The Evolution of French Canada

By Jean Charlemagne Bracq | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
HIGHER EDUCATION

MGR. LAVAL founded, in 1663, the oldest seminary of North America from which, two centuries later, were to spring the French universities of Lower Canada. Five years later was opened the Petit Séminaire.1 The aim of this foundation was to furnish a better preparation for theology in the Séminaire, and, at the same time, provide a good secondary education for lay students. The bishop, at first, attempted what was pressing; namely, to prepare men capable of doing some religious teaching and to administer the sacraments, but he knew that this was inadequate for anything like real theological studies. The new preparatory school gave an adequate basis for such work and in some ways contributed to the formation of future colleges which, in our day, have reached the number of twenty-one.2

The evolution of the French Canadian college is not unlike that of the American. "It was," says Dr. Colby, "among the first functions of Harvard to train ministers for work among the savages, and to educate those of them who could be brought into the way of higher learning. Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, was, by origin, a missionary institution";3 and so it was with many denominational colleges, to train pastors for the churches. The teaching staff and the classes were small. Harvard, about 1640, had a president and two tutors.4 The Rev. John Williams,

____________________
1
Abbé C. Roy, L'Université Laval, p. 360.
2
Statistiques de l'enseignement, 1919, p. 125.
3
Canadian Types, p. 84.
4
Douglas, p. 336.

-296-

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