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State of the Nation or Community of Spirit? Schooling for Civic and Ethnic-Religious Nationalism in Insurrectionary Canada

  • Bruce Curtis (a1)

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This article focuses on the two leading projects in the educational “struggle for the hearts and minds” of the people in the British North American colony of Lower Canada (currently the southern portion of the Canadian Province of Quebec) in the wake of the insurrectionary struggles and armed border incursions of 1837–38. (See Figure 1.) English Radicals and Whigs, with some Canadian allies, promoted a broad-ranging reconstruction of colonial government and legal and cultural institutions. The educational component of their project centered on the “nationalization” of the French- and English-speaking populations through the attendance of young people in common schools, where they would be instructed in a nonsectarian civil religion later known as “our Common Christianity.” The cooperative management of such schools by adult male property holders would train men in the operations of local representative self-government. Most of those involved in promoting this project for a new form of community understood it to be aimed at the assimilation of French Canadians to a broadly “British” nationality.

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References

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1 In earlier work, Curtis, BruceThe State of Tutelage in Lower Canada, 1835–51,“ History of Education Quarterly 37 (Winter 1997): 2543, I focused on the conflicts that surrounded the implementation of interrelated reforms of local government and public schooling in the 1840s. This article deals with an earlier phase in educational politics.

2 Fecteau, Jean-MarieÉtat et associationnisme au XIXe siècle Québecois: Éléments pour une problématique des rapports État/société dans la transition au capitalisme,“ in Colonial Leviathan: State Formation in Mid-Nineteenth Century Canada eds. Greer, Allan and Radforth, Ian (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), 134–62; idem., “La construction d'un espace social: Les rapports de l'Église et de l'État et la question de l'assistance publique au Québec dans la seconde moitié du XIXe siècle,” in L'histoire de la culture et de l'imprimé. Hommages à Claude Galarneau eds. Yvon Lamonde and Gilles Gallichan (Ste-Foy: Presses de l'Université Laval, 1996), 6189.

3 Anderson, Benedict Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism 2nd edition (London: Verso, 1993).

4 For instance, Kelly, John D. and Kaplan, Martha Represented Communities: Fiji and World Decolonization (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

5 Anderson, Imagined Communities, 163–85.

6 On “officializing practices,” see Cohn, Bernard Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996). On state formation and cathexis, see R.W. Connell, “The State, Gender, and Sexual Politics,” Theory and Society 19 (1990): 507–44; also, Volger, Carolyn “Social Identity and Emotion: The Meeting of Psychoanalysis and Sociology,” The Sociological Review 48 (Winter 2000): 19–41.

7 Bourdieu, PierreÉsprits d'État. Genèse et structure du champ bureaucratique,“ in Raisons pratiques: Sur la théorie de l'action, (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1994), 101–45. Translated and abbreviated as “Rethinking the State: Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field,” in State/Culture: State Formation after the Cultural Turn ed. George Steinmetz (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), 5375.

8 On these matters, Curtis, BruceFrom the Moral Thermometer to Money: Metrological Reform in Pre-Confederation Canada,“ Social Studies of Science 28 (Winter 1998): 547–70; Davies, Christie Trivizas, Eugene and Wolfe, Roy “The Failure of Calendar Reform (1922–1931): Religious Minorities, Businessmen, Scientists, and Bureaucrats,” Journal of Historical Sociology 12 (Summer 1999): 251–70; Kula, Witold Measures and Men (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986).

9 Scott, James C. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998); Weber, Eugen Peasants into Frenchmen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1976).

10 Greer, Allan The Patriots and the People. The Rebellion of 1837 in Lower Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993); Senior, Elinor Redcoats and Patriotes: The Rebellions in Lower Canada, 1831–38 (Ottawa: Canada's Wings, 1985).

11 de Tocqueville, Alexis Democracy in America (New York: Harper, 1952), 430n; also, Leclercq, Jean-Michel “Alexis de Tocqueville au Canada (du 24 aoǔt au 2 septembre 1831).” Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française 22 (Fall 1968): 353–65; Jacques Vallée, ed. Tocqueville au Bas-Canada (Montréal: Editions du Jour, 1973); on Mill, Bruce Curtis, True Government by Choice Men? Inspection, Education, and State Formation in Canada West (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), Ch. 1.

12 On dower, Bradbury, BettinaDebating Dower: Patriarchy, Capitalism and Widows’ Rights in Lower Canada,“ in Power, Place and Identity: Historical Studies of Social and Legal Regulation in Quebec eds. Meyers, Tamara et al. (Montreal: Montreal History Group, 1998), 5578. On registration in England, Higgs, Edward “A Cuckoo in the Nest? The Origins of Civil Registration and State Medical Statistics in England and Wales,” Continuity and Change 11 (Winter 1996): 115–34.

13 Audet, L.-P. Le Système scolaire de la Province de Québec Vols. V–VI. (Québec: Les Éditions de l'Érable, 1955–6); Curtis, Bruce “Public Education and the Manufacture of Solidarity: Christopher Dunkin's Design for Lower Canada,” Histoire sociale/Social History 35 (November 2002): in press.

14 The liberals repeated the criticisms of a committee of the Legislative Council which had examined and recommended the rejection of the 1836 School Bill. For the committee's text and resolutions, Montreal Gazette, 24 March 1836.

15 “Correspondance de Mgr Jean-Jacques Lartique 1836–1837,” in Rapport de l'Archiviste de la Province de Québec pour l'année 1944–1945 (Québec: Imprimeur de sa Majesté le Roi, 1945), 28 March 1836, v.8, 154.

16 “Correspondance de Mgr Jean-Jacques Lartique,” 1 May 1836 v.8, 133.

17 Québec, Archdiocèse du Mandements, Lettres Pastorales et Circulaires des Evěques de Québec. Volume troisième. (Québec: Imprimerie Générale A. Coté et Cie., 1888): 341–2, 2 May 1836.

18 “Correspondance de Mgr Lartique et de son Coadjuteur, Mgr Bourget, de 1837 à 1840,” in Rapport de l'Archiviste de la Province de Québec pour l'année 1945-1946 (Québec: Imprimeur de sa Majesté le Roi, 1946), 23 July 1838, v.9, 36.

19 “Correspondance de Mgr Lartique et de son Coadjuteur,” 25 July 1838 v. 9, 88.

20 For Signäy's version, Signäy to curates, 13 August 1838, 60CN, Gouvernement du Canada Vol.A: 131, Archives de l'Archediocèse de Québec [AAQ]; for Lartigue's comment, “Correspondance de Mgr Lartique et de son Coadjuteur,” Pièces et Actes, t.3 f.80.

21 Audet, Système scolaire VI; Chabot, Richard, Le Curé de campagne et la contestation locale au Québec de 1791 aux troubles de 1837–1838 (Montréal: Hurtubise HMH Ltée., 1975); Andrée Dufour, Tous à l'école: État, communautés rurales et scolarisation au Québec de 1826 à 1859 (Ville La Salle: Éditions Hurtubise HMH Ltée., 1996).

22 Ant. Gosselin à Signäy, 24 August 1838, 60CN, Gouvernement du Canada, Vol.A:156, AAQ. Interestingly, Gosselin's reply to his bishop is one of several which can be compared with the same person's reply to the enquiry of the Education Commission, which was soon to follow; see Commission return Paroisse de St Jean, co. d'Orléans, 7 November 1838, RG4 B30 vol. 111, N[ational] A[rchives of] C[anada]. Gosselin reported four private schools in the second return.

23 “Correspondance de Mgr Lartique et de son Coadjuteur,” 1 September 1838.

24 They did so both in blanket terms and in correspondence with individual curés; for instance, Bourget to Gagnon, 26 October 1838, ACorrespondence de Mgr Ignace Bourget de 1837 à 1840,” in Rapport des Archives de la Province de Québec, 1945–6 (Montréal: Imprimerie de sa Majesté le Roi: 1946), v. 1, p.233.

25 See Curtis, BruceThe Buller Education Commission; or, the London Statistical Society Comes to Canada, 1838–42,“ in The Age of Numbers/L'Ére du chiffre, eds. Beaud, J.-P. and Prévost, J.-G. (Quebec: PUQ, 2000):278–97; and idem., “Education and the Manufacture of Solidarity,” for surviving sources and for the enquiry as inventory rather than diagnostic science.

26 On the Irish system generally, Akenson, Donald H. The Irish Education Experiment (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970); Curtis, Bruce Building the Educational State: Canada West, 1836–1871 (London, Ontario and Sussex, England: Althouse Press and Falmer Press, 1988); Curtis, True Government; Goldstrom, J.M. The Social Content of Education, 1808–1870 (Shannon: Irish University Press, 1972).

27 On the content and history of the Irish texts, Goldstrom, Social Content; on their introduction and subsequent fate in Canada West, Bruce Curtis, “Curricular Change and the ‘Red Readers': History and Theory,” in Re-Interpreting Curriculum Research: Images & Arguments eds. Geoff Milburn, Ivor Goodson and Robert Clark (London, Ontario/Sussex, England: Althouse Press/Falmer Press, 1986), 41–63; and idem., “The Speller Expelled: Disciplining the Common Reader in Canada West,” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 22 (Fall 1985): 346–68.

28 For the classic sociological analysis of civil religion, Émile Durkheim, Professional Ethics and Civic Morals (London: Routledge, 1993).

29 For the complete text and a commentary, Bruce Curtis, “Irish Schools for Canada: Arthur Buller to the Bishop of Quebec,” Historical Studies in Education/Revue d'histoire de l'éducation 13 (Spring 2001): 49–58.

30 “Correspondance de Mgr Lartique et de son Coadjuteur,” Lartigue to Sidyme, 13 August 1838, v.9, 95 original emphasis.

31 Lartigue to C. Buller,5 October 1838; to A. Buller, October 1838, “Correspondance de Mgr Lartique et de son Coadjuteur,” Pièces et Actes t3 f.84 v, 9.

32 MSS BD214, Protestant Education in the Province of Quebec, folder c.1/19, McGill University Rare Books Library.

33 Petition to Lord Durham, 28 October 1838, “Correspondance de Mgr Signäy,” Mf.115 r.

34 Signäy to A. Buller, 30 October 1838, “Correspondance de Mgr Signäy,” v.18, p. 402.

35 Signäy to A. Buller, 5 November 1838, “Correspondance de Mgr Signäy,” v. 18, p. 408.

36 Ferretti, Lucia Brève histoire de l'Église catholique au Québec (Montréal: Boréal, 1999), 77: ‘Les pressions cumulatives très déterminées des Églises de toutes confessions, des députés canadiens-français en bloc et de la population ont cependant vite raison de telles velléités'.

37 Fecteau, La construction d'un espace social.

38 I have followed the convention of leaving most formal names in the original French. The orders in question were: the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Order of the Holy Cross, the Clerics of St. Viator, the Ladies of the Sacred Heart, and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

39 Ferretti, Brève histoire, 62–4; and more generally, René Hardy, Contrǒle social et mutation de la culture religieuse au Québec, 1830–1930 (Montréal: Boréal, 1999).

40 Ferretti, Brève histoire, 183; also, Lucien Lemieux, L'établissement de la première province ecclésiastique au Canada. 1783–1844 (Montréal: Fides, 1967), 468–9.

41 Fecteau, La construction d'un espace social.

42 For more on the national project in relation to portrayals of the nation through the census, Bruce Curtis, The Politics of Population: Statistics, State Formation and the Census of Canada, 1840–1875 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001). For the continuing efforts of intellectuals to prevent the infection of French Canada by the vulgar materialism associated with American culture, Michèle Martin, Victor Barbeau. Pionnier de la critique culturelle journalistique (Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval, 1997).

His most recent book, The Politics of Population: State Formation, Statistics, and the Census of Canada, 1840–1875 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), was awarded the John A. Macdonald Prize of the Canadian Historical Association and the John Porter Memorial Prize of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association. Research for this article was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as part of the research project “Educational Enquiry and the ‘Social Science’ in Insurrectionary Lower Canada.” I wish to thank Lorraine O'Donnell for research assistance and Kate Rousmaniere and three anonymous reviewers from the History of Education Quarterly for critical commentary on an earlier draft.

State of the Nation or Community of Spirit? Schooling for Civic and Ethnic-Religious Nationalism in Insurrectionary Canada

  • Bruce Curtis (a1)

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