The Framework of Quebec Protestant Educational Administration


"The Framework of Quebec Protestant Educational Administration" is a typewritten document found among the papers of James Verner (Jim) Waddell. Jim, who was involved in establishing English Protestant schools in Ste. Rose and Rosemere, Quebec, served in the voluntary position of Chairman of the Protestant Board of School Trustees of Ste. Rose starting in 1937.

Prepared in January, 1941, this document has what appears to be an official code "IP-284" which may indicate it originated with a Quebec government office.

Introductory -

To casual consideration, even that of its own citizens, the Provincial system of education in Quebec often seems unnecessarily complex. A more serious examination, however, will reveal that, though of a character unique among state systems, it is, at the same time, a thoroughly reasonable and democratic development. Indeed, the sympathetic student of Quebec history will probably feel that it provides the most satisfactory solution of the problem of harmonizing within a single structure the educational aims of two races of citizens who differ in language, traditions, ideals and (generally speaking) in religion. Based as it is on the readiness of each race to respect the rights of the other, while at the same time jealously insisting on the absolute preservation of its own rights, it has come about that education in Quebec, while operated under a single code, is dual in character, Roman Catholics and Protestants have each their own schools and complete freedom to manage them.

This duality extends, too, into the administrative machinery. There are two controlling bodies, namely, the Department of Educa­tion and the Council of Education. Each of these again is a dual authority, with two branches severally devoted to the interests of Protestants or Roman Catholics, administering its own normal schools and having its own group of inspectors and supervisors. In this divi­sion of jurisdiction lies the main difference between education as organized in the Province of Quebec and the systems in our other Provinces.

Provincial Autonomy in Education -

There is no Federal system of education in Canada and no cen­tralized control of education. The B.N.A. Act, charter of Confederation, entrusted to each province the privilege and responsibility of educating its citizens. At the same time, it safeguarded the religious rights of minorities by providing that no provincial law made in relation to education should prejudicially affect any rights or privileges with respect to schools already possessed by Roman Catholic or Protestant minorities at Confederation. It thereby confirmed for the citizens of Quebec earlier legislation which had, in effect, al­ready established the common schools on a confessional basis. Legis­lation as early as 1841 had set aside a permanent school fund for the establishment and maintenance of public schools in every township and parish of Lower Canada. Successive acts in the years immediately following had developed the idea of dissentient schools by providing a method by which a Roman Catholic or Protestant minority in a municipality might have its own school or schools and its share of school properties and monies. The Education Act of 1846 is, with its sub­sequent amendments, what we know as "school law". It is the code un­der which the Quebec system has operated ever since.

As a consequence of the autonomy of the provinces in the matter of education, there are other noticeable differences in their systems. Quebec and Nova Scotia, for instance, have a Superintendent of Educa­tion where the others all have, a Minister of Education, a member of the Cabinet of the government in power. Quebec, up to 1876, had a Minister of Education, but a desire to divorce education from politics resulted in that year in the abolishing of the post and the creation of one that would be continuous and non-political, that of the Superintendent of Education who is appointed by the Lieutenant­-Governor-in-Council.

The Part of the Provincial Secretary in Education -

The Superintendent is the chief administrator of the Department of Education. This is a department in the civil service of the Prov­ince and is among those departments which come under the authority of the Provincial Secretary. All provincial education of whatever nature, including not only the regular public schools but all voca­tional and technical schools, is ultimately under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Secretary. To him the Superintendent must make an annual report on the workings of his Department, and of the state of education generally in the Province.

The Superintendent of Education -

According to the Education Act, the Superintendent may "in general, do everything concerning the encouragement and advancement of education, arts, letters, and sciences". He is the custodian of all documents. He prepares and submits an annual budget to the Legislature. He receives from the provincial Treasurer and distri­butes, according to law, all grants for educational institutions, and has the power to withhold these from schools and municipalities which do not comply with the law. He compiles and publishes statistics and records. His Department carries on an extensive correspondence with school boards with respect to all matters concerning the schools and their administration. The law requires that he shall, in the exercise of his functions, comply with the directions of the Council of Education or its component Committees.

The Secretaries of the Department of Education -

Assisting the superintendent are two Department officers known as the Roman Catholic Secretary and the Protestant Secretary, with the status of deputy ministers. Since 1924, the Protestant Secretary has been, under the supervision and control of the Superintendent, Director of Protestant Education. His powers and duties are determined by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council.

The Council of Education -

Side by side with the Department of Education for the regulation and control of public and normal schools, there is the Council of Education. It was organized in 1859 as the Council of Public In­struction, and by a statute of ten years later, could resolve itself into separate Roman Catholic and Protestant Committees. Subsequent legislation granted to each of these Committees an increasing measure of authority over the schools of its denomination, with the result that, for many years now, the Protestant minority has had complete freedom in matters relating exclusively to the Protestant schools.

The two Committees are co-ordinated within the Council of Education, and, in order to deal with questions affecting the joint interests of both Protestants and Roman Catholics, they must, by law, meet in joint Council (or jointly in sub-committees). A proof of the completely in­dependent powers of the two Committees may be seen in the fact that there has been no meeting of the Committees in full Council for very many years past.

The Council of Education is subject to the orders and instructions of the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council. Its presiding officer is the Superintendent of Education who is, 'ex-officio', a member of both Committees, though he may vote only in the Committee of the religious faith to which he belongs. The Secretaries of the Department of Educa­tion are, by law, joint secretaries of the Council. Since 1886, the successive Protestant Secretaries have acted as secretary to the Protestant Committee.

Constitution of the Committees -

The Roman Catholic Committee of the Council of Education is composed of: -

1. 'Ex-officio', all bishops, ordinaries or administrators of the Roman Catholic dioceses and apostolic vicariates in the Province, including those whose dioceses may be only partly within the Provincial boundaries.

2. An equal number of laymen appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-­Council.

3. Four members of the teaching profession, likewise, appointed.

Two of these must be priests and principals of normal schools, and the other two laymen and officers of primary education.

The Protestant Committee consists of a number of members, appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council, equal to the number of laymen on the Roman Catholic Committee. To these, the Committee itself has power to add seven associate members, of whom one is the representative of the Provincial Association of Protestant Teachers, elected annually by that body. The associate members have the same powers as the others in the Committee but do not form part of the Council of Education. At the time of writing (January 1941) the possible number of the Protes­tant Committee is 27, made up of the Superintendent of Education and nineteen other members, and seven associate members. In addition, there is the Secretary who is the Protestant Secretary of the Department of Education.

Powers and Duties of the Committees -

It is the function of either Roman Catholic or Protestant Committee, for its own schools, and with the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council, to make regulations for:

1. The organization, administration, and discipline of public schools.

2. The division of the Province into inspection districts and for establishing the boundaries of such districts.

3. The government of normal schools.

4. The government of boards of examiners.

5. The examination of candidates for the office of school inspector.

6. Determining the holidays to be given in schools.

Each Committee has also the power to authorize textbooks and ap­prove of maps, globes and similar equipment in its schools, and to withdraw such approval. It may, for just cause, revoke the diploma of any teacher of its religious belief and it may, after due inquiry, recommend to the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council the dismissal of an inspector.

Inspectors -

Within the Department of Education, and therefore in the civil service, are the two groups, Roman Catholic and Protestant, of inspectors and supervisors of special subjects who serve schools of the Province. It is the duty of the inspectors of Protestant elementary schools to visit the schools at least twice yearly. The extent of their territory, the number of schools and the difficulty of communications in some districts at certain seasons often render more frequent inspection rather difficult. However, particular schools may be visited more frequently. High schools and intermediate schools are visited at least once a year.

Duties of Inspectors -

The inspector must make note of the condition of repair of all school property, of its comfort and cleanliness, and of its equipment. He must examine the progress of pupils and the efficiency of teachers, and see that only authorized textbooks are used and the authorized course of study followed. He is expected to act as adviser to the school board and to the individual teacher, and hold regional conferences with his teachers as a group. In short, he must see that the school law and the regulations of the Protestant Committee are complied with in all things. On all these matters he must report to the Superintendent of Education.

Qualifications of Inspectors -

The inspector (Save in the districts of Gaspe, Saguenay and the Magdalen Islands, where certain exceptions are allowed) must have a B.A. degree and a first class high school diploma. He must be at least thirty years of age, have taught for a minimum of five years, and at some time within the five years previous to his appointment.

In order further to qualify for his post, he must pass examinations designed to test his knowledge of teaching methods and his familiarity with the organization, discipline, and management of schools. He is also examined on the duties of inspectors, school boards and teachers, and the operation of the school law. The examinations are carried out by a board of examiners set up under a regulation of the Protestant Committee.

School Boards -

The unit of educational administration is the school municipality. Its boundaries do not necessarily coincide with the boundaries of the civic municipality. Similarly, the boundaries of Roman Catholic and Protestant school districts within the same civic municipality need not be identical. In some places there may be only the school or schools of the faith of the majority, administered by a board of five elected commissioners. However, where any number of residents in a district, of a faith differing from that of the majority, decide that they would like to have their own school or schools, they may signify their intention to do so by giving collective notice in writing to the existing board of Commissioners. They may then, under provisions of the Education Act, proceed to organize their schools and administer them under a board of three elected school trustees.

In some of the larger towns such as Montreal, Quebec, Sherbrooke, and some municipalities adjacent to Montreal, both Roman Catholic and Protestant boards are boards of commissioners. For practically a century both boards in the cities of Montreal and Quebec have consisted of six commissioners who to this day, unlike those throughout the rest of the Province are appointed, not elected. Since 1869, three of these appointments have been made by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council and three by the city council.

Elsewhere in the Province citizens, to be eligible for election to school boards must be male ratepayers or the husbands of ratepayers, and be able to read and write. However, the Protestant Committee has expressed its approval of the eligibility of woman for school boards and is presently endeavoring to have legislation to that end enacted. Ministers of religion in the school district are also eligible to its board. Only male property-owners, or the husbands of property-owners, of the age of majority, may vote for school boards.

Powers and Duties of School Boards -

School boards are charged with the responsibility of selecting school sites and erecting school buildings and must maintain these latter in a state of repair, cleanliness and comfort. They must engage and pay duly qualified teachers and see that the instructions laid down by the Committee of their faith with respect to course of study and textbooks are complied with. They fix their monthly school fees which may not, however, be exacted from the children of indigent persons, and may be abolished for all pupils by resolution of the board. In the same way, they have permissive power to supply free textbooks, in part or altogether, and to provide medical inspection for their pupils and schools. They must cause to be levied such taxes as are necessary for the support of their schools. They must, within reason, supply transportation for children who live at a distance from the school. In general, they must try to provide education for all the children of school age within the municipality and manage their schools to the best of their ability.

They must cause a yearly census to be taken of all the children of school age in the school municipality. They must keep account of all financial transactions and furnish detailed reports to the Superintendent. It is also their duty to see that the schools are visited at least once in six months by two or more of their number who must then report on all matters relating to the management of the schools. They must engage a secretary-treasurer and may appoint a superintendent or special supervisors.

The Montreal Protestant Central School Board -

In 1938-39 there were 347 Protestant school boards in the Province, having under their care almost twice that number of schools. Some 72,000 children were enrolled in these schools. However, approximately two-thirds of all the pupils are registered in the schools which are controlled by the Montreal Protestant Central School Board.

This board was created in 1925 for the financial control of the boards of eleven Protestant school municipalities situated in the central and eastern parts of the island of Montreal. These boards are those of Montreal, Westmount, Lachine, Verdun, Coteau St. Pierre (Montreal West), St. Laurent, Outremont, Hampstead, Mount Royal, Sault-au-Recollet and Pointe-aux-Trembles.

Under this centralized scheme the local boards no longer raise their own revenue. Instead, all the taxes due to Protestant schools are collected by the civic authorities in each municipality and turned over directly to the Central Board. Each local board must in the spring prepare an estimate of all its expenses for the ensuing year and present it to the Central Board. These budgets are studied in the light of the needs of all the boards and after they have been approved, either with or without amendments, the Central Board makes distribution to each, accordingly, from the funds at its disposal. No administrative expense can be incurred by any local board that has not been included in its budget, no teachers or other employees may be engaged beyond the number authorized by the Central Board, and no salaries may be paid which are greater than those authorized by the Central Board.

While the Central Board has thus general control of all finances, the local boards retain their identity and most of their autonomy and former powers. They continue to manage their schools in all pedagogical and general matters as far as the funds allotted to them permit.

The Central Board consists of seven members and the term of office is four years. Four of them are appointed by the Montreal Board, which has in its schools almost seventy percent of the pupils. One is appointed by the Westmount Board. The remaining two are appointed by the nine other municipalities.

With a limited number of exceptions, most of the schools of the province are thus administered by boards of commissioners or trustees. In Quebec, Labrador, in the Magdalen islands and in some pioneer communities whose resources are slender, there are no organized school municipalities, but schools have been established and are maintained by the Department of Education and administered directly from Quebec. In a few other places which have come into existence through mining or industrial development there are ‘company’ schools, that is, schools built and supported by the mining or industrial corporations. These schools, though operated outside the provincial system, generally follow the course of study authorized by the Department of Education.

Classification of Schools -

The regulations of the Protestant Committee divide the schools under its authority into three classes, viz.: Elementary Schools, Intermediate Schools and High Schools.

Elementary schools offer a course of study extending over a period of seven years. In some places, notably in the city of Montreal, there are also kindergartens in a number of the schools. In those rural elementary schools where there is only one teacher, grades are grouped into four classes - Class I (Grade I), Class II (Grades II and III), Class III (Grades IV and V), and Class IV (Grades VI and VII).

Intermediate Schools, of which, according to the report of the Inspector-General for 1939, there were seventy-five in the Province, offer normally a course of study covering a period of nine years. They must be organized in two departments, elementary and intermediate, under three or more teachers, two of whom must hold either high school or intermediate diplomas. In certain circumstances, the Director of Education may, upon a satisfactory report from the Inspector of High Schools, grant, for a year at a time, the application of an intermediate school to teach one or more additional grades.

In 1938-39 there were sixty-two high schools in the Province. High Schools must be organized in three departments, elementary, intermediate, and high school, to follow courses of study extending over eleven years. In a number of selected High Schools - nine at the time of writing - a twelfth year has been added. Of a required minimum of four teachers in a High School, one at least must hold a permanent high school diploma and two others intermediate diplomas.

The High Schools (to a greater or lesser degree which depends upon their facilities and equipment) offer a choice of courses designed to meet the varying needs, aptitudes or future plans of their pupils. In Grades VIII and IX Arithmetic, English, French and History are compulsory, and in Grades X and XI, English and French must be studied. Variety of choice is achieved by the opportunity in each grade to combine subjects from an optional list with those subjects which are obligatory. By this scheme the pupil is enabled to arrange for himself the course which is, for him, the best preparation for the course he plans to follow after graduation from school. It may be definitely preparatory to some faculty in the university, to teacher-training in Macdonald College or to training in some other institution, or it may be simply a generally cultural training for after-school life, whether in the business or industrial world, or in the field of art or music. A few schools provide a full commercial course.

The pupil who successfully completes Grade XI receives the High School Leaving Certificate, which, when of the required character and standard, is accepted, 'pro tanto’, by the universities as the equivalent of the Matriculation Certificate. Similarly, the Senior High School Leaving Certificate at the end of Twelfth year is accepted, 'pro tanto’, for senior matriculation, i.e., entrance into the second year at the university.

Included among Protestant educational institutions of the Province are certain approved private schools which follow the authorized course of study to Grade XI or Grade XII, and also the School for Teachers which prepares candidates for elementary and intermediate certificates. In addition, there are universities and their affiliated colleges which operate under a Provincial charter and offer various courses, among them the training of teachers for the High School Diploma. They must make annual statistical reports to the Superintendent.

Central Board of Examiners -

The Protestant Central Board of Examiners is the body which admits students to the teacher-training institutions and at the successful close of this training may alone, with the Director of Protestant Education, grant teaching diplomas valid for Protestant Schools. It is appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council on the recommendation of the Protestant Committee and consists of from five to ten members and a secretary. It reserves to itself the right to reject any candidate for teacher-training classes whose standard of academic proficiency, health, character or morals it does not consider satisfactory.

Teacher Training -

Teachers for the Protestant Schools are trained in the School for Teachers at Macdonald College, at McGill University in Montreal and at Bishop's University at Lennoxville. The classes at Macdonald College lead to the Elementary diploma which permits the holder to teach in Grades I to VI, the Intermediate diploma which is valid for Grades I to IX, or the Kindergarten Diploma. The course for the High School Diploma, valid for all grades, is provided in the two Universities. These certificates are all interim at time of issue. They become permanent after two years of successful teaching, with, in the case of the intermediate certificate, one session at an approved summer school.

In the School for Teachers at Macdonald College no tuition fees are charged. Students must pay for board and room, but bursaries of one hundred dollars are given to such teachers-in-training for elementary certificates as promise to teach for three years in a rural elementary school in the Province.

Candidates for the course leading to the Elementary Certificate must be at least seventeen years of age and the holder of a Grade X certificate. The course is one year in the School for Teachers.

Those who are entering upon the course leading to the Intermediate Certificate must be at least eighteen years old and possessors of a High School Leaving or University Matriculation Certificate of a certain standard. They follow a course of one year in the School for Teachers.

To enter upon the training for Kindergarten Director, the candidate must possess either an intermediate diploma or (in Montreal only) a kindergarten assistant’s certificate.

To gain a High School Diploma, a candidate must be a graduate of an approved university and have qualified in certain subjects during his university course. He must then pursue a post-graduate course of one year in the theory and practice of education. (This last regulation comes into force in September 1941. Up till that time the training for the High School Diploma may be taken as part of the undergraduate course).

Advanced Elementary and Advanced Intermediate Diplomas are awarded to the holders of permanent Elementary or Intermediate Certificates who have done additional summer school work.

Only those teachers shall be eligible to act as Principals of High Schools who have permanent high school diplomas and have successfully attended at least one summer school session. To be eligible as Principal of an intermediate school, a teacher must possess at least a permanent intermediate diploma. The Director of Protestant Education has power to make exceptions in special cases.

Conclusion -

The paragraphs above have sketched the framework of the Protestant division of the Quebec school system. If the complete Provincial structure appears to be elaborate, it nevertheless operates smoothly for both sides, and it is difficult to see what substitute could, down the years, have proved so fair to the Protestant minority. Division of control within a single state system has been for our people a natural growth, which has ‘slowly broadened down from precedent to precedent' from the very beginning of our joint possession of our Province. It is the product of adjustments, continuously and generously made, between two differing races and creeds. Accustomed as Quebec Protestants are to independent control of their own schools, it is not hard to imagine how distasteful to them would be the alternative of joint control of all the schools, with the attendant handicaps to them which inevitably spring from the circumstances of being a minority. Whatever the defects of our system may be - and no system of education is ever perfect - we owe a debt of gratitude for the legacy left us by those successive generations of educationists and legislators, both French and English, of so harmonious a solution of the problem of fitting the education of our children to our own educational aims and ideals.