Education in Canada: An Interpretation


228 pages
ISBN 0-920490-25-5




Edited by E. Brian Titley and Peter J. Miller
Reviewed by P.J. Hammel

P.J. Hammel is a professor of Education at the University of


“This book is ... not ... a history of Canadian education in the conventional sense. Rather, it attempts to analyze the emergence of formal institutions of education in several regions of the country during specific historical periods, and gives some attention to their subsequent transformation.” Also, “the perspective of the book is a distinctly Western Canadian one ... largely the work of authors associated in one way or other with the West.” It presents, also, an analysis of educational development and practices from the point of view of the frontier-hinterland-metropolis thesis of F.J. Turner (1893). This approach suggests that, although influences in new societies originated from the metropolitan areas, a frontier influence was also at work modifying these metropolitan influences and at the same time exerting an influence of its own upon the metropolis. Hence, as the educational system and the society of Quebec were influenced by the metropolitan area of France, and as those of Ontario were influenced by the metropolitan areas of Britain and the United States, they in their time became metropolitan areas affecting developments in Western Canada and, in turn, were influenced by that frontier West.

A series of papers divided into six sections apply this approach to the development of education in Canada. After an introduction in which the thesis is clearly explained, five sections — consisting of two or three papers each — deal with education in New France (Quebec); Ontario in the nineteenth century; the development of public schools in Manitoba and the Northwest, 1880-1905; progressive education in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the 1930s; and, finally, education in Canada generally in the 1960s and 1970s.

This significant work will probably be read primarily in university courses on the history of Canadian education. It should also be read by all practising educators and those laymen who maintain a serious interest in the sources and motivations of Canadian education.


“Education in Canada: An Interpretation,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,