The Revolt of French Canada, 1800-1835: A Chapter of the History of the British Commonwealth

By Helen Taft Manning | Go to book overview

XVIII
The Work of the Assembly

Of the tasks undertaken by the legislature in the three sessions which began in the autumn of 1829, the work of building school-houses and striving to increase the literacy of the Canadian population was the one which evoked the most universal approval and enthusiasm. There was never a doubt in the mind of members of the assembly that Canadian civilization would be rapidly transformed by the measures taken and most right-minded people in the province seem to have agreed with them. Tocqueville and Beaumont, during their visits to Montreal and Quebec in 1831, were assured on all sides that 'the Canadian race which is growing up will not resemble that which now exists'.1 So strong was the tide that even the opposition of the Catholic bishops to the form of the assembly measures made remarkably little difference either to the legislature itself or to the population of the towns and villages that were to benefit from them, and the Church proceeded quietly to adapt itself to this aspect of a new order.

The underlying principles of the assembly philosophy about education were formed in the early twenties and never greatly changed. There was always a considerable interest in the various systems then in vogue in Europe, and especially in England, for spreading elementary education among the poorer classes without too great public expenditure. The system of Joseph Lancaster was on the whole favoured partly because he was a Quaker, whereas his leading rival, Andrew Bell, was an Anglican; the assembly often displayed a preference for dissenters over members of the established Church. Joseph Lancaster had come to America in the twenties and carried on an active correspondence with Papineau and others in Lower Canada, which resulted in his settling in Montreal and receiving a grant from the assembly to enable him to continue his experiments and assist in the organization of elementary schools in that city.2 Through the efforts of J. F. Perrault, Quebec's most noted philanthropist, a Lancastrian school was opened as early as 1821 for the needy children of the Lower Town, and three years later Perrault, knowing

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The Revolt of French Canada, 1800-1835: A Chapter of the History of the British Commonwealth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Maps x
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - The Setting 1
  • I - The Province of Lower Canada 3
  • II - Lord Grenville's Act 23
  • Part II - The Struggle in the Colony: Governor Versus Assembly 39
  • III - Governor, Electorate, Assembly 41
  • IV - The Popular Party 58
  • V - Sir James Craig, 1807-11 77
  • VI - The Francophile Governor Sir George Prevost, 1811-15 95
  • VII - Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, I816-I8 109
  • VIII - Lord Dalhousie, 1820-28 124
  • Part III - The Struggle in the Colony: The Fundamental Issues 149
  • IX - The Question of Union 151
  • XII - The Question of Representation 187
  • XII - The Attack on the Councils 207
  • Part IV - The Reaction in England 223
  • XIII - Reaction in War 225
  • XIV - Reaction in Peace 243
  • XV - The Politics of the Colonial Office 260
  • XVI - The Mind of Parliament 277
  • Part V - The Ascendancy of French Canada 297
  • XVII - The Triumph of the Assembly 299
  • XVIII - The Work of the Assembly 311
  • XIX - The Forces Dividing 321
  • XX - The Catastrophe 335
  • XXI - The Election of 1834 355
  • Conclusion 374
  • Appendix 378
  • Bibliographical Notes 384
  • Notes 390
  • Index 419
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