Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marion, Flora and Edith Nicholson: representative of their time in Quebec

Well, I'm trying to figure out what was happening in 1906, with respect to Macdonald College deciding to absorb the McGill Normal School.

As far as I can figure, there was some political wrangling going on: Macdonald College was going to create a school for rural teachers, separate from the Normal School. Some people felt the Normal School had neglected the needs of rural people. (I saw that they gave free tuition to city dwelling candidates starting in 1906, the year after Marion attended.)

But then with a two million dollar donation from Macdonald, Sir William that is, the Normal School was accepted into Macdonald College and a special committee of the Protestant Committee was set up to decide terms.

At stake, who was to decide how the teachers there should be trained. Well, they arrived at some compromise. All teachers now took Manual Training and Nature Study, for instance.

So now the tables were turned. In the past, it was the rural teachers who had trouble finding lodgings in Montreal while they were at school. (Marion. above, lodged at the Y). Now, students staying at home in the city while attending Macdonald would have to commute two hours a day.

I'm reading what articles I can find on the subject: what I did find out is that the Protestant Committee was committed to creating a bilingual province,committed to teaching French in the schools.

Yet, in the 1960's, when I attended school in Montreal, French class was ineffective. (In large part this was because Catholic teachers couldn't teach in the Protestant system.)

Today, all English schools are French immersion, but this is no bilingual province.

Very odd.

Anyway, in 1906 a resolution was passed allowing teachers without diploma to teach under special circumstances in rural schools. These teachers had to have at least Academy II. That is why Edith could teach. Many people were against this resolution, they saw it as lowering standards, going backwards...although it was said that no other jurisdiction in North America or Europe could expect most of its teachers to have a diploma. (That's how special the Protestant Quebeckers felt they were with respect to education. Superior.)

Others thought it was just practical to allow some teachers to practice without a diploma: rural schools had trouble getting qualified teachers, what with the lonliness and boredom and tiny classes and lack of facilities, but especially since they didn't want to pay good salaries.

I found a notice from April 1911, showing that Melbourne needs an elementary specialist with diploma and wants to pay out 20 dollars a month. Well, May Watters, who graduated that year, didn't want that job. She wanted to work in the city for big bucks, and live with Marion. And she got a job in the city. I have to find someway to stick this in my story, possibly when Flora meets with her Principal in April 1911... to discuss her failing grade in French.

No question, Marion, Edith, and Flora Nicholson are representative of their time.