distinctly traced in the formation of
     the Constitution of the United States, and in the political
     writings of Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Munroe, and many other
     leading statesman of the period. A careful student of American
     politics has remarked that nothing more strikingly indicates the
     influence of the education given at Harvard, 'than the masterly
     manner in which difficult problems of law and government were
     handled by those who had received their instruction only from
     that source.'"--Pages 215, 216.


We might pursue this branch of our subject further, were it
desirable. But that is not necessary. Our object was to show that
to British Colonial foresight, zeal, and self-sacrifice, was due,
not only the foundation of the best colleges and universities on the
continent, but the introduction and diffusion of the principle of
"free and universal education for the masses of the people." This
we have done on the authority of American writers themselves. We
might multiply examples on the subject; but the fact is already
sufficiently established. We should rather seek to draw lessons of
instruction from the noble example of the devotion to education on
the part of our British colonial progenitors, whose descendants have
shed such a lustre of heroic self-sacrifice and patriotism on the
history and exploits of the United Empire Loyalists of the thirteen
colonies. To the Americans they have left a rich legacy from the
colonial times in such universities as Harvard, Yale, Columbia and
Princeton--of which the descendants of the expatriated Loyalists,
no less than those of the victorious revolutionists, are so justly
proud. Let us, as worthy representatives of these clear-headed and
far-seeing Loyalists, bequeath to our children as noble a heritage
as the fathers of the founders of this Province did to New England,
and indeed to the whole Republic.

Trained in such an educational school, and animated with the
educational zeal of these old colonial times, the "United Empire
Loyalists" brought with them into Canada their love for education
and their devotion to the sovereign.

In order to keep up the historical sequence of this Retrospect, I
shall now refer to the early beginning of Educational life in Upper
Canada, and then take up the thread of the narrative at the point
where the educational forces--afterwards directed by the Rev. Dr.
Strachan and the Rev. Dr. Ryerson--took practical form and shape.
(See page 59.)


Lieutenant-General J. Graves Simcoe, the first Governor of Upper
Canada, arrived here in 1792. He was a man of comprehensive
views and noble impulses in regard to university education.
He was educated at Eton College and partly at Merton College,
Oxford, but entered the army before taking his degree. He served
with distinction under Wolfe at Quebec, and during the American
revolutionary war.

In April, 1795, Governor Simcoe addressed a letter to the Protestant
Episcopal Bishop of Quebec.[20] In that letter Governor Simcoe uses
the following striking language in describing the social condition
of the people in the rural parts of Upper Canada, and the utter
absence of schools and churches, as contrasted with their existence
on the United States side of the lines. He said:--

     "There was nothing, in my late progress, that has given my equal
     uneasiness with the general application of all ranks of the most
     loyal inhabitants of the Province, that I would obtain for them
     churches and ministers. They say that the rising generation
     (of the U. E. Loyalist settlers) is rapidly returning into
     barbarism. They state that the Sabbath, so wisely set apart for
     devotion, is literally unknown to their children, who are busily
     employed in searching for amusements in which they may consume
     the day. And it is of serious consideration that on the approach
     of the settlements of the United States, particularly on the
     St. Lawrence frontier, these people, who, by experience, have
     found that schools and churches are essential to their rapid
     establishment (as a nation), may probably allure many of our
     most respectable settlers to emigrate to them, while in this
     respect we suffer a disgraceful deficiency."

  [20] For fuller details on this point, see the section on the
  universities, page 61.

The remedy which Governor Simcoe suggested for the state of things
which he so graphically described is thus set forth in the same
letter to the Bishop of Quebec. It was, as will be seen, entirely
general in its character:--

     "Nothing has happened since I left England, in the least, to
     invalidate, to my own conception, the policy of the measure I
     then proposed. And as far as may be now in the power of His
     Majesty's ministers, I most earnestly hope that what remains to
     be effected--that is by giving the means of proper education in
     this Province, both in its rudiments and in its completion, that
     from ourselves we may raise up a loyal, and, in due progress, a
     learned clergy."


A few particulars as to the kind of schools which existed in Upper
Canada before and after the date of this letter may be interesting.
For instance, the first school opened (so far as I have been able
to learn) was by the Rev. Dr. John Stuart, a Protestant Episcopal
clergyman, and a United Empire Loyalist, who had been chaplain to
the provincial volunteers, and came into Upper Canada with them as a

  [21] Rev. John Stuart. D.D., was born in Virginia in 1736. In 1769
  he went to England to be ordained, and returned to Philadelphia in
  1770. For seven years he labored as a missionary among the Iroquois
  Indians at Fort Hunter. He was then aided by the famous Brant in
  translating the New Testament into Mohawk. In 1781 he came to Upper
  Canada and labored in this province as a missionary among the
  refugee loyalists and Iroquois. He subsequently became rector of
  Cataraqui (Kingston), and chaplain to the Legislative Council. He
  died in 1811, aged 75 years. One of his sons was the late Archdeacon
  Stuart, of Kingston; another was the late chief Justice, Sir James
  Stuart of Quebec.

In the year 1785 Dr. Stuart opened a select classical school at
Cataraqui, (Kingston); and a Mr. Donovan taught the Garrison school
there. In 1786, Mr. J. Clarke taught a school in Frederickburg,
and Mr. Smith one in Ernestown. In 1789, Mr Lyons kept school in
Adolphustown. In the same year, Deacon Trayes, a Baptist, opened
one at Port Rowan. In 1792, Rev. Mr. Addison, an Episcopalian,
opened a school at Newark (Niagara), then the seat of government.
In 1794, the Rev. Mr. Burns, a Presbyterian, (father of the late
Judge Burns) opened a school at the same place; and in 1796, Mr.
Richard Cockrel opened an evening school in Newark; Mr. Cockrel
shortly afterwards transferred his school to the Rev. Mr. Arthur
and removed to Ancaster, where he opened another school. A notice
in the _York Gazette_ in 1796 stated that "as schools were now
opened, ignorance would be no longer tolerated." In 1797, Mr. James
Blayney opened a school at Niagara. In 1798, Mr. Wm. Cooper opened
a school in George St., little York, (Toronto). In 1800, the late
Bishop Strachan opened a private school at Kingston, and in 1804,
one at Cornwall. In 1802, Mr. and Mrs. Tyler opened a school near
Niagara; and in the same year, Dr. Baldwin, (father of the late Hon.
Robert Baldwin) opened a classical school at York, and in 1803, the
first school in Prince Edward district was opened at "High Shore,"
Sophiasburgh; another at "Grassy Point," was taught by John James.
Rev. Wm. Wright, (Presbyterian) kept the first school at Meyer's
Creek, (Belleville) in 1805. He was followed by Mr. Leslie. In that
year, Rev. Mr. Strachan held the first public examination of his
school at Cornwall.


As to the actual state of education in Upper Canada at this time, we
get a brief glimpse from the travels of the Duc de la Rochefoucauld,
who visited Kingston in July, 1795. He says:--

     "In this district there are some schools, but they are few in
     number. The children are instructed in reading and writing, and
     pay each a dollar a month. One of the masters taught Latin, but
     he has left, without being succeeded by another instructor in
     the same language."

As to the character of the private schools thus established, and the
facilities of education which they afforded, we learn incidentally
from letters and early books of travel, what they were. In a "_Tour
through Upper Canada, by a Citizen of the United States_," published
in 1799, we learn that the policy of the government of that day, was
to exclude "schoolmasters from the States, lest they should instil
Republicanism into the tender minds of the youth of the province."


As the result of the correspondence between the Governor and Bishop
Mountain, the question of a University and free grammar schools was
discussed. The Governor referred the matter to the Upper Canada
Legislature, which, in 1797 memorialized King George III, soliciting
a grant of land for the endowment of a grammar school in each
district, and a University for the whole Province. To this request
the King gave his assent, and, in 1798, the "chief civil officers"
in Upper Canada recommended that "500,000 acres of land be set apart
for the establishment of a grammar school in each district and a
central University for the whole Province." They also recommended
a grant for the erection of a "plain but solid and substantial
building for a grammar school in each district, containing a school
room capable of holding 100 boys without danger to their health
from too many being crowded together, and also a set of apartments
for the master, large enough for his family and from ten to twenty

The salaries proposed to be given were: £100 for the head master,
£50 for the assistant master; and £30 for repairs, etc., Kingston
and Newark (Niagara) were recommended as eligible sites for schools;
after which, when the funds were sufficient, schools were to be
established at Cornwall and Sandwich. York (Toronto) was recommended
as entitled to the University, and for the establishment and support
of which a sum at least equal to that granted to the four schools
was named.

In 1799, an act was passed by the Upper Canada Legislature "to
provide for the education and support of orphan children."
It authorized the township wardens, with the consent of two
magistrates, to bind and apprentice, until they became of age,
children deserted by their parents. In the same year an orphan
school was opened near St. Catherines.


Governor Simcoe authorized the Hon. Messrs. Cartwright and Hamilton,
to select a person to take charge of the proposed college. The
celebrated Rev. Dr. Chalmers having declined the appointment, it was
accepted by Mr. (late the Right Reverend Doctor) Strachan (Bishop of
Toronto) then a schoolmaster at Kettle, Scotland; but his arrival at
Kingston, on the 31st of December, 1799, he found that the project
of a college had been abandoned, Governor Simcoe, in the meantime,
having left for England.

It was soon discovered that half a million of acres of land would
endow but few grammar schools, land being then only worth a shilling
per acre: the schema had, therefore, to be abandoned. Meanwhile
the Hon. Mr. Cartwright made an arrangement with Mr. Strachan to
instruct his sons, and a select number of pupils for three years. In
1804, Mr. Strachan, having been ordained, removed to the mission of
Cornwall, where, at the request of the parents of his former pupils,
he opened a private school.

For several years this school was the only one of any note in
Upper Canada; and in it and in Mr. Strachan's school at York, were
educated many of those gentlemen who have filled some of the most
important positions in the province. Subsequently Mr. Strachan's
school was constituted the grammar school of the Eastern district.
In 1806, a temporary act was passed by the Legislature and made
permanent in 1808, establishing a classical and mathematical school
in each of the eight districts into which Upper Canada was then
divided. In the same year(1806) at the suggestion of Dr. Strachan
an Act was passed, granting £400 for the purchase of apparatus for
illustrating the principles of Natural Philosophy, which were to be
deposited in the hands of a person employed in the instruction of
youth. In 1807 an appropriation of £800 a year for four years was
made to provide for the salaries of masters in the Grammar Schools
to be maintained in each of the districts into which Upper Canada
was divided. These masters were to be engaged by trustees appointed
by the governor, and the governor's sanction was also necessary for
the teacher's appointment. There is still in existence the letter,
dated, April 16th, 1807, signed by Governor Gore, appointing the
Rev. George Okill Stewart, D.D., Archdeacon of Kingston, first Head
Master of the Home District Grammar School at York (Toronto).

North of what is now Adelaide Street (formerly Newgate Street),
bounded westward by Church Street, and eastward by Jarvis Street,
was a large field, almost square, containing about six acres--for
many years the playground of the District Grammar School.

In the south-west corner of it, some hundred feet or more from the
street boundaries, was elected the plain wooden building, about
fifty-five feet long by forty wide in which, on the first Monday
of June, 1807, when the population of the town was only about five
hundred, the Grammar School was opened. It was attended by the sons
and daughters of the well-to-do citizens of York, and on the few
existing records may be found many a well known name.

In 1812, the Rev. John Strachan. D.D., was appointed Rector of
York, and succeeded the Rev. Mr. Stewart as Head Master of this
school.[22] Mr. Barnabas Bidwell (father of the late Hon. M. S.
Bidwell) kept a good Latin School at Bath, on the Bay of Quinté, in
1811. In 1813, he removed to Kingston, where he taught for twenty
years until he died in 1833.

  [22] _Canadian Educational Monthly_, February 1889, page 58.

In 1820, the "Central School at York" was opened under the
mastership of Mr. Joseph Spragge, father of the late Chief Justice
Spragge. Lieutenant-Governor and Lady Sarah Maitland took a special
interest in the success of this school.

In a _View of Upper Canada_, published at Baltimore in 1814, by Mr.
M. Smith, (who resided in the Province from 1808 until the breaking
out of the War in 1812) he said:--

     "The greater part of the inhabitants are not well educated,
     for, as they were poor when they came to the Province and the
     country being but thinly settled for a number of years, they
     had but little chance for the benefit of schools. But since the
     country has become settled, or the inhabitants rich, or in a
     good way of living, which is almost universally the case, they
     pay considerable attention to learning. Ten dollars a year is
     the common price given for the tuition of each scholar by good
     teachers."--Page 52.

In 1813, Rev. John Langhorn (a Church of England missionary at
Earnestown and Bath from 1787 to 1812, and teacher of a school)
made a present of his library to the inhabitants of the Bay of
Quinte district. In 1814 Rev. Robert Baldwin was appointed Grammar
schoolmaster at Cornwall, vice Rev. John (afterwards Dean) Bethune
resigned. In 1815 the Midland District School, so-called, was

Dr. Strachan resigned the head mastership of the District School
on July 1st, 1823. He was succeeded by Mr. Samuel Armour, M.A., a
graduate of Glasgow University, who afterwards became a clergyman
of the English Church, and officiated many years in the township of

The Rev. Thomas Phillips, D.D., an accomplished scholar, came out
from England in 1825 to take charge of the school, and remained in
the position of headmaster, much honored and beloved by his pupils,
until, in 1830, chiefly by the exertions of the Governor, Sir John
Colborne, Upper Canada College was established and the work of the
college began in the old District Grammar School building. Classes
were opened in the new buildings erected in another part of the
city for the college in 1831, and the Grammar School was closed,
the building being removed from its original site to the line of
Nelson street (now Jarvis street), and fenced into a plot about 70 ×
120 feet. The remaining portion of the six acres was handed over to
Upper Canada College.

On the active remonstrance of the citizens living in the eastern
part of Toronto, the school was re-opened and secured to the city,
Mr. Charles N. B. Cosens being appointed headmaster in 1836, and
succeeded by Mr. Marcus C. Crombie in 1838.[23]

  [23] _Ibid._, page 59.


In 1816, seven years after the establishment of District Grammar
Schools, a praiseworthy effort was made to provide for the
establishment and maintenance of common schools."[24] A liberal
grant of $24,000 a year, for four years, was made as an experiment.
Whether the experiment was a success, or not, does not appear, but
in 1820, the grant was reduced to $10,000 a year.

  [24] In 1816, an Act was passed granting £800 for the purchase
  of a library for the use of the Legislative Council and house of


In regard to the state of education of Upper Canada in 1817, and
the fluctuating character of its progress since the settlement of
the Province, in 1784, up to that time, Mr. Gourlay, a well-known
Canadian politician and author, writes as follows:--

     "There is no college in Upper Canada, but there are said to be
     several townships of land set apart for the purpose of endowing
     such institution, when the population and circumstances of the
     Province shall require it.

     "No provision is made by law for free schools. The inhabitants
     of the severe! townships are left to a voluntary support of
     schools, according to their own discretion.

     "An Act of the Provincial Legislature, in 1807, granted a
     hundred pounds a year to the teacher of one school, in each
     of the eight districts under the direction of trustees. In
     some districts the school thus provided for is made a free
     school; but in other districts the salary is considered as a
     public encouragement to a teacher of literary eminence, in
     addition to the compensation received for the tuition of each
     scholar."--_Statistical Account of Upper Canada, etc., by Robert
     Gourlay, 2 vols., London, 1822._

The Rev. Dr. Strachan became a master of one of these schools, and
Rev. George Ryerson and his brother, Egerton, master and usher of

As to the state of feeling in the rural parts of the oldest settled
portions of Upper Canada, we make the following extracts from a
letter written to Mr. Gourlay from the township of Grimsby, in 1818,
by a highly respected resident there, William Crooks, Esq. Mr.
Crooks remarks:--

     "The state of education is at a very low ebb, not only in the
     township, but generally throughout the [Niagara] district;
     although the liberality of the legislature has been great in
     support of the district (Grammar) schools, (giving to the
     teachers of each £100 per annum), yet they have been productive
     of little or no good hitherto, for this obvious cause, they
     are looked upon as seminaries exclusively instituted for the
     education of the children of the more wealthy classes of
     society, and to which the poor man's child is considered as
     unfit to be admitted. From such causes, instead of their being
     a benefit to the Province, they are sunk into obscurity, and
     the heads of most of them are at this moment enjoying their
     situations as comfortable sinecures. Another class of schools
     has, within a short time, been likewise founded upon the
     liberality of the legislative purse, denominated common, or
     parish, schools, but like the preceding, the anxiety of the
     teacher employed, seems more alive to his stipend than the
     advancement of the education of those placed under his care:
     from the pecuniary advantages thus held out, we have been
     inundated with the worthless scum, under the character of school
     masters, not only of this, but of every other country where
     the knowledge has been promulgated, of the easy means our laws
     afford of getting a living here, by obtaining a parish school,
     which is done upon the recommendation of some few freeholders,
     getting his salary from the public, and making his employers
     contribute handsomely beside.

     "It is true, rules are laid down for their government, and the
     proper books prescribed for their use; but scarcely in one case
     in ten are they adhered to, for in the same class you will
     frequently see one child with Noah Webster's spelling book in
     this hand, and the next with Lindley Murray's. However prone
     the teachers are to variety in their schools, much blame is to
     be attributed to the trustees, who are in many instances too
     careless and I might almost add too ignorant to discriminate
     right from wrong, in the trust they have undertaken for the
     public benefit. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at why
     the parish school system should meet with almost universal
     reprobation from most discerning men.

     "Of these parish schools, we are burdened with a liberal share,
     having no less than three of them. If the establishment of this
     system was meant by the legislature to abbreviate the present
     enormous price of education, they have been miserably deceived;
     for I can see no alteration or reduction from the charge made
     before the passing of the act. The price then was 12_s._ 6_d._
     [_i.e._ $2.50,] and is now the same, per quarter."

In July, 1819, provisions was made for an additional district
grammar school; for holding annual public examinations; for
reporting the condition of the schools to the governor, and for
educating ten common school pupils, free of charge, at each of the
nine public grammar schools already established; but the provincial
allowance to teachers of grammar schools was reduced to £50 in all
cases where the numbers of pupils did not exceed ten.


In 1822, Sir Peregrine Maitland, the Lieutenant-Governor, submitted
to the Imperial Government a plan for organizing a general system of
education, including elementary schools; and, in 1823, he obtained
permission from England to establish a Board of Education for
the general superintendence of this system of education, and for
the management of the university and school lands throughout the
Province. The members of this Board, with Rev. Dr. Strachan at its
head, as chairman, were: Hon. Joseph Wells, Hon. G. H. Markland,
Rev. Robert Addison, Hon. J. B. Robinson, and Thomas Ridout, Esq.
This Board prepared some general regulations in regard to the
schools and proposed a plan by which to exchange 225,944 acres of
the less valuable of the school lands for the more productive
Clergy Reserve lands. The plan having been approved by the Home
Government, was carried into effect by the Governor soon after. In
1824, the first attempts towards providing the public with general
reading books, in connection with the Common and Sunday schools,
were made. The sum of £150 was annually appropriated for this
object, and authorized to be expended by the Provincial Board of
Education in the purchase of "books and tracts designed to afford
moral and religions instruction," and distributed equally among all
the districts of Upper Canada.

Thus were presented the dim outlines of a system of public
instruction which it was clear the necessities of the country
required, but which for want of a vigorous and systematic
supervision was gradually permitted to languish, and the legislative
enactments themselves were suffered to become almost obsolete on the
statute book.

In January, 1824, the Common School Act was made to apply "to all
schools that are now or may hereafter be established and kept among
the Indians who shall be resident within the limits of any organized
county or township within this Province, excepting such schools as
shall or may be otherwise provided for."[25] Provision was also made
for the examination of Common School teachers by County Boards of

  [25] All the Indian schools of the Province, which are chiefly
  sustained by various religious bodies are now under the control
  of the Indian Department at Ottawa. The following is an account
  of a typical Indian school at the Credit in 1830: The school room
  in a large and commodious apartment with tiers of raised benches
  in the rear: on one division of which sit the girls, and the boys
  on the other. There are also desks, and slates for ciphering and
  copy-books and copper-plate lines for whose who write. The Bible
  and Testaments, and some of the other books, are English printed
  and some American. No sectarian intolerance prevails in that way.
  Among the school furniture are a handsome map of the world, the
  arithmecon, attractive alphabets in pasteboard, regular figures
  illustrative of geometry, some of them cut out of wood and some
  of them made of pasteboard: the picture of Elijah fed by ravens,
  figures of birds, fishes and quadrupeds on pasteboard, coloured,
  accompanied with the history of each animal: the figure of a clock
  in pasteboard, by which to explain the principles of the time-piece.
  The walls are adorned with good, moral maxims; and I perceived that
  one of the rules was rather novel, though doubtful in place here. It
  was, "No blankets to be worn in school." The attendance is about 50
  Indian children. The girls are taught by Miss Rolph, sister of the
  late Member of Middlesex: the boys by Mr. Edwy Ryerson, a younger
  brother of the late editor of the _Christian Guardian_, Rev. Egerton
  Ryerson. The translating office is occupied by Mr. Peter Jones, the
  Indian minister.


The number and condition of the Common and other schools in Upper
Canada in 1827 may be gathered from "An appeal to the Friends of
Religion, and Literature, in behalf of the University of Upper
Canada," published in London in 1827 (of which I have an original
MS. copy). Dr. Strachan says:--

     _School in Upper Canada, 1827._--"In about 340 Common Schools
     in Upper Canada from 12,000 to 14,000 children are taught
     reading and writing, the elements of arithmetic, and the first
     principles of religion. The people, scattered as they are
     over a vast wilderness, are thus becoming alive to the great
     advantage of educating their children ... insomuch so, that
     schools supported by subscriptions are more in number than
     those established by law. Provision is made by statute for the
     translation of some of the more promising scholars from the
     Common to the District Schools, where the classics and practical
     mathematics are taught. In these schools (eleven in number)
     there are at present 300 young men acquiring an education to
     qualify them for the different professions....

     _Niagara District Board of Education, 1828._--"It must be
     admitted generally that after the approval and appointment of
     teachers by the Trustees the Board have not rejected teachers
     however incompetent, from a regards to the wishes of their
     employers, the terms for tuition being so very low as not to
     induce men of sufficient qualifications generally to engage in
     the humble and ill-requited duties.

     Reading, writing and arithmetic have been uniformly taught
     in all schools. Grammar and geography in a few. Religious
     instruction has not been overlooked. Upon the whole, the system
     of education in this district may be considered as efficient as
     can be expected upon the footing on which it is placed."--_Rev.
     Thomas Creen._

     _Provincial Board of Education, 1828._--The number of District
     Grammar Schools in operation in the Province is 11; pupils in
     attendance, 372. Number of Common Schools, 401; number of pupils
     in attendance, 10,712--increase over 1827 of nearly 2,000 pupils.

     The President of the Board (Rev. Dr. Strachan) last summer
     visited in person all the districts of the Province, and not
     only inspected the grammar schools, but examined minutely the
     systems of management adopted by their respective teachers.

     In order to produce a greater uniformity of the system to
     supply, in some measure, the want of experience to younger
     teachers, the President has submitted an outline of study for
     the grammar schools, the adoption of which, the board cannot but
     think would be highly beneficial, and produce a higher standard
     of education throughout the Province.[26]

  [26] This course of study is appended herewith on the next page.

     In some places girls are admitted to the district schools,
     for want of good female schools, but the admission of female
     children interferes with the government which is required in
     classical seminaries.

     In a population of nearly 200,000, at least one-fifth, or
     40,000, is composed of children between the ages of 5 and 15
     who should be going to school. Taking the number of those who
     are benefited in the Common and Sunday schools at 15,000, then
     the expense to the Province is about 3_s._ 9_d._ each. In
     some districts the salaries allowed to the schoolmasters of
     the Common Schools are exceedingly small. They range from £12
     10_s._ downwards. In some little more than £5, and in one less
     than that trifling sum. Many schools continue only six months;
     others eight months in the year. The natural consequence of this
     state of things is that superior teachers desert the Common
     Schools as soon as they can procure any other employment, and
     many persons resort to the occupation of teachers merely as a
     temporary expedient. These latter are without experience, which
     is all-important to an instructor of youth and can have little
     desire to establish a reputation in an employment to which they
     have only recourse for present convenience.

     In the sister Colony of Nova Scotia, the sum of £1,000 is
     annually appropriated to the Common Schools and divided among 12
     counties, not equally, but in proportion to population. One law,
     by giving the same sum to each district, whether populous or
     not, in that particular requires alteration.

     The Board would submit that in addition to the public allowance,
     a power should be given to the townships to assess themselves
     for the schools. In Nova Scotia it is provided in the statute
     that two-thirds of the freeholders may, under certain
     conditions, tax themselves according to their ability for the
     support of education, and that no school of 30 scholars shall
     be entitled to the stipulated aid of £20, unless the teacher
     receives _bona fide_ from his employers £10, together with this
     sum, exclusive of and in addition to board, etc.; and that no
     school of 15 scholars shall be entitled to the stipulated sum of
     £15 unless the teacher receives from his employers £25 per annum
     as aforesaid. The Board had distributed to the Common Schools a
     large quantity of useful school books including Mavor's Spelling
     Book. They have also contracted for 2,000 copies of this
     excellent work to be executed on cards for the township schools.
     There appears to be a great scarcity of arithmetic books in
     the Province, and those in use are in general too difficult
     or deficient in matter, etc. The President has, therefore,
     undertaken to draw up a short manual on the subject, suitable to
     the state and business of the country.

     Neither the sick nor the destitute have higher claims upon the
     public than the ignorant. The want of knowledge brings all other
     wants in its train; and if education be regarded as a charity,
     it is a charity of which the blessings are without alloy. It
     demands no jealous scrutiny of the claims of its applicants,
     nor does it require to be so stinted as not to multiply their
     number.--_Rev. John Strachan, President, York, 5th February,

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Midland District Grammar School, 1829._--It is to be lamented
     that so few of the wealthy farmers of the Midland District
     avail themselves of the means of giving their sons that degree
     of education which the public school can readily afford, which
     would qualify young persons to discharge the duties of the
     magistracy and other public situations with credit to themselves.

     The trustees regret that no poor children are educated gratis
     under the patriotic and very benevolent provision of the
     statute, in consequence of no returns being made to them of the
     most promising scholars from the Common School. The trustees,
     therefore, submit, whether in order to encourage native genius
     in humble circumstances, some means might not be devised of
     maintaining all the 10 children whom the statute authorizes the
     trustee to select for gratuitous instruction.--_Rev. George
     O'Kill Stuart, Thomas Markland and John Macaulay, Kingston,
     December 30th, 1829._

       *       *       *       *       *

     NOTE.--The local reports for the succeeding year are chiefly
     statistical and explanatory and contain no general remarks. From
     a report signed by the Rev. Dr. Strachan and Hon. Wm. Allan in
     1839, it would appear that things had for years remained in
     _statu quo_. They say:--

     "For many years elaborate reports were sent from this (Home
     District) Board of Education detailing what were believed to be
     the alterations necessary to render the present Common School
     Act efficient. In consequence of these, and like reports from
     other districts, a measure for the establishment of such schools
     has been for more than six years before the Legislature, which
     purposes to provide remedies for the defects which are met with
     in the working of the present system."


In a "letter from the Rev. Dr. Strachan to Rev. A. N. Bethune,
Rector of Cobourg," dated October 6th, 1829, he thus sketched a
course of study for Grammar Schools:

_First Year--Boys from 7 to 9._

1st. _Latin._--Eton Grammar; Vocabulary; Corderius; Selectæ e

2nd. _English._--Mavor's Spelling Book; Enfield's Lessons; Walker's
Lessons; Murray's Lessons; Blair's Class Book; English Grammar;
Writing; Arithmetic, chiefly mental.

_Second Year--Boys from 9 to 11._

1st. _Latin._--Grammar; Valpy's Delectas; New Testament; Daley's
Exercises; Exampla Minora; Entropius; Phædrus; Cornelius Nepos.

2nd. _English._--Grammar and Reading, as before; Writing and
Arithmetic (mental and mixed); Geography; Civil and Natural History
and Elocution.

3rd.--To commence French.

_Third Year--Boys from 11 to 13._

1st. _Latin_--Grammar; Bailey's Exercises; Cornelius Nepos; Cæsar;
Ovid's Metamorphoses; Nonsense Verses; Psalms into Latin Verse;
Exampla Moralis; Versions or rendering English into Latin.

2nd. _Greek_--To commence about the middle of the third year: Eton
Grammar, or Nelson's edition of Moore's Grammar; Greek Vocabulary;
New Testament; Greek Exercises.

3rd. _English._--Grammar; Writing; Elocution; Civil and Natural
History; Geography, Ancient and Modern; English Composition.

4th. _Arithmetic._--And to commence Algebra.

5th. _French._

_Fourth Year--Boys from 12 to 14._

1st. _Latin._--Grammar; Terence Virgil; Horace; Sallust; Cicero;
Livy; Latin composition, verse and prose; Grotius de Veritate
Exampla Moralia.

2nd. _Greek._--Eton Grammar; Græca Minora; Greek and Latin
Testament; Xenophon; Homer.

3rd. _English._--Grammar and Composition; Civil and Natural History;
Geography, Ancient and Modern, use of the globes; construction of

4th. _Mathematics._--Arithmetic; Book-keeping; Algebra; Euclid.

5th. _French._

_Fifth Year--Boys from 14 to 16._

1st. _Latin._--Virgil; Horace; Livy, Juvenal; Tacitus; Composition,
in prose and verse.

2nd. _Greek._--Græca Majora; Homer; Thucidides; Composition, in
prose and verse.

3rd. _English._--Grammar and Composition; Elocution; Civil and
Natural History; Geography, Ancient and Modern; use of the globes;
construction of maps.

4th. _Mathematics._--Algebra; Euclid; Trigonometry, Application to
heights and distances; Surveying; Navigation; Dialling; Elements of
Astronomy, etc.

5th. _French._


Rev. Dr. Scadding, in his sketch of Dr. Strachan, "The first Bishop
of Toronto--a Review and a Study," says:

     "The system pursued in Dr. Stachan's school at Cornwall and
     afterwards at York, exhibited features that would have gratified
     the advanced educationists of the present age. In that system
     the practical and the useful were by no means sacrificed to the
     ornamental and theoretical, or the merely conventional. Things
     were regarded as well as words.... In regard to things--the
     science of common objects--we doubt if in the most complete of
     our modern schools there was ever awakened a greater interest
     or intelligence in relation to such matters. Who, that had once
     participated in the excitement of its natural history class,
     ever forgot it? Or in that of the historical or geographical
     exercises? We venture to think that, in many an instance, the
     fullest experience of after life, in travel or otherwise, had
     often their associations with ideas awakened then; and often
     compared satisfactorily and pleasurably with the pictures of
     places, animals and persons given, rudely it may be, in text
     books, ransacked and conned in a fervour of emulation then.
     The manner of study in these subjects was this: each lad was
     required to prepare a set of questions, to be put by himself
     to his fellows in the class. If a reply was not forthcoming,
     and the information furnished by the questioner was judged
     correct the latter 'went up' and took the place of the other.
     This process, besides being instructive and stimulating to the
     pupils, possessed the advantage of being, as it often proved,
     highly diverting to the teacher."

On this system Dr. Strachan himself remarks:

     "The method of instruction by question and answer possesses
     many advantages over any other, and is not only the very best
     and shortest, but the most satisfactory. In this system the
     deficiencies of each scholar becomes manifest, and the teacher
     knows to what particular points he must direct his explanations.
     There is no time for inattention or wandering; the question
     and necessity for reply compel attention and recollection. The
     children, if the teacher proceed with conciliatory firmness,
     acquire lively interest in the lesson, for each is particularly
     addressed and brought forward with action."[27]

  [27] The _Christian Recorder_, edited by Rev. Dr. Strachan, York,
  1830, vol. 1, page 182.

The late Bishop Fuller, who was also one of Dr. Strachan's pupils,
also states that:--

     "He had a remarkable talent for interesting boys in their work;
     and, by taking a deep interest in it himself, he led them to
     do the same. He was very original in many of his plans for
     promoting the good of his school. Amongst others, which I never
     met with elsewhere, was one of making the boys question one
     another on certain of the lessons. This made the boys quick at
     seizing on the leading points in the lessons, ready at shaping
     questions, and deeply interested in the questions and answers.
     The Bishop took as deep an interest in the questioning and
     answering of the boys as they did themselves; and thus this
     plan, whilst it was of great service to the boys in various
     ways, tended strongly to bind master and scholars together."[28]

  [28] Sermon on the Death of Bishop Strachan, _Journal of Education_
  for U. C., vol. xx. (1868), page 182.

As to his method of teaching arithmetic, he explains it in the
following words:

     "In a new country like this, a variety of branches must be
     taught in every respectable school. Young men ... are anxious
     to get forward as fast as possible, and even those destined for
     the learned professions are seldom allowed the time requisite
     for acquiring the knowledge previously necessary. These
     considerations induced me to turn my thoughts to the discovery
     of some sure, and at the same time, expeditious method of
     teaching arithmetic. This object I have accomplished with a much
     greater degree of success than I dared to promise myself.

     "I divide my pupils into separate classes according to their
     progress. Each class has one or more sums to produce every
     day, neatly wrought upon their slates. The work is carefully
     examined, after which I command every figure to be blotted out,
     and the sums to be wrought under my eye. The one whom I happen
     to pitch upon first gives, with an audible voice, the rules and
     reasons for every step, and as he proceeds the rest silently
     work along with him figure for figure, but ready to correct him
     if he blunder that they may get his place. As soon as this one
     is finished, the work is again blotted out and another called
     upon to work the question aloud as before, while the rest
     proceed along with him in silence, and so on round the whole
     class.... This method of teaching arithmetic possesses this
     important advantage, that it may be pursued without interrupting
     the pupils' progress in any other useful study. The same
     method of teaching Algebra has been used with equal success.
     Such a plan is certainly very laborious, but it will be found
     successful, _and he that is anxious to spare labor ought not to
     be a public teacher_."[29]

  [29] Preface to "A Concise Introduction to Practical Arithmetic, for
  the use of Schools: By the Rev. John Strachan, Montreal. Printed by
  Nahum Mower, 1809."

Desiring to give a local interest to the exercises in his book,
Dr. Strachan gave several examples from Canadian subjects. Thus a
question is addition reads:--

     "From Quebec to Montreal is 180 miles--from thence to Kingston
     200--from thence to York 149--from thence to Niagara 78
     miles--from thence to Detroit, 210. Required the distance from
     Quebec to Detroit. _Answer_--317 miles."

Again a question in multiplication reads:--

     "The distance from Quebec to Montreal is 180 miles, supposing
     the road 17 yards broad, how many square yards does it contain?
     _Answer_--5,385,600 yards."

As to his diligence as a student, while yet a teacher. Dr. Fuller

     "The late Bishop said to me on one occasion: 'I had to study
     every night quite as hard as the boys; for I was not much in
     advance of the highest class in school. These and parochial
     duties demanded sixteen hours every day,--and yet these nine
     years were the happiest years of my life."


Having been appointed Minister at Cornwall in 1803, Dr. Fuller
states that there he was:--

     "Induced to resume his school, at the solicitation of the
     parents of those boys who had been in his school at Kingston,
     and of others, both in Lower and Upper Canada, who were desirous
     of placing their sons under a master so practical, wise and
     successful, as he had proved himself to be. Thus he commenced
     the school at Cornwall, which afterwards became so celebrated,
     and at which were educated the first men that Canada has
     produced, and of whom she may well be proud--such men as the
     late Sir J. B. Robinson, Judge Maclean, Sir J. B. Macaulay, Sir
     Allan MacNab, Judge Jones, Mr. Stanton, the Bethunes (Alexander,
     John and Donald), Sir James Stuart, and his brother Andrew
     Stuart, besides many others who have reflected credit on our

     "The Bishop had a great faculty for not only attaching his
     scholars to him, but also for inducing them to apply themselves
     most assiduously to their studies. He told me he made it a rule,
     during the time he kept school, to watch closely every new
     boy, and at the end of a fortnight, to note down in a book his
     estimate of the boys who had passed through his hands.

     "He was never afraid of having his dignity lowered by liberties
     taken with him, and he always felt every confidence in his
     position and entered warmly and personally into many of the
     boys' amusements, and thus gained an immense influence over
     them. The influence over his pupils has been shown in the
     fact, that almost all of them embraced his principles; and the
     love and affection for him of his celebrated Cornwall school
     was shown many years ago, when the surviving members thereof
     presented him with an address[30] and a most beautiful and
     costly candelabra. Nor did his more recent scholars entertain
     less affection for him, though they never proved it so
     substantially as did those of his Cornwall School.... He was
     an excellent teacher. His scholars were well grounded in their
     work. The grammar was well mastered, and every rule thereof
     deeply impressed on the memory. Every lesson was thoroughly
     dissected, and everything connected with it thoroughly
     understood, before we passed on to another lesson."[31]

  [30] The principal signers of the address were Sir J. B. Robinson,
  Sir J. B. Macaulay, Very Rev. Dean Bethune, Right Rev. Bishop
  Bethune, Hon. Chief Justice McLean, Hon. Justice Jones, Hon. W.
  B. Robinson, Hon. G. S. Boulton, Rev W. Macaulay, Judge (George)
  Ridout, Surveyor-General Chewett, Col. Gregg, Capt. Macaulay, R.A.,
  Inspector-General Markland, Sheriff McLean, Messrs. T. G. Ridout,
  P. Vankoughnet, S. P. Jarvis, J. Radenhurst, R. G. Anderson, R.
  Stanton, and others.

  [31] _Journal of Education_ for U. C., Vol. xx. (1868), page 183.
  For further reference to Dr. Strachan's educational efforts see the
  sections on universities, page 59 _et seq._


In 1830 Mr. Mackenzie republished at York (Toronto), in pamphlet
form, the first part of a Catechism of Education, prepared by Mr.
Joseph Hume, M.P., in England. The pamphlet in my possession is
worn and weather-stained. It is inscribed to David Thorburn, of
Queenston, and extends to 46 pages. In his preface Mr. Mackenzie

"To Mr. Joseph Hume.--The compiler is indebted for an Essay on
Education, which lays down and explains principles of vital
importance to the best interest of the Canadians, the perusal of
which first suggested the design of this catechism.

"In the first parts, under the heads Domestic, Technical, Social
and Political Instruction, it has been attempted to shew chiefly
what the means are by which the human mind may be endowed with those
qualities on which the generation of happiness depends."


For many years subsequently spasmodic efforts were made from time to
time by progressive and earnest men in the Legislature to establish
a system of schools. Enquiries were instituted and reports made,
chiefly but not wholly, by the House of Assembly. A vigorous contest
was maintained between that body and the Legislative Council on
the subject. Bills were passed by the Assembly and rejected by the
Council. The contest continued until the Rebellion occurred, and
this event turned all men's thoughts into another channel for the

Of the able and zealous men who, almost single handed, fought the
battle of elementary education in the Legislature, prior to the
rebellion of 1837, I may refer to the efforts in this direction of
Dr. Charles Duncombe and Mr. Malhon Burwell, who did good service in
the cause, as also did Archdeacon Strachan, Hon. William Morris and
others for higher education.

In the light of the growth and educational progress of to-day,
the miserable condition of public education in the days of the
educational pioneers to whom I have referred, can hardly be
credited. And were it not on record in the proceedings of the
Legislature, the statements there made would appear to apply to some
other country rather than to ours.

There were in the House of Assembly in those days (as I have
intimated) men of rare power and ability, who did noble service
in the popular cause, and in behalf of general education. They
passed school bills, founded on elaborate reports, year after
year, only to see them defeated by a majority in the Legislative
Council. This state of things continued for some years, and with
disastrous effects on the intellectual life of the country. This
fact is illustrated in the proceedings of the House of Assembly. For
example: In a petition of the United Presbytery of Upper Canada,
presented to the House in 1830, the signers say:--

     "It is with deep regret that your petitioners (in their
     ministerial capacity, connected with a very large portion of
     His Majesty's subjects in this Province) are compelled to say
     that the state of education is, in general, in a deplorable

The reason for this state of things is thus clearly set forth by the
House of Assembly in an address to the Lieutenant-Governor, adopted
in the same year:--

     "We the Commons of Upper Canada, in Parliament assembled,
     most respectfully represent that there is in this Province a
     very general want of education; that the insufficiency of the
     school fund to support competent, respectable and well-educated
     teachers, has degraded common school teaching from a regular
     business to a mere matter of convenience to transient persons,
     or common idlers, who often teach school one season and leave
     it vacant until it accommodates some other like person, whereby
     the minds of our youth are left without cultivation, or, what
     is still worse, frequently with vulgar, low-bred, vicious or
     intemperate examples before them, in the capacity of monitors."


Few men exerted themselves more or to better purpose in the cause of
education than did Mr. Burwell during the time he was a member of
the old Upper Canada Legislature, in 1831-1838.[32]

  [32] Col. Mahlon Burwell was born in the State of New Jersey, but
  early in life came to Upper Canada. He settled first at Fort Erie,
  then at Long Point, and finally removed to the Talbot Settlement. He
  was near neighbor, and for a long time, right-hand man of the noted
  Col. Talbot, of Port Talbot. He was a surveyor by profession, and
  in 1810 surveyed the townships of Malahide, Bayham, and part of the
  then village of London.

Amongst the many motions relating to education which were moved by
Mr. Burwell in the House of Assembly from time to time, was the
following important one, which was concurred in by the House in
February, 1831:--

     "That a standing committee be appointed on the subject of
     education generally in this Province....

     "That it be a principal duty and business of the committee to
     enquire whether an appropriation of 500,000 acres of land was
     not made, in virtue of a joint address of both houses of the
     Provincial Parliament, adopted at their session of 1797, or
     1798, and whether the same is not subject to the control of the
     Legislature of this Province; to enquire if anything, and what,
     has been done with the lands or any part of them, and what is
     their present situation.

     "That the said committee do enquire in what way the several
     district schools of the Province can best be endowed with
     portions of the said lands, so as to render them more efficient
     and fitting for the improvement of the rising generation than
     they are at present."...

Such were the comprehensive terms of a motion which gave to the
subject of education a status in the House of Assembly at the time
by making a committee on the subject a Standing Committee of the
House, and clothing it with important powers. Mr. Burwell also, of
the same month, moved for the production of all the despatches,
reports, and other documents relating to the royal grant of lands
by George III. for grammar schools and colleges in Upper Canada.
In response to this latter motion, the Lieut.-Governor, Sir John
Colborne (Lord Seaton), sent down to the House a mass of papers
of great value, showing what steps had been taken by the Imperial
and Provincial Governments during the intervening years for the
promotion of public education. These papers were printed at the
time, but little is now known of their contents.

In April, 1831, Mr. Burwell, as chairman of the Quarter Sessions
of the London District, presented to the Lieut-Governor a memorial
setting forth the advantages to that locality of endowing a college
at London. Amongst the reasons given are the following:--

     "Your memorialists are aware that education of a superior kind
     cannot be brought to every man's door, and that under any
     arrangements, the inhabitants of the Province generally must
     send their children a short distance from home; but such is the
     extent of the several districts, that the school can seldom be
     a day's journey from any part of them; and the scholars can
     return to their homes without expense during the holidays; and,
     if sick, they can be visited by their parents in a few hours,
     and removed to their habitations without difficulty. Added to
     all this the cheapness at which board can be obtained in country
     places, and the easiness with which, in most cases, it can be
     paid for by produce from their farms."

These reasons are somewhat primitive in their character; but they
throw light on the social condition of the people in these days, and
illustrate the common practice then of paying even for education
"in kind," or by "produce from the farms." The object of the
memorialists was to obtain such an endowment for the London District
Grammar School--

     "As shall render it efficient as a classical seminary, and a
     nursery (as such schools are intended to be) for the University
     of King's College....

     "The endowment should be such a one as would furnish a good
     school-house, a commodious residence for the head master--to
     enable him to keep boarders and produce an income of four or
     five hundred pounds."

In the following June a similar, but a much longer and more strongly
worded, memorial was presented to the Governor from the trustees
of the Kingston "Royal Grammar School," protesting against the
withdrawal from that school of an extra grant of £200 a year and
giving it to Upper Canada College, thus reducing the rank of the
Kingston "Royal Grammar School" to that of a district grammar school.


As one of those who took a prominent part in the troublesome events
of 1837-38, in Upper Canada, Dr. Duncombe acquired considerable
notoriety. He was, nevertheless, a man of broad views, of
comprehensive aims and large sympathies.[33]

  [33] Dr. Charles Duncombe was an American by birth, and win born
  in the State of New Jersey in or about the year 1796. He came to
  Upper Canada with his parents during the progress, or immediately
  after the close, of the war of 1812-15, and settled in the "London
  District." Charles Duncombe studied medicine and surgery, and in
  1827 and 1828 began to practice his profession on the town line
  between the townships of Burford and Brantford, near Bishopsgate. He
  soon obtained a large practice and with it an extended influence.
  During the rebellion of 1837-8, Dr. Duncombe took part and went to
  the United States, and remained there until 1843, when he received
  a pardon from Sir Charles (afterwards Lord) Metcalfe. He did not,
  however, remain long in Upper Canada after his return, but soon
  left for the Western States, whence he subsequently removed to
  California, and died there.

From his first entry into the House of Assembly, Dr. Charles
Duncombe, M.P.P. for the county of Norfolk, took up warmly the cause
of popular education. In this he was actively supported by two other
medical gentlemen--Dr. Thomas D. Morrison and Dr. Thomas Bruce--who
were also members of the House of Assembly at that time.

Dr. Charles Duncombe's first motion in the House of Assembly (on
the 13th December, 1831) was for an address to the Lieut.-Governor
urging the setting apart of a sufficient quantity of the public
lands of the Province to form a permanent fund for the support and
maintenance of common schools. His motion was, however, defeated.

As Dr. Duncombe's motion is of historical interest, so far as the
facts which it alleges are concerned, I give some extracts from it.
The motion stated:--

     "That there is in this Province a very general want of
     education; that the insufficiency of the Common School Fund
     to support competent, respectable and well-educated teachers,
     has degraded common school teaching from a regular business to
     a mere matter of convenience to transient persons, or common
     idlers, who often stay but for one season, and leave the schools
     vacant until they accommodate some other like person, whereby
     the minds of the youth of this Province are left without
     due cultivation, or, what is worse, frequently with vulgar,
     low-bred, vicious and intemperate examples before them in the
     persons of their monitors," (_i.e._, teachers).

The motion goes on to say that:--

     "If provision were made for the liberal and punctual payment of
     common school teachers ... the teaching of common schools would
     soon become a regular and respectable calling, gentlemanly,
     well-educated persons would not be ashamed to take charge of
     youth, the schools would be no longer vacant, nor the scholars
     ignorant. Upper Canada would then form a national character that
     would command respect abroad and ensure peace, prosperity and
     happiness at home, perpetuate attachment to British principles
     and British institutions, and enable posterity to value, as they
     ought, the inestimable blessings of our glorious constitution."

The motion went on to urge the Lieut.-Governor to represent to the
Colonial Secretary the important necessity--in view of the facts
cited--of entreating

     "That His Majesty, William IV., be graciously pleased to place
     at the disposal of the Provincial Legislature a portion of the
     waste lands of the Crown as a permanent fund for the support of
     common schools within the same."

Dr. Charles Duncombe, with a prescience of the future, and of the
necessities of the case, (which were not then recognized, nor for
many years afterwards,) strongly urged, as did other members of
the Assembly, that at least one million acres of the "waste lands"
of the Province should be set apart for the support of common

  [34] It is gratifying to know that, although defeated at the time,
  Dr. Duncombe's efforts bore fruit nearly twenty years afterwards--in
  1850--when Hon. Wm. Hamilton Merritt, then President of the Council,
  introduced and had a Bill passed by the Legislature setting apart
  1,000,000 acres of the Crown Lands for the permanent endowment of
  public schools in United Canada.

The motion was negatived. Dr. Duncombe was, however, determined not
to be beaten. Mr. David Burn and other friends of his in the county
of Oxford--no doubt on his suggestion--got up a petition to the
Legislature on the subject, and on the 21st December--a week after
his motion was defeated--Dr. Duncombe read this petition and had it
referred to a select committee for report thereon.

On the 26th December an elaborate report on the petition was
brought in by Dr. Duncombe himself, as chairman of the committee.
In that report the whole subject was gone into fully, and a scheme
elaborated by which the 1,000,000 acres of land were proposed to
be hypothecated in advance, so that by the issue of debentures for
$500,000, redeemable in ten, fifteen and twenty years, a sufficient
sum would be at once realized on the prospective value of these
lands to form a permanent fund for the support of common schools.

This report (as did the rejected motion) placed on record a few
facts and principles which are interesting in the light of to-day.
The report stated that--

     "The common schools of this Province are generally in so
     deplorable a state that they scarcely deserve the name of

It recommended that the common school law of the Province be so
amended that hereafter the school grant be paid only to--

     "Organized schools, taught by a person who had a certificate
     from the District Board of Education, or school inspector, of
     his or her ability to teach a common school."

It also urged that the Common School Fund should be large enough,
with the local contributions, to provide an ample stipend for good
teachers, instead of "transient persons" and "common idlers" then so
often employed as teachers--

     "So that common school teaching, instead of being a mere
     matter of convenience to transient persons, or common idlers,
     would become a regular, respectable business in the hands of
     gentlemanly, well-educated persons. For surely the foundation of
     the minds of our children (on which must depend the happiness or
     misery we are to enjoy with them) and their own success in life,
     is a business worthy to be respectable, worthy of the patronage
     of men in the highest walks of life."

The report then laid down an important principle in regard to
the necessity for a certain and permanent endowment for public
education. It said:--

     "Funds and appropriation for the support of education should
     be permanent. They should not depend upon the annual vote of
     the Legislature, nor on any other casualty that might, by
     possibility fail, and thereby check the regular progress of

Dr. Duncombe, in stating this principle, had no doubt in view the
example (then well known) of the fickleness of the Legislature in
the matter of school grants. In 1816 the vote for the support of
common schools was $24,000. In three subsequent years the same vote
was repeated; but, in 1820, it was reduced to $10,000--closing
schools here and there all over the Province, and inflicting
grievous hardship on many worthy (and, in the language of the day
and of the report, unworthy) teachers. This miserable state of
things continued for many years, and, as I stated on this subject in

     "Thus ebbed and flowed, without a master hand to stay the
     current, that tide which, in other lands, is regarded as the
     nation's life's blood; and thus was permitted to ensue that
     state of living death by which Upper Canada, in the significant
     and popular metaphor of the day was likened to a 'girdled tree,'
     destitute alike of life, of beauty, or of stately growth."[35]

  [35] Historical Sketch of Education in Upper Canada, by J. George
  Hodgins, M.A., LL.B., F.R.G.S. in "Eighty Years' Progress of British
  North America," 1863.

No wonder that in these degenerate days the young men, with
stirrings within them of noble impulses and patriotic devotion to
their country, should have been compelled to depend upon themselves
for intellectual enlightenment and advancement. The flippant sneer
of many persons of to-day at such "self-made" men is unworthy of
those who enjoy the advantages which these self-made men laboured to
secure. They belonged to that noble band of pioneers, who achieved
for us the civil and religious freedom which we now so richly enjoy.
All honour to them, therefore!


In January, 1832, Mr. Burwell made a motion similar to the defeated
one of Dr. C. Duncombe, which led to considerable discussion. It was
as follows:--

     "That this House do address His Majesty, humbly beseeching that
     His Majesty will be graciously pleased to grant an appropriation
     of one million of acres of waste lands of the Crown in this
     Province for the maintenance and support of common schools
     within the same."...[36]

In the same month Mr. Burwell introduced a bill "for the
establishment and support of common schools throughout the
Province." It was printed but was not proceeded with that session.
Mr. Burwell's object clearly was to keep the subject before the
House and to promote discussion on it. In this he succeeded. The
House of Assembly was alive to the importance of the question,
but the Legislative Council was obstructive in regard to the same

In November, 1832, Mr. Burwell again had a committee of the House of
Assembly appointed to enquire into the manner in which the King's
wishes had been carried out in regard to the royal grant of lands
for educational purposes in 1798. To expedite this enquiry the
important despatches and reports formerly asked for by him and sent
down to the House by the Governor, with others, were printed and

Mr. Burwell also introduced a bill "for the establishment,
maintenance and regulation of common schools," in the Province. He
made several motions, too, on the subject of the King's College
charter and school lands. On the 21st November he submitted the
first report of his "Select Committee on the Subject of Education."
The historical part of this report being somewhat interesting in its
statements, I quote it as follows:--

     "The committee have been forcibly struck with the uniform
     anxiety which has been manifested at all times by the
     Legislature and Provincial authorities for the establishment of
     a university.

     "It formed part of the prayer of both Houses in their address to
     the King in 1797.

     "It was strongly recommended by the Executive Government, the
     judges, and law officers of the Crown, in 1798.

     "In 1806 the Legislature, to show that something more was even
     then required than grammar schools, did all their limited means
     permitted, in providing a small apparatus for the instruction of
     youth in physical science, that they might enter the world with
     something more than a common district school education; such an
     institution was again noticed in 1820, and an earnest desire
     expressed by the Legislature, which knew best the wants of the
     Province, for its speedy establishment.

     "In 1825 so many young men were found turning their attention to
     the learned professions that the Executive Government thought
     that the establishment of a university could be no longer
     delayed without the greatest detriment to the Province, and,
     therefore, applied to His Majesty for a Royal Charter, which
     was granted in 1827, in terms as liberal, it is said, as the
     then Government would allow; but such has proved by no means
     satisfactory to your Honorable House."[36]

[36] See also the opinion of Archdeacon Strachan on this subject, in
a subsequent part of this Retrospect.

About the middle of December, 1832, Mr. Burwell brought in the
second and very elaborate report of the Select Committee on
Education. This report was chiefly based upon the opinions of
several witnesses examined by the committee on the subject of
school lands, King's College charter, U. C. College, and education
generally. The witnesses examined were Chief Justice Robinson,
Archdeacon Strachan, Chairman, and the Hon. G. H. Markland,
Secretary to the Provincial Board of Education; Hon. Joseph Wells, a
member of the Board, and Treasurer of U. C. College; Rev. Dr. Joseph
H. Harris, Principal of U. C. College; Rev. Dr. Thomas Phillips,
Vice-Principal, and Mr. S. P. Hurd, Surveyor-General of the Province.

The general views of these noted men on the subject of education
are both interesting and instructive in the light of to-day. The
report itself deals with the then pressing question of the extension
of educational facilities to the entire Province. It points out
in strong language the undesirability of continuing a system of
district, or grammar, schools which were quite adequate to the wants
of the Province when the population was only 50,000, but which was
not at all equal to the requirements of Upper Canada when that
population had increased to nearly 300,000. These references show
how wonderfully the Province has progressed in population and in its
educational advantages since that time.


The following passage from the report of 1832 is prophetical in its
anticipation of the future. By way of illustration I may mention the
fact that a somewhat similar utterance was made by Sir Lyon Playfair
in his address as president of the British Association, at Aberdeen,
in 1887. The passage in the report of 1832 is as follows:--

     "That the situation of the Province in wealth and commerce,
     and in its demand for superior attainments in the various
     professions is very different from what it formerly was; and
     that unless opportunities are immediately furnished by the
     establishment of superior schools for the instruction of our
     youth in the higher branches of science, we must fall behind the
     age in which we live."

What was thus put forth as a local thought, but yet as an
educational axiom, by these educational pioneers of Upper Canada,
upwards of fifty years ago, is thus forcibly and beautifully
amplified by the president of the British Association in 1887.
Speaking generally, and contrasting the educational policy of the
colonies and that of the mother country, he said:--

     "The colonies, being young countries, value their raw materials
     as their chief source of wealth. When they become older they
     will discover it is not in these, but in the culture of
     scientific intellect, that their future prosperity depends....
     Jules Simon tersely puts it:--'The nation which most educates
     her people will become the greatest nation, if not to-day,
     certainly to-morrow.' Higher education is the condition of
     higher prosperity, and the nation which neglects to develop the
     intellectual factor of production must degenerate, for it cannot
     stand still.... The illustrious consort of our Queen was not the
     first prince who saw how closely science is bound up with the
     welfare of states.... How unwise it is for England to lag in the
     onward march of science, when most other European powers are
     using the resources of their states to promote higher education
     and to advance the boundaries of knowledge. [She] alone fails
     to grasp the fact that the competition of the world has become
     a competition of intellect.... A nation in its industrial
     progress, when the competition of the world is keen, cannot
     stand still.... I contend that in public education there should
     be a free play to the scientific faculty, so that the youths who
     possess it should learn the richness of their possession during
     the educative process.... Science has impressed itself upon the
     age in which we live; and as science is not stationary, but
     progressive, men are required to advance its boundaries, acting
     as pioneers in the onward march of states. Human progress is so
     identified with scientific thought, both in its conception and
     realization, that it seems as if they were alternative terms in
     the history of civilization."

In giving these extracts so fully I have done so for two reasons:
First, I desire to do honour to the zeal and to acknowledge the
forethought and prescience of those members of the House of Assembly
who, in 1832, placed so strong an emphasis upon the value of "the
instruction of our youth in the higher branches of science;" and
secondly, to point out, in the weighty words of Sir Lyon Playfair,
the immense importance (in the light of past experience) which he
and other leaders of thought in regard to England's industrial life
and practical progress, attach to the teaching of elementary science
in the schools. He touches upon this point in another part of his
address, in pointing out the absurdity of requiring all pupils to
study the same subjects. He says:--

     "In a school a boy should be aided to discover the class of
     knowledge that is best suited to his mental capacities, so
     that in the upper forms of the school, and in the university,
     knowledge may be specialized in order to cultivate the powers
     of the man to the fullest extent.... The adaptation of public
     schools to a scientific age does not involve a contest as
     to whether science or classics shall prevail, for both are
     indispensable to true education. The real question is, whether
     schools will undertake the duty of moulding the minds of boys
     according to their mental varieties."


So deeply impressed was I of the immense importance of this subject,
and of the necessity of providing in our school system for a
practical solution of the question which was then, and is now, of
pressing importance--viz., manual training in our schools--that in
1876 I prepared and delivered a lecture on the subject, in various
parts of the Province. The lecture was founded on the industrial
lessons taught to us so impressively at the Centennial Exhibition,
Philadelphia, in 1876. These lessons, in their educational aspects,
were even more forcibly impressed upon me at the great Industrial
Exhibition held in New Orleans, in 1885. Having been there six
weeks, as an Educational Juror, on behalf of the United States
Bureau of Education, I had abundant and admirable facilities for
studying the whole question, and for seeing how it was being worked
out (more or less effectually) in the various national school
systems which came under review during that enquiry--especially in
France. Thus the French school law of 1882 provides that "primary
education includes [among other things] the elements of the natural,
physical and mathematical sciences, and their application to
agriculture, to hygiene, and to the industrial art; manual work, and
the use of tools of the principal trades, the elements of drawing,
modelling, etc." Apprenticeship schools have also been established,
the object of which is to form workmen, as distinguished from
foremen, and in which various trades are taught. An official report,
published by the United States Bureau of Education in 1882, states
that the apprentices of these schools "find employment readily after
they have left the workshops, at wages, it is said, varying from
five to even as much as eight francs per day."

In discussing this question in the lecture to which I have referred,
these passages occur:--

"It is not assumed that every pupil in our schools is qualified, or
that he should be compelled, as a matter of course, to engage in
the study of elementary science or practical drawing. Far from it.
But what I do say is, that those pupils who exhibit a taste for any
of the various subjects of natural history, elementary science or
practical mechanics, should have an opportunity in the Public and
High Schools (of cities and large towns) of learning something about
them. In an address by Mr. Gladstone on this subject, he stated that
the boys of the English schools, and it is so in our schools, had
not yet had fair play in the study of elementary science and natural

"There are few schools in which there are not boys possessing
talent scientific, inventive, or industrial talent, or constructive
genius, which are never evoked, much less aroused or stimulated. As
to the question whether for the few the country should be put to
the expense of their special training, I answer it in the words of
Professor Huxley, who says:--

"To the lad of genius, even to the one in a million, I would make
accessible the highest and most complete training the country could
afford. Whatever it might cost, depend upon it the investment
would be invaluable. I weigh my words when I say: that if the
nation could purchase a potential Watt, or Davy, or Faraday, at the
cost of a hundred thousand pounds down, he would be dirt cheap at
the money.... It is a mere commonplace and an every-day piece of
knowledge to say that, what these three men did, (in their special
departments of practical science), has produced untold millions
of wealth for England and the world, speaking in its narrowest
economical sense of the word."

The educational mind of the United States, as well as Europe, is
being constantly directed to the consideration of this interesting
practical subject. Magazines and reviews, as well as educational
journals, freely discuss it. One of the most useful articles on
"Manual Training in the Public schools," will be found in the
_Andover Review_ for October, 1888. The United States Bureau
of Education has also published various reports and papers on
the subject. One of the most valuable is an elaborate report on
_Industrial Education in the United States_, published in 1883. Some
of the more important railways in that country have also established
training schools for their employés.


For the four years during which Dr. Duncombe was a member the
Legislature of Upper Canada, his efforts to promote the cause of
education were unceasing. With the exception of Mr. Burwell, who
devoted himself almost entirely to the interests of education in
the House, none excelled Dr. Duncombe in his zeal for the cause
of public education. His efforts were chiefly directed to awaken
an interest amongst his fellow members in the subject generally,
and especially on behalf of the education of the deaf and dumb,
in asylums for the insane, in prison discipline and similar
matters. At length his efforts in the session of 1835 culminated
in the appointment, by resolution of the House of Assembly, of
Doctors Charles Duncombe, Thomas D. Morrison and William Bruce,
Commissioners, to enquire, amongst other things, into "the system
and management of schools and colleges" in the United States and
elsewhere. Two of these commissioners deputed their colleague, Dr.
Duncombe, to "go on a journey to the United States, or elsewhere, to
obtain such information as is desired by a resolution" of the House
of Assembly in that behalf. Six hundred dollars were granted by the
House to defray the expenses of this enquiry.

Late in 1835 Dr. Duncombe went on his mission of enquiry to the
United States, and visited literary institutions in the Western,
Middle, Eastern and some of the Southern States of the Union. He
also obtained detailed information as to education in England,
France and Prussia, and embodied the result in an elaborate
report of nearly sixty pages and an appendix of one hundred and
sixty pages. To this report he annexed the draft of a School
Bill, extending to twenty-two pages, with a variety of forms and
instructions appended. The whole document embraced two hundred and
sixty pages of printed matter. The report is minute and exhaustive
in its treatment of the subject in hand, although somewhat
discursive and speculative in many parts. It is, nevertheless, in
the light of to-day, both interesting and instructive. It presents
a vivid picture, and not a very flattering one, of the condition of
education in the United States and in Europe. Its discussions of
special subjects--such as female education, classical studies, the
management of colleges and universities, etc., etc.--are fair and
enlightened, and, on the whole, intelligent and practical in their

It is clear that the Legislative Council of the day did not
sympathize with Dr. Duncombe and his colleagues in their zeal for
popular education.

The bill which he had so carefully prepared, although adopted by the
House of Assembly by a vote of 35 to 10, early in 1836 failed to
receive the sanction of the Council. His proposition to increase the
common school grant from $22,600 to $80,000 per annum was considered
too great a step in advance, and was not therefore pressed to a
vote in the House of Assembly. He, however, got two influential
committees appointed to deal with the questions of public education
and school lands. These committees were subsequently united and
enlarged. They did good service and kept public interest awakened as
to the value of the important subjects entrusted to them.


The report, be it remembered, speaks of events and educational facts
of more than fifty years ago. They are of special interest to us
of to-day, since they form the background, so to speak, of our own
educational history and progress. I shall make a few extracts from
the report:--Dr. Duncombe says:--

     "The first principles of the system recommended in this report
     with regard to common schools, schools for the education of
     the poorer classes, and for the education of teachers (or the
     normal schools) made their appearance almost simultaneously in
     Great Britain and on the Continent, as appears by the voluminous
     reports of Lord Brougham ... and by Mr. Dick's very able and
     splendid report upon the common schools ... of Scotland, and by
     M. Cousin's reports of the schools in Prussia and Germany, and
     Bulver's observations upon education as a prevention of crime
     in France.... The glimmering of this beacon light was soon seen
     across the ocean, and lighted up a similar flame in the United
     Slates. Commissioner after commissioner was sent to Scotland and
     to England by the authority of their State Legislatures to light
     their lamps at the fountain of science, that the whole continent
     of America might be ignited by the flame."

Dr. Duncombe's observations in regard to the state of education in
the United States are interesting, as by contrast they illustrate
the remarkable progress made in that country during the last half
century in the matter of public education. He says:--

     "In the United States, where they devote much time and expense
     towards the promotion of literature, they are equally destitute
     of a system of national education with ourselves: and although
     by their greater exertion to import the improvements made in
     Great Britain and on the Continent, and their numerous attempts
     at systematizing these modern modes of education ... they have
     placed themselves in advance of us in their common school
     system. Yet, after all, their schools seemed to me to be good
     schools on bad or imperfect systems; they seem groping in
     the dark, no instruction in the past to guide the future, no
     beacon light, no council of wise men to guide them, more than
     we have, upon the subject of common schools. Our schools want
     in character, they want respectability, they want permanency
     in their character and in their support.... It should be so
     arranged that all the inhabitants should contribute something
     towards the [maintainance of the school fund], and all those who
     are benefited directly by it should pay, in proportion to such
     benefit, a small sum, but quite enough to interest them in the
     prudent expenditure of their share of the school moneys."

The objection to a liberal education being too freely given for the
benefit of the learned professions seems to have been urged even in
these days. Dr. Duncombe answers it in the following language:--

     "It has been supposed that there are too many in the learned
     professions already, and that, therefore, there are too many who
     obtain a liberal education. But this opinion is founded upon two
     errors: One is, that every liberally educated man must be above
     manual labor, and must, therefore, enter one of the learned
     professions; and the other is, that all who do enter these
     professions do it, and have a right to do it, from personal and
     family interests, and not for the public good--whereas a liberal
     education ought not to unfit a man, whether in his physical
     constitution or his feelings, for active business in any honest
     employment; and neither ought men who enter any of the learned
     professions to excuse themselves from labor and privation for
     the good of the world. There is a great and pernicious error on
     this subject."

The question of free education is thus discussed by Dr. Duncombe:--

     "Nothing is more important in the formation of an enterprising
     character than to let the youth early learn his own powers;
     and in order to this, he must be put upon his own recourses,
     and must understand, if he is ever [to be] anything, he must
     make himself, and that he has within himself all the means
     for his own advancement. It is not desirable, therefore, that
     institutions should be so richly endowed as to furnish the
     means of education free of expense to those who are of an age
     to help themselves; nor is it desirable that any man, or any
     society of men, should furnish an entirely gratuitous education
     to the youth of the Province. All the necessary advantages for
     educating himself ought to be put within the reach of the young
     man, and if, with these advantages, he cannot do much towards it
     he is not worthy of an education."

After discussing several other topics in his report, Dr. Duncombe
made a striking forecast of the educational future of Upper Canada.
He said:--

     "Was there ever a more auspicious period than the present for
     literary reform? If I rightly understand the signs of the
     times, we stand upon the threshold of a new dispensation in
     the science of education, and especially in the history of
     common schools, colleges and universities in this Province. The
     flattering prospects of our being permitted legally to dispose
     of the school lands of this Province, so long dormant--the
     sale and appropriation of the clergy reserves for the purposes
     of education, and, above all by our having control of the
     other natural resources of the Province, we shall be enabled
     to provide respectably and permanently for the support of
     literary institutions _in every part of the Province_, while
     by remodelling the charter of King's College, so as to adapt
     the institution to the present state of science of education,
     and the wishes and wants of the people of this Province....
     With such charming prospects before us, with what alacrity
     and delight can we approach the subject of education to make
     liberal, permanent and efficient provision for the education of
     all the youth of Upper Canada, to cause 'the blind to see, the
     deaf to hear and the dumb to speak,' and, above all, to make
     certain and extensive provision for the support of schools for
     teachers and tutoresses."...

It is sad to think that to the writer of these cheering, hopeful
words, the future so vividly pictured by him became suddenly
darkened, and the pleasant hopes in which he then indulged were
never realized by him, or by many of those who, more than half a
century ago, were like him so active in promoting the great cause of
popular and collegiate education in this Province. Within one year
Dr. Duncombe was a "proscribed rebel," as were many others who with
him saw as in a vision the future which, he then pictured for Upper

TO 1839.

During the next session of the Legislature, in the winter of
1836, Mr. Burwell sought to give effect to Dr. Duncombe's liberal
resolution of the preceding session, viz., to provide, out of the
public in revenue, a grant of $80,000 a year for support of the
common schools. He proposed two resolutions: one was to the effect
that $40,000 a year be granted out of the public revenue for the
support of these schools; the other was as follows:--

     "That the sum of ten thousand pounds ($40,000), be raised
     annually by assessment, by order of the Quarter Sessions in the
     several districts on the ratable property of the inhabitants, in
     aid of the Provincial grant for the common school fund, in the
     same manner as other assessments are now made."

When the matter came before the House of Assembly in February, 1837,
the committee of supply reported a grant of only $22,400 for the
year. The assessment proposition was not adopted, as the question of
local taxation for school purposes though often before it had not
yet been practically entertained by the Legislature.

Next year, however, another effort was made to provide somewhat
liberally for the common schools. But as the Bill as passed by the
House of Assembly, embodied in it the principle of local taxation
for schools for the first time, it was not concurred in by the
Legislative Council. That body proposed a conference to explain the
reason, and appointed the Honorable Messrs. Allan and Hamilton as
its conferees. The House of Assembly nominated Messrs. Boulton,
Cartwright, Thompson and Rykert as its representatives at the

The Legislative Council stated that:--

     "It could not pass the Bill, because it proposes to levy an
     assessment at the discretion of the Justice of the Peace, to
     the extent of 1-1/2d. [3 cents] in the £ [$4] to support Common
     Schools; and as acts have lately passed imposing rates on the
     inhabitants of several of the districts, for the purpose of
     defraying the expense of building jails and court-houses and for
     the construction of macadamized roads, the Council fear that
     the proposed assessment for common school education might be
     burthensome," etc.

Thus, because jails, court-houses and roads were considered more
necessary and important than schools, the last Act for the promotion
of education ever passed by the Upper Canada House of Assembly was
rejected by the Legislative Council! Such was the untoward state of
affairs when the Legislative Union of Upper and Lower Canada took
place in 1840.


I shall now give a few extracts from official returns illustrative
of the state of education in the Province in 1838 and 1839, while
these efforts of improvements were being made. They also show how
entirely practical were the views of those who took an active part
in educational affairs of the time, how keenly alive they were to
the educational deficiencies of those days.

Other extracts from official reports and proceedings of the House
of Assembly might be given to illustrate this part of the subject,
but they would make this retrospect too long. They are all of a most
interesting and instructive character, and well deserve publication
in a connected form. They throw a vivid light upon the educational
chaos which existed at the time. They also show how enlightened
comparatively, as well as how darkened also, were the views of
those who took part on both sides in the educational debates and
proceedings of those years--especially during 1830,--1836, 1838 and
1839. What were then problematical theories and merely tentative
schemes, are to-day educational truisms and successful fields of

The growth of the schools under the fitful system which prevailed
in Upper Canada from 1816 to 1842 was painfully slow. The number
of what was called "schools" was small, and the quality of them,
with rare exceptions, was exceedingly inferior. Anything beyond the
three R's was generally taught by itinerants. Dr. Ryerson mentions
in an autobiographical letter, as an example, that his knowledge
of English grammar was derived entirely from the "lectures" of a
peripatetic teacher of that subject. He also mentions several of
his after contemporaries who acquired a knowledge of grammar and
other special subjects in the same way. No one, as he said to me,
ever heard in these days of the possibility of a "royal road to
learning." It was hard work, of the hardest kind, and few ever
dreamt of reaching a higher eminence than that of mastering the
first two R's--Reading and 'Riting. Arithmetic was approached with
caution, and its higher "developments" with consternation. How could
such a state of things be otherwise when "transient persons" and
"common idlers" were with rare exceptions, the kind of "teachers"
employed. Education had no money value then, except in so far as
it receded from a rate of payment to that of a day laborer or a

The following are the extracts from the official reports:--


_Schools in the Home District--No United States books
permitted._--The schoolmasters, with the exception of two Americans
who have been long in the Province, are all British subjects--that
they have all taken the oath of allegiance--that during the last
year the salary allowed was £10 (ten pounds each), and no books from
the United States are permitted to be used in the schools.--_John
Strachan, Wm. Allan, Toronto, 8th March, 1839._

_Schools in the Eastern District--Transitory Teachers._--Were
the allowance to be increased teachers would come forward better
prepared and be induced to remain. Many at present seem to continue
for a few months, as a matter of convenience, and to assist
themselves in following other occupations, which greatly retards
the improvement of the children.--_Joseph Aderson, D. McDonell,
Cornwall, 9th May, 1839._

_Schools in the Western District: Their State and Suggestions for
Improvement._--The situation of the school houses is not always
judiciously chosen, it being situated often more for the convenience
of some one influential person than for that of the inhabitants
generally of the settlement.

The school-house is often a wretched log hut, or a ruinous building
altogether unfit for the purpose--especially in the winter season.

In too many cases the teachers are badly qualified for the task
which they undertake; and some of them having taken up the
profession more from necessity than choice are seldom permanent, and
consequently very ineffectual teachers.

The remuneration which the teachers of common schools receive for
their services are by no means sufficient to induce respectable and
well qualified teachers to undertake the irksome and laborious task.

_Hints for the Improvement of the Schools of the Province
(condensed)._--1. The school should be erected in a dry and healthy
situation if possible, and situated so as to suit the majority of
the inhabitants of the settlement in which it is erected. It should
be a neat and commodious building, sufficiently large to render it
airy and healthy in the summer season and well finished inside and
out to cause it to be comfortable in the winter.

2. A comfortable dwelling should be erected for the accommodation of
the teacher and his family.

3. Teachers throughout the Province might be divided into three
classes, allowance from Government to be not less than £100, £75 and
£50 respectively.

4. Every teacher, previous to receiving any appointment, should be
examined as to his literary acquirements, his political opinions and
his moral character.

5. A uniform set of elementary books should be compiled and
published for the use of the common schools of the Province, and
those republican productions that tend to poison the minds of the
youth of the country should be driven out of the Province.

6. A discreet and competent person should be appointed by his
Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor to visit the schools in each
district eight, or at least four, times in the year to examine the
scholars and the internal economy of the schools and to report
thereon--_W. Johnson, Sandwich, 21st February, 1839._

_Schools in the London District--"Boarding Round"--American
Books._--The Board of Education cannot abstain from remarking upon
a system commonly practiced by teachers and generally encouraged by
the employers in the country, of receiving the teachers as members
or lodgers with each family who are subscribers to the school in
succession for the period of engagement, which in its influence
and consequence has not hitherto been productive of good; and more
especially in cases where the teachers have been Americans, a system
than which none can be more mischievous in its effects, added to
which the circumstance, as will be seen by reference to the books
used in the schools, that a portion of American books, particularly
geographies, have been permitted to be used (notwithstanding the
Board have the power to order the discontinuance of such) because
others could not be procured in the country, nor has any provision
been made by the legislature for the formation of depots where
proper books could be had.--_John B. Askin, London, 12th February,

Names of text-books used in the common schools of Upper Canada in
1838, viz.:--

     Old and New Testaments.

     _Readers_--English, Murray's, Canadian and Reading Made Easy.

     _Spelling Books_--Mavor's, Cobb's, Webster's, Graham's,

     _Grammars_--Murray's, Lennie's, Kirkham's, McCulloch's.

     _Arithmetics_--Walkingame's, Gray's, Dillworth's, Daboll's,
     Watson's, Pike's, Adams', Morrison's, Hutton's, Rogers',
     Bailey's, Hall's, Joyce's, Keith's, Allison's, Bonnycastle's.

     _Geographies_--Goldsmith's, Hutton's, Olney's, Woodbridge's,
     Willett's, Evans', Stewart's, Parley's, Elvey's.

     _History_--English, Goldsmith's, Tytler's, Hume's, Simpson's.

     _Geometry and Euclid_--Ingram's, Hutton's.

     _Dictionaries_--Walker's, Cobb's, Walker Johnson's.

     _Miscellaneous_--Dillworth's Teachers' Assistant, Burham's
     Primer, Mason's Primer, Child's A, B, C, Scott's Lessons,
     Morrison's Book-keeping, Blake's Natural Philosophy, Blair's

  Number of schools in Upper Canada in 1838 (estimated), 835.

  Number of pupils in attendance,                "     23,776.


The Commissioners appointed to conduct this enquiry were the Rev.
Dr. McCaul, Rev. H. J. Grasett and S. B. Harrison, Esq. James
Hopkirk, Esq., was appointed Secretary. The following are the

_Preliminary Educational History._--In 1797 both Houses of the
Legislature petitioned the King for an appropriation of waste lands
of the Crown to form a fund for the support of a Grammar School in
each district and a College or University for instruction in the
different branches of a liberal education. In 1807 an Act, limited
to four years, was passed granting £800 for the support of eight
district Grammar Schools. In 1808 the limiting clause (to four
years) was repealed. In 1816 an Act establishing common schools
was passed and £6,000 were granted for their support. In 1819
an amending Act was passed requiring annual examinations in the
schools; that reports to the district Board of Education should be
made each year; that "ten children of the poorer inhabitants," to
be selected by ballot, should receive free tuition in each Grammar
School, and that trustees should give certificates to teachers. In
1820 the grant to common schools was reduced from £6,000 to £2,500
per annum. In 1824 £150 per annum was granted for the supply of
common schools, with books, tracts, etc., and that teachers must be
examined and licensed by the District Board of Education, one member
of which might certify as to the ability of the teacher before the
payment to him of the public grant. In 1833, the annual grant to
common schools was increased from £2,500 to £5,650. No grants to a
teacher is to be made "unless the trustees shall make it appear that
they have made provision for his support so as to secure him for his
services in a sum at least equal to double the amount which may be
allotted by the Board of Education from the public money." No school
legislation took place during the years from 1833 to 1841.

_District Grammar Schools._--The Commissioners made several
recommendations for the improvement of the schools, viz:--1.
Uniformity in the system applicable to all the schools. 2.
Examination of teacher, so as to test his qualification for the
office of teaching. 3. Assistant in each school where there are 30
pupils. 4. School-house built on a uniform plan. 5. Admission of a
certain number of free pupils. 6. Quarterly reports from each school
and systematic inspection of them.

_Common Schools._--The Commissioners also made recommendation for
the improvement of these schools, viz.:--1. That there should be
a model school with two rooms in each township, and at least two
acres of land attached thereto for the use of the master. 2. In
each of these schools there should be a male and female teacher
(married desirable), and, in addition, other "teachers licensed to
itinerate through the township, beyond the sphere of the permanent
school," say at places "more than two miles distant from it." "Thus
provision is made for one permanent and four occasional schools in
each township." 3. Fees to be $2 per quarter, while one pupil in
five might be admitted free. 4. The subjects of the instruction
should be: Spelling, reading, writing, the Holy Scriptures,
geography, history, arithmetic, book-keeping, mensuration, and in
girl's school sewing and knitting. 5. Books should be provided
at a cheaper rate from Britain, or a series of compilations, or
republications should be prepared and printed here, and that they
should be appointed to be used in all the schools of the Province.
6. The general control of the schools should be vested in a Board of
Commissioners, with a secretary at Toronto. One of the Board should
be chairman and inspector general of the schools--having control
over the Grammar and Common Schools, and should be the medium of
communication between the District Boards and the Council of King's
College. 7. There should be elected township director of schools.
The Commissioners add:--

_Normal School._--"No plan of education can be efficiently carried
out without the establishment of schools for the training of
teachers." They, therefore, recommended that the Central School of
Toronto should be a Normal School--others to be added afterwards.

_Grants._--The Commissioners recommend that £21,410 be granted for
District Grammar Schools--£12,000 from the sale of Grammar School
lands, and £24,300 for Common Schools--£15,000 of the latter to be
raised by taxation at the rate of 3/4d. in the £.


_Hon. G. S. Boulton._--In his replies to the Commissioners, he
said:--Teachers should be British subjects and should be examined by
the Board of Education and approved previous to appointment. Each
teacher should receive at least $20 per annum, exclusive of fees
from pupils.... I recommend the passage of an Act appropriating
500,000 acres of land for the support of Common Schools, as proposed
in the last session of the Legislature by a joint committee of both

_Hon. Wm. Morris,_ in his reply to the Commissioners, said:--The
hundreds of the youth of the country who, for want of convenient
institutions of learning, have been sent to and educated in the
neighboring Republic, where, if they have not imbibed a predilection
for that form of government, have been greatly exposed to the
danger of losing that attachment to monarchical government, and the
principles of the British Constitution, which is the essential duty
of those who administer the affairs of this colony to cherish in the
minds of the rising generation.

_Hon. James Crooks._--The system of Common Schools, although in
some instances abused by the employment of improper persons,
indeed sometimes aliens, as teachers, yet, on the whole, I think
highly beneficial; perhaps were the system of parochial schools,
as established in Scotland, with such modification as would be
necessary under the different circumstances of this Province,
engrafted upon the Common School system, it might be found to work

_Hon. P. B. De Blacquiere._--The present condition of teachers is
truly wretched, and reflects great disgrace upon the nation, and
what but the actual results can or could be expected? I think a
difficulty will arise as to finding inspectors properly qualified,
or who, in the present state of the country, can be trusted....

_Rev. Robert McGill._--I know the qualifications of nearly all
the Common School teachers in this (Niagara) District, and do not
hesitate to say, that there is not more than one in ten fully
qualified to instruct the young in this the humblest department. I
should doubt, therefore, whether the money granted to them being an
equivalent good, or whether the state of education in this Province
would be worse were those funds entirely withdrawn.

_Rev. Robert Murray._[37]--The great difficulty attending any change
in the present wretched system of education in the Province is to
ensure the efficiency of that scheme which may be adopted in its
room. To leave the supervision in the hands of the electors in
each district, or to a few individuals appointed by them, probably
themselves without education, would certainly tend to perpetuate the
system of gross oppression to which teachers have been subjected,
and to disappoint the reasonable expectations of the Government....
It appears absolutely necessary to ensure the efficiency of a system
(as suggested) that men of education, who themselves have had
large experience in the education of youth should be appointed to
superintend the whole system of operation....

  [37] First Superintendent of Education for Upper Canada, and the
  immediate predecessor of Rev. Dr. Ryerson.

_Malhon Burwell, Esq._--I cannot conceive anything more wanting in
efficiency than our present system for Common School education. I
annex for the notice of the Commission of Investigation a copy of
a Common School bill, which I have several times endeavored to get
passed through the House of Assembly.

(NOTE.--See Bishop Strachan's estimate of this bill in next extract.)

_Right Rev. Bishop Strachan._--The Common School Bill, drawn up
by Mr. Burwell, appears to be an able performance; it has several
times been entertained by the House of Assembly, and once passed
that body, but was unfortunately lost in the Legislative Council.
It is based on true principles, and contains within it the power of
expansion as new townships, counties and districts are organized. It
may, perhaps, admit of a few modifications, but is, on the whole, by
far the best measure for the establishment of common schools which I
have seen.


I will now take up the thread of the historical narrative of
education in Upper Canada from page -- of this Retrospect.

During the early settlement period, and that preceding the union
of Upper and Lower Canada in 1840, two social forces (which took
an educational form later on), were slowly shaping themselves into
an antagonism to each other which culminated in the events or
political crisis of 1837-38. This was apparent from the position
which the representatives of these forces assumed on the religious,
political and other questions of the day. As yet the question of an
educational system for the Province--beyond that of a University and
district Grammar Schools--had, down to 1836, taken no definite shape
in the public mind. Indeed, such a thing, as we now regard it, was
not deemed practical, except by a few leading men, as I have shown,
who were years in advance of their times.


It will simplify my statement of the case if I revert back to the
transition period between the establishment of the district Grammar
Schools in 1809 and the university charter of 1827; and from thence
take a somewhat prospective view of events in the order in which
they afterwards transpired. For convenience I would, therefore,
select two noted men of their times as representatives of the two
social forces to which I have referred, and of the opposite opinions
on education and other subjects which then prevailed.

The first was the Rev. Dr. Strachan (afterwards first Church of
England Bishop of Toronto), and the other was the Rev. Dr. Ryerson,
the representative and trusted leader of the members of the
Methodist Church in the Province.

Dr. Strachan was the undoubted representative of the English and
particularly the Scotch views on educational matters. Dr. Ryerson,
on the other hand, was the equally true and faithful exponent of the
British Colonial, or United Empire Loyalist, views and opinions on
the same subject. What these latter views and opinions were may be
gathered from a reference to the educational chapter in the colonial
history of the thirteen colonies, as given in an earlier portion of
this Retrospect.


The first settlers of Upper Canada were "exiled tories," so called,
from the revolted colonies. In that, and in the other Provinces,
they were warmly received and welcomed as the heroic defenders of
the royal cause. They sacrificed everything but their principles and
their honor in maintaining "the unity of the Empire." Even after
the struggle was ended, they adhered to the "lost cause" with the
same devotion as they had shown in following the royal standard,
not only to victory, but even to disaster and defeat. They were
men of wonderful resolution and daring, as well as of superior
intelligence. Such were the first settlers of Upper Canada.

Soon after the arrival of the "U. E. Loyalists" in Upper Canada, a
tide of emigration set in, chiefly from the three kingdoms. These
immigrants brought with them the feelings and habits of home life
in the old world, with the opinions and prejudices of their class,
illustrating the truth of the old Latin quotation, "_Cælum, non
animum, mutant qui trans mare currunt_."

By degrees portions of the U. E. Loyalists and of these immigrants,
whose views on "Church and State" coincided, united their forces and
formed a powerful and dominant party. They ruled the Province with
a high hand for many years. From their social position and frequent
intermarriage they became a compact and exclusive party, and were
distinguished by the _sobriquet_ of the "Family Compact." Against
this powerful party was arrayed many of the U. E. Loyalists and
their descendants, and the entire liberal and progressive party.

It is sufficient to say in this connection that under the skillful
leadership of Dr. Ryerson and other prominent men of moderate views
who acted with him, the power of the Family Compact was broken, the
compact itself was gradually dissolved. Its opponents became in turn
the ruling party in this Province, a position which their legitimate
successors still occupy.

The Family Compact party, in the heyday of their power and
influence, were not averse to education. Far from it; for they were
men of education themselves. But it took the form of zeal for higher
education and for the higher classes. Rev. Dr. Strachan, who was the
most energetic and powerful leader of this party, occupied a seat
in the Legislative Council (Senate) by appointment of the Governor.
He devoted all his energies to the establishment of a university,
with district classical schools as feeders. He practically ignored
elementary schools, or rather made no provision for them; and it was
not until nine years after these district classical schools were
established that the U. E. Loyalists, (combined with the progressive
party of which it formed no inconsiderable portion), were able to
get a measure passed by the Legislature for the establishment and
maintenance of common schools.[38]

  [38] See remarks on this anachronism on page 64.


But in order to understand more fully the sequence of events which
led to the development of the educational spirit in this Province,
it will be necessary to give a condensed summary of the facts. With
this historical background in prospective view, the distinguishing
features of that comprehensive system of education which, in later
years, Dr. Ryerson was privileged to found, can be more clearly seen.

The U. E. Loyalists removed to British America in 1783, the year
of their exile. Most of them settled in Upper Canada, along the
north shore of the Upper St. Lawrence, and the corresponding margin
of Lakes Ontario and Erie. They brought with them from the old
colonies their educational traditions and their devotion to the
flag of the Empire. Those of them who had settled along the Bay of
Quinté, united in 1789, in framing a memorial to Governor-General
Lord Dorchester (Sir Guy Carleton), in which lamenting the
educational privations which they had endured since their settlement
in Canada, they prayed the Governor to establish a "seminary of
learning" at Frontenac (Kingston). Their prayer was granted, so
far as the setting apart of lands for the support of the seminary
was concerned, as well as the support of schools wherever the
expatriated colonials had settled, or might settle, in the country.

Immediately after the passing of the Constitutional or Quebec Act,
of 1791, by which, among other things, Upper Canada was separated
from Quebec, the Governor of the new Province (J. Graves Simcoe),
sought the co-operation of the Church of England Bishop (Mountain),
of Quebec, who had ecclesiastical jurisdiction over both Provinces,
in urging upon the Home Government the necessity of providing for
a University and for classical schools in Upper Canada. Provision
for elementary schools formed no part of this scheme. The British
Colonial idea of providing for such schools never crossed the
minds of the leaders of public opinion in these days nor that of
the bishop. They were chiefly Englishmen, with the old-fashioned
English ideas of those times, that the education of the masses was
unnecessary, for it would tend to revolution and the upsetting of
the established order of things.

In April, 1795, Governor Simcoe addressed a letter to the Protestant
Episcopal Bishop of Quebec--then having jurisdiction in Upper
Canada--urging him to seek to promote the establishment of a
"Protestant Episcopal University" in Upper Canada. The reasons which
he gave for this appeal were characteristic of the English Churchmen
and of the times, and reveal somewhat of the social and religious
state of the colony. They showed, too, that he was a statesman as
well as a Churchman. He said:

     The people of this Province enjoy the forms as well as the
     privileges of the British constitution. They have the means
     of governing themselves; and, having nothing to ask, must
     ever remain a part of the British Empire, provided they shall
     become sufficiently capable and enlightened to understand
     their relative situation and to manage their own power to the
     public interest. Liberal education seems to me, therefore, to
     be indispensably necessary; and the completion of it by the
     establishment of a university in the capital of the country, * *
     * would be most useful to inculcate just principles, habits, and
     manners into the rising generation; to coalesce the different
     customs of the various descriptions of settlers * * * into one
     form. In short, from distinct parts and ancient prejudices to
     new-form, as it were, and establish one nation, and thereby
     strengthen the union with Great Britain and preserve a lasting
     obedience to His Majesty's authority.

       *       *       *       *       *

     I naturally should wish that the clergy requisite for offices
     in the university, in the first instance, should be Englishmen,
     if possible. * * * I most earnestly hope that * * * by giving
     the means of proper education in this Province, both in its
     rudiments and in its completion, that from ourselves we may
     raise up a loyal, and in due progress, a learned clergy, which
     will speedily tend to unite not only the Puritans within the
     Province, but the clergy of the Episcopal Church, however
     dispersed * * * and on all sides, to bring within the pale [of
     the Episcopal Church] in Upper Canada a very great body of
     sectaries, who in my judgment, as it were, offer themselves to
     its protection and re-union.

     These objects would be materially promoted by a university in
     Upper Canada, which might, in due progress, acquire such a
     character as to become the place of education to many persons
     beyond the extent of the King's dominions. * * * The Episcopal
     clergy in Great Britain, from pious motives as well as policy,
     are materially interested that the Church should increase in
     this Province. I will venture to prophesy its preservation
     depends upon a university being erected therein. * * * I have
     not the smallest hesitation in saying that I believe if a
     Protestant Episcopal university should be proposed to be erected
     (even in the United States) the British nation would liberally
     subscribe to the undertaking. * * * The universities of England,
     I make no doubt, would contribute to the planting of a scion
     from their respectable stock in this distant colony.

There are two or three things worth noticing in this vigorous letter
of the Governor:--

(1) Among the objects sought to be attained by the establishment
of a university was the conservation of "the privileges of the
British Constitution"; (2) the fusing of the various nationalities
represented in the colony; (3) the absorption of "Puritans" and
"sectaries" into the Episcopal Church; (4) the growth and spread of
loyalty to the King's authority.

Two things also are noticeable: First, the Governor did not ignore,
or underestimate, the necessity of popular education, or "education
in the rudiments;" second, he gives no hint of a desire to
appropriate the public domain to the building up of an "Episcopal
university." On the other hand, he assumes that, if done at all, it
is to be aided by contributions from England. I call attention to
these two points, from the fact that they were quite lost sight of
by those who afterwards took up the cause of university education in
Upper Canada where he had left it.


Governor Simcoe, having received a higher appointment in the
colonial service, left soon after. The Bishop of Quebec, however,
acted upon his suggestion and wrote to the Colonial Minister on the
subject, in June, 1796. In November, 1797, the Legislature of Upper
Canada addressed a memorial to King George III, asking:

     "That His Majesty would be graciously pleased to direct his
     Government in this Province to appropriate a certain portion of
     the waste lands of the Crown as a fund for the establishment
     and support of a respectable grammar school in each district
     thereof, and also of a college, or university, for the
     instruction of the youth in the different branches of liberal

To this memorial the King directed a gracious answer to be sent. The
duke of Portland, Colonial Minister, therefore instructed the acting
Governor, President Russell, to give practical effect to the prayer
of the petitioners. In doing so he used the following language:

     [His Majesty] being always ready ... to assist and encourage the
     exertions of his Province in laying the foundation for promoting
     sound learning and a religious education, has condescended
     to express his [desire] to comply with the wishes of the
     Legislature ... in such a manner as shall be judged to be most

     _First_, by the establishment of free grammar [classical]
     schools in those districts in which they are called for, and--

     _Secondly_, in due process of time, by establishing other
     seminaries of a larger and more comprehensive nature, for the
     promotion of religious and moral learning, and the study of the
     arts and sciences.

Such were the terms in which the King, through his Colonial Minister,
intimated his desire that classical and university learning should be
promoted in this Province. The very comprehensiveness and express
terms of the duke of Portland's dispatch on this subject gave rise
to a protracted controversy in after years, especially as the
controverted expressions were embodied in substance in the royal
charter for a university obtained in 1827 by Rev. Dr. Strachan
(afterwards first Church of England Bishop of Toronto). Around the
expressions--"religious education," "religious and moral learning,"
and "other seminaries of a larger and more comprehensive nature,"
etc., a fierce war was waged for many years, which, though virtually
over now, has yet left traces of the bitter conflict.

The result of the instructions to President Russell was, that
549,217 acres of crown lands was set apart for the twofold purpose
set forth in the Colonial Minister's dispatch. Of these acres,
225,944 were, in 1827, devoted to the university that was virtually
established, on paper, in that year, and by royal charter in 1828.

As these lands thus set apart were, in those early days,
unproductive of revenue, nothing could be done to give practical
effect to the gracious act of the King. A principal for the proposed
university was, however, selected in Scotland. The position was
first offered to the afterwards justly celebrated Rev. Dr. Thomas
Chalmers, but declined. It was then offered to a successful parish
schoolmaster, Mr. (afterwards so distinguished in this Province as
the Rev. Dr.) Strachan.


Rev. Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Strachan, though not a versatile man,
was in many respects a many-sided one. In his day he had to do with
all of one great public questions which came before the country.
On many of them (and in their settlement), he has left the impress
of his active mind and persistent will. This was particularly the
case in regard to those questions which more deeply touched the best
interests of Canadian life, in its religious and social aspects. And
it was a singular yet characteristic fact, that the more he was
opposed by those who differed _in toto_ from the policy of his acts,
the more strenuously he persevered in his purpose--even against the
wiser counsels and calmer judgment of many leading public men of his
time. But this opens up a question which it is not my purpose to

Dr. Strachan, as I have said,--although not versatile,--was a
many-sided man. And this was quite true in regard to that department
of his career which I desire to illustrate. He was both an educator
and an educationist. In the former capacity he was successively the
parish schoolmaster, near St. Andrew's, and at Kettle, (Scotland).
He had there as a pupil the afterwards celebrated Sir David Wilkie.
In Canada, he was first a tutor in the family of the Hon. Richard
Cartwright, at Kingston; then master of the Cornwall Grammar School,
at which most of the distinguished public men of the Bishop's later
years were educated. Subsequently he was Chairman of the Provincial
Board of Education at York. He was named by the late Hon. Peter
McGill as first Principal of McGill College, Montreal--although he
never was in a position to undertake its duties. He was afterwards
President of King's College, Toronto, and subsequently President of
Trinity College University.

In his capacity as an educator, Dr. Strachan was considered one of
the most successful teachers which this Province has yet produced.
His aim was to call into active play the varied mental powers of
his pupils, and to stimulate any desire which they had to excel in
knowledge and virtue. One of his earliest _brochures_ is _a Letter
to his Pupils_, and is in the nature of an appeal on behalf of the
Christian religion. This, he inscribed, "as a mark of esteem to
Mr. Andrew Stuart and Mr. James Cartwright, students-at-law." This
letter was printed at Montreal, in 1807, in the quaint old type of
the time. It is evidently a warning appeal against the infidelity
and excesses of the French revolutionists.

Dr. Strachan's early and practical experience as a teacher gave to
him an additional and keen sense of the educational wants of the
country. His success as an educator proved to him what could be
done in that direction. It also enlisted his feelings and fired his
ambition to be the founder of an institution of superior learning,
in which the young men of the Province could be thoroughly educated.
The education of the masses was not provided for by him, but in
an Act passed in 1819 and relating to classical schools (which he
promoted), it was agreed--

     That in order to extend the benefits of a liberal education
     to promising children of the poorer inhabitants, trustees [of
     common schools wherever established] shall have the power of
     sending scholars, not exceeding ten in number, to be chosen by
     lot every four years, to be taught gratis at the [classical]

Thus, in this exceptional manner, provision was made so that, should
a limited number of the children of the poorer inhabitants develop
ability or taste for learning, they should not be wholly excluded
from the privileges so liberally provided for children of the richer
classes. These class distinctions have, happily, forever disappeared
from our statute book. They were no doubt conceived in a benevolent
spirit, and were characteristic of the social ethics of the times,
but they were pernicious as a principle to embody in a school law.

In his "Appeal" in behalf of a university in Upper Canada, published
early in 1827, Dr. Strachan gave a fuller expression to this idea of
providing education only for the wealthier classes. He said:--

     It is indeed quite evident that the consequences of a university
     ... possessing in itself sufficient recommendations to attract
     to it the sons of the most opulent families, would soon
     be visible in the greater intelligence and more confirmed
     principles of loyalty of those who would be called to various
     public duties required in the country--_i.e._, the governing

In justice to Dr. Strachan, it is proper to state that a few years
afterwards (in reply to a question put to him by a committee of
the House of Assembly) he laid down a broader, a nobler and a more
comprehensive principle in regard to a system of national education.
He said:--

     The whole expense [of education] in a free country like
     this should be defrayed by the public; that promising boys,
     giving indication of high talent, though poor, might have an
     opportunity of cultivating their faculties, and, if able and
     virtuous, taking a lead in the community.


The policy of the country in regard to education in these early
times was further marked by a lack of comprehensiveness in its aims.

The framework of the educational system, then projected, was
constructed on a principle the very reverse of natural. And this
fact led to the existence, subsequently, and for many years, of
a singular anachronism as the result of its application of that
principle. Thus, in 1797, lands were set apart in Upper Canada by
the Crown for the establishment of district grammar schools and a
university. But no provision was thought of for the establishment of
elementary schools. These grammar schools were first established in
1807--eight in all, viz., at Sandwich, Townsend (London District),
Niagara, York, Cobourg, Kingston, Augusta (District of Johnstown),
and Cornwall. But no provision was made for elementary schools (and
then only for four years) until 1816--nine years after the district
grammar schools were established.

Dr. Strachan's feelings in this matter were evidently in harmony
with this spirit of the times, and he directed his efforts
exclusively to the establishment of these higher institutions of
learning. He never lost sight, however, of the crowning institution
of all--the university. His speeches and addresses on education all
pointed to "this consummation, devoutly to be wished."

Referring to this educational anomaly, or anachronism, of
establishing higher institutions of learning before providing for
elementary schools, an English resident in a book entitled "Three
Years in Canada," and published in 1839, thus forcibly points out
the singular want of foresight in this matter. He says:--

     "The Provincial Board of Education either assumed that
     elementary education in Upper Canada had attained its zenith
     or deemed it better to begin at the apex and work downward to
     the base of the structure they were called upon to rear than to
     follow the old-fashioned custom of first laying the foundation
     and then working upwards."

The fact was, and the chief reason for the perpetration of this
educational anachronism was, that the friends of popular education,
while all-powerful in the House of Assembly, were few and
consequently uninfluential in the Legislative Council. They were,
therefore, not able at all times to influence that body so as to
secure its assent to the elementary education bills passed by the
popular branch. We have seen that, in 1838, the Council refused to
concur in the Common School Bill passed in that year by the House of
Assembly. Before another School Act was introduced, both Houses had
ceased to exist in the Union of the two provinces in 1840.


The reasons which Dr. Strachan gave for urging the early
establishment of a Provincial University were reasonable and
weighty in themselves, had the other necessary kind of school been
established and provided for. I shall give these reasons in Dr.
Strachan's own words. They are characteristic of the Bishop's own
feelings in regard to American institutions and their influence on
the young. He said:--

     "There is not in either province any English seminary ... at
     which a liberal education can be obtained. Thus the youth of
     300,000 Englishmen have no opportunity of receiving instruction
     within the Canadas in law, medicine or divinity.

     "The consequence is that many young men ... are obliged to look
     beyond the province for the last two or three years of their
     education--undoubtedly the most important and critical period
     of their whole lives ... The youth are, therefore, in some
     degree, compelled to look towards the United States, where means
     of education, though of a description far inferior to those of
     Great Britain, are yet superior to anything within the province,
     and a growing necessity is arising of sending them to finish
     their education in that country."

Dr. Strachan then proceeds to point out in his own graphic language,
the peculiarly adverse influences to which loyal Canadians from
youth were then subjected while attending schools and universities
in the United States. He says:--

     "Now, in the United States a custom prevails unknown to or
     unpractised in any other nation; in all other countries morals
     and religion are made the basis of public instruction, and
     the first books put into the hands of children teach them
     the domestic, the social and religious virtues; but in the
     United States politics pervade the whole system of education;
     the school books, from the very first elements, are stuffed
     with praises of their own institutions, and breathe hatred to
     everything English."

Dr. Ryerson came to the same conclusions as did Dr. Strachan in
regard to the character of American school books. Speaking on the
same subject, twenty years afterwards, he said:--

     "With very few exceptions American school books abound in
     statements and allusions prejudicial to the institutions and
     character of the British nation."

Dr. Strachan still further refers to the anti-British influences of
education obtained by Canadian youth in the United States. He said:--

     "To such a country our youth may go, strongly attached to their
     native land ... but by hearing its institutions continually
     depreciated, and those of the United States praised ... some may
     become fascinated with that liberty which has degenerated into
     licentiousness, and imbibe, perhaps unconsciously, sentiments
     unfriendly to things of which Englishmen are proud."

Dr. Strachan then proceeded to point out the advantages of having
the youth of the province "carefully nurtured within the British
Dominions." He said:--

     "The establishment of an university at the seat of Government
     will complete a system of education in Upper Canada from the
     letters of the alphabet to the most profound investigations of
     science.... This establishment, by collecting all the promising
     youth of the colony into one place, will gradually give a new
     tone to public sentiment and feelings ... producing the most
     beneficial effects through the whole province. It is, indeed,
     quite evident that the consequences of an university ...
     possessing in itself sufficient recommendations to attract to
     it the sons of the most opulent families would soon be visible
     in the greater intelligence and more confirmed principles of
     loyalty of those who would be called to various public duties
     required in the country."

From these wise and practical remarks, it will be seen how truly
Bishop Strachan estimated the great advantages to the youth of the
country of university training obtained within our borders. In
this view he was far-seeing enough. But yet his range of vision,
as to its beneficial effects, did not extend beyond "the sons of
the most opulent families"--which was another indication of the
prevailing feeling of the times, that higher education in the form
of university training was not thought of even for "the promising
children of the younger inhabitants." Happily our public men,
and the Bishop himself, outgrew this narrow feeling and social
prejudice. He even lived to see, and with great satisfaction as
to the results, that, under the fostering care of men of large
sympathies and more generous impulses, the doors of the educational
institutions of the country, from the highest to the lowest, were
thrown wide open to every boy, rich and poor, high and low, and
to all the youth of the province, without distinction of race, or
creed, or social rank.

Rev. Dr. Strachan succeeded in getting a Royal Charter for the
university in 1828. This charter virtually placed the proposed
university under the control of the Episcopal Church. When its terms
were known in Upper Canada it was fiercely assailed. The charter
was subsequently modified, in deference to public opinion; but it
was not until many years afterwards that the university was, by
statute, declared to be free from denominational control. Out of the
controversy which the Duke of Portland's despatch and the charter
caused, arose other colleges and universities, viz, Victoria and


In the Rev. Dr. Scadding's most interesting sketch of the "First
Bishop of Toronto,--a Review and a Study"--occurs the following
striking passage in regard to the founding of the "Twins of
Learning" in Toronto:--

The results of the life of the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto
are tangible realities.... He built the principal church edifice
appertaining to his own communion four times.... "Twins of Learning"
witness for him; he founded two universities in succession
(1842 and 1852), both invested with the character borne by such
institutions as originally instituted, by Royal charter--procured
in both instances by his own personal travail; the later of the two
by an individual and solitary effort, to which it is not easy to
find a parallel. He saw both of them in operation, investigating,
conserving and propagating truth, on somewhat different lines
indeed, but probably with co-ordinate utility, as things are. The
very park, with its widely renowned avenue, the Champs Elysées
of Toronto, in which the bourgeoisie of the place love to take
their pastime, are a provision of his--that property having been
specially selected by him, as President of King's College, with the
same judiciousness and the same careful prescience of the need of
amplitude for such purposes which guided him also in choosing the
fine site and grounds of Trinity College.


This university was originally established under the charter
obtained by Rev. Dr. Strachan in 1828. But it only existed on paper
until 1842-43.

In April, 1842, the corner-stone of the new institution was laid
by Governor-General Sir Charles Bagot, (M.A. of Christ Church,
Oxford). In June, 1843, it was opened under the style and title of
the "University of King's College," Toronto, by the Right Rev. John
Strachan, D.D., LL. D., President of the University. In October
of that year, an effort was made by Hon. Attorney-General Baldwin
to introduce a comprehensive scheme of university reform, but it
was defeated in the Legislature. In 1845 and 1847 other abortive
attempts were made to "reform" the university; but in 1849 a
comprehensive measure was introduced into the Legislature and passed
into a law, by which it was reincorporated under the name of the
"University of Toronto," and made a purely provincial institution,
by placing it under the sole control of the Government, and of a
senate and officers appointed by the Government.

In 1853 another Act was passed, under which the University was
constituted with two corporations, "The University of Toronto," and
"University College," the functions of the former being limited to
the examination of candidates for degrees in the several faculties,
or for scholarships and honors, and the granting of such degrees,
etc.; those of the latter being confined to the teaching of subjects
in the Faculty of Arts.[39] By this Act certain institutions,
from which students might be examined, were affiliated with the

  [39] By recent legislation University College has been merged in the
  University of Toronto.

In 1873 further amendments were made in the constitution of the
University. The Chancellor was made elective for a period of three
years by Convocation, which was then re-established. By this Act the
powers of the Senate were extended to all branches of knowledge,
literature, science and arts, and also to granting certificates
of proficiency to women; the power of affiliation was likewise
extended; the Senate was also empowered to provide for local

Latterly, the faculties of law and medicine have been restored and
other extensions of the University course have been made.


The Rev. Dr. Ryerson, who was the founder of this University, thus
speaks of its early history, in an address to the students when he
was appointed its first principal in 1841. He said:--

His late Most Gracious Majesty William IV., of precious memory,
first invested this institution, in 1836, with a corporate
charter as the Upper Canada Academy--the first institution of the
kind established by Royal Charter unconnected with the Church
of England, throughout the British colonies. It is a cause of
renewed satisfaction and congratulation that, after five year's
operation as an academy, it has been incorporated as a university
and financially assisted by the unanimous vote of both branches of
the Provincial Legislature--sanctioned by more than an official
cordiality, in Her Majesty's name, by the late lamented Lord
Sydenham, Governor-General, one of whose last messages to the
Legislative Assembly was a recommendation to grant £500 as an aid to
the Victoria College.... We have buoyant hopes for our country when
our rulers and legislators direct their earliest and most liberal
attention to in literary institutions and educational interests. A
foundation for a common school system in this Province his been laid
by the Legislature, which I believe will, at no distant day, exceed
in efficiency any yet established on the American continent;[40]
and I have reason to believe that the attention of the Government
is earnestly directed to make permanent provision for the support
of colleges also, that they may be rendered efficient in their
operation and accessible to as large a number of the enterprising
youth of our country as possible.

  [40] This memorable prophecy, made by Dr. Ryerson in 1841, was
  abundantly verified in after years, chiefly as the result of his own
  labors in maturing the school system, of which he was the founder.

This institution originated with the Wesleyan Methodists in 1828-30.
The conference in the latter year agreed to establish it as an
Academy, and the following year, Dr. Ryerson, in the _Christian
Guardian_ newspaper, of which he was then editor, issued a strong
appeal in behalf of the proposed institution on the 21st April,
1831. On the 7th June, 1832, the foundation stone of the Academy
was laid; and on the 18th June, 1836, it was formerly opened under
the designation of "Upper Canada Academy." In the previous year
Dr. Ryerson was deputed to go to England to collect subscriptions
on behalf of the institution. He was there enabled to obtain a
Royal Charter for the Academy and a grant of $16,400 from the Local

Amongst the last public acts performed by Lord Sydenham was the
giving of the Royal assent to a Bill for the erection of the Upper
Canada Academy into a College with University powers. This he did on
the 27th August, 1841. Dr. Ryerson thus refers to the event, in a
letter written from Kingston on that day:--

The establishment of such an institution by the members of the
Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada attests their estimate of
education and science; and the passing of such an Act unanimously by
both Houses of the Legislature, and the Royal assent to it by His
Excellency in Her Majesty's name, is an ample refutation of recent
statements and proceedings of the Wesleyan Committee in London
... while the Act itself will advance the paramount interests of
literary education amongst Her Majesty's Canadian subjects.... For
the accomplishment of this purpose, a grant must be added to the
charter--a measure ... honorable to the enlightened liberality of
the Government and Legislature. When they are securely laying a
broad foundation for popular government, and devising comprehensive
schemes for the development of the latent resources of the country,
and the improvement of its internal communication, and proposing a
liberal system of common school education, free from the domination
of every church, and aiding colleges which may have been established
by any church, we may rationally and confidently anticipate the
arrival of a long-looked for era of civil government and civil
liberty, social harmony, and public prosperity.

The Academy was thus incorporated as a University, in August, 1841.
In October, 1841, Rev. Dr. Ryerson was appointed the first president
of the University, a position which he held until he was appointed
Chief Superintendent of Education for Upper Canada in 1844. He was
succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Macnab, now rector of Darlington. In 1850
the late accomplished president (Rev. S. S. Nelles, D.D., LL.D.) was
appointed. He had been a pupil under Dr. Ryerson, but finished his
university education at the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn.,
and graduated there. He received the degree of D.D. from the Queen's
University, Kingston, and that of LL.D. from his own university.
His career was an unusually long and prosperous one; and under his
administration the university has taken high rank amongst the sister
universities of Ontario.[41]

  [41] It it a gratifying fact that Victoria College was the first
  university in Upper Canada whose doors were open to receive
  students. The first session commenced in October, 1841; that of
  Queen's College University in March, 1842, and King's College
  University in June, 1843. The first graduate in arts who received
  a diploma in Upper Canada was sent out from Victoria College in

In the original appeal made by Dr. Ryerson in England on behalf
of the Academy (in 1835), he stated the "specific objects of the
institution" to be as follows:--

1. To educate, upon terms equally moderate with similar institutions
in the neighboring republic of the United States, and with strict
attention to their morals, the youth of Canada generally.

2. To educate for common school masters, free of charge, poor young
men of Christian principles and character, and of promising talent,
who have an ardent thirst for knowledge.

3. To educate the most promising youth of the recently converted
Indian tribes of Canada as teachers to their aboriginal

  [42] Several promising Indian youth were educated at Victoria
  College, and some of them became useful teachers and missionaries.

These extracts are highly interesting, as showing the noble and
comprehensive aims, in these early days of educational effort, which
Dr. Ryerson had in view in founding this valuable institution of
learning. He goes on then (apart from these objects) to show the
grave necessity which existed for the early establishment of such an
institution. He said:--

For want of such an institution upwards of sixty of the youth of
Canada are now attending seminaries of learning, under a similar
management, in the United States, where nearly two hundred Canadian
youth have been taught the elementary branches of a professional
education during the last eight years. There is good reason to
believe that nearly, if not quite, all the Canadian youth now being
taught in the United States seminaries of learning, will return to
Canada as soon as this institution shall have been brought into

In behalf, therefore, of this institution--most important to
the best interests of a healthy, fertile and rapidly improving
British colonial possession, the inhabitants of which have in
this, as in other instances, shown the strongest desire to help
themselves to the utmost of their very limited means--a respectful
and earnest appeal is made to British liberality, an appeal which
it is devotedly hoped will be responded to in a manner that will
contribute to draw still closer the bonds by which the loyal
Province of Upper and the British population of Lower Canada are
united to the Mother Country.

This appeal was endorsed by the Governor of the Province, Sir John
Colborne (afterwards Lord Seaton), in the following terms:--

The Rev. Egerton Ryerson proceeds to England ... to solicit
subscriptions ... to enable [the conference here] to bring into
operation a seminary established at Cobourg, in Upper Canada.... As
I am persuaded this colony will derive the greatest advantage from
the institution and from the exertions of the conference to diffuse
religions instruction, I cannot but strongly recommend that it may
receive encouragement and support from all persons interested in the
welfare of Upper Canada.

The "appeal" was also heartily endorsed by the Hon. Peter McGill,
founder of McGill College University, Montreal, and by other
distinguished gentlemen and merchants in Montreal. In his letter Mr.
McGill referred to Dr. Ryerson as "a gentleman who has distinguished
himself in Upper Canada by his writings in defense of religion,
order, and good government."

After much delay and great discouragement, Dr. Ryerson succeeded in
the objects of his mission--money and a royal charter; but at the
close of his mission he writes to the Academy Committee as follows:--

Thus terminated this protracted [business], ... though I had to
encounter successive, discouraging and almost insurmountable
difficulties [in obtaining the charter]. Not having been able to
effect any loan ... on account of the agitated state of the Canadas,
and being in suspense as to the result of my application to the
Government, I was several months pressed down with anxiety and fear,
by this suspense and by reason of the failure of my efforts to
obtain relief. In this anxiety and fear my own unassisted resolution
and fortitude could not sustain me. I had to rely upon the unfailing
support of the Lord my God.

I have given these particulars somewhat in detail, as they afford
a striking narrative illustration of the almost insurmountable
difficulties which the early pioneers of education in this Province
encountered in endeavoring to found these valuable institutions
which have been so useful to this country, and which have shed
such lustre upon their founders' names. It is also due to Victoria
University, and (as I shall show) to Queen's University also to
state these particulars, from the fact that the first practical,
yet entirely abortive, attempt to make King's College a provincial
university, was made in 1843, two years after the Methodists
and Presbyterians had, in self-defence, been compelled to found
universities of their own. This they did at a great sacrifice.

By the time that the liberation of King's College took place, in
1849-'53, the really provincial universities at Cobourg and Kingston
had become recognized as most important factors in our educational
system; and from them alone, up to that time, could students of all
denominations obtain a university education.

In connection with the university, Faraday Hall, or School of
Practical Science, was erected in 1877. It is a handsome and
spacious building, and is admirably fitted up for the purpose of
science teaching.


As early as 1829 it was felt among the members of the United
Presbytery of Upper Canada that a seminary, or college, for the
training of their ministers was highly desirable. As the management
of King's College at Toronto was in the hands of the adherents of
the Church of England, it was felt that such an institution could
not be made available for Presbyterian theological instruction.
A committee of the British House of Commons, to which had been
referred petitions from Canada in 1828 and 1830 against the
exclusive character of the charter of King's College, Toronto, were
disposed to solve the difficulty by suggesting that two theological
chairs be established in King's College (and did so recommend)--one
for students of the Churches of England and Scotland, respectively.
Nothing, however, of the kind was done; nor was there any arts
college then open on equal terms to all the youth of the country.
The Presbyterians, like the Methodists, had, therefore, to found
an institution of their own. Steps were taken by the synod of the
Church in 1831 and 1839 to found such an institution. At a meeting
held in Hamilton, in November, 1839, the commission appointed for
that purpose prepared the draft of a charter for the proposed
college. Kingston was selected by the synod as the site for the new

An Act embodying the charter was passed by the Provincial
Legislature in February, 1840, incorporating the "University
of Kingston." The Act was, however, disallowed by the imperial
authorities, on the ground that it conflicted with the royal
prerogative of granting charters. A royal charter was, however,
issued in 1841, incorporating the institution under the name of
Queen's College, with "the style and privileges of a university."

The opening of Queen's took place on the 7th of March, 1842. Rev.
Thomas Liddell, D.D., of Edinburgh, was the Principal and Professor
of Divinity, and Rev. P. C. Campbell, of Brockville, Professor
of Classics. Rev. James Williamson, D.D., LL.D., in 1842, became
Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. He is, therefore,
the oldest college professor in Ontario.

After the opening of King's College, Toronto, in 1843, an agitation
commenced with the view to unite the three universities then in
operation into a single provincial institution. Many plans were
proposed, and several measures tending to that end were introduced
into Parliament and fully discussed. In 1843 the Hon. Robert Baldwin
introduced a university bill, which, though it presented many
popular features, was strongly objected to by the churches named and
others also, because it was deficient in providing for religious

A bill was introduced by Hon. W. H. Draper, in 1845, to amend the
law so as to make it more generally acceptable to the religious
bodies of the country; and in 1847 the late Hon. John Hillyard
Cameron introduced a measure in which it was proposed to devote a
large part of the endowment to increased support of high schools and
also to largely subsidize the denominational colleges. The measure
failed to carry in Parliament, however, and this practically ended
the agitation for the union of colleges for many years.

In 1846 Dr. Liddell resigned his position as Principal and returned
to Scotland. Rev. J. Machar, D.D., was next appointed Principal, and
under his administration there was slow but real improvement.

Rev. Dr. Cook, of Quebec occupied the position of Principal for
a time, but he refused to accept the position permanently. Rev.
Dr. Leitch was next appointed, but his early death deprived the
institution of his services. He was followed by the Rev. Dr.
Snodgrass, and on his retirement the Rev. George Monro Grant, D.D.,
of Halifax, was appointed. Dr. Grant entered on his arduous duties
with his accustomed energy, and occupies that position with great
acceptance. He is an able speaker and a wise administrator. Queen's
College has now faculties of arts, theology, and law, and there are
affiliated with it the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons,
also in a prosperous condition, and the Kingston Women's Medical

In 1869 it was resolved to make an appeal to the country for aid.
The people of Kingston raised about $25,000, and the result of the
whole effort was that about $103,000 was raised for the equipment of
the college.

In 1878 Principal Grant made the proposition to raise $150,000,
in order to provide new buildings, additional professors, and
apparatus. The appeal was successful; additional ground of about
twenty acres was at once purchased--a site of rare beauty and
convenience--and the present noble building was erected.


The immediate cause of the founding of this College and University
was the suppression, in 1849, of the Faculty of Divinity in King's
College, now the University of Toronto. In consequence of this the
Right Rev. J. Strachan D.D., Bishop of Toronto, issued in February,
1850, a pastoral appeal to members of the Church of England for
funds to enable him to establish a Church University and College. In
response to this pastoral, the Bishop succeeded in raising a large
endowment from voluntary subscriptions from churchmen in Canada,
England, and the United States, so that on April 30, 1851, the
foundation stone of the college building was laid, and on January
15, 1852, the work of instruction was begun, the staff consisting
of four professors in arts, besides those in the faculties of law
and medicine. During the last thirty years the endowment has been
largely increased by liberal contributions made from time to time,
so that the original amount is now about trebled. In 1878 a large
and handsome convocation hall was erected, and in 1884 a long felt
want was supplied by the erection of a finely proportioned and
beautiful chapel.

The University of Trinity College at present consists of the
faculty of arts and divinity, of an affiliated Medical School with
a commodious building and a large staff of professors, and an
affiliated Women's Medical College. Provision is also made for the
higher education of women in connection with the Bishop Strachan
School in Toronto, and connected with the University is a large
school for boys at Port Hope.


The College (or University) of Ottawa is under the direction of
the Roman Catholic Church. It was founded in 1848 by the Right
Reverend Joseph Eugene Guignes, O.M.I., D.D., first R. C. Bishop of
Ottawa. In 1856, the Bishop confided the direction of the college
to the "Society of the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate." The
total value of the college building and grounds is about $75,000.
It has also a good library and cabinet of natural philosophy (or
physics), and of chemistry and natural history. The college obtained
university powers in 1866. It confers degrees in arts, science, and
literature--B. A., B. Sc., B. L., as well as M. A.


This institution, in connection with the Church of England in
Canada, was incorporated in 1878, with power to affiliate with
Huron Theological College and to confer Degrees in Arts, Divinity,
Medicine and Law. The affiliation between that College and the
University took place in 1881, and the University was inaugurated in
the month of October of that year. The object of its establishment
was, as a Church of England Institution in the Diocese of Huron, to
obtain the same power of conferring Degrees as was possessed by the
sister University of Trinity College; also, that a liberal Education
in Arts, Science and Literature might be extended to that extensive
portion of the Province of which London is the geographical centre.


By the munificence of the late Hon. Wm. McMaster, McMaster
University is being established on a sound financial basis. McMaster
Hall, Woodstock College and Moulton College (for ladies) are
affiliated institutions.


Upper Canada College was founded in 1828 upon the model of the
great public schools of England, and was endowed with a grant of
66,000 acres of public lands, from which it now derives an annual
income of $15,000, in addition to its building and grounds in the
city of Toronto. It is governed by a committee of the senate of the
Provincial University. The curriculum extends over a six years'
course of study in the same number of forms, and embraces the usual

In other forms, known as the lower and upper modern, commercial and
scientific training can be obtained. Scholarships may be established
by the different county councils, while four exhibitions have
been founded out of the University funds. This college and the
high schools constitute the principal feeders of the Collegiate
Institutes and provincial University.


This institution, founded in 1854, was the product of the zeal
of the Methodism of that early day. Accordingly, the General
Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1854, adopted a
scheme--initiated in the Bay of Quinté Conference in the preceding
year--for the erection and maintenance of an educational institution
of high grade in Belleville. Having been chartered by Parliament in
1857 as "Belleville Seminary," it was opened in July of the same
year, and entered upon its work under very favorable auspices.

In the year 1886, by Act of Parliament, the name was changed to
"Albert College," and a senate created with ample powers. By the
terms of the union of the Methodist Churches of Canada, Albert
College was retained in Belleville, and adopted by the General
Conference of the United Church as a church school. The charter was
amended and the college was affiliated to the Victoria University,
Cobourg. The senate has full powers to examine, grant prizes,
scholarships, medals, honor certificates, and diplomas in music,
fine arts, commercial science, collegiate courses, etc.


Woodstock College, formerly "The Canadian Literary Institute," was
founded in 1867, principally through the exertions of the late R. A.
Fife, D.D. Under his presidency, ably assisted for eighteen years
by Prof. J. E. Wells, M.A., the school constantly increased in
efficiency and power, until from a small beginning it has attained
its present large proportions and wide influence.


Prior to the year 1871 there was no institution in the Province
for practical instruction in the industrial sciences. In 1870 the
Government of the Province issued a commission to Dr. Hodgins,
Deputy Superintendent of Education, and to Dr. Machatt of London,
directing them to proceed to the United States for the purpose of
inspecting and reporting upon any Technical or Science Schools or
Colleges there established, as to their buildings, departments of
study and general appliances. On their return a report was submitted
to the Government, with full details as to the cost of the proposed
institution. The Government acted upon the information contained in
their report, and with a grant of $50,000 established a "College of
Technology" in Toronto. In 1877 the name was changed to the School
of Practical Science, and the Hon. Adam Crooks, Q.C., Minister of
Education, had a suitable building for it erected close to the
Provincial University, four of the University Professors are engaged
in Departments of the School. The new building was opened for
students in September, 1878.


There are numerous superior colleges and schools for boys and
colleges for ladies in Ontario, but the limits of this paper forbids
a further reference to them, or to the other numerous educational
institutions--theological, literary and commercial--in the Province.


  [43] In the preface to the _Story of My Life_, I thus referred to
  this period of Dr. Ryerson's labours:--"Public men of the present
  day looked upon Dr. Ryerson practically as one of their own
  contemporaries--noted for his zeal and energy in the successful
  management of a great Public Department, and as the founder of a
  system of Popular Education.... In this estimate of Dr. Ryerson's
  labours they were quite correct. And in their appreciation of the
  statesmanlike qualities of mind, which devised and developed such a
  system in the midst of difficulties which would have appalled less
  resolute hearts, they were equally correct.

"But, after all, how immeasurably does this partial historical view
of his character and labours fall short of a true estimate of that
character and of those labours!

"In a point of fact, Dr. Ryerson's great struggle for the civil
and religious freedom which we now enjoy, was almost over when he
assumed the position of Chief Director of our Educational System.
No one can read the record of his labours from 1825 to 1845, as
detailed in the pages of this 'story' without being impressed with
the fact that, had he done no more for his native country than that
which is therein recorded, he would have accomplished a great work,
and have earned the gratitude of his fellow-countrymen."

During all this time the friends of popular education were not idle.
From 1827 and for many years Dr. Ryerson was engaged in waging war
with the opponents of liberal institutions and religious equality.
His chief antagonist was Dr. Strachan. The subjects in dispute
related to a dominant church, the application of clergy-reserved
lands to the purposes of education, and the liberation of the
provincial university from exclusive control under the presidency
of Dr. Strachan, first as archdeacon and afterwards as bishop. Not
being eligible to the popular branch of the Legislature (being a
minister), Dr. Ryerson had to develop his powers of resistance to
the dominant and ruling party in other directions; and this he
did with wonderful success. As a writer and debater few equalled
him in his presentation of facts, and in his skill in detecting
the weak points of his adversary's position or argument. As a
controversialist and pamphleteer he had confessedly no rival. He,
therefore, was able to furnish his friends in the House of Assembly
with facts and arguments which were irresistible. They passed
resolutions and school bills time and again, but could not always
induce the Legislative Council (Senate) to concur in their adoption.
This state of things continued for many years, and with disastrous
effects on the intellectual growth and well-being of the province.
This fact is attested by indubitable witnesses, and is recorded in
the proceedings of the House of Assembly of the time, as is shown in
the extracts from its proceedings which I have already given.


In 1840 the House of Assembly and Legislative Council of Upper
Canada ceased to exist, and the two Provinces of Upper and Lower
were united under one Legislature.

The momentous political events which preceded this union, and
which led to the total disruption of all political parties and
combinations, were very salutary in their effects. Under the
liberal policy pursued by the Home Government, after the publication
of Lord Durham's report, grievances were redressed, and a broad and
comprehensive scheme of popular government inaugurated. The result
was that the wise and statesmanlike measures, designed to promote
public tranquility and local self-government, were proposed to and
adopted by the Legislature.

Amongst these was a measure providing for the establishment of a
municipal council in each local division of the Province of Upper
Canada (and partly so in Lower Canada) for the regulation of
internal matters.

In recommending the scheme of Common School Education to the
favorable consideration of the first Parliament of United Canada, in
1841, Lord Sydenham, the first Governor-General, used the following

     A due provision for the education of the people is one of the
     first duties of the State, and, in this province especially,
     the want of it is grievously felt. The establishment of an
     efficient system, by which the blessings of instruction may be
     placed within the reach of all is a work of difficulty, but its
     overwhelming importance demands that it should be undertaken.
     I recommend the consideration of that subject to your best
     attention, and I shall be most anxious to afford you, in your
     labours, all the co-operation in my power. If it should be found
     impossible so to reconcile conflicting opinions as to obtain a
     measure which may meet the approbation of all, I trust that, at
     least, steps may be taken by which an advance to a more perfect
     system may be made, and the difficulty under which the people of
     this province now labor may be greatly diminished, subject to
     such improvements hereafter as time and experience may point out.

The enlightened expectations of the Governor-General were, happily,
realized. But so diverse were the populations of the two Canadas
thus united, and so different were their social conditions, that the
School Act then passed was repealed two years afterward (in 1843),
and a school bill for each Province was passed by the Legislature
in that year. Provision for Roman Catholic and Protestant Separate
Schools was made in both Acts.[44]

  [44] This Retrospect would not be complete without reference, in
  fuller detail, to the history of the Separate School question and
  to legislation on it in Upper Canada. It was found, however, to be
  so extensive a subject that no adequate justice could be done to
  it in this somewhat brief Retrospect. The writer has, therefore,
  prepared a full and exhaustive paper on the subject, which will be
  published separately, should it be considered desirable. The details
  given are largely personal, and, therefore, of special interest.
  In addition to private letters bearing on the subject, the paper
  contains official and other authentic information in regard to the
  whole question.

On this system was ingrafted, by means of a separate Act applicable
to the whole Province, a scheme of public education, with a liberal
provision ($200,000 per annum) for its maintenance.


In a letter to the writer of this Retrospect, from the Hon. Issac
Buchanan, dated 11th April. 1883, in reply to some enquiries in
regard to the appointment of Dr. Ryerson, Mr. Buchanan thus related
the circumstances under which the munificent sum of $200,000 a year
was granted by the Legislature in 1841 for the support of the then
newly-established Common Schools in Upper and Lower Canada. He
said:--"This first attempt of mine to get an endowment for education
(out of the Clergy Reserve Fund), failed as there was no responsible
government then. But five years afterwards when my election for
Toronto had carried Responsible Government, and before the first
parliament met, I was talking to the Governor-General (C. Poulett
Thompson, Lord Sydenham). He felt under considerable obligation to
me for standing in the breach when Mr. Robert Baldwin found that
he could not succeed in carrying Toronto.... He spoke of Canada as
'a drag upon the mother country.' I replied warmly ... for I felt
sure (as I told him), that if we were allowed to throw the affairs
of the Province into regular books ... we would show a surplus over
expenditure. His Excellency agreed to my proposal, and I stipulated
that, if we showed a yearly surplus, one half would be given as an
endowment for an educational system. Happily we found that Upper
Canada had a surplus revenue of about £100,000 ($400,000), one half
of which the parliament of 1841 laid aside for education, the law
stipulating that every District Council getting a share of it would
tax locally for as much more, and this constituted the fund of your
educational system."


Up to this time Dr. Ryerson's energies, as I have shown, were wholly
engrossed in contending for the civil and religious rights of the
people. He had also, ten years before, projected and collected money
for the establishment of an academy or college for higher education
at Cobourg, on the north shore of Lake Ontario. His efforts in this,
and in the establishment of the Victoria College at Cobourg, as a
university, in 1840, aroused a widespread interest in education
generally, which bore good fruit afterward. This university has now
been in operation forty-eight years, and from it the first arts
graduate in Upper Canada was sent forth in 1846. Its first president
was the Rev. Dr. Ryerson; the second was the Rev. Dr. Macnab, now
of Bowmanville. Its late distinguished president, the Rev. Dr.
Nelles, was Dr. Ryerson's pupil. He held his position with honor to
himself for thirty-six years, and died in October, 1887, deeply and
universally regretted by the entire community.


In the _Canada Gazette_ of May, 1842, the following announcement was


     "His Excellency the Governor-General has been pleased to make
     the following appointments:--

     "The Honorable Robert Sympson Jameson, Vice-Chancellor, to be
     Superintendent of Education, under the Provincial Act, 4th and
     5th Victoria, chapter 18.

     "The Reverend Robert Murray and Jean Baptiste Meilleur, Esquire,
     to be Assistant Superintendents of Education for Western and
     Eastern Canada, respectively.

  "By command,

  "S. B. HARRISON, Provincial Secretary."

Had the Governor-General, Lord Sydenham, not met with the fatal
accident which terminated his life, in September, 1841, the Rev.
Dr. Ryerson would, without doubt, as I have shown in "The Story of
my Life," have been appointed in that year. Mr. Murray, who was
neighbor and friend of the Hon. S. B. Harrison, of Bronte, near
Oakville, then Provincial Secretary, was nominated by him, and
received his appointment from Lord Sydenham's successor, Sir Charles

In point of fact, the appointment was first spoken of to Dr. Ryerson
by Lord Sydenham himself, in the autumn of 1841. The particulars of
that circumstance are mentioned in detail in a letter written by Dr.
Ryerson to T. W. C. Murdoch, Esq., Private Secretary to Sir Charles
Bagot, on the 14th January, 1842. Dr. Ryerson said:--

"In the last interview with which I was honoured by [Lord Sydenham],
he intimated that he thought I might be more usefully employed
for this country than in my present limited sphere; and whether
there was not some position in which I could more advantageously
serve the country at large. I remarked that I could not resign my
present official position in the Church, with the advocacy of whose
interests I had been entrusted, until their final and satisfactory
adjustment by the Government, as I might thereby be represented as
having abandoned or sacrificed their interests; but that after such
adjustment I should feel myself very differently situated, and free
to do anything which might be beneficial to the country, and which
involved no compromise of my professional character; that I knew
of no such position likely to be at the disposal of the Government
except the superintendency of Common Schools (provided for in the
Bill then before the Legislature), which office would afford the
incumbent a most favorable opportunity, by his communications,
preparation and recommendation of books for libraries, etc., to
abolish differences and jealousies on minor points; to promote
agreement on great principles and interests; to introduce the best
kind of reading for the youth of the country; and the not onerous
duties of which office would also afford him leisure to prepare
publications calculated to teach the people at large to appreciate,
upon high moral and social considerations, the institutions
established amongst them; and to furnish, from time to time, such
expositions of great principles and measures of the administration
as would secure the proper appreciation and support of them on the
part of the people at large. Lord Sydenham expressed himself as
highly gratified at this expression of my views and feelings; but
the passing of the Bill was then doubtful, although His Lordship
expressed his determination to get it passed if possible, and
give effect to what he had proposed to me, and which was then
contemplated by him."

"What afterwards grew to be the Department of Education was (under
the first general school law, passed in 1841, for the whole of
the Province of Canada) originally a subordinate branch of the
Provincial Secretary's office at Kingston. That for Upper Canada was
managed by Assistant Superintendent Rev. Robert Murray, M.A., and
one clerk (Mr. Robert Richardson). The nominal Chief Superintendent,
as above noted, was the Hon. Vice-Chancellor Jameson. On the repeal
of the General School Act of 1841 and the passing of a separate Act
for each province in 1843 the Education branch of the Provincial
Secretary's office was divided and reconstructed. The divisions
then made were designated respectively "Education Office (East) and
Education Office (West)."[45]

  [45] The _Evangelical Churchman_ of the 21st February, 1887,
  thus refers to the vicissitudes of the Education office:--The
  Education Department for Ontario, or rather Upper Canada as it
  was then called, had its first Toronto office in Bay Street, in
  the building now occupied by the publishers of the _Evangelical
  Churchman_. From 1841, when the first Provincial School Law was
  passed, until 1844, the office was a mere adjunct to the Provincial
  Secretary's Department at Kingston. In that year Rev. Dr. Ryerson
  was appointed to the office which he so ably filled until 1876, when
  he retired. In 1844 the Education office was removed to Cobourg,
  when the present Deputy Minister of Education became its chief and
  sole officer under Dr. Ryerson. In 1846 it was again removed and
  transferred to Toronto, and was placed in a room over the front
  door of the present _Evangelical Churchman_ office. The first
  Council of Public Instruction for the Province held its meetings
  in the west portion of the printing office, upstairs. In the room
  over the door the first reliable statistical report of the number
  of schools, etc., in this province was compiled. It was printed in
  the shape of a broad sheet, 12x15, on light blue paper, and bears
  date "September, 1846." This report, which is full of interesting
  statistics, has long since been out of print, but we have been
  fortunate enough to obtain a copy. The Education office had various
  vicissitudes in those early days of its existence. In 1847 it was
  removed from this building to the Secretary's office at the old
  Government House--long since demolished. In 1849, when the seat of
  Government was removed from Montreal to Toronto, it was transferred
  to the "Albany Chambers," now the Revere House, on King street.
  Thence, in 1852, it was finally removed to its present handsome
  quarters in St. James' square.


In 1844 Mr. Murray was made Professor of Mathematics in the
University of King's College, and the Rev. Dr. Ryerson was appointed
as Superintendent of Schools in his place. The announcement of this
appointment appeared in the CANADA GAZETTE of October, 1844, as

  "SECRETARY'S OFFICE, MONTREAL, 18th October, 1844.

     "His Excellency the Governor-General has been pleased to

     "The Reverend Egerton Ryerson, D.D., to be Assistant
     Superintendent of Education for that part of the province
     formerly Upper Canada, in place of the Reverend Robert Murray,
     appointed a Professor in the University of King's College, and
     all communications connected with the Education office for Upper
     Canada are to be addressed to him at Cobourg.

  "By command.

  "D. DALY,
  "Secretary of the Province."

Dr. Ryerson was notified of the appointment by letter in September,
1844, but was not gazetted until the 18th of the next mouth. It
was my good fortune to be associated with him from the time of his
appointment in 1844 until he retired from office in 1876.


Immediately after his appointment Dr. Ryerson went to Europe,
and remained away for over a year in familiarizing himself with
the systems of education there. On his return he published an
elaborate report on his projected scheme of "Public Instruction for
Upper Canada." That report was approved by the Governor-General
in Council, and he was directed to prepare a bill to give effect
to his recommendations, which he did in 1846. A brief analysis of
that report may be interesting:--It is divided into two parts: 1.
Principles of the system and subjects to be taught; 2. machinery of
the system.

After defining what was "meant by education," the principles of the
system were laid down as follows:--

1. It should be universal.

2. It should be practical.

3. It should be founded on religion and morality.

4. It should develop all the intellectual and physical powers.

5. It should provide for the efficient teaching of the following
subjects: Biblical history and morality, reading and spelling,
writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, linear drawing, vocal
music, history, natural history, natural philosophy, agriculture,
human physiology, civil government, political economy. Each of these
topics was fully discussed and illustrated in the first part of the

       *       *       *       *       *

The second part explained the machinery of the system, which was
summarized as follows:--

1. Schools--their gradation and system.

2. The teacher and his training.

3. The text-books recommended.

4. Control and inspection on the part of the Government.

5. Individual and local efforts.

These several topics wore also fully discussed and illustrated, so
that the whole comprehensive scheme of education proposed by Dr.
Ryerson was clearly and fully understood. The report occupied nearly
200 pages.

The school law founded upon this report provided, amongst other
things, for--

1. A general Board of Education for the Province, to take charge
of a normal school, and to aid the Chief Superintendent in certain

2. A normal school, with practice or model schools attached.

3. The regulation of school libraries.

4. Plans of school houses.

5. Appointment of district, instead of county and township, school

6. Apportionment of school moneys to each school according to the
average number of children in each school district, as compared with
those in the whole township.

7. Levy of a school rate by each district (county) municipal
council, of a sum at least equal to the legislative grant to each
such district.

8. The collection, by the local school trustees, of the balance
required to defray the expenses of their school, in any way which
the school ratepayers (at the annual meeting) might determine.

9. The recommendation of a uniform series of text books, with the
proviso that no aid would be given to any school in which books
disapproved of by the general Board of Education might be used.

10. The establishment of district model schools (reënacted from the
Act of 1843).

11. Examination and licensing of teachers.

12. Visitation of schools by clergymen, magistrates, municipal
councillors, etc.

13. Protection of children (reënacted from the Act of 1843) from
being "required to read or study in or from any religious book, or
join in any religious exercise or devotion, objected to by parents."

14. Establishment (reënacted from the laws of 1841 and 1843) of
Roman Catholic Separate Schools, where the teacher of the locality
was a Protestant, and _vice versa_. (These schools received grants
in accordance with their average attendance of pupils.)

15. Levy of rates by district municipal councils, at their
discretion, for the erection of school houses and teachers'

Such were the principal provisions of the first School Act, proposed
and adapted from other school laws by Dr. Ryerson in 1846, so far
as rural schools were concerned. In the following year he prepared
a comprehensive measure in regard to schools in cities, towns and
incorporated villages.


In sending his draft of School Bill to the Government, early in
March, 1846, Dr. Ryerson, in a private letter to Hon. Attorney
General Draper, dated 30th of that month, thus explained its general

"I thank you sincerely for your kind favor of the 23rd instant, and
feel not a little gratified that you approve of the draft of Bill
which I had prepared for your consideration. I feel the justice
of the high ground on which you place the moral qualifications of
teachers and their duties....

"That to which I attach the highest importance in the measure is the
authority of trustees to levy a rate-bill upon all the inhabitants
of a school section. The rate-bill will thus be a second edition
of the school tax imposed by the District Council. The principle,
once established, it will be seen after a while that the Council may
as well impose the whole of the school tax at once as to have the
imposition of it divided between the Council and the trustees....

"I attach the greatest importance to the Normal School. I have no
doubt the Legislature will be disposed to support it when once
established.... I hope, however, that you will have in view the
providing for it hereafter, and some appropriation for school
libraries ... from which an offer to a district or township, five
pounds for example, upon the condition that it would also contribute
so as to purchase books from a list recommended by the Provincial
Board of Education, and, therefore, the most suitable for the young
and grown-up people of the country....

"It has been mentioned to me, and I have thought that the term
inspector, instead of superintendent, would be the better
designation of the District overseer of Schools....

"I this day transmit to Mr. Secretary Daly my 'Report on a system
of Elementary Instruction for Upper Canada.'... I have introduced
no debatable topics, except that of Christianity, the principle of
maintaining which as the basis and cement of a system of public
instruction, I have discussed at large. On the defective modes of
teaching those branches (viz., reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar
and geography), which are taught in the Common Schools, I have also
dwelt at some length in order to furnish District Superintendents
and other persons concerned with a proper standard of teaching
and examination, and in order to inculcate the true principles of
teaching which are applicable to all subjects. I hope the Report
will be the means of laying a good foundation in the leading minds
of the country on the great work of public instruction.

"I should add in respect to my Report that, in pointing out defects
in systems of instruction and modes of teaching, I have almost
invariably quoted American authors, and have thus incidentally
exposed the defects of almost every part of the American system,
and have practically shown that every redeeming feature of the
American school system has been or is being borrowed from European


In a private letter to Hon. Attorney-General Draper, dated 20th
April, 1846, Dr. Ryerson replies to several objections made in the
House of Assembly and by the press to his first School Act of 1846.
I quote the following:--

"The Montreal _Pilot_ objects to appointing trustees for three
years. This is one of the improvements adopted in the New York law
of 1843. The superintendents, in their reports, speak largely of
the evils of the annual system, and strongly on the advantages of
the triennial one. The opposition to the Bill seems to be based on
notions derived from what the State of New York system was several
years ago. The opponents do not seem to be aware that it was amended
in 1841, and amended again in 1843. Messrs. Price, Roblin, etc.,
seem to be where the Americans were ten years ago.

"I anticipate the objection to the rate-bill clause. I look upon
that above all others to be the poor man's clause, and at the very
foundation of a system of public education. It is objected to by
precisely the class of persons or rather by the individuals that
I expected. I have heard of one rich man objecting to it, who
educates his own children at colleges and ladies' seminaries, but
who looks not beyond his own family. He says, I am told, that 'he
does not wish to be compelled to educate _all the brats_ in the
neighborhood.' Now, to educate 'all the brats in every neighborhood'
is just the very object of this clause; and, in order to do so, it
is proposed to compel selfish, rich men to do what they ought to do,
but what they will not do voluntarily.[46]

  [46] In this matter of trustees' rate bill or school rate on the
  property of the school section, Dr. Ryerson was quite in advance of
  his times. The rate-bill clause, as he had prepared it, was rejected
  by the House of Assembly and a school fee substituted for it. In
  a brief, private note from Mr. Draper, dated 22nd April, 1846, he

  "Last night, or rather this morning at one, I got the School Bill
  through Committee of the Whole. I have been forced to submit to some
  changes, none very serious.... The rate-bill is to be on people
  sending children to school--not on the whole section. I fought this,
  but was well beaten."

  In his reply, Dr. Ryerson said:--

  "I deeply regret the loss of the original rate-bill clause. It
  involved a new and important principle.... I am persuaded that it
  will on a future occasion pass by a strong majority."

  It did so pass in 1850; but it was not until 1871 that the Municipal
  Council was authorized by the Legislature to impose the whole of the
  school tax as desired and predicted by Dr. Ryerson in 1846.

"Mr. Gowan's statements as to the evils of not extending the period
of keeping a school open in each district beyond three months of the
year are substantially what have been communicated to me in many
reports and letters. In several of the annual district reports which
I have received, it is stated that giving public money to districts
in which a school is not taught more than three months of the year
is an actual injury rather than a benefit, and an abuse of the
intentions of the Legislature."


Dr. Ryerson was assisted in his important work by an able council of
representative men, who were appointed in 1846. The members of this
first council were as follows:--

Rev. Egerton Ryerson, D.D., Chief Superintendent of Schools; Right
Rev. Michael Power, D.D., Roman Catholic Bishop of Toronto; Rev.
Henry James Grasett, M.A., Rector of Toronto; Hon. Samuel Beaty
Harrison, Q.C., Judge, County of York; Joseph Curran Morrison, Q.C.,
M.P.P.; Hugh Scobie, Esq., Editor of the _British Colonist_; James
Scott Howard, Esq., Treasurer, County of York.

Dr. Ryerson proposed to Bishop Strachan that he should represent the
Church of England on the new Board. The Bishop was quite pleased at
his request, and so expressed himself. He declined, however, on the
ground that he feared his appointment might embarrass, rather than
aid, in the promotion of the new scheme of education. He suggested
that Rev. H. J. Grasett be appointed in his place.[47] He also gave
friendly advice to Dr. Ryerson to be careful not to recommend a
personal enemy for appointment on such a board.

  [47] In a letter to the writer of this Retrospect from the Very Rev.
  Dean Grasett in 1875, he said:--"I esteem it an honour that I should
  have been associated with Dr. Ryerson in his Council for so many
  years (30), and a privilege if I have been of the least assistance
  in upholding his hands in performing a work, the credit of which is
  exclusively his own.

  "I shall carry with me to the end of life the liveliest feelings of
  respect for the public character and regard for the private worth
  of one who has rendered to his country services which entitle him
  to her lasting gratitude. My venerable friend has had from time to
  time many cheering recognitions of his valuable public services
  from the heads of our Government ...; but I think that in his case,
  as in others that are familiar to us, it must be left to future
  generations adequately to appreciate their value when they shall be
  reaping the full benefit of them."

Two more members were added in 1850, viz., Rev. John Jenning, D.D.,
Presbyterian Minister; Rev. Adam Lillie, D.D., Congregational
Minister. Not one of the gentlemen named survive; but, in their day,
they rendered effective service to the country as members of the
first and second Councils of Public Instruction.

The Hon. S. B. Harrison (afterwards Judge of the County of York)
was nominated by Rev. Dr. Ryerson, as Chairman of the reconstructed
Board of Education in 1850 (then named the Council of Public
Instruction), as successor to the lamented Bishop Power, who died in
1847.[48] Mr. Harrison held that position until his death, in 1862.

  [48] In his address at the beginning of the Normal School for Upper
  Canada, in November, 1847, Dr. Ryerson thus referred to the then
  recent decease of Bishop Power. He said, referring to the harmony
  which had characterized the meetings of the Provincial Board of

  "One event indeed has occurred, over which the members of the Board
  have reason to mourn--the decease of the Right Reverend Prelate,
  who, by his colleagues had been unanimously chosen Chairman of
  the Board, and whose conduct as Chairman and Member of the Board
  was marked by a punctuality, a courtesy, a fairness, a zeal
  and intelligence which entitle his memory to the affectionate
  remembrance of his colleagues and the grateful esteem of every
  member of the community.... I cannot reflect upon the full and
  frequent conversations which I have had with him on subjects of
  public instruction, and with the scrupulous regard which ever
  manifested for the views, and rights and wishes of Protestants,
  without feelings of the deepest respect for his character and

Dr. Ryerson did not enter practically upon the duties of his office
until about the middle of 1846. In the meantime, the correspondence
and routine duties of the Education Office were (on Dr. Ryerson's
suggestion) placed in the hands of his friend, the Rev. Alexander
MacNab, D.D., now Rector of Darlington (Bowmanville).


Among the first duties of the new Provincial Board of Education was
the establishment of a Normal School, the authorization of a series
of text-books, and the preparation of regulations for the government
of the Common Schools. The most important of these regulations was
the one relating to religious instruction in the schools. Before
submitting it to the Board for adoption Dr. Ryerson consulted
various representative persons on the subject. In a private letter
to Hon. Attorney-General Draper, dated December 17th, 1846, Dr.
Ryerson thus explained his proceedings in regard to the preparation
of the clause in the new regulations relating to religious
instruction in the schools. He said:--

"I submitted the clause first to Rev. Mr. Grasett. He quite approved
of it, as he felt exceedingly anxious that there should be such an
explicit recognition of Christianity in our school system. I then
waited on the Roman Catholic Bishop, who examined it and concurred
in it.... I showed it also to the Bishop of Toronto. After he had
read the section he said he believed I had done all that could be
done on that subject, and that ... he would write a circular to
his clergy, recommending them to act as school visitors, and to do
all in their power to promote the efficiency and usefulness of the
Common Schools."

In his report for 1847, Dr. Ryerson stated that he consulted other
ministers on the subject. The Hon. Mr. Draper, in a private note to
Dr. Ryerson, dated 1st January, 1847, said:--

"I am more gratified than I can express that you have so
successfully met the difficulty about the religious instruction of
children in Common Schools. You (to whom I expressed myself about
three years ago on the subject of the importance of not dividing
religion from secular instruction) will readily understand the
pleasure I feel that in Common Schools at least the principle and
promoted application of it, for mixed schools, has been approved by
the Bishop of my own Church and by the Roman Catholic Prelate."

In a letter to the late Hon. Robert Baldwin, written in 1849, Dr.
Ryerson thus refers to the question of religious instruction and the
Bible in school: "Be assured that no system of popular education
will flourish in a country which does violence to the religious
sentiments and feelings of the churches of that country. Be assured,
that every such system will droop and wither which does not take
root in the Christian and patriotic sympathies of the people--which
does not command the respect and confidence of the several religious
persuasions, both ministers and laity--for these in fact make the
aggregate of the Christianity of the country."

Speaking in a subsequent letter of another feature of the question
of the Bible in schools, Dr. Ryerson says: "The principal opposition
which, in 1846 and for several years afterwards, I encountered was
that I did not make the use of the Bible compulsory in the schools,
but simply recognized the right of Protestants to use it in the
school (not as an ordinary reading book), as it was not given to
teach us how to read but to teach us the way to Heaven), as a
book of religious instruction, without the right or the power of
compelling any others to use it. The recognition of the right has
been maintained inviolate to the present time; facilities for the
exercise of it have been provided, and recommendations for that
purpose have been given, but no compulsory authority assumed, or
right of compulsion acknowledged; and the religious exercises in
each school have been left to the decision of the authorities of
such school, and the religious instruction of each child has always
been under the absolute authority of the parents or guardian of each

To the objection urged against the reading of the Bible in the
schools because "a majority of the teachers are utterly unfit to
give religious instruction," Dr. Ryerson replied: "The reading of
the Bible and giving religious instruction from it are two very
different things. The question is not the competency of teachers to
give religious instruction, but the right of a Protestant to the
reading of the Bible by his child in the school as a text-book of
religious instruction. That right I hold to be sacred and divine."


From the reports then made to him by the County Superintendents
of Schools, I select the following extracts, showing what was the
actual state of education in the province when Dr. Ryerson commenced
his labors as Superintendent of Education.

Mr. Hamilton Hunter, Superintendent of Schools in the Home District
(County of York), in his report for 1845, says:--

     "There is one fact with which I have been forcibly struck,
     in my visits to the schools, which shows, in the clearest
     manner, the great necessity that existed in this Colony for the
     establishment of a system of Common School education. It is
     this: That in our schools the amount of attainment, on the part
     of the pupils, is generally in an inverse ratio to their size
     and age, after they have reached their twelfth or thirteenth
     year. The largest scholars that attend our schools are by
     far the lowest in point of attainment, which shows how sadly
     the education of that portion of the community, now about to
     attain the years of manhood and womanhood has been neglected.
     In many of our country schools, it is a very common thing
     to find persons advanced to the age of young men and women
     commencing to learn the first rudiments. The mind feels pained
     upon contemplating this; but it is gratifying to think that a
     remedy has been provided against it in the establishment of our
     Common Schools, by which the elementary branches of education
     are brought within the grasp of all. It leads us to reflect upon
     the melancholy state of ignorance that must have existed at no
     distant period in this Province had no means been provided other
     than those which formerly existed for placing the elements of
     knowledge within the reach of the rising generation."

Hon. Hamnett Pinkey, Superintendent of Schools in the District of
Dalhousie (Carleton, etc.), in his report, says:--

     "The Common Schools are very indifferently conducted, and the
     masters in general very inadequately perform the duties required
     of them; a reform is expected from the establishment of the
     District Model School."

Rev. Alexander Mann, M.A., Superintendent of Schools in the Bathurst
District (Lanark, etc) says:--

     "In existing circumstances I have declined giving a regular
     certificate to any teacher.... I made an effort on my own
     responsibility, and at my own expense to improve teachers, by
     opening a private school, solely for their benefit, but as I did
     not meet with proper encouragement I was obliged to relinquish
     my purpose."

Richey Waugh, Esq., Superintendent of Schools in the Johnstown
District (Leeds and Grenville), says:--

     "The trustees of many schools employ teachers only for whatever
     time the school fund will pay their wages, and they receive but
     little benefit from the public money thus expended."

Patrick Thornton, Esq., Superintendent of Schools in the Gore
District (Wentworth, etc.), says:--

     "It is a matter of regret that the old parrot system of
     repeating words without attaching ideas to them, does still in
     too many instances prevail; and the dregs must remain till some
     of the old formal teachers are off the field."

Rev. Newton Bosworth, F.R.S., Superintendent of Schools in the Brock
District (Oxford, etc.), says:--

     "The diversity of books and modes of teaching referred to in
     my last report, still exists, nearly to the same extent; and
     in the qualifications of teachers also, as great a variety was
     observable as before.... It appears to me that parents should
     be impressed, to a much greater extent than at present, with a
     sense of the necessity and importance of education for their

George Duck, jr., Esq., Superintendent of Schools in the Western
District (Kent, etc.), says:--

     "In many townships little or nothing was raised by rate-bill.
     In many places the poverty of the settlements prevented it; and
     the only school that was kept open in these districts was just
     during the time that the allowance from the aggregate fund was
     sufficient to pay the teacher. This course is, in fact, of very
     doubtful benefit, as the school is seldom kept open for more
     than three months in the year, and the children lose so much
     benefit continuous education produces."


The Rev. Dr. Ryerson, in his report for 1845-46, speaking of school
houses in the Province, says:--

"With a few exceptions, the school houses are deficient in
almost every essential quality of places adopted for elementary
instruction. Very few are furnished with any thing more than desks
and forms of the most ordinary kind, and have no apparatus for
instruction, nor appendages, or conveniences either for exercise or
such as are required for the sake of modesty and decency."

In his annual Report for 1847, Dr. Ryerson incidentally refers to
the character of teachers in some districts. He says:--

"In one district, where intemperance heretofore prevailed to a
considerable extent, even among school teachers, the Superintendent
gave notice that he would not give a certificate of qualification
to any but strictly sober candidates, and that, at the end of six
months he would cancel the certificates of all teachers who suffered
themselves at any time to become intoxicated.... I know of two
other districts in which the Superintendents have acted thoroughly
on the same principle, with the same happy results.... In a note
in reference to it in the printed Form of Regulations, I remarked
that 'no intemperate or profane person should be intrusted with the
instruction of youth.'... No one will doubt that there are fewer
unqualified and immoral teachers employed now than there were before
the passing of the present School Act (of 1846)." Pages 8 and 9.

In his circular issued to the newly formed County Boards of
Examiners, dated 8th October, 1850, Dr. Ryerson thus referred to
this matter:--

"Many representations have been made to this Department respecting
intemperate and profane and Sabbath-breaking teachers.... I cannot
but regard it as your special mission to rid the profession of
common school teachers of unworthy character, and ... to protect the
youth against the poison of a vicious teacher's example." _Report
for 1850, pages 305, 306._


It will thus be seen from the foregoing, that at this time
educational affairs were at a low ebb. Dr. Ryerson, therefore,
sought in every practical way to overcome this educational apathy
and inertia. His pen and personal effort were freely used. The first
circular to municipal councils--prepared by him--was issued by the
new Provincial Board of Education in August, 1846. This he followed
up by one from himself addressed to county councils, in which he
explained fully and at length the scope and objects of the new
scheme of popular education. This was done under three heads:--1.
That it was "based upon the principles of our common Christianity."
2. That "upon the duty of educating the youth of our country there
exists but one opinion, and, therefore, there should be but one
party." 3. That "the system of elementary education is public, not

Another agency Dr. Ryerson sought to employ to aid the Department in
its great work. And by it he hoped to educate and rightly influence
public opinion in favor of the new departure then in progress. The
plan he proposed to the Government in 1846, to authorize the issue,
under his direction, of a departmental _Journal of Education_,
"to be devoted," among other things, to the exposition of every
part of our school system," then new to the people, ... "and to
the discussion of the various means of promoting the efficiency of
the schools." This the Government felt unwilling at the time to
do. He, therefore, undertook the expense and responsibility of the
publication himself in January, 1848. And it was not until years had
demonstrated the practical value and success of the proposed agency
that the expense of the publication was provided for by an annual
vote of the Legislature.

A third agency which Dr. Ryerson successfully employed to aid the
Department was that of personally holding county school conventions.
In explaining this project to the Government in 1846, he said:--

"I propose ... to visit and employ one or two days in school
discourse and deliberation with the Superintendent, Visitors,
Trustees and Teachers in each of the several Districts of Upper
Canada. I know of no means so effectual to remove prejudice, to
create unanimity of views and feelings, and to excite a general
interest in the cause of popular education," etc.

This project was concurred in by the Government, on condition that
the expense of the proposed nearly three months' visitation "should
not exceed £75."

Thus was inaugurated, in 1846, a series of county school conventions
which, at intervals of about five years each, were held all over
the country. The early ones involved travelling in all kinds of
weather and in all kinds of conveyances, so as to keep engagements
made weeks before. They were, however, of immense service to the
Department in removing prejudice, settling difficulties and solving
doubts as to the practicability of plans proposed for improving the
condition of the schools and raising the intellectual and social
status of the teacher.


It was not to be expected that so comprehensive a scheme of
education as that proposed by Dr. Ryerson in 1846 and 1847 would
meet with general acceptance. The very reverse was the fact.
It was assailed as revolutionary and oppressive. It certainly
was revolutionary in the best sense; but not oppressive, for
it was largely permissive and wholly tentative. And, for many
years the Town of Richmond, in the County of Carleton, refused
to establish schools under its provisions. The new measures were
so far revolutionary that they differed almost wholly from the
former projected school acts. The system proposed was composite.
Its machinery was adopted chiefly from the State of New York. The
principle upon which the schools were to be supported was taken from
New England--Normal schools, from Germany, and the uniform series of
school books, from Ireland. All were, however, so blended together
and harmonized, to meet the requirements and circumstances of the
country that they became, in Dr. Ryerson's moulding hands, "racy of
the soil."

Up to this time no one but Dr. Ryerson had been able to give a
practical turn to the rather crude theories which had been held
on the subject of popular education. He, however, had to pay the
penalty of all such reformers; but yet he lived to see the fuller
details of his system of education worked out on his own lines.

It is needless to say that Dr. Ryerson's scheme was assailed
as impracticable. This I have explained. It was held to be too
comprehensive for the country. Even his reference to the compact
and systematized plan adopted in Prussia was seized upon as an
indication of his covert design to introduce the baneful system of
so-called "Prussian despotism." His commendation of "free schools,"
as a prospective feature of our educational system was denounced as
an attempt to legalize an "outrageous robbery," and as communistic
"war against property." As an example of the injustice of these
criticisms on Dr. Ryerson's scheme of education, he said in a
lecture on education in 1847:--

"I have seen in certain of the public prints, a provision of our
school law ascribed to Prussia, which was borrowed from the school
law of the City of Buffalo; and another provision declared to be
incompatible with the rights of man which forms the basis and glory
of the common school system of Massachusetts."

Although opposition to Dr. Ryerson's educational plans, as embodied
in his school acts, was somewhat general, yet it was singularly
illogical. The sore point was that it touched men's pockets in the
form of school rates.


An influential district council in the West sought to influence
all of the others against the new system, especially against the
establishment of a Normal School. In a memorial to the Legislature
(which it sent broadcast), dated Hamilton, 10th November, 1847, and
signed by James Little, Chairman of the Education Committee, John
White and Francis Cameron, and adopted by the Gore District Council,
the following passages occur:

     "With respect to the necessity of establishing a Normal, with
     Elementary Model Schools in this Province, memorialists are of
     opinion that, however well adapted, such an institution might
     be to the wants of the old and densely populated countries of
     Europe, where services in almost every vocation will scarcely
     yield the common necessaries of life, they are, so far as this
     object expected to be gained is concerned, altogether unsuited
     to a country like Upper Canada.... Nor do your memorialists hope
     to provide qualified teachers by any other means, in the present
     circumstances of the country than securing as heretofore, the
     services of those whose physical disabilities from age render
     this mode of obtaining a livelihood the only one suited to their
     decaying energies, or by employing such of the newly arrived
     emigrants as are qualified for common school teachers year by
     year as they come amongst us, and who will adopt this as a means
     of temporary support, until their character and ability are
     known and turned to better account for themselves."

This memorial having been sent to each of the district councils in
Upper Canada for their concurrence, and with a view to procure the
repeal of the School Act, 9 Vic., ch. 20, the Colborne District
Council not only refused to concur in it but subjected it to severe
criticism. In regard to the foregoing extract from the Gore District
Memorial, the Colborne Council (now Peterboro' and Victoria) in its
report on that memorial said:

     "That the moneys required to pay for the establishment and
     support of Normal and Model Schools are little less than a waste
     of so much of the Legislative grant, is an opinion in which your
     committee are so far from concurring, that they believe it is
     from these sources must mainly arise the instrumentality through
     which the friends of education can alone hope for the first
     considerable amelioration of the evils they lament.... Nor can
     your committee reconcile it either with their just expectations,
     or their sense of duty to rest satisfied with the services of
     those whose physical disabilities from age and decaying energies
     render them unfit, or of those 'newly arrived emigrants,' whose
     'unknown character and abilities' render them unable to procure
     a livelihood by any other means than by becoming the preceptors
     of our children; the dictators of their sentiments and manners;
     the guardians of their virtue; and in a high degree the masters
     of their future destinies in this world and the next."

This report was prepared by Mr. Thomas Benson, Chairman of the
Education Committee, and Warden of the District (father of Judge
Benson of Port Hope). It was adopted by the Colborne District
Council in February, 1848.[49]

  [49] Correspondence between members of the Government and the Chief
  Superintendent, 1850, pp. 17-20.

The Western District Council, in its memorial to the Legislature
against the School Act, represented that "spite, hatred and malice
between neighbors and friends," existed, and was "occasioned by the
present School Act." It added:

     "So numerous are the petitions on the subject that more than
     half of the time of the Council is taken up in endeavoring to
     settle the differences, but unfortunately without any beneficial

The Chief Superintendent, in his report, referring to this statement

     "Now, in examining the printed report of the committee, to
     whom all these petitions were referred, I find that of the
     twenty-nine petitions presented to the Council, one prayed for
     the establishment of a female school in one of the sections
     (which was granted); one prayed for a local school tax in a
     section; two related to the formation of new school sections,
     and the remaining twenty-five related to the disputes as to the
     boundaries of school sections and the non-payment of school
     moneys by township superintendents. Thus not one of these
     disputes could have arisen out of the School Act, but must have
     all been caused by an improper division of the school sections,
     either by the township superintendents under the late Act, or by
     the Council under the present statute."

In this (Western) District the Council says:

     "We well know that a very large number of the trustees can
     neither read nor write, and, therefore, it must be obvious that
     the greater part of the requirements of the law remain undone."

On this statement the Chief Superintendent remarks:

     "In other districts where the trustees can read and write,
     and where the councillors an correspondingly intelligent
     and discreet in their school proceedings, no disputes or
     inconvenience have, as far as I am aware, occurred on this

In the District of Dalhousie, the Chief Superintendent states:

     "Still greater dissatisfaction and confusion were created by
     the mode of proceeding adopted by the council. Before the
     passing of the present School Act the council of this district
     never imposed a school assessment.... The introduction of a
     district assessment (under the new Act) would naturally excite
     some dissatisfaction, and especially in a district bordering on
     counties in Lower Canada where the school assessment had been
     resisted.... In addition the Chief Superintendent adds:

     "The Council in the autumn of 1847 passed a by-law to this

     "Whereas the school section division mode by this Council at
     its last session, are in many instances, discordant to the
     convenience and wishes of the inhabitants, and that to correct
     them satisfactorily this present session is impracticable. The
     District Superintendent is empowered and required to make a
     distribution of the school fund (legislative grant and county
     assessment) 'share and share alike,' among qualified teachers
     without reference to the number of scholars under their tuition,
     but in proportion to the time such teachers may have been
     teaching, etc."

     Thus the Superintendent remarks, "this by-law contemplated
     the abolition of the statute requiring the school grant to be
     distributed according to the school population of each section.
     It made no distinction between the able teacher who taught
     sixty scholars and the young one who taught twenty; it had no
     regard to the engagements which may have been made by trustees
     according to law; it required of teachers conditions which the
     law had not enjoined, and proposed to deprive many of them of
     advantages which the law had conferred.... Of course I pointed
     out the illegality and injustice of the by-law and it was
     not acted upon. At the session of the Council lately held, a
     resolution was adopted praying the Governor-General to dissolve
     the Council that the sense of the inhabitants of the Dalhousie
     District might be taken on the school law.... It is doubtless
     probable that many of the inhabitants have not distinguished
     between the provisions of the law and the proceedings of their
     own Council--attributing to the former what has been occasioned
     by the latter."[50]

  [50] Chief Superintendent's Annual Report for 1847-8, page 6.

Contrast the enlightened discussion of such questions to-day with
the ignorant dogmatism of that day, and you can form some idea of
the magnitude of Dr. Ryerson's labors,--not only in laying broad
and deep the foundations for his superstructure, but in seeking
to overcome the deep-rooted and unreasoning prejudices of those
days--days indeed of anxiety and toil and fierce opposition, which I
so well remember.


On the arrival in Canada of Lord Elgin, as Governor-General, Dr.
Ryerson wrote confidentially to Hon. Attorney-General Draper (on
the 16th February, 1847), asking him for his "opinion of the new
Governor-General." Mr. Draper replied on the 22nd as follows:--

"As far as my opportunities of judging go, I think Canada will
find cause of satisfaction in having Lord Elgin for a Governor. He
is industrious in habit, pleasing in manner, extremely courteous
and affable in bearing. I find him also diligent and shrewd in
inquiry; and the observations which fall from him show that he has
studiously kept pace with the great questions of the day (I do not
mean our Canadian politics simply), and besides the cultivation
of classical education in its broader sense, he possesses a mind
stored with facts bearing on and illustrative of those questions.
In these respects, or more correctly speaking in the latter, and
as regards trade and finance, he reminds me more of Lord Sydenham
than any other governor of my time. I think he possesses also
caution and firmness;--that he will not resolve hastily, that he
may not have to change his resolves. He has large ideas of the
capabilities and resources both of Canada and of the British North
American Provinces, and, as it strikes me, without any reference to
a political union of these provinces, thinks that a course might
be taken to develop the whole, by separate parts taking a common
course in matters in which they have a common interest--internal
communication, favorable to our European commerce and connections
will serve as an illustration of the sort of questions to which I
allude.... All this, of course, is mere opinion, but such are my
first impressions, and as such, and no more, I readily give them to
you in reply to your enquiry, etc."

Subsequently, Dr. Ryerson met Lord Elgin in Montreal, and, in a
letter to me, dated 24th July, 1847, he says:--

"At his own request I have had an interesting interview with Lord
Elgin. He is exceedingly well versed in systems of education, and is
a thoroughly practical man on the subject."


It was fortunate that just at this crisis Canada was favored with
the presence of one of the most accomplished, in every sense of
the term, of the Queen's representatives, the Earl of Elgin and

That distinguished statesman, who afterwards filled with great
dignity the highest post in the civil service of Great Britain,
that of Governor-General of India, reached Canada at a critical
transitional period in our history. Few can recall the incidents of
those days without a feeling of admiration for the fearlessness,
tact, and ability with which he discharged the delicate and
difficult duties of his high office.

When Lord Elgin arrived in Canada in 1847, and when he removed
to Toronto, after the riot and burning of the Parliament House
in Montreal in 1849, educational affairs were fiercely discussed
and were yet almost at the low ebb at which Dr. Ryerson had found
them. Not that they had previously reached a higher plane and had
gradually settled down to a lower one. The reverse was the fact, but
the question of education had only then (in Dr. Ryerson's hands)
begun to attract serious public attention. It was, however, as I
have explained, in an adverse direction, for the whole subject, in
the advanced form in which it was presented by Dr. Ryerson, was
unpopular. It involved taxation and other unpalatable "burdens," as
its opponents averred. Notwithstanding the zeal and ability with
which Dr. Ryerson had collected and arranged his facts, analyzed the
various systems of education in Europe and America, and fortified
himself with the opinions of the most experienced educationists in
these countries, the system which he projected, and the school law
which embodied it, continued to be fiercely assailed by a portion of
the press, and by hostile politicians. This hostility culminated in
an event which brought things to a crisis in 1849.

At this time, an administration was in office, one or two members
of which were personally unfavorable to Dr. Ryerson's continuation
in office. One of these, a prominent and popular member of the
cabinet (Hon. Malcolm Cameron, who afterward became a warm friend of
Dr. Ryerson) induced his colleagues to assent to the passage of a
school bill which practically legislated Dr. Ryerson out of office,
besides being objectionable in other respects. He at once tendered
his resignation. The Hon. Robert Baldwin, Attorney-General, declined
to recommend its acceptance. By advice of the Cabinet, the operation
of the bill was suspended until a new one, framed by Dr. Ryerson,
could be prepared and passed. The result was the passage of the
School Act of 1850--popular in its character and comprehensive in
its provisions. It now forms the broad basis of the present school
system of Ontario.

It was at this period of our educational history that Lord Elgin
first came into official contact with our educational system. Being
familiar with the Scottish parochial school system, he soon mastered
the whole subject, and perceived the great importance to the whole
country of the question which was then being so fiercely discussed.

Being in England in 1853, Dr. Ryerson wrote to me there:--

"I was glad to learn that Lord Elgin was to go in the same
steamship with you from Boston. I have no doubt it will have proved
interesting to him as well as to you, and perhaps useful to you.
I miss you very much from the office, but I do not like to employ
any more aid without sanction of the Government, though I could get
no one to take your place. I would wish you to write me what Lord
Elgin may have thought or have said as to our doings and plans of
proceeding. If the library plan succeeds, it will achieve noble
results.[51] I feel that our success and happiness in the Department
are inseparably united."

  [51] Lord Elgin always referred to Dr. Ryerson's library scheme
  in his educational addresses as the "Crown and Glory of the
  Institutions of the Province."

It was indeed fortunate for my mission that I was on the same Cunard
steamer to England with His Excellency the late lamented Lord Elgin,
to whom I entered into full detail in regard to the objects of that
mission. Before leaving the steamer, Lord Elgin most kindly promised
to aid me in every way he could while in England, and wrote me his
address as "Broom Hall, Dumfermline," in case I should have occasion
to refer to him. He also added the following paragraph to the
letter of your instructions and authority, which, in more than one
instance, I found to be of essential service to me:--

     "I believe the object of Mr. Hodgins' mission to be most
     important to Canada, and I trust that he will meet with all
     support and encouragement.

  (Signed)      "ELGIN AND KINCARDINE,

  "September, 1853."

One of my letters, reporting to Dr. Ryerson as far as I had gone, my
proceedings in England, having been enclosed to the Hon. Mr. Hincks,
he said in reply:--"I return you Mr. Hodgins' interesting letter,
with thanks for its perusal. It was fortunate he went by the same
steamer as Lord Elgin. I am much interested in the success of your
libraries, which is beyond my most sanguine expectations.

  "QUEBEC, 11th Oct. 1853."

I recall with pleasure the great services which Lord Elgin then
rendered to the cause of education at a critical period of its
history in this Province. His speeches and addresses on the subject
at that time had a wonderful effect in moderating the opposition
which Dr. Ryerson received while laying the foundations of our
system of education. They had also the potent effect of popularizing
that system in the estimation of the people which it was designed to
benefit. That popularity has, happily, continued to this day, thanks
in a great degree to the dignity imparted to the subject by the
persuasive eloquence of Lord Elgin. His eminence as a distinguished
graduate of Oxford, and his general knowledge of European systems
of education, enabled him to speak with a precision and certainty
which few could gainsay. It was a gratifying fact that he identified
himself personally, as well as officially, throughout the whole of
his seven years' administration, with the general education and
intellectual improvement of the people of Canada. The first bill to
which His Excellency assented in the Queen's name was the School Act
of 1850, to which I have referred.


One of the first and necessary acts of the Provincial Board of
Education, or first council of public instruction, was the adoption
of a uniform series of text-books--one only on each subject. Those
chosen were the Irish National Series, with two additions. The
next important step taken by the Board was the establishment, in
November, 1847, of a Normal School, with the necessary adjunct
of a Model School. The old Government House was fitted up as a
Normal School, and the stable connected with it was renovated
and converted into a Model School, or school of practice for
teachers-in-training.[52] On the removal of the seat of government
to Toronto, in 1849, the Normal School was held in the Temperance
Hall, and other arrangements were made.

  [52] _Apropros_ of this, Dr. Ryerson, in a private note to Hon. W.
  H. Draper, in April, 1846, said:--

  "The stables of the Government House may be fitted up for Model
  Schools, etc. It is a curious and not interesting fact that the
  stables of Louis the Fourteenth, at Versailles, are now used for the
  great National Normal School of France, and is the most splendid
  establishment of the kind on the Continent of Europe."

So successful were these schools in raising the status of the
teaching profession that the government of the day--the memorable
Baldwin-Lafontaine administration--willingly listened to a
proposition of the Provincial Board of Education to grant funds for
the purchase of a site and the erection of suitable buildings for
these schools. The Hon. Francis Hincks, who was Inspector General,
had (upon Dr. Ryerson's estimate) a proposed grant of £15,000 put
in the estimates of 1850 for the purposes named. A site of seven
acres and a half of land was purchased from the estate of the Hon.
Peter M'Gill. The writer of this retrospect had the pleasure (in
the absence of Dr. Ryerson in Europe) of signing the cheque for the
purchase money, £4,500, and of seeing that the deed was duly made
out in the name of Her Majesty the Queen and her successors, and
transferred for safe keeping to the Crown Lands Department.

After the plans for the buildings had been approved, certain
important additions were considered desirable (chiefly a theatre,
or central lecture hall, etc.). As the grant already made was
quite insufficient for the proposed additions, Mr. Hincks was once
more appealed to. He responded very promptly and heartily, and
recommended to his colleagues that a further grant be made, which
was done, and an item of £10,000 additional was placed in the
estimates of 1851 and concurred in by the Legislature. The work then
proceeded and near the close of the second year it was brought to a

So carefully had these two grants been husbanded that when the
buildings were completed and furnished, there was a balance
left over of £90. With this sum the expense of fitting up the
Departmental Library was defrayed. The result was highly gratifying
to Mr. Hincks, and he so expressed himself at the opening of the
buildings in the following year.


On Wednesday, the 2nd of July, 1851, the imposing ceremony of laying
the corner stone of the new edifice took place. The guard of honor
was the 71st Highlanders, under Sir Hew Dalrymple. Ministers of
both Houses of Parliament, the city corporation, etc., attended.
The inscription on the brass plate--I quote from the original, as
written by Dr. Ryerson--was as follows:

     "This Institution, Erected by the Enlightened Liberality of
     Parliament, is Designed for the Instruction and Training of
     School Teachers upon Christian Principles."

Right Rev. Bishop Charbonnell, to whom was assigned the duty of
presenting the Governor-General with the silver trowel, spoke with
great cordiality, and with French grace and eloquence. He said:

     "MONSEIGNEUR,--Je suis très heureux et très honoré d'avoir èté
     choisi par le Conseil de l'Instruction Publique, dont votre
     Excellence a daignè me faire membre, pour lui prèsenter cette
     truelle d'argent aux industrieuses emblèmes du blazon des Bruces.

     "L'etablissement dont votre Excellence va poser la pierre
     angulaire, Monseigneur, sera un des plus glorieux monuments
     de tout ce que son libéral gouvernment aura fait pour la
     prospérité, de ce pays: _ad ædificationem_."

This in substance is as follows:--

     "MY LORD,--I am very happy and am highly honored to have been
     chosen by the Council of Public Instruction--of which your
     Excellency has condescended to make me a member--to present to
     you, on their behalf, this silver trowel emblazoned with the
     industrial emblems which form the arms of the Bruces.

     "The institution, of which your Excellency is about to lay
     the corner stone, is destined to be, my Lord, one of the most
     glorious monuments amongst all of those which your liberal
     administration has devised for the welfare of this country."

In laying the corner-stone, Lord Elgin was particularly happy in his
reply to these remarks, and to the address of the newly-constituted
Council of Public Instruction. He said, addressing Dr. Ryerson:--

     "It appears to me, sir, ... that this young country has
     had the advantage of profiting by the experience of older
     countries--by their failures and disappointments, as well as
     by their successes; and that experience, improved by your
     diligent exertions and excellent judgment ... and fortified by
     the support of the Council of Education, and the Government and
     Parliament of the Province, has enabled Upper Canada to place
     herself in the van among the nations in the great and important
     work of providing an efficient system of general education for
     the whole community.... I do not think that I shall be charged
     with exaggeration when I affirm that this work is _the_ work of
     our day and generation--that it is the problem in our modern
     society which is most difficult of solution.... How has Upper
     Canada addressed herself to the execution of this great work?...
     Sir, I understand from your statements--and I come to the same
     conclusions from my own investigation and observation--that it
     is the principle of our educational system that its foundation
     be laid deep in the firm rock of our common Christianity....
     Permit me to say, both as an humble Christian man and as the
     head of the Civil Government of the Province, that it gives me
     unfeigned pleasure to perceive that the youth of this country,
     ... who are destined in their maturer years to meet in the
     discharge of the duties of civil life upon terms of perfect
     civil and religious equality--I say it gives me pleasure to hear
     and to know that they are receiving an education which is fitted
     so well to qualify them for the discharge of these important
     duties; and that while their hearts are yet tender ... they are
     associated under conditions which are likely to provoke amongst
     them the growth of those truly Christian graces--mutual respect,
     forbearance and charity."

One of His Excellency's last acts in Toronto, when about to
leave the country, was to visit those buildings and express his
satisfaction with the several departments of the system therein


The necessity of these schools was felt more than forty years ago,
and provision was then made for their establishment. Thus, in the
first School Act passed in 1843 to regulate Common Schools in this
province, section 57 of that Act declares:--

"That it shall and may be lawful for the court of wardens of any
county in Upper Canada ... to raise and levy by county rate a sum
not exceeding £200 ($800), and to appropriate and expend the same
for the maintenance of one or more _County Model Schools_, within
such county and to constitute, by by-law, or by-laws, to that
effect, any township, town, or city school, or schools within the
county, to be, for any term not less than one year, such County
Model School or Schools," etc.

"A sum not less than £40" was appropriated to each such school
towards 'the payment of the teachers and the purchase of books and
apparatus.' The 66th section of the same Act also declared:--

"That in every such township, town or city Model School gratuitous
instruction shall be given to teachers of Common Schools within the
township, town or city, wherein such Model School may be established
during such periods and under such regulations of the township, town
or city superintendent may from time to time direct."

"Again, in the first Common School Act prepared by Dr. Ryerson, and
passed in 1846, after providing for the establishment of District
Model Schools--it was declared (sec. 40):--

"That at every such District Model School gratuitous instruction
shall be afforded to all teachers of Common Schools within the
district in which such Model School may be established during such
period and under such regulations as the district superintendent may
from time to time direct."

These County Model Schools (as will be seen) had higher functions
than have the County Model Schools of the present day. They were
designed to afford instruction to persons who were already teachers,
and were thus in Dr. Ryerson's views constituted local Normal
Schools for that purpose. So much importance did Dr. Ryerson attach
to the value of training institutions for teaching, and so much did
he anticipate a demand for them that on page 162 of his "Report on
a System of Public Elementary Instruction," published in 1845, he

"As soon as examples of the advantages of trained teachers can be
given, I believe the ratio of demand will increase faster than
that of supply, and that an additional Normal School will soon be
required in each of the most populous districts."

Then again so jealously was the efficiency of these District or
County Model Schools guarded that in the same Act, 9 Victoria,
chapter 20, it was provided that no teacher could be appointed
to such school without the approval in writing of the district
superintendent, and unless he held a certificate from the Normal
School (which was established in 1847). In addition to these
requirements power was given to the district superintendent to
suspend or dismiss Model School teachers and to appoint others in
their places, in case the local trustees neglected or refused to do
so. This district superintendent was also authorized to examine (as
they often did at the Model School) all "candidates for teaching
in Common Schools" and to give them certificates of qualification,
special or general, at his discretion.

The question may here be asked, "Of what practical value were these
County Model Schools in the work of training school teachers, and
did they at all discharge the higher functions to which reference is

It was clear that these schools were regarded in those early days as
a necessary adjunct to our system of education, for the very purpose
of aiding teachers in their professional work. Thus, Mr. Hamilton
Hunter, in his report as School Superintendent of the Home District
for the year 1844 says:--

"The deficiency in the qualification of teachers could be remedied
by establishing in each district a Model School upon a good scale,
and having it under the management of a superior teacher or
teachers.... The School Bill makes provision for this, etc."

In his report for 1847 Dr. Ryerson thus speaks of the operation and
success of these schools wherever they had been established:--

"The School Superintendent of Dalhousie District says: 'In this
[County Model School] I have there held public examinations of
Common School teachers; and on some occasions, when reluctant
to give them certificates, I have sent them to the Model School
Master for information and examination.... [These teachers] did
not make any permanent stay except one, merely learning the mode
of instruction, the value of the studies and discipline of the
school.'... The Superintendent of the Johnstone District says:-- ...
'Much good has been done by the establishment of the Model School
in this district. Several teachers, whose education was by no means
good, have acquired a sound knowledge of the subjects which are
required to be taught in the Common Schools.' The Superintendent of
Schools in the Midland District says:--'Almost every teacher who has
attended the Model School for any length of time is now teaching
with good success.'"

In the Act which was hurriedly passed in 1849, but which, by
Order-in-Council, never went into operation, provision was made to
establish, or continue the County Model Schools "in any township,
town, or city," and granting to each of them "£25 over and above the
sum to which such schools would be entitled as a Common School ...
which sum shall be expended in the payment of a teacher or teachers,
and for no other purpose."

In the Act of 1850, provision for the establishment and maintenance
of Township Model Schools was made. Township councils were
authorized to raise a special tax for the support and efficiency
of these schools; and it was "provided likewise, that tuition to
student-teachers in such Model Schools should be free."

The reason why Township Model Schools were substituted for county
ones, is given by Dr. Ryerson in his circular to town reeves, dated
12th August, 1850. Other reasons contributed to this change, but the
circular gives the chief reason.

"The attempts of district councils to establish Model Schools have
thus far proved entire failures...: The late district councils have
in every instance, except one, abandoned the attempt.... To the
success and usefulness of a Model School, a model teacher, at any
expense, is indispensable, and then a Model School-house, properly
furnished, and their judicious and energetic management."

In addition, I may say that the causes of failure of these valuable
training institutions in 1850, may be incidentally learned from
the very words here used by Dr. Ryerson by way of suggestions
to town reeves. These schools had neither model teachers, nor
were the buildings "model school-houses." Besides, the district
superintendents of that day, and after them, the township
superintendents, had, as a rule, no experience as trained teachers

By the Act of 1871, the status and qualifications of these most
important officers were raised to their present high standard. The
very name was changed, and that of inspector was substituted.

It was felt by Dr. Ryerson that until these new officers had secured
some degree of popular favor, and had proved their efficiency as
organizers of schools, and as practical judges of the necessary
qualifications of teachers, it would be useless for him to attempt
the re-establishment of the County Model Schools. Before that time
had fully arrived he retired from office--leaving this important
and necessary duty to be undertaken (as it was efficiently) by his
successor, Hon. Adam Crooks, as Minister of Education.


In founding the system of public instruction for Upper Canada,
Dr. Ryerson wisely laid down certain fundamental principles which
he believed to be essential to the success and stability of that
system. These general principles may be thus summarized:

1. That the machinery of education should be in the hands of the
people themselves, and should be managed through their own agency;
they should, therefore, be held, be consulted, by means of public
meetings and conferences, in regard to all school legislation. This
he himself did every few years.

2. That the aid of the Government should only be given where it
could be used most effectually to stimulate and assist local effort
in this great work.

3. That the property of the country is responsible for, and should
contribute toward the education of the entire youth of the country;
and that, as a complement to this, "compulsory education" should
necessarily be enforced.

4. That a thorough and systematic inspection of the schools is
essential to their vitality and efficiency.

These and other important principles, Dr. Ryerson kept steadily in
view during his long administration of the school system of his
native Province. He was not able to embody them all at once in his
earlier school bills, but he did so in the final legislation on the
subject with which he was connected in 1870-1874. Their judicious
application to the school system contributed largely, under the
Divine blessing, which he ever sought, to the wonderful success of
his labors.


In his "Address to the People of Upper Canada" on school affairs in
1850, Dr. Ryerson thus answers this question:--

"Another ground of encouragement in our country's educational work
is the practical proof already acquired of the possibility of not
only improving our schools, but of successfully emulating our
American neighbours in this respect. Often have we heard this, both
publicly and privately, pronounced utopian; and often have we sought
in friendly discussion to prove that it was neither impracticable
nor extravagant to aim in rivalling our New York neighbours in our
Common Schools."--_Journal of Education for Upper Canada_, vol. 3,
page 2.

In his report for 1851, Dr. Ryerson returns to this subject. He

"The period is very recent when the [subject of educational
comparison with the State of New York] would have been an
absurdity--when the word 'contrast' must have been employed instead
of the word 'comparison,' when not a few of our fellow countrymen,
and some of our public men, considered the project, or the idea
of emulating the Common School doings of our New York neighbours,
as presumptuous and chimerical. I have not viewed the noble and
patriotic exertions of the American people in any spirit of
jealousy.... I hold up their example to the admiration and imitation
of the people of Canada; but I have not despaired of, much less
depreciated my own country; and have had, and have still in a higher
degree than ever, a strong conviction that there are qualities in
the people of Upper Canada, which, under a proper and possible
organization, and with judicious counsel, would place schools and
education in this country upon more than a level with what we have
witnessed and admired in the State of New York. It is true our
American neighbours have had more than thirty years the start of us;
but I am persuaded we shall not require half that time to overtake
them--profiting, as we have done, and doubtless will do, by their
mistakes and failures, as well as by their ingenuity and success.
To rebuke an unpatriotic spirit of Canadian degradation in which
some Canadians indulge,[53] and to animate the hopes and exertions
of the true friends of our intellectual and social progress, I will
show what has already been accomplished in Upper Canada in respect
to Common Schools by a comparison, in a few particulars, with what
has been done in the State of New York." (The particulars which
Dr. Ryerson points out are seven in number).--_Report for 1851_,
(written in 1852), page 17.

  [53] Dr. Ryerson constantly deprecated, in these early years, this
  want of the spirit of Canadian Patriotism. In an eloquent paper
  (in the third volume of the _Journal of Education_) he shows that
  "_Canadian Patriotism (is) the Lever of Canadian Greatness_." He
  sums it up in these words: "It cannot be too strongly impressed
  upon every mind that it is on Canadian energy, Canadian ambition,
  Canadian self-reliance, skill and enterprize--in a word, on Canadian
  patriotism--that depends Canadian prosperity, elevation and
  happiness."--_Page 40._

In his reply to a complimentary letter from the Municipal Council of
the County of Norfolk, in 1851, Dr. Ryerson thus referred to this

"No person who has at all studied the subject of comparative school
legislation between Canada and other countries, can fail to observe
that there is an extent of local discretion and power in each of
our School and County Municipalities not found in any one of the
neighbouring States, while there are other elements incorporated
into our school system, which secure to the remotest municipality
of Upper Canada the information and facilities which can alone be
acquired and provided by a Public Department. But the rational
conviction and voluntary co-operation of the people themselves have
been relied upon and appealed to as the basis of exertion and the
instrument of success. When, therefore, steps were taken to improve
the text-books of the schools, a set of the books recommended was
procured and furnished to each County Municipality in Upper Canada,
that the people might examine and judge of the desirableness of
the books proposed, in regard to both excellence and cheapness.
In promoting an improvement in the condition and character of
school-houses, plans and illustrations of school-houses and premises
were procured and placed in the hands of the local councils, and
several of them were published in the _Journal of Education_. The
same course has been adopted in respect to School Maps, etc. And in
pressing upon the public mind the necessity and advantage of duly
qualified School Teachers, an institution has been established to
train them; and the specimens of Teachers thus trained (though but
partially trained in most instances, from the short period of their
training) have excited a desire and demand for improved teachers in
every County in Upper Canada. I trust this year will witness the
introduction of Libraries--thus completing the establishment of
every branch of our school system.

"In all this there has been no coercion--but a perfect blending of
freedom and unity, of conviction and action; and the entire absence
of any opposition to the school system during the recent elections
throughout Upper Canada, shows how general and cordial is the
conviction of the people as to its adaptation to their circumstances
and interests.

"I have the deepest conviction of the strong common sense and
patriotism of the Canadian people at large--a conviction founded
on long observation and comparison between the people of Canada
and those of many other countries; and I have a faith, little short
of full assurance, as to the advancing and glorious future of our
country. With this conviction and faith, and animated with the
consciousness of general approval and co-operation on the part of
the people, I shall renew my humble contributions of labour to the
common treasury of Canadian progress and civilization."


In 1850-51, Dr. Ryerson, while in England, made arrangements for
establishing a library, a prize book and an apparatus and map
depository, in connection with his Department. His reasons for doing
so may be thus briefly stated:

1. He felt it to be practically useless to train teachers in the
best methods of imparting instruction, and in the use of apparatus
and other school appliances in the normal school and not provide for
them, when in charge of schools, a constant and abundant supply of
these necessary appliances at the very cheapest rates.

2. He held it to be equally necessary that the pupils, who had
acquired a taste for reading and knowledge in the schools, should
have an equally abundant and perennial supply of the best and purest
literature as it is issued from the press; otherwise they would be
sure to procure reading matter (often pernicious, as he had painful
proof) for themselves.

3. He could see no distinction, and therefore could not admit of
any, in the principle of providing such a two-fold supply of school
material and reading matter, and in that of providing trained
teachers and skilled inspectors at the expense of the Province, as
well as a money bonus to aid in maintaining the schools in a state
of efficiency.

4. He further felt that it was immaterial whether the money voted by
Parliament was expended in one direction or the other, so long as in
each department of the system the best interests and necessities of
the schools were consulted, and the symmetry and efficiency of the
school system, as a whole, were preserved and promoted.

5. He projected this plan of supply on a purely commercial basis,
and so arranged and successfully carried out his scheme that
while there was distributed nearly a million dollars' worth of
school material and books up to the time when the depository was
closed, it did not cost the country anything for the expenses of
its management, as it more than paid its way. An elaborate report
on this subject was prepared by Mr. James Brown, an experienced
accountant, under the direction of Hon. Adam Crooks, the first
Minister of Education. It more than sustained the statement here
made. The particulars are as follows:--


  Total amount of legislative grants to the depository for all
      purposes, viz.:
      (1) Purchase of stock, and (2) Salaries and the
      entire cost of management, etc., 1850 to 1875
      inclusive                                            $811,523 72

  Total value of books, maps and apparatus despatched
      from the depository, 1850 to 1875 inclusive           803,067 86
  Difference to be accounted for                              8,455 86

  Net value of the stock on hand at the end of 1875,
      after paying all expenses of management, etc           79,509 41

  Deduct the difference to be accounted for (as above)        8,455 86
  Grand total of profits made by the depository after
      paying all charges, as above, during the years
      1850-1875                                              71,054 55


On the 1st of May, 1854, the Legislature of New Brunswick passed
an Act empowering the Lieutenant-Governor to appoint a Royal

"To enquire into the present state of King's College, its management
and utility, with a view of improving the same, and rendering that
institution more generally useful, and of suggesting the best mode
of effecting that desirable object," etc.

In accordance with this Act, Sir Edmund Head, the then
Lieutenant-Governor, in August, 1854, appointed the following
gentlemen as commissioners, viz.:--Hon. John Hamilton Gray, (late
Judge of the High Court of British Columbia), Rev. Dr. Egerton
Ryerson, John William (now Sir Wm.) Dawson, Hon. John Simcoe
Saunders, and Hon. James Brown.

In accepting the position of commissioner, Dr. Ryerson, at the close
of his letter to Provincial Secretary Partelow, said:--

"When I mentioned to the head of the Canadian Administration the
request which had been made to me from New Brunswick, and the
probability that a compliance with it would cause my absence for two
or three weeks from the duties of my department, he thought I ought,
by all means, to go--that it was part of my appropriate work, and
that we should regard each Province of British North America as a
part of our own country.

"New Brunswick is so to me, in a peculiar sense, as the birth-place
of my sainted mother and my elder brothers and sisters."

The commission met first at Fredericton, and afterwards at Toronto.
To Dr. Ryerson was entrusted the principal duty of drawing up the
elaborate report, and in Hon. J. H. Gray's letter as chairman,
accompanying the report in December, 1854, he says:

"I beg to express, with the full concurrence of my fellow
commissioners, our acknowledgements of the very valuable assistance
afforded us by Dr. Ryerson. His great experience and unquestioned
proficiency on all subjects connected with education, justly entitle
his opinion to great weight."

Sir Wm. Dawson, in a letter to Mr. Gray, thus summarizes the
contents of the report:--

"1st. The improvement of the College course of instruction and
its extension by the introduction of special courses. 2ndly, The
definition of the true place of the Provincial College in its
relations to the other educational institutions of the Province,
and to the religious beliefs of the people; and 3rdly, The union of
all the educational institutions in a Provincial university system,
under official supervision."

A change in the Government of New Brunswick in 1854, prevented the
report being considered in the Legislature at that time. In a letter
from Mr. Gray to Dr. Ryerson, dated May 15, 1855, he says:--

"The change of Government prevented our report being adopted and
acted upon, but it met with universal approbation, and from every
portion of the Province the voice of praise has gone up. I give
you credit for it all; and in my remarks in the House, I made my
acknowledgements publicly to you and Mr. Dawson."

In a confidential letter to me, on Separate School matters, from Dr.
Ryerson, dated Quebec, January 30, 1858, he said:--

"Sir Edmund Head (now Governor-General), highly approved of my
Report, etc., on the New Brunswick College question and has sent it
to the authorities of McGill College to see if they cannot adopt
something of the same kind."

Mr. Gray had hoped that the comprehensive bill proposed by the
commission in 1854, and to give effect to their recommendations
relating to King's College, Normal and Model Schools, and a Chief
Superintendent of Education, would be passed in the following year,
1855. In this he was disappointed, for the bill did not pass until
1860. In a letter to Dr. Ryerson from the Hon. Charles Fisher, dated
Fredericton, 14th May, 1860, he said:--

"After years of controversy and difficulty we have passed an Act
to remodel King's College on the plan proposed by your commission,
under the title of the University of New Brunswick. We have not
connected the College or the head of it with the other educational
interests in the Province, but confined him to the University,
and he must be a layman. This provision was inserted to prevent

  [54] In 1858 Mr. Henry Fisher (Brother of Hon. Charles Fisher) was
  appointed Superintendent of Education for New Brunswick. He visited
  Dr. Ryerson in that year to confer with him before undertaking
  the duties of his new office. His death occurred in 1860, and in
  communicating the sad news to Dr. Ryerson, Hon. Charles Fisher,
  referring to his brother, said:--

  "He wished particularly (just before his death) to be remembered
  to you, and that I should thank you for your kindness to him on
  all occasions. He was succeeding in his efforts to improve the
  educational interests of the Province, and had been enabled to
  secure the support of all parties."

1855, ETC.

I will now give a brief summary, in chronological order, of the
successive steps which Dr. Ryerson took to develop the system of
education which he had founded.

In 1855 Dr. Ryerson established meteorological stations in
connection with twelve selected county grammar schools, ten
following the coast line of the lakes and on the large rivers, and
two entirely inland. In this he was aided by Colonel now General Sir
(J. H.) Lefroy, R.E., for many years director of the Provincial (now
Dominion) Magnetical Observatory at Toronto. Sets of instruments,
having been purchased in London and tested at the Kew Observatory,
were sent out to the twelve stations, duly equipped and provided
with all necessary appliances.

In 1857 Dr. Ryerson made his third educational tour in Europe,
where he procured, at Antwerp, Brussels, Florence, Rome, Paris and
London, an admirable collection of copies of paintings by the Old
Masters, statues, busts, etc., besides various other articles of a
typical character for an educational museum in connection with the
Department. In 1867 I was deputed to largely add to this museum
collection, which I did in Paris, London, etc., especially in the
direction of Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities, busts, casts,
fictile ivory, etc.

In 1858-61 Dr. Ryerson took a leading part in a protracted public
discussion before a committee of the House of Assembly, in favor
of grants to the various "outlying" denominational universities,
chiefly in terms of Hon. Robert Baldwin's liberalized University
Act of 1853. He maintained that these colleges "did the State
some service," and that it was right that their claims should
be recognised in a substantial manner, as colleges of a central
university. He deprecated the multiplication of universities in the
Province, which he held would be the result of a rejection of the
proposed scheme. His plan was not adopted, and universities were
increased from five to eight subsequently. Twenty-five years after
the close of that discussion a scheme for the confederation of these
colleges was again considered but without much effect.

In 1862, Dr. Ryerson addressed a circular to boards of trustees
in cities and towns, deploring the "numbers of children in these
centers of population, growing up with no other education than a
training in idleness, vagrancy and crime." He added: "I have, at
different times, submitted three propositions or plans for the
accomplishment of the object of free schools in cities and towns.
First, that as the property of all is taxed for the common school
education of all, all should be compelled to allow their children
the means of such education at either public or private schools.
Or, secondly, that each municipality should be empowered to deal
with the vagrancy of children of school age, or the neglect of their
education, as a crime, subject to such penalties and such measures
for its prevention as each municipality, in its own discretion,
might from time to time adopt. Or, thirdly, that the aid of
religious benevolence should be invoked and encouraged to supplement
the agency of our present school system."

Before bringing the matter again before the Government, Dr. Ryerson
solicited the opinion and suggestions of the school boards on the


In 1863, Rev. James (afterwards Bishop) Fraser (of Manchester),
was appointed a Royal Commission to enquire into the American and
Canadian systems of education. From his report, published after his
return to England, I quote the following passages:--

"The Canadian system of education, in those main features of it
which are common to both Provinces, makes no pretence of being
original. It confesses to a borrowed and eclectic character. The
neighboring States of New York and Massachusetts, the Irish, English
and Prussian systems, have all contributed elements, which have
been combined with considerable skill, and the whole administered
with remarkable energy, by those to whom its construction was
confided. It appears to me, however, that its fundamental ideas
were first developed by Mr. (now, I believe, Sir Arthur) Buller,
in the masterly report on the state of education in Canada,
which he addressed in the year 1838 to Lord Durham, the then
Governor-General, in which he sketched the programme of a system,
'making,' as he candidly admitted, 'no attempt at originality,
but keeping constantly in view, as models, the system in force in
Prussia and the United States, particularly the latter, as being
most adapted to the circumstances of the colony.'

"As a result of Mr. Buller's recommendations, (not, however, till
after the legislative union of the Provinces which Lord Durham
had suggested, as the best remedy for the various political ills
under which they severally laboured,) a law was passed in 1841,
covering both Provinces in its range, for the establishment and
maintenance of public schools. It provided for the appointment of
a Superintendent of Education for the whole Province, with two
Assistant Superintendents under him, one for each of the sections. A
sum of $200,000 was appropriated for the support of schools, which
was to be distributed among the several municipal districts, in
proportion to the number of children of school age in each of them;
$80,000 being assigned to Upper and $120,000 to Lower Canada, such
being the then ratio of their respective populations.

"The circumstances of the two sections, however, particularly in
the proportions of Roman Catholics to Protestants in each, and
the extent to which the Roman Catholic religion may be said to be
established in Lower Canada, were soon found to be so different
that insuperable difficulties were encountered in working a
combined system under one central administration, and in 1845 the
law was changed. The nominal office of Chief Superintendent was
abolished, and the entire executive administration of the system
was confined to the sectional superintendents, and the Provinces,
for all educational purposes, again became separated. The law
itself was thoroughly revised and adapted to the peculiar wants of
each Province, as ascertained by experience; and ever since there
have been two systems at work, identical in their leading idea,
differing, sometimes widely, in their details, administered by
independent executives, and without any organic relations at all.

"Before we proceed to observe the manner and record the results
of its practical working, it is proper to premise that it is a
purely permissive, not a compulsory system, and its adoption by
any municipality is entirely voluntary.... Entering a Canadian
school, with American impressions fresh upon the mind, the first
feeling is one of disappointment. One misses the life, the motion,
the vivacity, the precision--in a word, the brilliancy. But as you
stay, and pass both teacher and pupils in review, the feeling of
disappointment gives way to a feeling of surprise. You find that
this plain, unpretending teacher has the power, and has successfully
used the power, of communicating real, solid knowledge and good
sense to those youthful minds, which, if they do not move rapidly,
at least grasp, when they do take hold, firmly. If there is an
appearance of what the Americans call "loose ends" in the school,
it is only an appearance. The knowledge is stowed away compactly
enough in its proper compartments, and is at hand, not perhaps very
promptly, but pretty surely, when wanted. To set off against their
quickness, I heard many random answers in American schools; while,
per contra to the slowness of the Canadian scholar, I seldom got
a reply very wide of the mark. The whole teaching was homely, but
it was sound. I chanced to meet a schoolmaster at Toronto, who had
kept school in Canada, and was then keeping school at Haarlem, New
York, and he gave Canadian education the preference for thoroughness
and solid results. Each system--or rather, I should say, the result
of each system--seems to harmonize best with the character of the
respective peoples. The Canadian chooses his type of school as the
Vicar of Wakefield's wife chose her wedding-gown, and as the Vicar
of Wakefield chose his wife, "not for a fine, glossy surface, but
for such qualities as will wear well." I cannot say, judging from
the schools which I have seen--which I take to be types of their
best schools--that their choice has been misplaced, or that they
have any reason to be disappointed with the results. I speak of the
general character of education to which they evidently lean. That
the actual results should be unequal, often in the widest possible
degree, is true of education under all systems, everywhere.

"One of the most interesting features in the Canadian system is the
way in which it has endeavored to deal with what we find to be one
of our most formidable difficulties, the religious difficulty. In
Canada it has been dealt with by the use of two expedients; one, by
prescribing certain rules and regulations, which it was hoped would
allow of religious instruction being given in the schools without
introducing sectarianism or hurting consciences; the other, by
permitting, in certain cases, the establishment of "separate," which
are practically denominational, and in fact Roman Catholic schools.

"The permission under certain circumstances to establish separate,
that is, denominational schools, is a peculiar feature of the
system both of Upper and Lower Canada. Dr. Ryerson thinks that the
admission of the principle is a thing to be regretted, though at the
same time he considers that the advantages which it entails entirely
rest with those who avail themselves of its provisions, and he would
not desire to see any coercion used either to repeal or modify them.

"Such, in all its main features, is the school system of Upper
Canada. A system, in the eyes of its administrators, who regard
it with justifiable self-complacency, not perfect but yet far in
advance, as a system of national education, of anything that we can
show at home. It is indeed very remarkable to me that in a country,
occupied in the greater part of its area by a sparse and anything
but wealthy population, whose predominant characteristic is as far
as possible removed from the spirit of enterprise, an educational
system so complete in its theory and so capable of adaptation in
practice should have been originally organized, and have been
maintained in what, with all allowances, must still be called
successful operation for so long a period as twenty-five years. It
shows what can be accomplished by the energy, determination and
devotion of a single earnest man. What national education in Great
Britain owes to Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, what education in New
England owes to Horace Mann, that debt education in Canada owes to
Egerton Ryerson. He has been the object of bitter abuse, of not a
little misrepresentation; but he has not swerved from his policy or
from his fixed ideas. Through evil report and good report he has
resolved, and he has found others to support him in the resolution,
that free education shall be placed within the reach of every
Canadian parent for every Canadian child. I hope I have not been
ungenerous in dwelling sometimes upon the deficiencies in this noble
work. To point out a defect is sometimes the first step towards
repairing it; and if this report should ever cross the ocean and be
read by those of whom it speaks, I hope, not with too great freedom,
they will perhaps accept the assurance that, while I desired to
appreciate, I was bound, above all, to be true; and that even where
I could not wholly praise) I never meant to blame. Honest criticism
is not hostility."

       *       *       *       *       *

In a letter addressed to Dr. Ryerson in 1875, the Bishop says:--

"I take it very kindly in you that you remember an old acquaintance,
and I have read with interest your last report. I am glad to observe
progress in the old lines almost everywhere. I was flattered also to
find that some words of mine, written in 1865, are thought worthy
of being quoted.... It is pleasant to find a public servant now in
the thirty-second year of his incumbency, still so hopeful and so
vigorous. Few men have lived a more useful or active life than you,
and your highest reward must be to look back upon what you have been
permitted to achieve."

Speaking of the character of Dr. Ryerson's educational work and of
the way in which he met difficulties in accomplishing it, Mr. J.
Antisell Allen, of Kingston, in his paper on "_Dr. Ryerson, a Review
and a Study_," says:--

"There is hardly a foot-length of our civilization on which he
has not left his mark. For those who believe that, on the grounds
of expediency, a government is justified in interfering with the
ordinary working of the great human life-struggle, and so, in
taking one man's money to benefit another man's children, that is
to a majority so overwhelming as to come almost under the category
of universal, as to be every one's belief--what system of general
education can recommend itself more fully, or work more smoothly,
than does his? In his struggles in this direction, neither seduced
by friends, nor cowed by enemies, nor damped in his ardour by the
vastness of the undertaking--turning neither to the right hand nor
to the left--he has raised to himself a "_monumentum perennius
ære_," and has bequeathed to us and posterity a system of public
and high school education second to none anywhere, and, making some
deduction for possible mistakes incident to our weak humanity,
a system almost as perfect as we in this generation are perhaps
capable of generally acquiescing in."

In 1867 Dr. Ryerson made his fourth and final educational tour in
Europe and America. On his return he submitted to the Government a
highly valuable "Special Report on the Systems and State of Popular
Education in the several countries in Europe and the United States
of America, with practical suggestions for the improvement of
public instruction in Upper Canada." He also made a separate and
interesting "Report on the Institutions for the Deaf and Dumb in
various countries." A few years afterwards he had the happiness of
seeing institutions of a similar kind in successful operation in
this Province.


The fifth and last series of conventions was held in 1869, and
on the results of the consultations and deliberations of these
conventions, Dr. Ryerson framed that crowning measure of his
administration, which received the sanction of the legislature in
1871--twenty-one years after the first great departure in school
legislation--that of 1850.

For the various objects which he had recommended during the years
from 1850 to 1871, liberal grants were made by the Legislature.
The policy of the Government during those years was to sustain
Dr. Ryerson and to second his efforts to build up and consolidate
the system of public instruction which he had taken such pains to
establish. The result was that our school system expanded and grew
in every direction, and became firmly rooted in the affections of
the people. In this way it came to be regarded as one of the most
successful and popular systems of education on the continent. And
yet, as I have shown, he was continually suggesting improvements in
it, for he always held that there was room, as well as a necessity,
for them.

School legislation, chiefly in regard to high schools and matters of
detail, took place at intervals during the intervening years, but it
was is 1871 and 1874 that the final legislation under Dr. Ryerson's
auspices took place. That of 1871 was strikingly progressive and
took a wide range. That of 1874 was largely supplemental and

The Act of 1871 introduced into our school law for the first
time some important principles, which, as yet, had not received
legislative sanction. They were chiefly those which related, among
others, to the following matters:

1. Governmental, combined with improved local, inspection of schools.

2. A high and fixed standard of qualifications for inspectors of
public schools.

3. The abolition of non-certificated township superintendents of
schools, and the substitution therefor of duly licensed county

4. The institution of simultaneous and uniform examinations
in the several counties for teachers desiring certificates
of qualification. This principle was soon extended to other
examinations, including competitive examinations in counties, etc.


At Dr. Ryerson's request I prepared for him and wrote the text of
his education report for 1870. In that report I reviewed in detail
the various provisions and improvements introduced into our school
system by the School Act of 1871. I reproduce here the more salient
points of that report, touching upon the reasons for the passing of
that progressive measure, and indicating some of its main features.
I said:--

So many and important have been the changes recently made in the law
affecting our System of Public Instruction, that it may be well, as
a preliminary to a discussion of those changes, briefly to refer
to a few facts relating to the history and progress of our School

In 1844, our municipal system (on which our then elementary School
Law was engrafted), was in its infancy. The principle of local
self-government was new, and much opposition was experienced in
giving effect to the School Law then in operation. The theory
of local taxation for the support of schools was in some places
vigorously opposed, and in others regarded as a doubtful experiment.
Even as late as 1850, some municipalities refused to accept the
improved law enacted that year, or act under its provisions, and
thus deprived their constituents of the great boon of popular
education. It is only six years since the last disability, caused by
such refusal, was removed,--thus uniting the entire Province in a
cordial acceptance of the School Law.

The following brief statistical references will illustrate the
growth and advance of our School System:--

In 1844, there were but 2,610 Public Schools, in 1870, there were
4,566. In that year, (1844), the school population was 183,539--of
which 96,756 children attended the Public Schools, while 86,783
(or nearly as many more) were reported as not in attendance at any
school whatever.

In 1870, the school population was 483,966--of which 420,488
children were in attendance in our schools, and 63,478 reported
as not in attendance--not one-seventh, instead of nearly one-half
of the children of school age, as in 1844. In 1844, the whole
sum available for the support of the Public Schools was about
$280,000--of which, approximately $190,000 were raised by local
taxation.[55] In 1870, the whole sum available for Public Schools
was $1,712,060--of which $1,336,383 were raised by local taxation
and fees--an increase of more than seven hundred per cent over 1844!

  [55] In 1850, (the first year in which we have positive information
  on this subject), we find that the total sum expended in this
  Province for public elementary education, was $410,472; of which
  $326,472 were raised by local rates and fees.

There are few Canadians who do not now refer with an mixed pride
and satisfaction to the vastly improved condition of our Public
Schools under the operation of the present law, revised in 1850,
and now revised and extended.[56] On no one point have we greater
cause for thankfulness and congratulation, than in the fact of the
unanimity and cordiality with which our School System is supported
by all classes of the community, by men of all shades of political
feeling, and, with a single exception (and that in part only), of
all religious persuasions in the Province.

  [56] No one is more sensible than I am of the numerous defects of
  our School system, and for this reason I have labored all the more
  assiduously to have these detects removed by our recent school
  legislation. As I have stated further on, I have even had to combat
  the views of those friends of the system who had thought that it was
  not susceptible of much improvement.


It is a singular and gratifying (yet in some respect it has proved
an embarrassing) fact that the chief difficulty experienced in
promoting the improvement of our School System has arisen from the
somewhat over-sensitiveness of the friends of our Schools, lest the
proposed changes should disturb the foundations of a system which
they had learned to regard with so much favor and affection. This
solicitude arose partly from a mistaken view of the condition and
necessities of our system, and partly from a misapprehension of
the scope and objects of the proposed ameliorations in our School
Law. It will be my aim, however, in the following remarks to justify
and illustrate the principles and policy involved in the recent
important changes which have been made in our School Law.

I would, in the first place, remark that were we, in making
improvements in our School System, to confine our observation and
experience to our own Province alone, we might be disposed to look
with complacency upon that system, and to rest satisfied with the
progress which we have already made. The effect of such a state
of feeling would be that we would seek to profit little by the
educational experience and advancement of other countries. But such
a short-sighted and unpatriotic course, though approved by some on
the principle of "let well-alone," yet would not commend itself to
the maturer judgment of those who are accustomed to look at the
"stern logic of facts," and to take a comprehensive and practical
view of the underlying causes of the social progress in other

5. The fixing and rendering uniform of a higher standard of
qualification for public and high school teachers.

6. Giving the profession of teaching a fixed legal status, and
providing more fully and equitably for the retirement and united
support, by the profession and the legislature, of worn out or
disabled teachers.

7. The establishment by law of a national system of free schools.

8. Declaring the right by law, as well as the necessity, of every
child to attend some school, thus recognizing the principle of, and
providing for, "compulsory education."

9. Requiring, by law, that adequate school accommodation, in regard
to school house, playground and site, be provided by the trustees,
for all of the resident children of school age in their localities.

10. Prescribing a more systematic and practical course of study for
each of the classes in the public schools.

11. Discriminating, by a clearly defined line, the course of study
in public and high schools respectively.

12. Providing for the establishment and support of collegiate
institutes, or local colleges.

13. Requiring municipalities to maintain high schools and collegiate
institutes, equally with the public schools, and as part of the
general school system.

14. Providing, at the option of the ratepayers, for the substitution
of township boards of education, in place of local trustee boards.

15. Authorizing the establishment of industrial schools.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such were the main features of the comprehensive and progressive
School Act passed in 1871. In many respects it revolutionized
the existing state of things. It gave a wonderful impetus to the
schools, and to every department of school system--the effects of
which we feel to this day.

We are a young country, placed in close proximity to a large and
wonderfully progressive people. In the good providence of God, we
are permitted to construct on the broad and deep foundations of
British liberty, the corner-stone of a new nationality, leaving
to those who come after us to raise the stately edifice itself.
Apart from the vital Christianity of our people, what more lasting
bond and cement of society in that new nationality, than a free
and comprehensive system of Christian education for the youth of
the land, such as we have sought to establish? Our aim should,
therefore, be to make that system commensurate with the wants of
our people, in harmony with the progressive spirit of the times,
and comprehensive enough to embrace the various branches of human
knowledge which are now continually being called into requisition in
the daily life of the farmer, the artizan, and the man of business.
In no department of social and national progress have our neighbors
made greater advances, or prided themselves more justly, than, in
that of free popular education. On the other hand, in no feature of
progress under British institutions up to a late period has there
been less satisfaction, as a whole, or less positive advancement
than in that of public education. By many of our neighbors on the
other side of the lines, such inertness and non-appreciation of
a vital part of national life has been regarded as inherent in
monarchical institutions. The fact, however, has been overlooked
that the lingering effects of the long prevalence in Britain of
the feudal theory, on which her social and political institutions
were originally founded, has, in spite of various ameliorations in
the condition of her people, exercised a sure but silent influence
against the earlier adoption of the principle of the free and
universal education of the people. But so surely and certainly has
this latent feeling of opposition to popular education given way
before the prevalence of more enlightened views, that, even in
the most monarchical countries of Europe, the desire felt and the
efforts put forth for the diffusion of public education in all its
comprehensiveness and fulness have been remarkable. Nevertheless,
even among ourselves, that principle of latent opposition to popular
education did exist in the earlier stages of our educational
history. Its gradual removal, therefore, under the beneficent
operation of our School Laws, and the prevalence of juster and more
patriotic views in matter of education are subjects of sincere
congratulation to our people.


We will now proceed, in the light of the educational facts and
illustrations which we have given from other countries, to discuss
the recent improvements which have been effected in our own law.

The population of this Province, according to the recent census,
is 1,620,842. The number of children of school age is 483,966, or
a little over one-fourth of the whole. The number of Elementary
Schools is not much below 5,000, and are maintained at an annual
cost of nearly $1,800,000, or one dollar per head of the population.
Such being the magnitude to which our Educational System has grown,
every man will feel how imperative it is upon us to see that
that system is as thorough and complete in all of its details as
possible; and that in no respect should it be allowed to fall below
the standard now reached by the other educating countries to which
we have referred.

So long as our system of schools was in its infancy, and might be
fairly regarded as yet an experiment, so long as we confine our
efforts to mere elementary organization and be content with very
moderate results. Experience has shown, however, that without great
care and constant effort the tendency of all systems of education,
and ours among the rest, is to a state of equilibrium, or to a
uniform dead level of passable respectability. This is the stage
in its history, as elsewhere, at which our system has arrived, and
at which, as we have explained, many of its friends are disposed
to leave it. But those who have carefully studied the subject in
all its bearings, and have looked more closely into the educational
history, the progress and failures of other countries, know full
well that our school system would fall behind that of other
countries and become stationary, unless it embodies within itself
from time to time the true elements of progress, and provides fully
and on a sufficient scale for the educational wants of the youth of
the country.

Since 1850 it was left to the ratepayers in each school division
to decide annually whether the schools should be free or partly
supported by rate-bill on pupils attending the school. The
principle, that a Public School education is the right of every
child in the land, and that every man should contribute, according
to his property, to the education of every child in the community,
by whose influence and labors such property is protected and
rendered valuable, had greatly obtained, so that Free Schools had
increased from one hundred to five hundred per annum, until upwards
of four thousand of the four thousand four hundred Public Schools
were made free by actual experiments, and by the annual discussions
and votes in these primary meetings of the people. The demand was
very general for several years, that all the Public Schools should
now be made free by law, and all local disputes on the subject be
thus terminated. This has now been happily accomplished by the new

It is not necessary to go farther into detail in this retrospect, as
the foregoing extracts indicate the scope and spirit of the improved
Act of 1871.


In his speech before the Legislative Assembly on the 18th of
February, 1877, the first Minister of Education for Ontario, in
referring to the improved system of school inspection introduced by
the Act of 1871, and the more certain tenure of office secured to
County Inspectors under that Act, said:

     "I have also been ready to say that most valuable results were
     secured by the change in the law in 1871, under which the
     present mode of school inspection took the place of the old
     plan of local superintendence. Inspectors now must possess high
     qualifications, both as teachers and in scholarship, while
     the emoluments of the office make it an object of ambition to
     every school teacher; and we have many teachers in the Province
     who posses qualifications of the high standard prescribed for
     Public School Inspectors. The tenure of the office of County
     Inspector is such as should secure their impartiality. So long
     as an Inspector discharges his duties efficiently, he can be
     removed only by a two-thirds majority of the County Council. It
     is unlikely that such two-thirds majority would be found unless
     the Inspector had given reasonable cause for his dismissal. It
     would not be wise therefore to alter the tenure by which County
     Inspectors hold office."


The following valuable testimony as to the great improvement in our
schools which was wrought through the agency of the School Act of
1871, is highly suggestive and practical in its character. What is
true of Haldimand, as here expressed, is also true of other parts of
the Province.

In an address to the teachers of Haldimand in 1873, Mr. Inspector
Harcourt, M.P.P., said:--

"No one, whose attention has been called to the matter, could
imagine the miserable condition of the majority of the school-houses
of 1871. At that time there were not ten properly furnished
buildings in Haldimand. Many of them with low ceilings, broken
floors and damaged windows, had for seats nothing better than the
antiquated bench facing the wall. Too cold or too hot by turns in
winter, and suffocating in summer. With nothing to attract and
everything to discourage scholars, we wonder that an intelligent
public has so long tolerated their existence.... In the main,
however, I am especially gratified at the improvements effected. In
two years sixteen brick buildings have been erected; all of them
substantial and well furnished--some of them models of neatness
and finish. In a dozen sections preparations are being made for
replacing the old houses, so that we have good reason to hope
that in a year or two, at furthest, our country will no longer be
noticeable for the miserable style of its school-houses."

"Connected with the question of progress in certain branches of
study, in relation of which I might say of cause and effect, are the
two items of Examination of Teachers and School Accommodation. The
provisions now in force for the examination of teachers are such
that, if wisely carried out, the standard of the profession must be
raised, and along with it the status of our schools.... The fact
that somehow or another teachers received first and second class
certificates, three or four years ago, who could not now obtain a
third; that while it was exceptional for an applicant to fail then,
those who succeed now are but thirty per cent. of the whole is known
to all of us....

"To summarize the foregoing statements we HAVE progressed since
1871, swiftly in one particular, slowly and steadily in several
others."--_Address, pages 5-7._


At the inauguration of the new school-house in Barrie in 1872, the
Rev. Wm. McKee, B.A., Inspector of Schools in South Simcoe, stated
what had been the salutary effect of the School Law of 1871 in his
county. He said:--

During my visits to the schools I found many of the school-houses
of a very inferior description--being rude log buildings, old and
dilapidated, with seats and desks of a corresponding character,
often situated on the edge of the road, and without wells, offices,
playgrounds or fencing of any kind; so that it is quite certain and
plain the requirements of the new School Law have not come into
force at all too soon, so far as the interests and advancement
of education in this part of Ontario are concerned. Indeed truth
obliges me to state that in the Riding which forms my field of
labour--and I believe the remark will hold true with still greater
force in regard to North Simcoe--the school-houses which are
sufficiently large, well ventilated, fully furnished, and provided
with an adequate supply of requisites are very few--perhaps less
than half-a-dozen all told. It is true, however, that since the New
School Law and Regulations came into operation there are indications
of a change for the better in regard to the matters to which I
have alluded. I could mention not less than twelve or fourteen
school sections in which steps have _already_ been, or are being
taken for the erection of new school-houses which are designed to
replace the old buildings, and which, in regard to adequate school
accommodation, are also intended to meet the requirements of the New
School Law, and to be in every way suitable for school purposes.
And it is to be distinctly noticed that in all the cases to which
I have referred, the _initiative_ has been taken by the people or
the trustees themselves; and I, for my part, feel that I cannot
but regard this as a very significant fact--a very hopeful and
encouraging symptom. I look upon it as an omen for good, and as an
important and gratifying evidence of the favourable and successful
working of the New School Law and Regulations. For being intimately
acquainted with the southern part of the county for the last fifteen
years, I have no hesitation in maintaining that the effects spoken
of, or the action taken by school trustees or the people, can be
fairly traced to no other cause than to the working and influence of
the New School Law and Regulations. I can testify that latterly--I
mean particularly since the passing of the New School Act--I have
marked among the people of these townships a deepening sense of
the importance of a sound education, and likewise an increasing
desire to encourage and promote it. I have noticed, also, I think,
both among trustees and parents, a growing conviction that not
only the efficiency of the teacher, but, also the discipline and
spirit of a school, the progress of children in their studies,
their proper training, and their successful education, are far more
intimately connected than it was one time imagined, with the style
and character of the schoolroom in which the work of instruction is
carried on, and with the kind of school accommodations provided for
and enjoyed by pupils.[57]

  [57] These two extracts are given simply as illustrative examples,
  and as they were public utterances of the Inspectors named. Similar
  testimony was received by the Department from other Inspectors, but,
  from the nature of the case, and their non-publication in the local
  newspapers, they were not subject to the same criticism as were the
  statements publicly made and published in the localities concerned.



In this special chapter, I insert a series of interesting papers,
illustrative of what may be called the interior or domestic
character of school life in its various phases, in Upper Canada,
from the time of the passing of Dr. Ryerson's first School Act,
in 1846, to the passing of his last School Act, in 1871. These
papers give a graphic, bird's-eye view of the state of the school,
school houses and school teachers in the years gone by. They are by
representative men--inspectors, public men and school teachers, and
they are, therefore, interesting and valuable, as giving the result
of the personal observation of these gentlemen.

The personal experience of the Hon. J. Sandfield Macdonald is of an
earlier date than those which follow, and refers to one of the most
noted of the old District Grammar Schools. It is highly interesting
as a reminiscence of the early training of one of our most noted
public men, and one, under whose auspices, the important School Act
of 1871 was passed.


At a public dinner given to the Hon. J. Sandfield Macdonald in 1870,
he thus referred to his early school days:--

"My friend, Judge Jarvis, has referred to my early life, and has
very properly remarked that this is the country that offers the
widest field to the industrious, or to a man of energy if he only
possesses a modicum of brains.... It is true what the Judge states
that I arrived in Cornwall forty years ago next autumn.... I was
engaged in a dry goods store. But the Judge has told you that I was
not satisfied with that state of things. I went to the school here,
which has had a reputation it may be proud of ever since the time
of the late Bishop Strachan. It was the school that educated the
Boultons, the McGills, and the Jarvises. In the school I entered,
and there I had to strive with those who were able to be maintained
by their parents. I worked against them at a great disadvantage,
and would have succumbed but that I was cheered on by my venerable
preceptor. Many others have struggled in that school of whom Canada
should be proud. One of them particularly. He was one of the
brightest and most talented of the men our eastern district can
boast of. But providence has thought proper to take him away from
his sphere of usefulness. Need I say that I refer to that ornament
of the Bench, the late Chancellor Vankoughnet.--Were Dr. Urquhart
able to boast of no other pupil but that honourable gentleman, he
might have retired on his laurels. If that old gentleman had not
sent me a letter of encouragement I would not have been here, as I
was about to break down for want of means. This letter was written
in 1835, and ... I cannot help shewing what was thought of me by one
who had the most perceptive idea of the ability of his pupils. This
letter had the effect of making me bear up in my struggle with my
superiors in position and was as follows:

"'These certify that the bearer, Mr. John S. McDonald, was a pupil
in the Eastern District School, from the 19th Nov., 1832, to the
23rd Dec. last; that during that period his industry and application
were close and assiduous, and that his progress in the several
branches of study, to which he directed his attention, was highly
respectable, and very considerably exceeded what is usually made
in the same space of time; that the perseverance manifested in
overcoming the difficulties to be encountered at the outset of a
classical and mathematical education, called forth the particular
remark and approval of his teacher, as indicating considerable
energy of character, and as an earnest of future success in the
prosecution of his studies. Moreover, that his general deportment
during the same period, was most exemplary, and becoming, evincing
at all times a kindly disposition towards his fellow students and
a most respectful deference to the discipline of the school; and
that, if the good opinion and good wishes of his teacher can on any
occasion profit him, he is justly entitled to both.'"

"I owe all the spirit of independence which I have maintained
throughout my career, to my learning in that school. After I left
school I went into the study of the law, in the office of the late
Mr. McLean."


The following admirable resumé of the former state of education and
of educational progress in the county of Wellington, and indeed
throughout Ontario generally, was given in an address on "Then and
Now," delivered before a public meeting in Guelph, in May, 1880, by
Hon. Charles Clarke, ex-Speaker of the House of Assembly. After some
preliminary remarks, Mr. Clarke said:--

Little more than thirty years ago, much of the country, now known
as the county of Wellington, was a wilderness. The territory north
of Guelph was almost unsettled, beyond the townships of Nichol, and
the settled portion possessed but few residents. In Wellington, the
upper tier of townships had scarcely been entered upon, and names of
places now "familiar as household words" were unknown. Such roads as
there were had been simply cut through the bush, and had experienced
little other improvement than that which the axe, the handspike,
the logging chain and fire had afforded. Peel was in the early
stage of settlement; Maryboro was almost unknown; Minto was really
a _terra incognito_; Luther was, in popular estimation, a vast and
irreclaimable swamp; Arthur had a mere handful of settlers; Mount
Forest was a nameless and unbroken government reserve for a town
plot, covered with virgin forest; Elora possessed some half-dozen
houses; such places as Harriston, Palmerston and Drayton were not
even a dream of the future; and the gravel roads, thrifty villages,
and smiling farms which now make pleasant travel from the northern
bank of the Grand River to the utmost bounds of Wellington, were
covered with thick and luxuriant growth of maple, hemlock, elm
and cedar. Everything was in primitive shape, and yet the mark of
future progress was made, here and there, and coming events cast
their shadow. Oxen were far more numerous than teams of horses,
and neither could be regarded as plentiful. The axe was more busy
than the plough, and regularly prepared more acres for the annual
sowing. Money was scarce, produce was low in price, barter was the
rule and not the exception, postal communication was defective,
wages were poor, and "hard times" were as commonly talked about and
as earnestly believed in as to-day, when, measured by the past,
the term is comparatively meaningless. There was a feeling of
despondency throughout the community, and people were divided as to
the cause of the general depression. Some blamed the Rebellion of a
few years before; others said that the effects of Family Compactism
had not yet died away; and still others attributed all evils to the
newly effected Union between Upper and Lower Canada. There is little
wonder that, at such a time, schools and schoolmasters were under
the weather, and reckoned as but of "small account" by many of our


Thanks to the energy, however, of a noble few, prominent amongst
whom stood Egerton Ryerson, the Government of that day took steps
to obtain information as to the system of public education in force
in some of the states of the American Union and in Europe, and,
taking Massachussetts and Prussia as a guide, enacted a sweeping
amendment to School Act for Upper Canada, in the ninth year of Her
Majesty's reign, and put it into operation in 1847. In 1841, the
first Common School Law had been passed, and in 1843 it was amended,
but the system was defective and unproductive of expected results.
Under it, townships were divided into school sections, by township
superintendents, who were practically uncontrolled, and therefore,
in many instances, arbitrary, and these divisions were unequal in
size, often unnecessarily small, and frequently unfairly made. The
consequence of this state of things was unpopularity of the law,
and a pretty general conviction that common schools were too often
common nuisances. The report of the Superintendent of Education, for
1847, tells us that the system produced "miserable school-houses,
poor and cheap teachers, interrupted and temporary instruction and
heavy rate-bills." In some districts, before the passage of the
amending School Act, 9 Vic. Chap. 20, the District Council had
never imposed a school assessment, depending for school maintenance
entirely upon the small legislative grant apportioned to each
district, and an equivalent raised solely by rate-bills or voluntary
contributions. No uniformity existed in the use of class books, the
township superintendent or the teacher, or even the parent dictating
what should be employed in each particular section. In 1846, no
fewer than 13 different spelling books, 107 readers, 35 arithmetics,
20 geographies, 21 histories, and 16 grammars, were used in our
Common Schools, besides varying class books on other subjects.


The methods of teaching were almost as numerous as the teachers,
and followed no specified rule. Sometimes it was by classes, often
by individuals, and in other cases by an extensive use of monitors,
being generally a mixture of the three styles, and nearly always
a higgledy-piggledy, go-as-you-please arrangement, as easy as
possible to the teacher, and as unproductive of good results to
the pupil as such indefinite work might be fully expected to be.
And the character of the teachers, speaking in general terms, and
not forgetting many bright exceptions, was not above suspicion.
Certificates were granted by township superintendents, who too often
relieved the charitable, and the district council, by thrusting into
the school-house the ne'er-do-wells, the infirm, the crippled, the
sickly and the unfortunate, who, under ordinary circumstances, would
have become dependent upon the good nature and benevolence of their
fellow-citizens. In one district a superintendent, after the passage
of the new School Law, was compelled to give notice that he would
not grant certificates to any candidates unless they were strictly
sober, and that he would cancel the certificates of all teachers who
suffered themselves at any time to become intoxicated. And, we are
gravely informed, the result was that a majority, not all, of the
hitherto intemperate teachers became thoroughly temperate men, and
that the incorrigible were dismissed. The quality of the teachers
may be guessed at very fairly, it is safe to say, from the salaries
paid to them. In 1845, the average was £26 2s, or $104.40; in 1846,
£26 4s, or $104.80; and in 1847, £28 10s, or $114, and this, too,
for the most part, exclusive of board. Had the schools been kept
open during the whole of the teaching months of these years, the
salaries would have averaged $134 in 1845, $147 in 1846, and $148
in 1847. It must be borne in mind that, in those days, male were
much more numerous than female teachers, so that the smaller amounts
generally paid to those of the gentler sex had comparatively little
influence in lessening the general average. The parsimony and
poverty of the people had much to do, of course, with the quality
of the teacher, for men who could obtain higher wages at almost any
other occupation, through physical or intellectual superiority,
would not waste time and opportunity to earn more than the paltry
pittance paid to the pedagogue, simply through philanthropic desire
to advance the interests of the rising generation.


Says Dr. Ryerson, in the report to which I am indebted for these
facts: "This small compensation of teachers is the great source of
inefficiency in the common schools. Persons of good abilities and
attainments will not teach for little or nothing so long as they
can obtain a more ample remuneration in other pursuits." He adds,
in language as truthful, and as worthy of notice to-day, as when
it was written: "People cannot obtain good teachers any more than
good lawyers or physicians without paying for their services." And,
as he says in the next sentence, so say we all, and so I am happy
to observe are many of our school corporations saying all over the
province: "The intelligence of any school section or corporation of
trustees may be tested by the amount of salary they are disposed to
give a good teacher." If Egerton Ryerson had said and done nothing
more than this, he would have deserved the gratitude of every
teacher in Ontario, simply because he had the courage to put upon
record a sentiment which, at the time when he used the words, was
eminently unpopular, and a direct and stinging rebuke to nearly
every school-board then existent. In those days, cheap teachers were
wanted, and the supply equalled the demand, while the pockets of the
charitable were saved, a semblance of education was kept up, and the
county poorhouses were not required so long as every other school
section provided for one, at least, of those who would, in these
days, be generally regarded as eligible candidates for admission
thereto. The amount of interest taken in educational matters was not
evidenced in small salaries alone.


The school-house, in its quality, too often matched the teacher. Of
2,572 school-houses in Upper Canada in 1847, 49 only were of brick,
and 84 of stone, the others being frame and log. Of the 2,500,
800, or about one-third, were in good repair; 98 had more than one
room; 1,125, or less than half, were properly furnished with desks
and seats; only 367 were provided with a suitable play-ground;
and not more than 163, out of 2,572, had necessary outbuildings.
Coming nearer home, we find that the municipalities now comprised
in the county of Wellington contained, in 1847, 43 school-houses,
of which one was built of stone, 9 were frame, and 33 were log, and
the report states that only 13 were good, 25 were middling, and the
balance were inferior. When we remember the standard of "goodness"
in those days, when school authorities at Toronto were thankful for
small favors in rural districts, we can have some faint idea of the
character of the buildings pronounced inferior. It is probable that
they came up to the style of accommodation of the Mapleton school,
in Manitoba, which I find described in the last report of the
Superintendent of Protestant Schools for that Province, as follows:
"Found that since my last visit the school-house has been floored;
it still required plastering and ceiling and weather-boarding." What
sort of a building it was before these improvements were effected,
it doesn't require a very active brain to imagine, and when you have
the picture in your mind's eye you will have some conception of the
pleasures of teaching in the "good old times," of less than half a
century ago, in Upper Canada.


Returning to 1847, we are told that in the whole of Wellington
District, composed of the territory now forming the three counties
of Wellington, Waterloo and Grey, there were 102 schools, of which
only 22 possessed good buildings. Let us glance for a moment at the
then state of finances of the school corporations in which we feel
most interested. Guelph township, including the village of Guelph,
raised $507.38 by the municipal assessment, for school purposes,
realized $556.75 from rate-bills, and received $416.69 from the
legislative grant, or a total of $1,480.82, wherewith to pay seven
teachers, maintain, more or less efficiently, ten schools, and
afford instruction, good, bad or indifferent, as the case might
be, to 517 scholars. The township of Puslinch was nearly abreast
of Guelph, and kept up 10 schools, paid 13 teachers, and had 558
scholars on the roll, at an outlay of $1,381.86, but it must be
remembered that if two or three teachers were employed, at different
portions of the year, in one school, they increased the grand total
of teachers for the year. It may have been that, while thirteen
appear to have been engaged, there were not more, and probably less
than ten employed for the full teaching year. In 1847, Erin had
the highest number of scholars of any municipality in the county,
having returned a total of 585, in six schools, and with eleven
teachers, at an outlay of $1,039.06. Amaranth was at the foot of the
list, with one school, one teacher, thirty-eight scholars, and an
outlay, made up from rate-bill, assessment and legislative grant,
of $68.04. Peel and Wellesley, combined, had one school, three
teachers,--employed at some portion or other of the year,--and spent
$80.52. Nichol (including Fergus and Elora), Eramosa and Garafraxa
made returns,--the name Garafraxa being spelt with a double r, as I
have found it to be in all old official documents,--but Pilkington,
Arthur, Maryboro, Luther and Minto do not appear to have had school
organization, not even municipal existence, while, of the whole
county of Grey, Derby and Sydenham were alone mentioned in the
return. It may be interesting to know--although I am aware, from
painful experience, that listening to strings of figures is not the
most enlivening occupation in the world,--that the whole amount paid
for school purposes, in the county of Wellington, for that year,
was $5,862, of which $5,763 was given to teachers, and that the
average cost for each pupil taught was $2.10. One other fact may be
adduced which will enable you to form a still clearer estimate of
the educational status of Upper Canada at the date referred to. The
Chief Superintendent had, in forms and regulations issued by him,
specified the lowest general standard of qualification for teachers,
but was forced to believe that a much lower standard had been acted
upon by school visitors. These visitors were clergymen, magistrates
and district councillors,--equivalent to our reeves,--and any two of
them could examine a teacher, test his or her qualification, pretty
much as they deemed best, and grant a certificate, available only
for one school and one year, it is true, but nevertheless renewable,
and answering every purpose of the certificate of to-day. It is not
difficult to imagine a much more easy and varying examination, under
such circumstances, than that which an improved system soon rendered
necessary, and the quality of teachers so produced need not be
further particularized.

We have thus obtained some glimpse of the THEN of our educational
facilities of a generation ago. The picture might be elaborated.
It would be easy to fill in details from memory; to tell how the
blind oft times led the blind; how the ignorant teacher insured the
ignorant pupil; and how "schooling" was frequently a farce, and mere
waste of time....


That the Province has made enormous strides in population, wealth,
intelligence and importance, during the last thirty years, admits
of no doubt. Our forests have disappeared, an improved system of
agriculture has followed, manufactories have sprung up, railways
have connected every county, a daily press has become an established
and indispensable institution, the telegraph has economized time
by practically annihilating distance, while numerous inventions
and discoveries have created new wants, and supplied as rapidly
as they have made them. Without losing our characteristic love
of hard work--I here speak of everybody in general, and nobody
in particular, and purposely avoid all personal allusions--and
that industrial enterprise which springs from it, we have become
a reading and much more cultured people. The scholar, endowed
with physical capacity equal to that possessed by an illiterate
competitor, is worth more than he in the factory, the workshop,
the store, the mill, the mine, or on the sea or farm. Cultivated
brain has a market value, and book learning is no longer despised,
or regarded with half contempt, as the mark distinguishing the
mere dreamer from the worker. To possess the "Reason Why" is no
proof now-a-days of physical and practical inferiority; to know
a little of everything, and everything of something, is not now
the peculiar privilege of the English Gentleman. Little wonder is
there, therefore, that what the school has helped to bring about,
should tend to make the school more valued. That such has been its
effect we have but to look around to see. Where in 1847, we, in
Upper Canada, had 2,863 school houses, our last returns show that
we possess more than 5,000, and while the number has so largely
increased the advance in value has been in much greater proportion.
In 1847 we had, in all Upper Canada, but 49 school-houses built of
brick; now we boast of 1,569 built of that material, or over thirty
times as many. In 1847 we had eighty-four constructed of stone;
now we claim more than 500. In 1847 half of our school buildings
were of logs; now not more than a seventh are of that primitive
character. There are no returns of money cost of buildings or of
amount expended in their erection in 1847, but we find that the
expenditure for all school purposes in that year, inclusive of
teachers' salaries, was $350,000, while for 1877, for erection and
repairs of school-houses, fuel, etc., alone we paid $1,035,390, and
a total for school purposes of $3,073,489, or, in round numbers,
nine times as much as in 1847. The improved financial value of the
teacher is another strong testimony, willingly borne by the people,
to their increased interest in education, for, as a rule, a free
people will not pay for that which they fail to appreciate. In 1847
there was paid for teachers' salaries a total sum of $310,398. In
1877 the amount was $2,038,099. In 1847 there were 3,028 teachers
employed, while in 1877 there were 6,468. In 1847, board was often
given in addition to the nominal salary, and was, in fact, part of
the teacher's remuneration. Grant that the teachers here enumerated
as serving in 1847 were employed eight months in that year--which
is more than the average--and put board at $2 per week, which was
higher than was the average rate in those days--the average payment
to each teacher would not exceed $170, and this was fully equal to,
if not greater than was actually allowed. In 1877 the average amount
paid to each teacher was $315. The larger amount willingly paid in
1877 for the support of Free Schools, than was unwillingly given in
1847, for the maintenance of rate-supported schools--for payment
was then made under protest, and the school law was exceedingly
unpopular, while rate-bills and contributions were nearly everywhere
necessary, in addition to municipal assessments, to make up the
teachers' salaries--is yet another proof of the hold which the
educational movement has taken upon the judgment and sympathy of the
people of Ontario. In 1847, too, pupils were grudgingly taught, at
a cost of $2.80 per head, while in 1877 the average was $6.20. And
when we add to all these things the fact that, in 1847, only 124,829
pupils attended our common schools, out of a school population of
230,975, or scarcely one in two, while in 1877, out of a school
population of 494,804, not less than 490,860 names were entered on
the roll, it is needless to say anything further in illustration
of the marked contrast between the two periods, of the immense
superiority of the present over the past condition of our schools,
and of the public opinion which is necessary to their effective


And the standard of teaching ability, in so far as literary
acquirements go, has kept pace with the progress which has
otherwise characterized the history of a scholastic generation.
We have long got past the period when any two magistrates, any
two reeves, or even any two clergymen, could grant permission
to teach, and annually invest the teacher with legal status. We
subject our examiners themselves to examinations, have uniformity
in the character of our examination papers, and propound questions
to candidates which fully and fairly test their educational
attainments. We have gone beyond _that_, and instituted county
Normal Schools--for such our Model Schools may be fairly termed--at
which we require applicants for a certificate to still further
establish their fitness for the work upon which they seek to
enter. We have not reached perfection, but we have travelled a
long distance in the direction in which it lies. We have made
every school practically free, built up a High School system which
opens up to all seekers after higher education ample opportunity
to prepare for the University course, at a minimum of cost, and
placed our University upon such a footing that its advantages are
not the exclusive privilege of the well-to-do, but are proffered
to even the poorest student who cares to submit to a period of
self-denial, and lose a little extra time in early life, for the
purpose of securing them. As a people we have done no more than,
probably not so much as, we ought to do, with the view of placing
educational facilities within the reach of every child born or
brought into the Province, but we have, nevertheless, ventured
and effected more than has been attempted in many older and more
wealthy lands. We have the consciousness of having done our duty,
according to our lights. In our long-settled sections of country
the school-house bell is within the hearing, or the school-house
itself is within sight of nearly every family. In newer portions
of the Province, wherever half-a-dozen or so of clearances are
commenced, in the wilds of Muskoka or Algoma, provision is made for
the instruction of the little ones who bless those backwoods' homes.
The school-master is abroad throughout the land, and is doing much
to ensure a glowing future for our country, and when his work is
done, and he is compelled to retire from his labors, we willingly
open the public purse and give to him that which keeps him above
absolute penury, and assures him that, while Ontario cares only to
help those who possess the disposition to help themselves, she is
neither ungrateful nor forgetful. And, seeing all these things, we
cannot help feeling that our youthful Province may modestly and yet
proudly lift her head amongst the nations of the earth, assured that
there are none who can reproach her with neglect of the first and
best interests of those little children whom God has entrusted to
her keeping.


From an elaborate report prepared by the Rev. W. H. Landon, School
Superintendent, to the Municipal Council of the district of Brock
(county of Oxford) in 1849, I make the following extracts. The first
refers to the educational supineness of the people:--

"Up to a recent period (say the last two years), the people,
generally, seems to have entered upon no enquiries, and to have
formed no just conclusion on the subject of education, or the proper
means of imparting it. They seemed to think, if they thought at
all, that all schools were equal, and that all teachers who could
read, write, etc., in a better manner than their pupils were equally
good.... As to books, it was supposed that any one, or any ten of
the fifty different varieties of spelling books in use, with the
English Reader, was all that was requisite for the reading classes,
while a few treatises on arithmetic taken at random from the almost
endless variety with which the country was flooded, would supply the
means of imparting & knowledge of the science of numbers, and two or
three grammars by as many different authors, would supply material
for the grammar class and complete the stock of text books for the

Mr. Landon draws the following graphic picture of the school-house
"shanties" of those days. He also gives a vivid view of the interior:

"The school-houses in many instances (though not in all) are
miserable shanties made of logs loosely and roughly put together;
the interstices filled with clay, portions of which are from time
to time crumbling down filling the place with filth and dust. Under
your feet are loose boards, without nails, across which, when one
walks, a clatter is produced equal to that heard in a lumber yard.
Over your head are the naked rafters, stained with smoke and hung
with cobwebs and dust. Two or three little windows, generally half
way up the walls, admit the light; and a rough door which does not
fit the opening, creaks upon its wooden hinges.... The writing
desks are generally long sloping shelves pinned up against the
walls as high as the breasts of the pupils who sit before them. The
seats are without backs and from eighteen inches to two feet high.
Sometimes we have a master's desk, but awkwardly constructed, for
the most part too high for the sitting posture and too low for the
standing one.... We have no blackboards, no maps and no illustrative
apparatus of any kind.

"When we enter one of these schools, we behold a picture of
discomfort and misery. The children are perched upon the benches
before described: but as they have no support for their backs, and
as only the taller of them can reach the floor with their feet,
marks of weariness and pain are visible in their features and
postures. Some to procure rest and ease to their aching frames have
drawn up both feet upon the bench and are sitting cross-legged like
a tailor on the shop board. Others stooping forward, rest their
elbows upon their knees, with one hand supporting their chins and
with the other holding up their books before their weary eyes;
while all avail themselves of every possible excuse to change their
position and so obtain relief. Some asking permission to go out,
others to get a drink, and many constantly flocking to the teacher's
desk with words to be pronounced, sums to be examined and corrected,
pens to be mended, or difficulties to be explained, in connection
with grammar, or other lesson, etc. So that the place is filled with
noise and disorder, rendering study impossible and anything like the
cultivation of cheerful and benevolent affections entirely out of
the question."...

Then follows an example of the character of the teaching "in a
school in the centre of one of the largest and wealthiest townships"
in the district of Brock:--

"This school was taught by a person who in his youth had enjoyed
what we term superior advantages, being connected with a family of
highest respectability. Notice of my intended visit had several
days before been sent to the teacher. The female pupils had ...
decorated the place with evergreens and bouquets of flowers. The
room, though humble and coarse, was neat and tidy. When I entered,
the class in the fourth book of lessons was reading. A book was
put into my hands and I desired them to proceed.... When they
were done reading I proceeded to examine them on the lesson.
Great Britain was mentioned in the lesson and allusion made to her
people and institutions. My first question, therefore was--Where
is Great Britain? From the vacant and surprised stare with which
this question was received I was satisfied that they had no clear
conception of what Great Britain was.... I finally asked what is the
form of Government in Great Britain? As no answer was given, I ...
asked whether a King, Queen or President governed in Great Britain?
To this question a pupil, aided by the teacher, who whispered in her
ear, replied a Queen. I than asked her name.... After a good deal
of hesitation, a young woman of eighteen or twenty years of age,
replied "Queen Elizabeth!"


In connection with the realistic picture of education in the County
of Oxford, in 1847-49, sketched by the Rev. W. H. Landon, District
Superintendent, the following dual pictures of "The Old Log School"
and "The Pioneer Teachers," taken from the Toronto _Globe_ of 1887,
will be found to be highly interesting. The pictures are graphically
drawn by a teacher, and from a teacher's standpoint. Speaking of the
representative teacher of a former generation recalling the past, he

The old days come up vividly before him, when he first engaged
in the work in some country district, engaging to devote to it
the best energies of body and mind, for, it may be, some such
munificent salary as eight or ten dollars a month, said salary
to be supplemented by the saving in expense effected through the
process formerly so much in vogue of boarding around. How well he
remembers the old log school house, with its low ceiling on which
a tall man could easily lay his hand; the narrow apertures, fitted
with a few panes of 7×9 glass which served for windows; the floor
of unplaned boards, whose crevices were either compactly filled
with accumulations of dust and litter characteristic of the school
room, or worse still, yawning to swallow up pen-knife and slate
pencil as they would ever and anon drop from the fingers of some
luckless wight, started from the half slumber into which the drowsy
monotony of the ill-ventilated school room had beguiled him, by the
stentorian tones, or possibly the vigorous cuffs, of the master of
ceremonies. Very distinctly the vision of such a school room of the
old type, though at a date much less than fifty years ago, rises
before the writer as memory carries him back to the little Canadian
hamlet in which his boyhood was passed. The desks, so as far any
were provided, consisted of a wide shelf fixed at a pretty sharp
angle against the wall, and extending all around the room, with an
intermission only at the narrow space occupied by the door. This
primitive arrangement was sometimes supplemented with a long, flat
table composed of three or four loose planks in the rough, supported
by wooden benches or horses placed transversely beneath. The seats
were of planks or slabs, likewise unsmoothed, constructed by driving
rudely hewn legs into holes bored with a large augur, at a suitable
angle, in the lower surface of the plank or slab. These legs often
projected an inch or so above the surface of the seat. It could
not be said of these rude structures as in Cowper's "Evolution of
the sofa," that "the slippery seat betrayed the sliding part that
pressed it," for between the projecting legs and the innumerable
"splinters" the unhappy occupant was in much greater danger of being
impaled and pinned fast than of slipping off. Perhaps it was better
so, for in view of the great height usually given them, the fall,
for a small child, while it would most surely have been a "laughing
matter," might yet have proved a serious one.... It was certainly a
strange and cruel infatuation which constrained our grandfathers to
think that the proper position for a boy or girl at school was upon
a narrow perch, without back or arm support of any kind, and with
the feet dangling some six or eight inches above the floor.

The picture of the old school bench would not be accurate without
reference to the warping of the plank which was pretty sure soon to
take place, with the result of raising one or other of the diagonal
legs an inch or two from the floor, thus converting the seat,
when filled with its living, aching load, into a tilting board,
provocation of many a trick from the omnipresent mischievous boy of
the school, and resulting in many a blow from the palm or cane of
the irate master, which would, of course, generally descend upon
innocent ears or shoulders.

What a picture did the wooden desks and walls of those old-time
school houses present, worn smooth with the elbows, smeared with
the jackets, variegated with the ink, carved with the jack-knives
and stained with the tears of boisterous and blubbering boys and
rosy-cheeked, hoydenish or timid girls. What burlesque, too, upon
every intelligent idea of education were the processes carried on in
them. From nine o'clock to twelve, and from one till four, six long
hours, as marked by the sun's shadow on the rude dial marked out on
the windowsill, did the work go on.

Murray's Reader, and in the most ambitious districts his Grammar,
Walker's Dictionary, Walkingame's Arithmetic, Goldsmith's Geography
and somebody's spelling-book, with slate and pencil, a scanty supply
of paper and ink, and pen shaped with a keen pen-knife from a quill
picked up from the wayside or plucked ruthlessly from the wing of
some reluctant "squawking" goose, would complete the scholar's
outfit. It is the hour for preparation of the reading lesson. The
school room resounds with the loud hum of a score or two of boys
and girls all "studying aloud" with a most distracting din, and all
the heads and bodies swaying constantly and simultaneously back and
forth as an accompaniment to the voice. This voice in the case of
perhaps a majority would be modulated without the slightest relation
to the contents of the printed page, while the thoughts of the
ostentatiously industrious student would be busy with some projected
game or trick for the coming recess. And yet how often would the
Scotch school master's eye gleam with pride and pleasure when he
had, by dint of persuasion or threat, succeeded in getting every boy
and girl engaged in the horrible, monotonous chant.

Then the recitation--what a scene of confusion and stripes, tears
and bellowings. Perhaps it was the column of spellings. A few,
fitted by nature with memories adapted for that kind of work, would
make their way in triumph to the head of the long semicircular
class. But woe, woe to the dullards and the dunces, under a regime
whose penalty for missing a word a foot and a half long would
be, very likely, two or three strokes on the tingling fingers or
aching palm with the pitiless hardwood ferule, this process being
occasionally varied as some noisy or idling youngster was called up
from a back seat to be visited with a still sterner chastisement
for some trifling misdemeanor.... The writer can recall instances
and experiences innumerable, the infliction being sometimes
accompanied with a caution to tell no tales at home under pain of
a worse infliction. In his own case he well remembers the wrath
of his father, who would have thought it wrong and encouraging
insubordination to listen to any complaints against the master,
when, on occasion of the victim of a tendency to juvenile pranks
being dangerously ill with scarlet fever, and that father being
called on by the doctor to annoint his back with some soothing
lotion, he found said back striped and checked with a network of
"black and blue." It is needless to add that at this point ended
both the writer's experience under that schoolmaster and the
schoolmaster's term of engagement in that district.

As a significant comment upon the moral effects of the regime of
the schoolmasters of the old school the writer may add that one of
his most vivid memories of the mental status produced by the school
training referred to is that of an intense longing for the day when
he should be large enough to repay that old schoolmaster in his
own coin. That day came. The flagellated boy, transformed into a
tolerably lusty youth, found himself face to face with his quondam
tormenter. But his long cherished wrath speedily gave place to pity
for the decrepit, friendless and lonely old bachelor, whose days
were drawing to a close, with no loving hand of wife or daughter to
minister to their feebleness.


The writer of the foregoing paper pictured roughly the rural
Canadian school of forty or fifty years ago. It may not be without
interest to have that picture supplemented with a glimpse of
rural Canadian life as seen by the schoolmaster of the period.
The "boarding 'round" system afforded him excellent facilities
for observation. The venerable custom of boarding round died, no
doubt, a good many years ago, so far as Canada is concerned....
But thirty or forty years ago it was, in some parts of Canada at
least, almost a matter of course that the teacher should "board
'round." When a school became vacant or a new and ambitious
settlement had reached the pitch of development at which a school
was deemed a necessary sequent to the carpenter's shop, the smithy
and the shoemaker's shanty, one of the first steps was, of course,
to pitch upon a suitable candidate for the scanty honors and still
more scanty emoluments of the village pedagogue. Probably some
influential member of the community had a son or a daughter in the
teens, who was thought pretty well up in "the three R's." If so, it
would usually be deemed quite unnecessary to look farther. In fact
it would, in such a case, be useless for an outsider to contest
the constituency. It never entered the unsophisticated heads of
the trustees to invite competition by advertising for candidates
"to state salary expected." This method of putting up professional
talent in a kind of Dutch auction is an evolution of our present
"best educational system on earth." Our grandfathers went about the
business in a different way. The coming teacher being fixed upon,
the next step was for the candidate himself, or some interested
relative or friend on his behalf, to circulate a subscription sheet.
A form of heading would be prepared somewhat in the following
style:--"We, the undersigned residents of Smithton District, being
desirous of securing the services of Henry Schoolman as teacher of
the district school, hereby agree to engage the services of said
H. S. for the period of six months, and to pay him at the rate of
£1 2s 6d for each and every pupil we hereunto subscribe or send
to said school. We further agree to supply the teacher with board
in proportion to our several subscriptions; also to furnish our
proportions of wood for the use of said school. Signed, etc."

The average juvenile Canadian made, no doubt, a much more merciful,
and often much more efficient, teacher than the ex-soldier, or
broken-down tradesman from the Old Country. One of the first
duties of the newly-fledged teacher would be to go carefully over
his treasured list of subscribers and ascertain, by a careful
arithmetical calculation, the exact number of weeks and days for
which he was entitled to board and lodging at the house of each
of his respective patrons. The next step would be to find out,
by personal or written enquiries, at what time it would be most
convenient for each family to open its doors to him. This process,
and the subsequent installation in each home would, it may well be
imagined, be trying ordeals to the young and bashful pedagogue....
The receptions accorded the poor itinerant would be, of course,
as various as the feelings, dispositions and circumstances of
the householders, or, more strictly speaking, of the presiding
divinities of the parlor and the kitchen, especially the kitchen.
In many cases he would quickly feel at home. The welcome would be
cordial, the hospitality ungrudging, the companionship agreeable.
In such cases the bashful beginner would soon be able to shake off
the intolerably humiliating dread of being regarded as an intruder,
an interloper, or half-mendicant. But in numerous instances, as
may readily be conceived, the situation would be most galling to a
sensitive nature. The over-worked, perpetually tired and fretful
mistress of the house would receive him with an ill-concealed frown
or an involuntary sigh. To her he represented just so much addition,
for so long a time, to her hourly toils and cares, already too heavy
to be borne.

Unwashed specimens of "the heritage of the poor" would swarm in
every corner. The fear and awe which secured him immunity for a time
would soon wear away, and as they were replaced with the familiarity
that breeds contempt, he would be exposed to all manner of
well-meant advances and indignities. The scorn at the roughly-spread
supper table would be a scramble, and the twilight hour, which, if
he happened to have a spice of romance in his composition, he would
fain have consecrated to quiet thought or fancy, would be made
hideous by a juvenile pandemonium, as amidst stripes and cuffs and
yells and tears the unruly flock would finally be got to bed. These,
of course, were the ill-regulated householders, but they exist.

Well does the writer remember some personal experiences in this
delightful phase of the professional life of an earlier day--not
much more than half a semi-centennial distant. The old, dingy
farmhouse, the bare floors, the hard seats, the utter absence of
everything in the shape of books or other literature, the teeming
olive branches at every age and stage of development, the little
"spare" bedroom, whose sole furnishings consisted of the bed and
bedding, on whose hard floor he reclined for lack of chair and table
evening after evening for hours after he was supposed to be in bed,
reading by the feeble rays of a tallow candle the ponderous volumes
of Dr. Dick's philosophies, which had been kindly loaned him by a
friend, and which were devoured with an eagerness begotten of a
genuine hunger, though out of all proportion to the literary merits
of the works.


Rude and unfinished and uncomfortable as it was, "The Old School
House" would be sure to bring up to many an "old boy" tender
memories, which would be recalled in after years in words somewhat
like those in poetic form as follows:

    It stood on a bleak country corner,
      The houses were distant and few;
    A meadow lay back in the distance,
      Beyond rose the hills to our view.
    The road, crossing there at right angles,
      Untraversed by pomp and array;
    Were cropped by the cows in the summer,
      I've watched them there many a day.

    In memory's hall hangs the picture,
      And years of sad care are between;
    It hangs with a beautiful gilding,
      And well do I love it, I ween.
    It stood on a bleak country corner,
      But boyhood's young heart made it warm;
    It glowed in the sunshine of summer,
      'Twas cheerful in winter and storm.

    The teacher, O well I remember,
      My heart has long kept him in place;
    Perhaps by the world he's forgotten,
      His memory no touch can efface.
    He met us with smiles on the threshold,
      And in that rude temple of art,
    He left, with the skill of a workman,
      His touch on the mind and the heart.

    Oh! gay were the sports of the noontide,
      When winter winds frolicked with snow;
    We laughed at the freaks of the storm-king,
      And shouted him on all aglow.
    We flashed at his beautiful sculpture,
      Regardless of all its array;
    We plunged in the feathery snow-drifts,
      And sported the winter away.

    We sat on the old-fashioned benches,
      Beguiled with our pencil and slate;
    We thought of the opening future,
      And dreamed of our manhood's estate.
    I cast a fond glance o'er the meadow,
      The hills just behind it I see;
    Away in the charm of the distance,
      Old school house! a blessing on thee!

_Mr. Canniff Haight_, in Canada of "Fifty Years Ago," gives the
following account of the common school education of his day:--"The
schoolhouse was close at hand, and its aspect is deeply graven in
my memory. It was a small, square structure, with low ceiling. In
the centre of the room was a box stove, around which the long wooden
benches, without backs, were ranged. Next the wall were the desks,
raised a little from the floor. In the summer time the pupils were
all of tender years, the elder ones being kept at home to help with
the work. I was one of a lot of little urchins ranged daily on hard
wooden seats, with our feet dangling in the air for seven or eight
hours a day. In such a plight we were expected to be very good
children, to make no noise, and to learn our lessons. It is a marvel
that so many years had to elapse before parents and teachers could
be brought to see that keeping children in such a position for so
many hours was an act of great cruelty. The terror of the rod was
the only thing that could keep us still, and at that often failed.
Sometimes, tired and weary, we fell asleep and tumbled off the
bench, to be awakened by the fall of the rod. In the winter time,
the small school was filled to overflowing with the larger boys and
girls. This did not improve our condition, for we were more closely
packed together, and were either shivering with the cold or being
roasted with a red-hot stove.... I next sat under the rod of an
Irish pedagogue--an old man who evidently believed that the only way
to get anything into a boy's head was to pound it in with a stick
through his back. There was no discipline, and the noise we made
seemed to rival a bedlam.--_pp. 17, 18._

"As far as my recollection goes, the teachers were generally of a
very inferior order, and rarely possessed more than a smattering
of the rudiments of grammar and arithmetic. They were poorly paid,
and "boarded round" the neighbourhood. But it is not improbable
that they generally received all that their services were worth....
The school-houses where the youth were taught were in keeping
with the extent of instruction received within them. They were
invariably small, with low ceilings, badly lighted, and without
ventilation."--_pp. 157, 158._


From the Toronto _Mail_ of November 28th, 1888, I select the
following graphic account of the personal experience of a school
teacher in 1865:--

"'Yes," said an old teacher to a representative of the _Mail_
yesterday, "education has been wonderfully revolutionized in Ontario
during the last twenty-five years. It was in January, 1865, that I
first took up the birch, swaying it until I cautiously made up my
mind to quit when the new Act requiring higher qualifications came
into force in 1871. At that time the school houses in my county
were all constructed of logs, and more uninviting buildings than
these were not to be found in the country. It did appear that the
ratepayers were more led to educate their children out of a feeling
of latent and legal compulsion, than out of duty and parental
regard. The life of a teacher in those days was not the high-toned
one of to-day. Let me give my own experience, and when I have
related it you will see how much there is in the complaints and
grumblings of the existing generation of school teachers.

"'A school became vacant in the neighboring township, and I made up
my mind, armed as I was with a first-class certificate awarded me by
the County Board of Examaminers, that I would apply for the position.

"'I went to two influential men in the neighborhood and succeeded in
coaxing them to go with me to the trustees of the school. We arrived
at the section in due time, and after making due enquiries proceeded
to the house of one of the trustees, who had the reputation of
knowing everything worth discovering in the school law of the
period. I felt an awful dread and confusion come over me when in
the presence of that trustee. I was introduced, and I immediately
told my errand. The horny-handed son of toil gave me one of those
inscrutable looks that nearly sunk me to the earth. He coughed
slightly, jerked his head back, put his two hands in the pockets of
his trousers, and immediately proceeded to business.'

"'So yous wants the school, does you?'

"'I do, sir.'

"'Well, I might as well tell ye at once that the teacher we intend
hiring must be better than the present one. He is a curse to the
children of this section, with his grammar and his jography, and all
his other fal da rals. Why, sir; my son Bill comes home the other
night and says he,

"'Father, what is grammar?'

"I says, Bill, I never studied grammar, and you see how I am able to
get along without it. Grammar is no good for ploughing or cutting up
that slash fornent the house."

"Well," says the boy, "would you tell me what our teacher meant by
saying that Berlin is on the Spree?" I then got mad, and says I,
"Bill, never let me hear ye say anything more about these things.
Sure they were never taught to us from the New Testament when I was
in school."

But that is not all, the boy began to say to himself, orthography,
etymology, syntax, and prosody, going over them again and again,
until I says to Moriah, "is the child getting mad, wife!"

No sooner had he heard that than he began to say, "Noun,
adjective, pronoun, adverb, preposition, noun, adjective, pronoun,
preposition," as before. I then got afeard the child was clean
crazy, and when I was in the act of rising to catch hold of him,
says he, "Father, the earth is not flat, it is a round ball and goes

"Och, och," says I, "that spalpeen of a school master has driven my
son mad."...

So I calls a meeting, and my two colleages, Thomas Ginty and Edward
Crawford, and myself, met at the school house and dismissed the

When the leader of education of school section No. 5 ---- stopped,
I turned to my companions, not knowing what qualifications were
expected of me.

The trustee continued:--"Can you read?" "Yes." "Can you cipher?"
"Yes." "Do you know how to count by long division?" "I do." "You
don't know grammar?"

Here was the crucial test. I resolved, however, to get out of it the
best way possible, and replied:--"I don't like grammar, and don't
know much about it," which was true. "Good."

The trustee smiled sweetly and said:--"The school is yours; but,
remember, no grammar or jography, or out you go."

I was taken to the other trustees, and in their presence I was put
through the same examination as above recorded.

The bargain was struck there and then. I was promised fifteen
dollars a month board from house to house, with the condition that
I should put on the fires in winter, and keep the school house
clean--a herculean task in those days.

On the morning that I was to assume my pedagogic duties, I arrived
at the school house about 8 a.m., and at once proceeded to build a
fire. I never can forget the feeling of utter loneliness which came
over me, as I stood opposite a fireplace wide enough to accommodate
an ox. On the walls of the building were three maps, of what
countries I do not now remember, because geography was proscribed
during my _regime_. Daylight was seen through the walls. The seats
were of the most primitive character, while my own desk resembled
more the top of a toboggan slide than the rostrum of one who was
teaching the young idea how to shoot. There was no fence round the
building, the play ground being illimitable in its dimensions and
capacities. In short the whole of the surroundings of this rural
academy congealed all literary aspirations, and it was little wonder
that the boys and girls meeting there, and pretending to be drinking
at the fountain of knowledge, grew up utterly destitute of the first
principles of a rational and suitable education.

The children arrived, and I immediately began to assert my authority
as the head of the institution. I made a short speech, telling the
children that nothing would be taught in my school but reading,
writing and 'rithmetic, adding that the ten commandments would be
included in the curriculum. I got along famously that day with the
pupils, and as I was told afterwards, when my charges went home
and told their parents the new order of things, I was universally
pronounced the greatest teacher of the age. I lodged that night with
Trustee Fallis, my examiner. He was delighted with the reports given
by Bill of my mode of teaching, and in a moment of confidence told
me that the school was mine as long as I liked to keep it. I humbly
thanked him, and retired to my room, where I found Bill, the heir
of the house, in innocent slumber. Bill did not by any means prove a
pleasant bed-fellow. Occasionally his feet were found where his head
should be, and he repeatedly called out, "No grammar! Hurrah!" Next
morning I rose, and after breakfast majestically strode through two
feet of snow to the log school house, and then put in another day's

At four o'clock the trustees met and handed me a badly written and
worse spelled manuscript, which on perusal I found to be the list
of houses I was to board at during the coming three months.... Now,
sir, continued the dominie, I put in a whole year of that kind
of work; listened to all the gossip of the neighborhood, slept
occasionally on the floor, nursed all the babies of the section, and
just as I thought that my position was secure, disaster overcame me.
One of the trustees had a daughter of prepossessing appearance, and
I could not resist the temptation of falling in love with her. When
the news got abroad that I was paying attentions to her, the section
began to talk adversely of myself. Complaints were soon heard as to
my teaching. Some said that I was teaching grammar on the sly, and
that I was partial to some of the children. The result of it all was
that a meeting of the board took place, and, despite the protests of
Thomas Ginty, I was, in the language of modern times, "fired."

"Now," continued the old teacher, "the moral of what I told you is
this:--Compare the log school house, its internal arrangements and
play grounds, with those of to-day throughout the whole country, and
you have the greatest exemplification possible of the progress made
by Ontario during the last quarter of a century. There is scarcely
a section now but has its brick school house, with surroundings
attractive and neat. The teacher is given ample opportunity to
cultivate the minds of his pupils to the highest pitch possible,
at least as far as requisite for the general affairs of life. The
old prejudices against teaching anything else but the three R's are
gone. You have the walls of the buildings ornamented with maps,
charts and other appliances. Text-books are provided of the most
modern character, while a rigid system of examinations acts as
an incentive to the teacher and makes him an instructor in fact
and reality. Lastly, we have an intelligent and cultured class of
teachers, and taking all things into consideration, they are well
paid, and still better, their services are year by year becoming
more appreciated. A better class of people now act in the capacity
of trustees, and as years roll by a still more intelligent class
will be found in these positions.


In conversation with a Reporter of the _Hamilton Times_ in 1888, Mr.
James Cummings, who, after thirty-seven years service on the City
Board of Education, thus related his early educational experience:--

"At the time I first became connected with the board in 1852,"
said Mr. Cummings, "education was at rather a low ebb, not only in
Hamilton, but throughout the country. Dr. Ryerson had just commenced
his excellent common school scheme and in 1847, had established a
training school for teachers in Toronto. Hamilton had decided to
adopt the common school system and the reorganization of the schools
was just being effected. Previous to that time the education of
the children of the better class was almost wholly in the hands of
private school teachers. There were a few small school rooms in
the different wards, but they were wretched places, where usually
fifty children were crowded into a small room reeking with fetid
atmosphere. On the site of the present Cannon street school was a
small frame grammar school, at which many of the present leading
citizens received the ground-work of their education. A great reform
was inaugurated here in the year 1852. Under the new Ryerson Act
of 1850 trustees were clothed with new powers, and we immediately
proceeded to reorganize the schools here on the new plan. Tenders
were let for the erection of the present Central school and for ward
schools in different parts of the city. Mr. (now Dr. J. H.) Sangster
was appointed head master, and to him was entrusted the appointment
of teachers, and he was made responsible for the efficiency of
the schools. He had been a teacher in the Ryerson model school in
Toronto, and he appointed as his assistants thoroughly trained
graduates of that excellent institution. This was the founding of
Hamilton's excellent common school system. It kept improving from
year to year and soon closed out the private schools. Larger ward
schools were erected, and since that day Hamilton has taken a high
position educationally in the Province."


Dr. Ryerson was invited to open the new Public School in the town of
Barrie in 1872. Before the ceremony was proceeded with a letter was
read from Judge (now the Hon. Senator) Gowan, who was unable to be
present, referring to his long services in the cause of education in
the County of Simcoe. He said:--

"Ever since I came to this country, nearly thirty years ago, I
have been connected with the school system, having held the office
of Trustee of the Grammar School, and the position of Chairman of
the Board of Public Instruction from its first institution till
superseded by recent enactment, and, with the exception of my
friend, Mr. Dallas, I am the only member of the original Board now

"I have seen the gradual improvement in the school system, and
the improvement in the schools in this country from very small
beginnings to the present advanced and most prosperous condition,
so you will understand my disappointment in not being able to be
present on the interesting occasion of laying the corner-stone of
the Public School house of Barrie, by the Chief Superintendent of

"My position as Secretary and Treasurer of the Grammar School,
and Chairman of the Board of Public Instruction, in this, the
largest county in Ontario, brought me in constant communication
with the Education Office in Toronto; and I can say that the able,
zealous, and wise administration of the school law by Dr. Ryerson
and his assistant, Dr. Hodgins, has, here at least, had a happy
effect--fostering the increase of schools, securing their better
management, giving them efficient teachers, and providing the means,
within easy access to all, of securing a good common education to
the youth of this country, and a very superior education in the
Grammar Schools."

Mr. (now Judge) Boys, gave a sketch of the educational history of
Barrie as follows:

"Twenty years ago there was no Public or Common School, not,
however, without school accommodation, as we were then included in
what was known as School Section No. 1 of the adjoining Township of
Vespra. We had no building specially set apart as a school house,
but a rented room then sufficed to carry on the daily teaching
embraced within the section.... Twenty years ago one teacher took
charge of all our scholars--both male and female--and if there is
any doubt as to his labor having been great, there can be none as to
his salary having been small, for he subsisted on a sum of £60 per

"In January, 1854, Barrie became possessed of a school of its own,
and built a school house of frame 24 × 36, just about large enough
to fill up one room in the building we are now erecting. It was,
no doubt, at the time it was built, amply large, yet I find, from
the record of the school, that such was the growth of the town
by September, 1854, non-residents were refused admittance to the
Barrie school on the ground of its over-crowded state, the average
attendance of males being seventy--the females were then taught
in another building by a female teacher. This state of things
continued for nearly a year, when a separate school was established
for Barrie, which brought some relief to the over-crowded building.
But it was evident that more school accommodation would have to
be supplied, and I see by the minute book of the school, that a
new school house was talked of so far back as January, 1855. The
new school house, however, never came. The difficulty at last was
settled by an enlargement of the old building, which then assumed
the appearance it now presents. With the enlarged school house,
supplemented by some rented rooms, the schools of Barrie have ever
since continued to the present time. It took time to convince our
people of the imperative necessity there was for a large outlay in
providing a new school house. But the ratepayers became convinced
at last, and gave their hearty approval to an expenditure which
will enable us, during the next year, to erect a school building
suitable to the place, and one worthy of the trouble you, sir, have
taken to be present at its official commencement. During the time
I refer to, a Grammar School building of brick was erected and
enlarged, and a Separate School building put up.

"To-day, with your kind assistance, we have inaugurated a system
of Public School accommodation which, with our school known as the
Barrie School, Separate and High Schools, will ultimately provide
for the educational wants of the neighborhood. I use the expression
'inaugurated a system,' because I hope and trust that our efforts
in this direction will not be slackened on the completion of this
building.... We believe this building will be worthy of the honor
you have done us in coming here to-day, we also believe at some
future day, we shall have a system of Public School accommodation
worthy of the life-long and successful efforts you have made to give
to Ontario an almost perfect system of education. It is seldom that
public men are asked to assist in building a monument to themselves,
but I have asked you to do so on this occasion, for I look upon
buildings of this nature as memorials of your well-directed public
work during the last thirty years, and when you have gone to your
long home, and the envy--aye--and the malice of your enemies are
forgotten, your name associated with the noble work you have
accomplished, will be handed down from generation to generation, and
each school section throughout the country will contain a monument
to your memory, as enduring as the foundations of this continent."



In Dr. Ryerson's personal sketch of his early history he gives the
following particulars as to his student and teacher life:

I was born on the 24th of March, 1803, in the Township of
Charlotteville, near the Village of Vittoria, in the then London
District, now the County of Norfolk.... The district grammar-school
was then kept within half-a-mile of my father's residence, by Mr.
James Mitchell (afterwards Judge Mitchell), an excellent classical
scholar; he came from Scotland with the late Rt. Rev. Dr. Strachan,
first Bishop of Toronto. He treated me with much kindness. When I
recited to him my lessons in English grammar he often said that he
had never studied the English grammar himself, that he wrote and
spoke English by the Latin grammar. At the age of fourteen I had
the opportunity of attending a course of instruction in the English
language given by two professors, the one an Englishman, and the
other an American, who taught nothing but English grammar. They
professed in one course of instruction, by lectures, to enable a
diligent pupil to parse any sentence in the English language. I was
sent to attend these lectures, the only boarding abroad for school
instruction I ever enjoyed. My previous knowledge of the _letter_
of the grammar was of great service to me, and gave me an advantage
over other pupils, so that before the end of the course I was
generally called up to give visitors an illustration of the success
of the system, which was certainly the most effective I have ever
since witnessed, having charts, etc., to illustrate the agreement
and government of words.

This whole course of instruction by two able men, who did nothing
but teach grammar from one week's end to another had to me all
the attraction of a charm and a new discovery. It gratified both
curiosity and ambition, and I pursued it with absorbing interest,
until I had gone through Murray's two volumes of "Expositions
and Exercises," Lord Kames' "Elements of Criticism," and Blair's
"Lectures on Rhetoric," of which I still have the notes which I
then made. The same professors obtained sufficient encouragement to
give a second course of instruction and lectures at Vittoria, and
one of them becoming ill, the other solicited my father to allow me
to assist him, as it would be useful to me, while it would enable
him to fulfil his engagements. Thus, before I was sixteen, I was
inducted as a teacher, by lecturing on my native language. This
course of instruction, and exercises in English, have proved of the
greatest advantage to me, not less in enabling me to study foreign
languages than in using my own.

While working on the farm I did more than ordinary day's work,
that I might show how industrious, instead of lazy, as some said,
religion made a person. I studied between three and six o'clock in
the morning, carried a book in my pocket during the day to improve
odd moments by reading or learning, and then reviewed my studies of
the day aloud while walking out in the evening.... A kind friend
offered to give me any book that I would commit to memory, and
submit to his examination of the same. In this way I obtained my
first Latin grammar, "Watts on the Mind," and "Watts' Logic."

My eldest brother, George, after the war, went to Union College,
U. S., where he finished his collegiate studies. He was a
fellow-student with the late Dr. Wayland, and afterwards succeeded
my brother-in-law as Master of the London District Grammar School.
His counsels, examinations, and ever kind assistance were a great
encouragement and of immense service to me.

I felt a strong desire to pursue further my classical studies, and
determined, with the kind counsel and aid of my eldest brother, to
proceed to Hamilton, and place myself for a year under the tuition
of a man of high reputation both as a scholar and a teacher,
the late John Law, Esq., then head master of the Gore District
Grammar School. I applied myself with such ardour, and prepared
such an amount of work in both Latin and Greek, that Mr. Law said
it was impossible for him to give the time and hear me read all
that I had prepared, and that he would, therefore, examine me on
the translation and construction of the more difficult passages,
remarking more than once that it was impossible for any human mind
to sustain long the strain that I was imposing upon mine.[58] In
the course of some six months his apprehensions were realized, as
I was seized with a brain fever, and on partially recovering took
cold, which resulted in inflammation of the lungs by which I was so
reduced that my physician, the late Dr. James Graham, of Norfolk,
pronounced my case hopeless, and my death was hourly expected.

  [58] Having written to the late Hon. Samuel Mills for his
  recollections of these school days, Mr. Mills replied as follows:
  "I have a distinct recollection of having had the honor of being
  at the Hamilton Grammar School with yourself in the years 1823 and
  1824, and that the late John Law was head master at the time. He
  was considered a highly educated and accomplished scholar, and was
  so well qualified for the position he held, that the school had a
  provincial reputation and was patronized by many parties living at
  a great distance by sending their sons to it; and the very fact
  of your attending the school gave éclat to it, as you were then
  considered a well educated young man, far in advance of the rest of
  us. Your studies, if my recollection serves me right, were confined
  entirely to reading Latin and Greek, and I know Mr. Law and the
  whole school looked upon you as being a credit to it."

After a severe illness Dr. Ryerson happily recovered.

His narrative states that, "the next day after my recovery, I
left home and became usher in the London District Grammar School,
applying myself to my new work with much diligence and earnestness,
so that I soon succeeded in gaining the good-will of parents and
pupils, and they were quite satisfied with my services,--leaving the
head master to his favorite pursuits of gardening and building!

In 1872, Dr. Ryerson wrote to Mr. Simpson McCall, of Vittoria and
asked: "Will you have the kindness to let me know what is your own
recollection as to the attendance at the school, especially in the
winter months, and the impression of the neighborhood generally
as to its efficiency during the two years that I taught it?" Mr.
McCall replied as follows: I can assure you that I have a vivid
recollection of the London District School during the winters of
1821 and 1822, being an attendant myself. I also remember several of
the scholars with whom I associated, viz: H. V. A. Rapelje, Esq.,
late Sheriff of the County of Norfolk; Capt. Joseph Bostwick, of
Port Stanley; James and Hannah Moore.

The number generally attending during the winters of those two
years, if I remember correctly, were from forty to fifty.

The school while under your charge was well and efficiently
conducted, and was so considered and appreciated throughout
the neighborhood at the time; and after you left the charge of
the London District School it was generally regretted in the

I remember hearing this frequently remarked not only by pupils who
attended the school under your tuition but also by their parents.

"During two years I was thus teacher and student, advancing
considerably in classical studies, I took great delight in "Locke on
the Human Understanding," Paley's "Moral and Political Philosophy,"
and "Blackstone's Commentaries," especially the sections of the
latter on the Prerogatives of the Crown, the Rights of the subject,
and the Province of Parliament."

In an address before the Ontario Teachers' Association in 1872,
Dr. Ryerson said: "As it has of late been stated, so confidently
and largely, that he had yet to learn the elements of his native
tongue. Such had been the representations on the subject, that he
had begun to suspect his own identity, and to ask himself whether
it was not a delusion that he had in boyhood not only studied, but,
as he supposed, had mastered Murray's two octavo volumes of English
Grammar and Kame's Elements of Criticism and Blair's Rhetoric, of
which he still had the notes that he made in early life; and had
been called to assist teaching a special class of young persons in
English Grammar when he was only fifteen years of age; and whether
it was not a fancy that he had taught, as he supposed, with some
degree of acceptance and success, what was then known as the London
District Grammar School for two years, and had subsequently placed
himself for a year under an accomplished scholar in order to read
Latin and Greek. Somewhat disturbed by these doubts, he thought he
would satisfy himself by writing to the only two gentlemen with whom
he was now acquainted, who knew him in these early relations. In
reference to these statements he would read the correspondence on
the subject." (See the foot notes appended.)


As to Dr. Ryerson's influence as a teacher, Rev. Dr. Ormiston thus
referred to it at the Ontario Teacher's Convention in 1872. He said:
"The teacher has a reward peculiar to his work--a living, lasting
memorial of his worth. The feelings of loving reverence which we
entertain for those who have awakened our intellectual life, and
guided us in our earliest attempts at the acquisition of knowledge,
are as enduring as they are grateful. I shall never forget, as I can
never repay, the obligations under which I lie to the venerable and
honorable Chief Superintendent, Dr. Ryerson, not only for the kindly
paternal greeting with which, as principal, he welcomed me, a raw,
timid, untutored lad, on my first entrance into Victoria College,
when words of encouragement fell like dew-drops on my heart, and for
the many acts of thoughtful generosity which aided me in my early
career, and for the faithful friendship and Christian sympathy which
has extended over nearly thirty years, unbroken and unclouded, a
friendship which, strengthened and intensified by prolonged and
endearing intimacy, I now cherish as one of the highest honors and
dearest delights of my life; but especially for the quickening,
energizing influence of his instructions as professor, when he
taught me how to think, to reason and to learn. How I enjoyed the
hours spent in his lecture-room--hours of mental and moral growth
never to be forgotten! I owe him much, and but for his presence here
to-day, I would say more of what I think and feel of his character
and worth. He has won for himself a place in the heart of many
a young Canadian, and his name will be ever associated with the
educational advantages and history of Ontario. May he be spared for
many years to see the result of his labors, in the growing prospects
and success of the common schools and educational institutions of
this noble and prosperous province, whose best interests he has
patriotically done so much to promote."

In 1882, after Dr. Ryerson's death, Dr. Ormiston thus referred
to his experience at Victoria College, then under Dr. Ryerson's
presidency. He said:--

"In the autumn of 1843, I went to Victoria College, doubting much
whether I was prepared to matriculate as a freshman. Though my
attainments in some of the subjects prescribed for examination
were far in advance of the requirements, in other subjects I knew
I was sadly deficient. On the evening of my arrival, while my
mind was burdened with the importance of the step I had taken,
and by no means free from anxiety about the issue, Dr. Ryerson,
at that time Principal of the College, visited me in my room. I
shall never forget that interview. He took me by the hand; and few
men could express as much by a mere hand-shake as he. It was a
welcome, an encouragement, an inspiration, and an earnest of future
fellowship and friendship. It lessened the timid awe I naturally
felt towards one in such an elevated position--I had never before
seen a Principal of a College--it dissipated all boyish awkwardness
and awakened filial confidence. He spoke of Scotland, my native
land, and of her noble sons, distinguished in every branch of
philosophy and literature; specially of the number, the diligence,
the frugality, self-denial and success of her college students. In
this way he soon led me to tell him of my parentage, past life and
efforts, present hopes and aspirations. His manner was so gracious
and paternal--his sympathy so quick and genuine--his counsel so
ready and cheering--his assurances so grateful and inspiriting, that
not only was my heart _his_ from that hour, but my future career
seemed brighter and more certain than it had ever appeared before.

"Many times in after years have I been instructed, and guided, and
delighted with his conversation, always replete with interest and
information; but that first interview I can never forget, it is as
fresh and clear to me to-day as it was on the morning after it took
place. It has exerted a profound, enduring, moulding influence on
my whole life. For what, under God, I am, and have been enabled to
achieve, I owe more to that noble, unselfish, kind-hearted man than
to any one else.

"As a teacher he was earnest and efficient, eloquent and inspiring,
but he expected and exacted rather too much work from the average
student. His own ready and affluent mind sympathized keenly with
the apt, bright scholar, to whom his praise was warmly given, but
he scarcely made sufficient allowance for the dullness or lack
of previous preparation which failed to keep pace with him in
his long and rapid strides; hence his censures were occasionally
severe. His methods of examination furnished the very best kind
of mental discipline, fitted alike to cultivate the memory and to
strengthen the judgment. All the students revered him, but the best
of the class appreciated him most. His counsels were faithful and
judicious; his admonitions paternal and discriminating; his rebukes
seldom administered, but scathingly severe. No student ever left his
presence, without resolving to do better, to aim higher, and to win
his approval."


Mr. P. K. Olyne, in the _New Dominion Monthly_ for July, 1869, in an
article on "Norfolk, or the Long-Point County," thus referrs to its
settlement and to the boyhood there of Dr. Ryerson:--

"After undergoing many hardships which were only a foretaste of
what they had to endure in the future, a company arrived in the
Long Point region about the year 1780. This was then a solitary
wilderness. These pioneer Loyalists went to work with zeal
unsurpassed in clearing away the forest, in building roads and
erecting houses as commodious as it was possible to erect out
of rude materials. Among those who first came to the Long Point
country, worthy of particular notice, were Colonel Ryerson, Colonel
Backhouse, Walsh and Tisdale. In the pioneer home of Joseph Ryerson
might have been seen a remarkably bright lad. Being extremely fond
of books, he spent his spare moments in studying. So regular was his
habits in this respect, that when a neighbour would drop in and ask
for Egerton, the answer was sure to be: "You will find him in such
a place, with a book." Notwithstanding he was placed in a position
where opportunities for gaining an education were very meagre
indeed, yet he overcame all obstacles--obstacles that he could not
forget in after life, and which, like a true patriot, he set himself
to remove. How much Dr. Egerton Ryerson, Chief Superintendent of
Education, has done for the educational interests of Canada the
reader is left to judge for himself. Of late the Doctor has made a
practice of visiting the home of his childhood annually. Not always
by rail and stage has he accomplished the journey from Toronto,
but still clinging to the sport of his youthful days he would set
forward in an open boat, and paddling it himself along the shores of
the lakes would finally reach the place so dear to him, and which,
no doubt, brought afresh to his memory many recollections both
joyous and sad.

"A rude log schoolhouse was constructed by the early settlers as
soon as they could do so conveniently. A fire-place extended along
nearly a whole side of the building. Logs of considerable length
were rolled into this in cold weather for fuel, before which rude
benches or hewed logs were placed as seats for the instructor and
pupils. The close of the teacher's term was denominated "the last
day." It was customary on this occasion for the children to turn
the pedagogue out of doors by force, and for this purpose some
whiskey was generally provided as a stimulant. Such was the state
of educational institutions in the days of young Ryerson. What
advancement has education made since? We trace it step by step as
onward it has advanced, until to-day Norfolk can proudly boast of
institutions and teachers second to none of the kind in the world."

In 1851, Dr. Ryerson sent to each County Council specimens of maps,
charts, natural history, prints, etc., to the value of $30, the
Council of the County of Norfolk, acknowledged the gift in a very
hearty manner. In reply to the County Council, Dr. Ryerson said:--

From the Municipal Council of my native county, I have never
experienced unkind opposition, but have been encouraged by its
patriotic co-operation: and it affords me no small satisfaction,
that that same Council is the first in Upper Canada to acknowledge
the receipt of the documents and maps referred to--that the
resolution of the Council was seconded by an old school-fellow,[59]
and couched in terms to me the most gratifying and encouraging; and
that my first official letter of a new year, relates to topics which
call up the earliest associations of my youth, and are calculated to
prompt and impel me to renewed exertions for the intellectual and
social advancement of my native land.

  [59] Mr. I. W. Powell, M.P.P., father of Colonel Powell,
  Adjutant-General of Canada.

To the County Board of Public Instruction he said:

"I hope the poorest boy in my native County may have access to a
better common school than existed there when I was a lad. What
I witnessed and felt in my boyhood, gave birth to the strongest
impulses of my own mind, to do what I could to place the means and
facilities of mental development and culture within the reach of
every youth in the land."

"I am more than gratified, I am profoundly impressed, that such
efforts are made for the interests of the young, and of future
generations in the County of Norfolk. That county is dear to me by a
thousand tender recollections; and I still seem to hear in the midst
of it, a voice issuing from a mother's grave, as was wont formerly
from the living tongue, telling me that the only life worthy the
name, is that which makes man one with his fellow-men, and with his

In September, 1864, Dr. Ryerson thus referred to the trip in his
frail skiff to his native county of Norfolk in the preceding month:

"In my lonely voyage from Toronto to Port Ryerse the scene was
often enchanting and the solitude sweet beyond expression. I have
witnessed the setting sun amidst the Swiss and Tyrolese Alps from
lofty elevations, on the plains of Lombardy, from the highest
eminence of the Appenines, between Bologna and Florence, and from
the crater summit of Vesuvius, but I was never more delighted and
impressed (owing, perhaps, in part to the susceptible state of
my feelings) with the beauty, effulgence, and even sublimity of
atmospheric phenomena, and the softened magnificence of surrounding
objects, than in witnessing the setting sun on the 23rd of June,
from the unruffled bosom of Lake Erie, a few miles east of Port
Dover, and about a mile from the thickly wooded shore, with its
deepening and variously reflected shadows. And when the silent
darkness enveloped all this beauty, and grandeur, and magnificence
in undistinguishable gloom, my mind experienced that wonderful sense
of freedom and relief which come from all that suggests the idea of
boundlessness--the deep sky, the dark night, the endless circle, the
illimitable waters. The world with its tumult of cares seemed to
have retired, and God and His works appeared all in all, suggesting
the enquiry which faith and experience promptly answered in the

    With glorious clouds encompassed round
      Whom angels dimly see;
    Will the unsearchable be found;
      Will God appear to me?

"My last remark is the vivifying influence and unspeakable pleasure
of visiting scenes endeared to me by many tender, and comparatively
few painful recollections. Amid the fields, woods, out-door
exercises, and associations of the first twenty years of my life,
I have seemed to forget the sorrows, labors and burdens of more
than two score years, and be transported back to what was youthful,
simple, healthy, active, and happy. I can heartily sympathise with
the feelings of Sir Walter Scott when, in reply to Washington
Irving, who had expressed disapprobation in the scenery of the
Tweed, immortalized by the genius of the border minstrel, he said:

"'It may be partiality, but to my eyes these gray hills and all this
wild border country have beauties peculiar to themselves. I like
the very nakedness of the land. It has something bold, and stern,
and solitary about it. When I have been for some time in the rich
scenery of Edinburgh, which is ornamented garden land, I begin to
wish myself back again among my honest gray hills, and if I did not
see the heather at least once a year I think I should die.'

"Last autumn I lodged two weeks on the farm on which I was born,
with the family of Mr. Joseph Duncan, where the meals were taken
daily in a room the wood-work of which I, as an amateur carpenter,
had finished more than forty years ago, while recovering from a long
and serious illness."[60]

  [60] The island within Long Point, which Mr. Ryerson's father
  obtained from the Crown, but which then belonged to him, was marked
  on old maps as Pottshawk Point, but designated on later maps, and
  more generally known, as "Ryerson's Island."


An entire revision and consolidation of the laws relating to public
and high schools took place in 1874, in which Dr. Ryerson took a
leading part. But the revision related chiefly to details and to the
supply of former omissions in the law.

The last important official act of Dr. Ryerson was to arrange
for the educational exhibit of the department at the Centennial
Exhibition in 1876. That was most successfully carried out; and,
at the close of that exhibition, the following highly gratifying
"award" was communicated to the then venerable ex-chief, after
he had retired from office. The award was made by the American
Centennial Commission, and was to the following effect:

     For a quite complete and admirably arranged exhibition,
     illustrating the Ontario system of education and its excellent
     results; also for the efficiency of an administration which has
     gained for the Ontario Department a most honorable distinction
     among government educational agencies.

This award was quite a gratification to the now retired chief of the
Department, then in his seventy-third year, and amply repaid him, as
he said, for many years of anxious toil and solicitude, while it was
a gratifying and unlooked-for compensation for all of the undeserved
opposition which he had encountered while laying the foundations of
our educational system.

In a letter to a friend toward the close of his official career,
Dr. Ryerson thus explained the principles upon which he had
conducted the educational affairs of the Province during his long
administration of them. He said:--

During these many years I have organized and administered the
Education Department upon the broad and impartial principles which I
have always advocated. During the long period of my administration
of the Department I knew neither religious sect nor political party;
I knew no party other than that of the country at large; I never
exercised any patronage for personal or party purposes; I never
made or recommended one of the numerous appointments of teachers
in the Normal or Model Schools, or clerk in the education office,
except upon the ground of testimonials as to personal characters and
qualifications, and on a probationary trial of six months.

       *       *       *       *       *

I believe this is the true method of managing all the public
departments, and every branch of the public service. I believe it
would contribute immensely to both the efficiency and economy of
the public service. * * * It would greatly elevate the standard of
action and attainments and stimulate the ambition of the young men
of the country, when they know that their selection and advancement
in their country's service depended upon their individual merits,
irrespective of sect or party, and not as the reward of zeal as
political partisans in elections or otherwise, on their own part, or
on that of their fathers or relatives.

The power of a government in a country is immense for good or ill.
It is designed by the Supreme Being to be a "minister of God for
good" to a whole people, without partiality, as well as without
hypocrisy, like the rays of the sun; and the administration of
infinite wisdom and justice and truth and purity.

       *       *       *       *       *

I know it has been contended that party patronage * * * is an
essential element in the existence of a government. * * * The
Education Department has existed--and it is the highest public
department in Upper Canada--for more than thirty years without such
an element, with increasing efficiency and increasing strength, in
the public estimation, during the whole of that period. Justice, and
virtue, and patriotism, and intelligence are stronger elements of
power and usefulness than those of rewarding partisans; and if the
rivalship and competition of public men should consist in devising
and promoting measures for the advancement of the country and in
exercising the executive power most impartially and intelligently
for the best interests of all classes, then the moral standard of
government and of public men would be greatly exalted, and the
highest civilization of the whole country be advanced.

In a series of letters published in defence of his administration of
the Education Department in 1872, he thus pointed out the character
of his difficult and delicate task. He also gave a brief glance at
what had been accomplished by the Department since he took office in
1844. He said:--

The Department of which I have had charge since 1844, and during
several administrations of government, is confessedly the most
difficult and complicated, if not the most important, of any
department of the public service. Since 1844, it has devolved on me
to frame laws, and to devise, develop, and administer a system of
public instruction for the people of this Province. That system has
been more eulogized by both English and American educationists, and
more largely adopted in other British colonies, on both sides of the
globe, than any other system of public instruction in America.

The system of popular education in Ontario has opened a free
school to every child in the land, and proclaimed his right to
its advantages; it has planted a school house in nearly every
neighborhood, and in hundreds of instances, made the school house
the best building in the neighborhood; it has superseded the topers
and broken-down characters, so common as teachers of a former age,
by a class of teachers not excelled in morals by the teachers
of any other country, and who, as a whole, compare favorably in
qualifications with those of any State in America; it has achieved
a uniformity of excellent text-books, earnestly prayed for by
educators in the neighboring States, and has spread throughout
the land books of useful and entertaining knowledge to the number
of nearly a million of volumes; it is the nearest approach to a
voluntary system of any public school system in the world; and it
has developed larger resources than that of any other State in
America, in proportion to the wealth and number of inhabitants.

This unparalleled success is due to the Christian feeling, the
energy, patriotism and liberality of the people of this Province;
but it has been imposed on me to construct the machinery,
devise the facilities and agencies by which so great a work
has been accomplished, and to do what I could to encourage my
fellow-countrymen in its promotion.

The administration of laws generally is by learned judges, by the
pleadings of learned counsel, and the deliberations of selected
juries; but the administration of the school law and system is
through the agency of several hundred elected councils, and
nearly twenty thousand elected trustees,--thus embodying, not
the learned professions, but the intelligence, common sense,
feelings and interests of the people at large in the work of school
administration and local self-government.


In "The Story of My Life," I gave the following reasons, amongst
others, which induced Dr. Ryerson to propose a change in the
headship of the Education Department. I said: "For many years after
confederation Dr. Ryerson felt that the new political condition of
the Province, which localized, as well as circumscribed, its civil
administration of affairs, required a change in the management of
the Education Department. He, therefore, (as early as in 1868,
and again in 1872) urged upon the Government the desirability
of relieving him from the anomalous position in which he found
himself placed under the new system. The reasons which he urged
for his retirement are given in a pamphlet devoted to a 'defence'
of the system of education, which he published in 1872, and are as

"When political men have made attacks upon the school law, or the
school system and myself, and I have answered them, then the cry
has been raised by my assailants and their abettors, that I was
interfering with politics. They would assail me without stint, in
hopes of crushing me, and then gag me against all defence or reply.

"So deeply did I feel the disadvantage and growing evil of this
state of things to the department and school system itself, that
I proposed, four years ago last December, to retire from the
department, and recommended the creation and appointment of a
Minister of Public Instruction. My resignation was not accepted, nor
my recommendation adopted; when, two months later, I proposed that,
at the commencement of each session of the legislature, a committee
of seven or nine (including the Provincial Secretary for the time
being) should be elected by ballot, or by mutual agreement of the
leading men of both parties, on the Education Department; which
committee should examine into all the operations of the department
for the year then ending, consider the school estimates, and any
bill or recommendations which might be submitted for the advancement
of the school system, and report to the house accordingly. By many
thoughtful men, this system has been considered more safe, more
likely to secure a competent and working head of the department,
and less liable to make the school system a tool of party politics,
than for the head of it to have a seat in Parliament, and thus
leave the educational interests of the country dependent upon the
votes of a majority of electors in one riding. This recommendation,
submitted on the 30th of January, 1869, has not yet been adopted;
and I am left isolated, responsible in the estimation of legislators
and everybody else for the department--the target of every attack,
whether in the newspapers or in the Legislative Assembly, yet
without any access to it or to its members, except through the
press, and no other support than the character of my work and the
general confidence of the public."


The salient points of Dr. Ryerson's letter of resignation, dated
7th December, 1868, and addressed to Hon. M. C. Cameron, Provincial
Secretary, are as follows:--

"I have the honor to submit to the favourable consideration of the
Lieutenant-Governor in Council what, some three weeks since, I
submitted to the individual members of the Government, namely, that

"The Department of Public Instruction shall be under the management
of a member of the Executive Council, to be designated 'Minister
of Public Instruction,' who shall be an _ex officio_ member of
the Toronto University and of the Council of Public Instruction,
and who, in addition to the powers and functions vested in the
Chief Superintendent of Education, shall have the oversight of
all educational institutions which are or may be, aided by public
endowment or legislative grant, to inspect and examine, from time to
time, personally or any person appointed by him, into the character
and working of such institution; and by him shall all public moneys
be paid in support or aid of such institutions, and to him they will
report at such times and in such manner as he shall direct....

"Our system of public instruction has acquired such gigantic
dimensions, and the network of its operations so pervades every
municipality of the land, and is so interwoven with our municipal
and judicial systems of government, that I think its administration
should now be vested in a responsible Minister of the Crown, with a
seat in Parliament; and that I should not stand in the way of the
application to our varied educational interests of that ministerial
responsibility, which is sound in principle and wise in policy.
During the past year I have presented a report on school systems
in other countries, with a view of improving my own; and the
Legislative Assembly has appointed a Select Committee for the same
purpose. I have, therefore, thought this was the proper time to
suggest the modification and extension of the Department of Public

"While, in addition to the duties imposed upon me by law as Chief
Superintendent of Education, I have voluntarily established a system
of providing the municipal and school authorities with libraries,
text-books and every description of school furniture and school
apparatus--devising and developing their domestic manufacture. I
have thus saved the country very many thousands of dollars in the
prices as well as the quality of the books, maps, etc., etc. I can
truly say that I have not derived one farthing's advantage from
any of these arrangements, beyond the consciousness of conferring
material, intellectual and social benefits upon the country."...

To this letter the Government of the Hon. J. Sandfield Macdonald
replied, through Provincial Secretary Cameron, on the 30th of
January, 1869, as follows:--

"In acknowledging your letter of the 7th December last, placing your
resignation of the office of Chief Superintendent of Education in
the hands of His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, and suggesting
that the Department of Public Instruction should be placed under the
more direct management of the Government, through a Minister, to be
designated 'the Minister of Public Instruction,' holding a place
in the Executive Council and a seat in the Legislative Assembly,
thus bringing this department, in common with all other branches
of the Government, within the control of the people through the
responsible advisers of the Crown. I am directed by His Excellency
the Lieutenant-Governor, to thank you for the valuable suggestions
contained in your letter, and to request that you will continue to
discharge those important duties, which you have performed for a
quarter of a century with so much credit to yourself and benefit to
the people of this Province, until His Excellency's advisers shall
have more fully considered your suggestions, and matured a measure
for placing your department under the direct supervision of a member
of the Executive Council.

"The services that you have rendered your country, and your now
advanced age, fully warrant your asking to be relieved from the
further discharge of your arduous duties; but knowing your vigor of
mind and energy of character, His Excellency ventures to hope that
compliance with the request now made will not prove too great a tax
upon your energies, or interfere seriously with any other plans you
may have formed for the employment of the remaining years of a life
devoted to the moral and intellectual improvement of your fellowmen."

To this letter Dr. Ryerson replied on the 30th January, 1869, as

"I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of
this date conveying the most kind expression of his Excellency the
Lieutenant-Governor in regard to myself and my past humble services,
and the request that I would continue in my present office until His
Excellency's advisers should be able to mature a measure to give
effect to the recommendations of my letter of 7th of December last
respecting the direct responsibility of the Education Department to
Parliament, and the creation of the office of Minister of Public
Instruction to be filled by a responsible Minister of the Crown,
having a seat in Parliament. The more than kind reference to myself
on the part of His Excellency has deeply affected me, and for which
I desire to express my most heartfelt thanks.

"I beg to assure you for the satisfaction of His Excellency that I
will subordinate every inclination and contemplated engagement, to
the great work of the Education Department and the system of Public
Instruction, as long as I have strength and may be desired by the
constituted authorities to do so.

"I have found that the apprehensions first expressed by the Hon.
M. C. Cameron, as Chairman of the Education Committee of the
Legislative Assembly during the late session, that connecting the
Department of Public Instruction with the political Ministry of the
day might draw the system of Public Instruction into the arena of
party politics and thus impede its progress, is largely shared in by
thoughtful men, and that my recommendation has been coldly received
generally, and strongly objected to in many quarters.

"Under these circumstances I have been led to review the whole
question; and aided by the experience which the recent session of
the Legislature has afforded, I would respectfully suggest that,
until a better system can be devised, a committee of say seven or
nine members of the Legislative Assembly (to be presided over by the
Provincial Secretary) be elected by ballot, (or if not by ballot, by
the mutual agreement of the leaders of both parties in the House,)
at the commencement of each session, to examine into the working,
and report upon all matters relating to the Education Department
and its administration, as well as upon any measures which might be
suggested for the promotion of Public Instruction. The Provincial
Secretary, being _ex officio_ Chairman of such Committee, would
be able to bring before it any thing that had required the
interposition of, or had been brought before the Government during
the year and meriting the attention of the Committee. The Committee
being chosen by ballot, or by mutual agreement on both sides of
the House, would preclude the character of party in its mode of
appointment, and give weight and influence to its recommendations.
In this way the Education Department, necessarily so identified with
matters affecting popular progress and enlightenment would, it its
whole administration be more directly responsible to Parliament and
through it to the people than any other Public Department is now,
and that without being identified or connected with any political
party, and on the occasion of a vacancy in the Administration of the
Department, a selection and appointment could be made free from the
exigencies of party or of party elections, upon the simple and sole
ground of qualifications for the office and with a view of promoting
the interests of public education irrespective of sect or party."


On the 10th of February, 1872, Dr. Ryerson addressed a letter to the
Hon. Edward Blake, then Premier of Ontario, in which he said:

"After much deliberation, I have thought it advisable to address
you in respect to my long desired retirement from the Education
Department, of which I have had charge longer than any Judge has
ever occupied the Bench in Canada, and to a greater age....

"The infirmities of age must compel me to retire before long; and
I have thought my immediate or early retirement would enable the
Government to exercise its discretion more freely in regard to the
Department, and system of Public Instruction....

"In case you concur in what I have above intimated, I would suggest
the creation of the office of Minister of Public Instruction, and
the appointment of yourself to it, as is the Premier in Lower
Canada, bringing the University, U. C. College, Institutions of Deaf
and Blind, as well as the Normal, High and Public Schools, under
direct governmental supervision.

"In the practical administration of the Education Department an
abler, more judicious and reliable man cannot be found than Dr.
Hodgins, who has been in the Department twenty-seven years--who was
first educated to business in a retail store in Galt, and afterwards
in a wholesale establishment in Hamilton with the Stinsons--clerk
in the same establishment with Mr. Charles McGill, M.P., and was
offered to be set up in business by the Stinsons or admitted as
a partner within a year or so if he would remain, but he chose
literature and went to Victoria College in 1840, where I found him;
and on account of his punctuality, thoroughness, neatness, method,
and excellent conduct, I appointed him on trial first clerk in my
office in 1844; and having proved his ability, I wrote to him when
I was in Europe, to come home to his widowed mother in Dublin, and
spend a year in the great education office there, to learn the whole
system and management--I having arranged with the late Archbishop
Whately and other members of the National Board, to admit Mr.
H. into their office to study the principles and details of its
management and of the Normal and Model Schools connected with it.
Mr. Hodgins did so at his own expense, and losing the salary for
the year; at the end of which he returned to my office with the
testimonials of the Irish National Board, as to his diligence and
the thorough manner in which he had mastered the modes of proceeding
in the several branches of that great Education Department. He also
brought drawings, of his own make, of the Dublin Education Offices,
Normal and Model Schools. Then since you know that Mr. Hodgins
having taken his degree of M. A., has proceeded regularly to his
degree of law in the Toronto University, and has been admitted to
the Bar as Barrister at Law. He is, therefore, the most thoroughly
trained man in all Canada for the Education Department; and is
the ablest, most thorough administrator of a public department of
any man with whom I have met. I think he has not been appreciated
according to his merits; but should you create and fill the office
of Minister of Public Instruction, you may safely confide the
ordinary administration of the Education Department to Dr. Hodgins,
with the title of my office.

"In the meantime you can make yourself familiar with the principles
and branches, and modes of its arrangement. Whatever you may find
to approve of in my policy and course of procedure, I have no doubt
you will have the fairness to avow and the patriotism to maintain,
whatever may be your views and feelings in regard to myself,
personally; and if you find defects in, and can improve upon, my
plans or proceedings, no one will rejoice at your success more than
myself. I enclose a printed paper, which will afford information of
the details of the Department....

"I may add that should I retire from my present office, I would
have no objections, if desired, to be appointed Member of the
Council of Public Instruction and give any assistance I could in its
proceedings as the result of my experience."

       *       *       *       *       *

In his reply, dated 12th of February, 1872, Mr. Blake said:--

"I have your note of the 10th instant, marked private, proposing
your retirement and the reconstruction of the Education Office,
and enclosing copies of a former official correspondence on the
same subject. At this late stage of the session, and under the
present pressure of public business, there is no probability of
our giving this matter the consideration which it deserves, and it
must therefore be postponed till the recess, when, if you will have
the goodness to put yourself in communication with the Provincial
Secretary, as on the former occasion, the subject will receive the
early and earnest attention of the Government."...

       *       *       *       *       *

Nothing further was done in this matter until 1876, when Dr. Ryerson
finally retired from office on full salary, after having filled his
responsible post for nearly thirty-two years.


Having been intimately concerned in all of the events and
educational matters to which I have referred in the foregoing
Retrospect, it may not be out of place for me to add a few words of
a personal character in conclusion.

At the end of this year I shall have completed my more than 45
years' service, as chief of the staff of the Education Department of

For over 40 years I enjoyed the personal friendship of the
distinguished man whose memory we honor here to-day--32 years of
which were passed in active and pleasant service under him.

The day on which he took official leave of the Department was indeed
a memorable one. As he bade farewell to each of his assistants in
the office, he and they were deeply moved. He could not, however,
bring himself to utter a word to me at our official parting, but
as soon as he reached home he wrote to me the following tender and
loving note:--


MY DEAR HODGINS,--I felt too deeply to-day when parting with you
in the Office to be able to say a word. I was quite overcome
with the thought of severing our official connection, which has
existed between us for thirty-two years, during the whole of
which time, without interruption, we have labored as one mind and
heart in two bodies, and I believe with a single eye to promote
the best interests of our country, irrespective of religious sect
or political party--to devise, develop, and mature a system of
instruction which embraces and provides for every child in the
land a good education; good teachers to teach; good inspectors to
oversee the Schools; good maps, globes, and text-books; good books
to read; and every provision whereby Municipal Councils and Trustees
can provide suitable accommodation, teachers, and facilities for
imparting education and knowledge to the rising generation of the

While I devoted the year 1845 to visiting educating countries and
investigating their system of instruction, in order to devise
one for our country, you devoted the same time in Dublin in
mastering, under the special auspices of the Board of education
there, the several different branches of their Education Office,
in administering the system of National Education in Ireland, so
that in the details of our Education Office here, as well as in our
general school system, we have been enabled to build up the most
extensive establishment in the country, leaving nothing, as far
as I know, to be devised in the completeness of its arrangements,
and in the good character and efficiency of its officers. Whatever
credit or satisfaction may attach to the accomplishment of this
work, I feel that you are entitled to share equally with myself.
Although I know that you have been opposed to the change, yet could
I have believed that I might have been of any service to you, or to
others with whom I have labored so cordially, or that I could have
advanced the school system, I would not have voluntarily retired
from office.[61] But all circumstances considered, and entering
within a few days upon my 74th year, I have felt that this was the
time for me to commit to other hands the reins of the government of
the public school system, and labor during the last hours of my day
and life, in a more retired sphere.

  [61] This remark evidently refers to the oft expression of my
  dissent from Dr. Ryerson's views in regard to the important
  change which he had proposed to the Government for the future
  administration of the Education Department. It was one of the very
  few subjects on which I had occasion to differ from the views of my
  venerated friend.

But my heart is, and ever will be, with you in its sympathies and
prayers, and neither you nor yours will more truly rejoice in you
success and happiness, than

  Your old life-long Friend and Fellow-laborer,


While in England, in reply to a retrospective letter from me at the
close of that eventful year, Dr. Ryerson wrote as follows:--

  "LONDON, December 12th, 1876.


   .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

"Had we been enabled to work together, as in former years, we would
have done great things for our country, and I could have died in the
harness with you. But it was not to be so.... I have no doubt it
will be seen that the hand of God is in this, as it has been in all
our work together for more than thirty years.

  "Your ever Affectionate Friend,
    "E. RYERSON.


Under these circumstances how can I, therefore, regard without
emotion the events of to-day? They bring vividly to my recollection
many memorable incidents and interesting events of our educational
past known only to myself. They also deeply impress me with the
fleeting and transitory nature of all things human. The Chief and
sixteen counsellors, appointed and elected to assist him, (besides
more than twenty persons connected with various branches of the
Department) have all passed away since my first connection with
the Department in 1844.[62] His great work remains, however, and
his invaluable services to the country we all gratefully recall
to-day, while his native land lovingly acknowledges these services
in erecting this noble monument to his memory. Truly indeed and
faithfully did Egerton Ryerson make good his promise to the people
of this Province, when he solemnly pledged himself, on accepting
office in 1844--

"To provide for my native country a system of education, and
facilities for intellectual improvement not second to those of any
country in the world."

God grant that the seed sown and the foundations thus laid with such
anxious toil and care--and yet in faith--may prove to be one of our
richest heritages, so that in the future, wisdom and knowledge, in
the highest and truest sense, may be the stability of our times!

  J. G. H.

  Toronto, 24th May, 1889.

  [62] These sixteen were:--

    1. The Right Reverend Michael Power, D.D.
    2. Hugh Scobie, Esquire.
    3. Hon. Samuel Bealey Harrison, Q.C.
    4. The Reverend Adam Lillie, D.D.
    5. James Scott Howard, Esquire.
    6. The Reverend John Jennings, D.D.
    7. The Very Reverend Henry James Grasett, D.D.
    8. The Hon. Mr. Justice Morrison.
    9. The Reverend John Ambery, M.A.
    10. The Right Reverend Thomas Brock Fuller, D.D.
    11. The Reverend J. Tabarat, D.D.
    12. The Reverend John McCaul, LL.D.
    13. The Reverend John Barclay, D.D.
    14. The Honorable William McMaster.
    15. The Reverend Samuel S. Nelles, D.D., LL.D.
    16. The Most Reverend John Joseph Lynch, D.D.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Minor typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected
without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have
been retained as printed.

Mismatched quotes are not fixed if it's not sufficiently clear where
the missing quote should be placed.

In the table of contents the page number for the Title and Prefatory
note has been changed from i. to iii. to match the book.

Page 17: "and the difficultiee with which he had to
contend"--changed to "difficulties".

Page 22: "this was the ----le gift which Dr. Ryerson devoted"--The
dash (----le) has been inserted where there was a blank area in the
printed book.

Page 64: "the social and religions virtues"--"religions" changed to

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