The Constitution of 1867, Separate Schooling, and the Roots of Division in Canadian Public Education

  • Anthony Di MascioEmail author


Section 93 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1867, laid the legislative foundation upon which post-Confederation education in Canada was built. Section 93, while a watershed, was also a reaffirmation of the existing legal framework within which colonial schooling had already developed in Canada; by allocating the responsibility of education primarily to the provinces rather than the federal government, section 93 maintained an array of independent school acts while resisting a single national school system. This chapter examines the development of colonial school acts in the nineteenth century that led to section 93 of Canada’s constitution and the unique features of Canadian public education as a result, with particular reference to the constitutional entrenchment of publicly funded separate schooling for Catholics and Protestants.


Canada Public Education School Acts Religion Catholics Protestants Separate Schooling Nationalism Nation-State Constitution Section 93 Federalism 


  1. Axelrod, Paul. The Promise of Schooling: Education in Canada, 1800–1914. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  2. Cecillon, Jack D. Prayers, Petitions, and Protests: The Catholic Church and the Ontario Schools Crisis in the Windsor Border Region, 1910–1928. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  3. Cruncian, Paul. Priests and Politicians: Manitoba Schools and the Election of 1896. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Di Mascio, Anthony. The Idea of Popular Schooling in Upper Canada: Print Culture, Public Discourse, and the Demand for Education. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  5. Gaffield, Chad. Language, Schooling, and Cultural Conflict: The Origins of the French-Language Controversy in Ontario. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  6. Gidney, Robert D., and Wyn P.J. Millar. Inventing Secondary Education: The Rise of the High School in Nineteenth-Century Ontario. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  7. Fraser, David. “Honorary Protestants:The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867–1997. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  8. Freeland, Elaine. “Educational Reform and the English Schools of Québec.” McGill Journal of Education/Revue des sciences de l’éducation de McGill 34, no. 3 (1999): 243–60.Google Scholar
  9. Kach, Nick, Kas Masurek, Robert S. Patterson, and Ivan DeFaveri, eds. Essays on Canadian Education. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1986.Google Scholar
  10. Lucas, C.P., ed. Lord Durham’s Report on the Affairs of British North America. 3 volumes. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912.Google Scholar
  11. Lupul, Manoly R. The Roman Catholic Church and the North-West School Question: A Study in Church-State Relations in Western Canada, 1875–1905. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  12. MacLeod, Roderick, and Mary Anne Poutanen. A Meeting of the People: School Boards and Protestant Communities in Quebec, 1801–1998. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  13. MacNaughton, Katherine F.C. The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick, 1784–1900: A Study in Historical Background. Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Historical Studies, 1947.Google Scholar
  14. Manzer, Ronald A. Public Schools and Political Ideas: Canadian Educational Policy in Historical Perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994.Google Scholar
  15. Moir, John S. Church and State in Canada West. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1959.Google Scholar
  16. Phillips, C.E. The Development of Education in Canada. Toronto: W.J. Gage Limited, 1957.Google Scholar
  17. Russell, Frances. The Canadian Crucible: Manitoba’s Role in Canada’s Great Divide. Winnipeg: Heartland Associates, 2003.Google Scholar
  18. Titley, Brian, and Peter J. Miller, eds. Education in Canada: An Interpretation. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1982.Google Scholar
  19. Tomkins, George S. A Common Countenance: Stability and Change in the Canadian Curriculum. Toronto: Prentice-Hall, 1986.Google Scholar
  20. Tröhler, Daniel. “Curriculum History or the Educational Construction of Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century.” European Educational Research Journal 15, no. 3 (2016): 279–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Walker, Franklin A. Catholic Education and Politics in Upper Canada. Toronto: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1955.Google Scholar
  22. Wallner, Jennifer. Learning to School: Federalism and Public Schooling in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Weir, George M. The Separate School Question in Canada. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1934.Google Scholar
  24. Wilson, J. Donald, Robert M. Stamp, and Louis-Philippe Audet, eds. Canadian Education: A History. Toronto: Prentice Hall, 1970.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bishop’s UniversitySherbrookeCanada

Personalised recommendations