Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Marion's Multicultural School

Well, I am exploring the 1910 Montreal Jewish community for my book, Flo in the City, about a girl coming of age in that pivotal era, when I came across a 1910 Gazette article that combines information about the Jewish Community with information about Marion's school board.

A back to school HEADLINE in September 1910 says that 30 percent of the students in the Protestant System are Jewish.

The article says that there is a 2000 pupil increase in the Protestant Board in 1910 due to annexation of two wards.

The article says that there is a shuffling of male Principals in four schools, and they are still looking for a Principal for William Lunn, although a senior woman teacher is filling in for the interim. (BIG SIC). Flora goes to teach there in 1912 and that school certainly has male principal at that time, although, he is Canadian and NOT ENGLISH, as in British, which makes Margaret, Flora's mom, very happy.

Luckily, few teachers in the board have resigned in 1910. Well, Marion sure didn't. Marion's school, Royal Arthur, partially burned down in 1909, but luckily the new building was ready for 1910. Still, there was overcrowding in some schools as new buildings were being finished.

Apparently, many Protestant students were bussed a long way into the city.

And I'm going to quote this last bit, even though Google news archives says no copying.. but it's too good to paraphrase, so I have gone to McGill and looked it up myself on the microfilm...Phew that was a tiring trip and those machines at McGill, so antiquated, but as an alumus, I am allowed to use the library.

"The Montreal schools, judging from impressions gained from the principals, on the opening day yesterday will this year be even more cosmopolitain than ever. The percentage of Hebrew children in the schools will be more than thirty, some of the schools in the poorer districts, such as Dufferin containing few of any other creed. The children at the schools are of many races and a pleasing feature is the eagerness shown by Montreal's new citizens to place their children where they could get as fair a start in life as childen of the others. Many of the children who applied for admittance could scarcely speak English,and the teachers had in some cases a difficult task, hardly knowing how to deal with these foreign youngsters."

Well, I like this paragraph. It reads like a March of Time, without the pictures.
But it paints a picture of a 1910 Montreal filling up with immigrants (despite what the Immigration Officials told the NYT.)

Here's a link to the Google archive page, so you don't have to go downtown to the McLennan Library at McGill.

And this 30 percent number is why, at this time, there's a controversy going on regarding school board representation. I have to read up more, but it seems to me that Board were changing over from an appointed Board to an elected Board and many people didn't want the Jewish Parents to participate. Stay tuned.