Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

The Scottish Tradition in Canada
The Scottish Tradition in Higher Education
D. C. Masters

The story of the role of the Scots in Canadian higher education is concerned with two types: the Scot directly from Scotland, such as Thomas McCulloch at Dalhousie, Thomas Liddell at Queen's and Daniel Wilson at Toronto, and the Canadian Scot, like G.M. Grant and D.H. MacVicar. The latter were still close to the traditions and cultural influences of Scotland, but they had experienced them at one stage removed. They represent Scottish culture transmitted through Canadian conditions.

To some extent there was tension between the two groups. Thus when MacVicar was being considered as professor in the projected Presbyterian college in Montreal in 1868 a local clergyman, the minister of Erskine Church, argued that the church should attempt to secure a scholar from Scotland. This, wrote MacVicar's biographer, was typical of many discussions in the Scottish Presbyterian community in Canada. "One party felt it an indispensable condition for success that some scholar of established standing should be brought across the ocean: the other party thought it a pity that Canadian-trained ministers, in relation to high and responsible positions, should never be allowed to show what was in them."1 Nevertheless both groups of Scots reflected the influence of the Scottish university system. The Scottish universities contributed many of the leaders in the founding of Canadian colleges and a number of influential Canadian Scots had also studied in Scotland. Thus Sir William Dawson studied at Edinburgh and George Munro Grant at Glasgow.

Although the Scottish universities (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St. Andrews) possessed important differences, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the four had developed what may be regarded as a "system." One of its distinctive characteristics was a concentration upon lectures as the principal means of academic instruction. There was little emphasis upon the tutorial system as it had been developed in the English universities. The Scottish system was based on the idea that education would best be facilitated if young people listened to addresses; of mature and presumably distinguished scholars. A famous critic of higher education in early nineteenth century Scotland, the Reverend Michael Russel, in his View of the System of Education at present Pursued in the Universities of Scotland, particularly deplored the teaching of philosophy solely by lectures at Edinburgh. He objected to a system in which there were no examinations, no compulsory attendance at lectures and no tutorials. He admitted that an eminent and specialist professor would "afford a clearer light, and more extensive information to the student, than the discourse of a young tutor employed in teaching several branches of learning," but maintained that "a very extensive and brilliant display of knowledge, so far from being useful to lads who have still to learn the rudiments of mental science, only dazzles and bewilders them."

Like Edinburgh, the other Scottish universities laid great stress on lectures. John Strachan, who was educated at Aberdeen and St. Andrews, liked the Scottish lecture system and argued that it was better suited to Canadian conditions than the English system. He wrote in 1815, when he was considering the establishment of a college in Montreal:

I prefer the form of the Scotch and German Universities to the English or rather a mixture of both plans because much more may be done at one fourth of the Expence. In the English Universities the public Professors seldom lecture more than once a week - many of them not at all - the whole system of Teaching is conducted by Tutor ... Our Professors must each during the Session give two, three or even four courses of Lectures till the Funds afford the means of increasing their numbers.3

The curriculum in the Scottish universities laid considerable emphasis on philosophy in its various guises (mental and moral philosophy, metaphysics, etc.) and on science, some of it concealed under the title Natural Philosophy. Thus the staff at St. Andrews in 1747 included the principal, three professors of philosophy, teaching respectively (1) logic, rhetoric and metaphysics (2) ethics and pneumatics (3) natural and experimental philosophy; one professor each of Greek, humanity, civil history, mathematics and medicine.4 The Edinburgh curriculum in 1831 provided that candidates who survived a three-day examination in classics, mathematics and philosophy qualified for the degree of MA5 The Glasgow course in arts in 1826 included Latin, Greek, logic, natural philosophy and moral Philosophy. Lectures were given in natural history although the Chair of Natural History was outside the regular curriculum.6 The recommendations of the Scottish Royal Commission of 1858 represented the culmina-nation of the curriculum which the Scottish universities had built up! It Provided that the MA. course should be in three parts: (1) classics (2) mathematics and natural philosophy (3) philosophy and English literature.7

In the granting of degrees the Scottish universities in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century showed a preference for the MA and a reluctance to grant BAs. The Commission of Visitation appointed by the British government in 1826 to inspect the Scottish universities recommended a course of three years to be followed by an additional year of work prior to the granting of an MA degree. The fourth year was to include courses in natural history, chemistry and political economy. As a result Edinburgh introduced the BA degree in 1842 and granted from six to twelve BAs each year between 1843 and 1858. St. Andrews granted the BA degree between 1839 and 1861. After the Executive Commission on the Scottish Universities, appointed under the Universities Act of 1858 (Scotland), had recommended the granting of only an MA, both universities abandoned the BA degree.8

John Machar, later to be Principal of Queen's University, had provided a picture of the academic milieu which was the background of so many Scottish educators in Canada. Machar, a native of Forfarshire, was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, and studied theology at Edinburgh. In addition to theology, Machar at Edinburgh also continued his classical and mathematical studies. Excerpts from his journal give the picture of an institution in which the Presbyterian and Scottish academic worlds were closely associated:

March 1st, 1816 - Mathematics. Called on Dr. Buchanan. Walked out by Merchiston Castle, where Napier discovered the Logarithms .... Attended the Theological Society. Essay on the Evidence of Prophecy.

March 6th - Mathematics. Attended College as usual. Teaching from five to six. Read sixty pages of Home on the Psalms - a very fine preface. Consulted Poole's synopsis on Psalms, CXXI, and other passages. Read forty lines of Homer.9

In May, 1816 Machar attended meetings of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. His journal for May 17 read:

Teaching as usual. Read eighty lines of Third Book of Iliad. Heard Dr. Chalmers, now of Glasgow, preach from Acts XX, 35; "It is more blessed to give than to receive;" an eloquent sermon and in some parts highly wrought up. Read a hundred and twenty pages of Thompson's Lectures. Attended the General Assembly. Read some of Cicero, Horace, etc.10


The Scottish tradition in Canada was transmitted through two sorts of colleges. The first group was Presbyterian and dominated by Scots. Pictou Academy, in Nova Scotia, Queen's in Kingston, Manitoba College in Winnipeg and Morrin College in Quebec City were examples. Dalhousie, although nominally non-sectarian from 1818, was in reality a Presbyterian college for much of the nineteenth century. Even more Presbyterian and equally Scottish were the theological colleges like Knox in Toronto, the Presbyterian College in Montreal and the Presbyterian theological colleges in the Maritimes.11The second group of colleges comprised those which were not dominantly Scottish and Presbyterian but in which Scots had an important influence. Examples were McGill, King's College, Fred-ericton (later to be the University of New Brunswick), King's College, Toronto, the University of Toronto, Trinity College, Woodstock College and the English-speaking Roman Catholic colleges. In these non-Presbyterian colleges, such men as Daniel Wilson at the University of Toronto and R.A. Fyfe, a Baptist, were of importance.

In the quest for employment in non-Scottish and non-Presbyterian institutions, Scots had certain assets. There is some evidence that Scots were popular with educational administrators because of the idea that they would work harder and for less money than would English professors. John Strachan, in his preliminary ideas about a college in Montreal, explained in 1815 why the English system was unsuited to Canada:

The great opulence of Cambridge & Oxford is far beyond our reach, and altho I should be sorry ever to see them lose a shilling for I think them wisely adapted to so rich and populous and learned a country as England I think them unfit for this country .... Learning they may have in abundance, but the industry the labour (I may say drudgery) and accommodation to circumstances cannot be expected from them.12

Bishop Mountain, the real founder of Bishop's College, an Anglican institution in Lennoxville, wrote in 1845 about Henry Miles who had been educated at Edinburgh and Aberdeen and who had been appointed to teach mathematics at Bishop's:

He is, I believe, about 30 - an intelligent, steady sort of man ... of exceedingly good attainments & most successful experience in tuition (judging from his testimonials). We could not have expected to get . anybody from an English university at the same rate.13


The study of the Scottish tradition in education may largely be considered in terms of personalities. These may be classified in three broad groups: men who were teachers and also administrators such as Thomas McCul-'och at Pictou Academy, Sir Daniel Wilson at Toronto, Sir William Daw-son at McGill and George Munro Grant at Queen's; men who were exclusively teachers, such as John Watson at Queen's, Clark Murray at McGill, George Paxton Young, H.A. Nicholson and Ramsay Wright at Toronto,14 and men who were not professional educators but who took a considerable interest in education.

The third group were of a type described later by Rupert Lodge, the Canadian philosopher as "Knights errant." Some of them exerted some influence upon the development of Canadian education. In this third class were James McGill, the Montreal merchant whose bequest of land and ten thousand pounds made possible the founding of McGill University; Lord Dalhousie, the founder of Dalhousie University; and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kingston, Alexander Macdonell, the founder of Regiopolis College. William Lyon Mackenzie was a most notable "Knight errant," taking a great interest in the college question. Mackenzie had a characteristic concern for equality of opportunity in higher education in Upper Canada. He was an especial foe of special privileges in this area, vigorously attacking Bishop Strachan and the Anglicans. In the first number of his paper, the Colonial Advocate, Mackenzie asserted:

We coincide with Mr. Strachan, in opinion respecting the very urgent necessity which exists in Canada, for the establishment of a university .... If it is to be an arm of our hierarchy; if students are to be tied down by tests and oaths, to support particular dogmas, as in the case in Oxford, the institution will answer here no good purpose .... 15

Two of the Scottish educators listed in this section were of especial importance in the earliest period of higher education in Canada: Thomas McCulloch and John Strachan. McCulloch presided over the first of the Presbyterian colleges, Pictou Academy, and ended his career as Principal of Dalhousie (1838-43). He was largely responsible for Pictou's influence and for the lead which it gave to higher education in the Maritimes. Born in Renfrewshire and educated at Glasgow University, McCulloch emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1803. With a group of associates representing the Secession Presbyterian Church, McCulloch established Pictou Academy which began teaching in 1818. Although chartered as an academy, Pictou was really a college, teaching a considerable range of college courses. It had a notable but comparatively brief career as an instrument of higher education. The connection with the Secession Church involved the Academy in controversy with adherents of the Church of Scotland who were eventually able to reduce Pictou to the status of a grammar school.16 By 1838 its influence as a significant element in higher education was over.

McCulloch was a fine scholar in Hebrew and the classics and had a considerable interest in science. He gave popular lectures in science and accumulated an ornithological collection which became the property of Dalhousie University.17 He was also a popular writer of note, the author of Colonial Gleanings (1826) and Letters of Mephibosheth Stepsure, 1821-2, (Halifax, 1860). McCulloch was a vigorous apologist for his religious faith. He has been described by a modern writer as "a learned, frustrated, waspish little man in whom an enlarged ego was continuously assailed by a strong instinct of self preservation."18 Yet he is one of the great names in the development of the Scottish tradition in education.

John Strachan has been much maligned because of his undoubted desire to maintain Anglican control over secondary and higher education. His real services to education have often been overlooked. He was an excellent teacher who established an influence over his pupils which lasted throughout his career and theirs.19 He helped to establish a tradition of disciplined and practical education, adjusted to the capacities of the boys and the needs of education. At Cornwall he developed an interesting method based on the principle that the boys should expound the lesson in turn.20 His lessons in arithmetic were especially adjusted to the needs of boys, many of whom were slated for mercantile careers. His insistence on religious instruction in secondary education left its mark, even though modified by the influence of Egerton Ryerson.21

In the field of higher education, Strachan failed to maintain Anglican control over the provincial university which began as King's and which was secularized as the University of Toronto in 1849; but his preference for the Scottish lecture system22 made its mark on King's and probably carried over into the University of Toronto. His insistence on denominational control of higher education in the end helped to produce the distinctive Canadian invention, the pluralistic university with affiliated church colleges. In the King's College period Strachan's effort at Anglican control pushed the Methodists and Presbyterians into founding Victoria and Queen's respectively. Trinity, Strachan's answer to the secularization of King's, finally affiliated with the University of Toronto in 1904.23


The Scottish influence in Canada made for a broader curriculum than was current in Canadian colleges like King's Nova Scotia, King's Fredericton and Bishop's, which were derived from the Anglican tradition. These institutions concentrated pretty narrowly on classics and mathematics.24 King's College Fredericton is a case in point. Prior to 1840 its curriculum looked very broad, including not only classical authors and mathematics, but also mental and moral philosophy, the evidences and general principles of the Christian religion, logic, rhetoric and history. However, the principal, Dr. Edwin Jacob, a graduate of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, maintained that, while the aim of the college was to impart intellectual and moral culture, he believed that this was to be achieved almost solely through the study of the ancient classical languages and literature.25

The emphasis of the Scottish universities on philosophy and science has been noted and when Scots in Canada had anything to say about university curricula they reflected this influence. When William Brydone Jack, a graduate of St. Andrews and a student of Sir David Brewster, a famous Mathematician, arrived at King's College Fredericton, he soon made his influence felt. Having been appointed professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, Jack challenged the dominance of the classics at the college and sought to expand the curriculum to include more "practical subjects." He persuaded the College Council to acquire a fine equitorial telescope, then the best of its kind in North America, and initiated a course in surveying which led at a later date to the establishment of a department of engineering.26

McCulloch's curriculum at Pictou included classics, Hebrew, history, philosophy, mathematics and natural philosophy.27 When John Strachan was discussing the curriculum for King's College, York, in 1826, his scheme called for

1. Classical Literature, including English Composition
2. Mathematics, Practical and Theoretic
3. Natural History, including Botany
4. Natural Philosophy and Chemistry
5. Moral Philosophy and Divinity
6. Surgery and Anatomy.28

At Queen's the early curriculum was largely a replica of that being offered at Edinburgh. This is not surprising since the teaching staff in 1846-7 consisted of three Edinburgh men (the Rev. John Machar, the Rev. James Williamson, the Rev. George Romanes) and two other Scots, the Rev. James George (St. Andrews) and the Rev. Hugh Urquhart. The subjects listed in the Queen's College calendar of 1845-6 were theology, church history and biblical criticism, oriental languages, natural philosophy [physics], moral philosophy, logic, mathematics and classics. The natural philosophy course included "Mechanics, Hydrostatics and Hydrodynamics, Pneumatics, Light, Heat, Fixed and Locomotive Steam Engines, Electricity, Galvanism, Magnetism, Electromagnetism and Electrochemistry."

While Scottish colleges in Canada tended to reproduce the Scottish curricula, they did not follow the Scottish abandonment of the BA degree. Queen's showed the effects of the Scottish attempt to revive the BA after 1826. The earliest Queen's curriculum provided for a BA in three years and an MA in four; but after the Scottish universities abandoned the BA, following the Report of the Royal Commission of 1858, it was retained at Queen's and by other Canadian universities such as McGill29.


It was inevitable that the Scottish influence on Canadian education should be largely a Presbyterian influence. William Rattray in his work, The Scot in British North America, has described the impact of Presbyterian thinking on the general cast of the Scottish mentality: "Whatever may be thought of the dogmatic value of the Presbyterian standards, it is certain that they deepened the sense of duty, the feeling of manly independence and the impatience of external restraint in matters of faith and practice."30 The influence of Presbyterianism was apparent in Canadian education, particularly in the dominantly Presbyterian colleges. One gets a picture of the polemical, Calvinist tone of theology at Queen's in its early days, in the description of the courses in theology as described in the calendar for 1845-6. They included

Lectures on the Person, Character and Offices of Christ, as disclosed in various ways, both in the Old and New Testament.... Lectures on the Principal Doctrinal Heresies of the Primitive Christian Church, and the various modifications of these heresies presented in modern times [including, no doubt, Arminianism]. Lectures on the leading Doctrinal tenets of the various Christian Churches.

and also

Lectures on the connection between Moral Philosophy and Christian Theology and particularly on the principles of moral obligation.31

The clearest examples of the undiluted Presbyterian tradition were the theological colleges such as Knox, which was established in Toronto in 1844 by the Presbyterian Church of Canada, the offshoot of the Free Church in Scotland, and Presbyterian College, which was established in Montreal in 1868. Presbyterian College had a charter similar to that of Knox and, at the outset, a staff of three who were all graduates of Knox.

D.H. MacVicar, the first Principal of Presbyterian College, was almost a type figure of the solid Calvinist Presbyterian. His lectures always showed the influence of such divines as Charles Hodge and Jonathan Edwards as well as Calvin himself. J.H. MacVicar's Life of his father indicates the character of D.H. MacVicar's lectures and of his theology: "In the earlier days ... the doctrine of election, perhaps, received larger attention in the classroom than later on, though it was never tabooed. He believed too intensely in the sovereignty of God to pass it over in silence; but he grew accustomed to expect questions at this point. There was sure to be some one ready to voice a personal difficulty about reconciling the mission to preach a free gospel with the inscrutable decrees."32

According to MacVicar's son, his father would meet this criticism by drawing a church on the blackboard with the people sitting in the pews. "Now," he would say, "Jones here may be elect, Smith over there may not. The preacher in the pulpit knows nothing about that, however, and the only thing he can do is preach the Gospel to both."33

While Presbyterianism was dominant in the theological colleges it also exercised a strong influence upon the general Scottish philosophy of education. Presbyterians brought to the educational world certain attitudes which were not uniquely Presbyterian, but merely Christian; but they were put forward by the Presbyterians with particular vigour and consistency. One was the idea that the whole universe was made and controlled by the Lord: "This is my Father's world." The tremendous emphasis of Calvin and other Reformers on God's sovereignty was basic in Presbyterian educational theory. Related to it was the proposition that all our vocations and schemes of education are for the Lord. Thus a writer in the Canadian Christian Examiner and Presbyterian Review for August, 1839, asserted, "Education consists, not merely in a knowledge of reading, writing and cyphering . . . but in bringing to maturity the powers of the mind, and in giving them such a direction, and finding them such employment, as will best answer the ends of our creation; namely the glory of God, and the enjoyment of his favor."34

William Snodgrass, the Principal of Queen's from 1866 to 1877, presented a very clear exposition of the Christian approach to learning in his inaugural address, entitled The Sacredness of Learning. Snodgrass attributed all truth and all knowledge to the great, sovereign God, the author of all things. He asserted that the distinction between sacred and secular learning was a man-made distinction. Really all learning comes from God, "the Author of that volume which is usually, but not consistently, divided into the two great sections, natural and revealed."35 Snodgrass asserted that God's authority is decisively determined when we appeal to his written word. He adjured the students at Queen's:

Gentlemen, this authority is supreme. By the holiest and most constraining considerations you are bound to defer to it. Recognize it in every exercise of those intellectual powers and moral sentiments with which your Maker hath endowed you. Recognize it in all the sources and means of instruction, which, by a divinely beneficent arrangement, profusely and invitingly surround you - in your perusal of the records of history, every page of which bears convincing testimony to the invisible but omnipresent hand that holds the direction and shapes the issue of all events in your study of the book of nature where each relation you observe, each law you discover, each symbol you interpret, is an exponent of the marvellous skill with which the Father of lights both, everywhere, on land and skies, on air and seas, photographed the glory of his perfections in your inquiries into the physical structure and spiritual organization of the individual man, and into the universal conditions, diversifying distinctions, and ultimate destiny of humanity, all of which demand the belief, as they are pregnant with the evidence of, a moral government.36

Lord Elgin, who was a Presbyterian, provided an example of the conjunction of Christian theology and educational philosophy in his speech at the opening of the Toronto Normal and Model School on July 4, 1851. Asserting that the foundation of the Canadian Common School System was "laid deep in the rock of our common Christianity,'' Elgin continued:

While the very semblance of dictation is to be avoided, it is desired and earnestly recommended and confidently expected that every child who attends our Common Schools shall learn that he is a being who has an interest in eternity as well as in time; that he has a Father, towards whom he stands in a closer and more affecting relationship than to any earthly father, and that that Father is in heaven .... That that Father's kingdom may come, and that he has a duty which like that of the sun in our celestial system, stands in the centre of his moral obligations, shedding upon them a light which they in their turn reflect and absorb, the duty of striving to prove by his life and conversation the sincerity of his prayer that the Father's will may be done upon earth as it is done in heaven.37


While some Canadian Scots brought orthodox Christian thought to bear upon the development of higher education, others, more liberal in theology, helped to carry the universities out of the orbit of Christian orthodoxy. Herein lies much of the importance of G.M. Grant at Queen's and of the Scottish-Canadian philosophers John Watson, Clark Murray and George Paxton Young. They helped to carry Queen's, McGill and Toronto away from their Christian origins and into the position of pluralistic, non-sectarian universities.38

Watson, Young and Murray were appointed to chairs of philosophy at Queen's, Toronto and McGill respectively in 1871-2. Under their influence philosophy achieved an influence over the whole tone of university life which it has not since recaptured. They succeeded three professors of philosophy who were clergymen and whose primary interest was theology: James Beaven at Toronto, James George at Queen's and W.T. Leach at McGill.39 Watson, Young and Clark were all trained in Scottish universities (Watson at Glasgow, Young at Edinburgh and Murray at Glasgow and Edinburgh). All three had orthodox, Presbyterian backgrounds (indeed Young was a Presbyterian clergyman). All three could be classified as ethical idealists.40 Each repudiated the supernatural aspects of Christianity in the attempt to devise a rational defence for the ethical values of Christianity. Watson could well have been speaking for the three in comments which he made on the lectures of his great teacher, Edward Caird, after the latter's death:

The close shell of traditional Calvinism was burst.... As time went on, and the walls, behind which the traditional philosophy and theology had for so long sheltered themselves, fell as by a miracle, as the walls of Jericho collapsed at the sound of the trumpet, it was discovered that the new philosophy, if it indeed disclosed a new heaven and a new earth, did not in reality destroy Christianity but fulfilled it. The older men, and especially the older clergymen, who found their favourite formulas quietly set aside might grumble and prophesy disaster, but the younger men, more alive to the advance of scientific discovery and of an aggressive enlightenment, which threatened to destroy all faith in higher things, felt that the new philosophy enabled them to preserve the essence of religion while giving to it a more rational form.41

G.M. Grant, who arrived at Queen's as principal in 1877, six years after Watson's appointment, exercised the same liberalizing influence. Like Watson and others he helped to effect the transition at Queen's from an orthodox Presbyterian to an essentially non-sectarian institution. Born in Nova Scotia, the son of Scottish parents, Grant was educated at Pictou Academy and the University of Glasgow where he obtained the highest honours in philosophy. Ordained to the ministry of the Church of Scotland in 1860, he was minister of St. Matthew's Church, Halifax, from 1863 to 1877. He is chiefly remembered as the greatest single influence in the development of Queen's during a long tenure of office, 1877-1902.

Grant prided himself on his moderation. He accepted the findings of the scientists and the biblical critics while insisting that people should be critical about them. In his inaugural speech in 1877 he urged his audience to

cultivate then a cordial spirit towards criticism and science. Accept thankfully the undoubted results of the one, the facts of the other .... Collect all the facts and rightly interpret them and you will find that they prove subversive of all anti-Christian theories. You say that they invade the province of theology proper. Well the theologians first taught them the bad lesson by treating the Bible as an inspired scientific text book.42

Grant's early reputation at Queen's was indicated by a student's song at his inauguration. It rejoiced that after years of financial privation, Queen's was being sent "a liberal Grant.''43

Grant, Watson and the other philosophers, despite their liberalism, still reflected their early Presbyterian backgrounds. Grant's relation to the Presbyterian church was always close and indeed he was one of the architects of Presbyterian union in 1875. Watson always opened his lectures with prayer: "Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour and further us with thy continual help."44 The group was in the tradition of Scottish moderation rather than that of the Scottish evangelicals. It was not without significance that Grant was identified with the Auld Kirk, rather than with one of the more evangelical off-shoots of the Auld Kirk such as the Free Church. While Young was a Free Church minister, his reaction to the Free Church was very like that of a moderate.

Sir William Dawson, the great Principal of McGill (1855-1893), on the other hand represented the influence of Christian evangelicalism in the field of higher education. His role was to attempt to counteract the liberalizing influence of Grant and the Scottish philosophers, particularly his own McGill philosopher, Clark Murray.

Dawson, a Nova Scotian Scot, educated at Pictou Academy and the University of Edinburgh, early developed an interest in the geology of Nova Scotia: He was associated with the Scottish scientist Sir Charles Lyell in investigating the geology and mineralogy of the Maritime provinces. After serving as superintendent of education in Nova Scotia (1950-54) he came to McGill where he served as principal with great distinction over a long period (1855-1893). Dawson was of special importance in establishing the study of science at McGill and in Canada. According to a recent authority he always had a Calvinist suspicion of the Arts faculty as being too humanist.45 Dawson was a leading protagonist in the scientific and religious controversies of the late nineteenth century. He represented a detailed and sustained attempt to maintain a synthesis between the theories and observations of the scientists and the record of Scripture.

The most spectacular feature of Dawson's career was his sustained attack on the position of Darwin, Huxley, Asa Gray and other evolutionists. Dawson maintained that species were specially created by God and were immutable, although all species, including man, could vary widely and rapidly, within certain limits. As a geologist he utilized a good deal of Canadian data in support of his position. His writings on evolution have been described by a recent authority as "futile, valid, respectable and just plain cranky."46 He represented a not unsuccessful attempt, in his day, to continue the two theological traditions (natural and revealed) as developed by Paley in the eighteenth century and Hugh Miller in the nineteenth. Under his jurisdiction young Canadians were encouraged to pursue scientific investigation while remaining within the evangelical fold. Thus in its calendar for 1876-7, the Presbyterian College in Montreal could assert:

The Senate of the Presbyterian College, having a full knowledge of the nature of the training given, and the religious influence exerted on students in the McGill University, confidently recommend parents to send their sons to it, whether they are designed for the Christian Ministry or for any of the learned Professions.47


The Scots in Canada were divided on one of the principal problems in relation to university education, the appropriate relationship between the church and the university. Adherents of the Auld Kirk maintained that church-related colleges should include arts and other faculties as well as the theological school. Queen's in its early period came out of an Auld Kirk community. When the university was in the process of establishment, a meeting of its sympathizers held in Toronto on December 10, 1839, passed a resolution "that the circumstances of the Presbyterians in these Provinces require that means be adopted to afford them the benefit of a literary and scientific education, based on scriptural principles. "48

Adherents of the various groups which had seceded from the Auld Kirk, Particularly the Presbyterian Church of Canada (the Canadian projection of the Free Church of Scotland) believed that the arts and science faculties should be entirely under secular control, with the church controlling only the professional training of candidates for the ministry. Thus Knox and Presbyterian College in Montreal represented the Free Church tradition. This distinction between the adherents of the Auld Kirk and its opponents was more the rule in Central Canada than in the Maritimes. Pictou College, under the auspices of the Secession Presbyterian Church, was an example of a church college comprising arts as well as theological training.

Among the leading advocates of a church-controlled arts college were Thomas McCulloch and John Strachan. In Strachan's case, of course, the controlling church was to be the Church of England. In the proposed plan for the organization of King's College, York, which he submitted to Sir Peregrime Maitland, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in 1826, he stipulated, "The Principal and Professors, except those of medecine and law, should be clergymen of the Established Church; and no tutor, teacher or officer, who is not a member of that Church, should ever be employed in that institution."

The list of Scots favouring a purely secular university was impressive. Perhaps the most famous pronouncement in support of this position was that of Lord Dalhousie at the laying of the cornerstone of Dalhousie University on May 22, 1820:

Before I proceed in this ceremony, I think it necessary to state to you, gentlemen, the object and intention of this important work .... This College of Halifax is founded for the instruction of youth in the higher Classics and in all Philosophic studies, it is formed in imitation of the University of Edinburgh; its doors will be open to all who profess the Christian religion; to the youth of His Majesty's North American Colonies, to strangers residing here, to gentlemen of the military as well as the learned professions, to all, in short, who may be disposed to devote a small part of their time to study .... It is founded upon the principles of religious toleration secured to you by the laws, and upon that paternal protection which the King of England extends to all his subjects.49

Thirty years later in Toronto, Lord Elgin displayed the same preference for a non-sectarian university. His views were similar to those of Robert Baldwin, the real architect of university secularization in Toronto, but they were in accordance with Elgin's own philosophy. He vigorously supported the policy of secularizing King's as the University of Toronto and envisaged a strong non-sectarian institution with affiliated divinity schools representing the various denominations. He hoped that Queen's and Victoria would come into the university and agreed only with reluctance to grant a charter to Strachan's new institution, Trinity, as a church-related arts college. He pointed out to Earl Grey, the Colonial Secretary, on October 25, 1850, "At the same time it must be remembered that the object of our recent legislation on the University question has been to set up one great Institution in the Province where a high Educational standard might be maintained and which should give degrees which shall be worth having."50

Shortly after the establishment of the University of Toronto, a young Scot, Daniel Wilson, was appointed Professor of History and English Literature. He proved to be one of the leading advocates of the non-sectarian university. Wilson (1816-1892) had been born in Edinburgh and educated at the Edinburgh High School and Edinburgh University, before coming to Toronto in 1853. In 1880 he became President of University College and in 1887 President of the University of Toronto. Wilson's churchmanship was rather unusual for a Scot: he was an Anglican evangelical and one of the founders of Wycliffe College.51

Wilson's views on the church-related arts college were similar to those of the Baptists and the Free Church Presbyterians. In 1877 when the Bishop of Huron, Isaac Hellmuth, who was about to establish Western University at London, offered Wilson the position of Provost and Vice-Chancellor at a very considerable salary for that time Wilson was not gratified. Reporting the incident in his diary on May 3, 1877, he described Western as a Protestant university with an Anglican theological faculty and added, "I do not believe in denominational colleges other than theological. Orthodox science is generally another name for shallow bigotry."52 In a letter to Hellmuth on May 4, Wilson explained:

I need not assure you of my sympathy in reference to all that pertains to the clear setting forth of evangelical truth, for I have battled for that through evil as well as good in a tolerably unmistakable manner. But I must inform you that I no less strongly desire to see the untram-meled freedom of scientific and philosophic research. Truth has nothing to fear in the long run from the researches of such men as Darwin and Huxley. I think it suffers far more from the shackles with which orthodox zeal would hamper inquiry with the most honest intentions .... Truth has everything to gain from the most absolute freedom of inquiry.53

While Queen's as an Auld Kirk institution was originally in the tradition of a church-related university, its constituency changed drastically after the completion of Presbyterian church union in 1875. Queen's was subjected to the Free Church influence and became in effect a non-sectarian university with an affiliated theological college.54 This dispensation was perfectly acceptable to Grant when he became principal in 1877. During his career in Nova Scotia he had not been keen on the idea of denominational colleges and had favoured the idea of one good interdenominational university for the province. Speaking in March, 1876, Grant deplored the fact that "denominational colleges have been fastened upon us for a generation, and are to be continued forever."55 He preferred the position of Joseph Howe, the great Nova Scotian reformer, who, Grant asserted, had advocated "an institution where young Nova Sco-tians without distinction of class or creed could contend in that literary contest where defeat is no dishonour and where victory ensures modesty."56 When Grant came to Queen's in the following year he was quite happy to accept the changed status of the university.57 He was willing to concede to the University of Toronto the whole of the endowment from the land set apart by the province for university education.58 He did not, of course, conclude that Queen's should merge with the University of Toronto. Instead he conceived of two secular universities, one, the University of Toronto, supported by the provincial government and the other, Queen's, supported by a national private constituency.

Manitoba College, which began classes in Winnipeg in 1869, in a sense represented both the early Queen's and the Knox traditions.59 The College showed some signs of the Queen's Auld Kirk idea of maintaining the union of arts and theology and late in its career it made a brief experiment (1910-1914) in offering an arts course. It was a classical college which combined mathematics with classics. True to its Scottish background the college also stressed mental and moral philosophy. Yet, under the influence of its early teachers, John Black, James Robertson and George Bryce, it was primarily in the Knox tradition and made training in theology its principal concern.


The Roman Catholic Scots were in a different position from the Presbyterian Scots in regard to higher education. As members of a religious organization which was largely composed in Canada of other ethnic groups, the French and the Irish, the Scots were not able to dominate church colleges, with the possible exception of St. Francis Xavier, in the manner in which Presbyterian Scots dominated such institutions as Pictou, Queen's, Manitoba College and the Presbyterian divinity schools. However, the Scottish strain was paramount in some of the early colleges, Iona and St. Andrews, and the Scots played a leading role in St Dunstan's in Prince Edward Island. In the Roman Catholic polity the role of the bishop in the founding of colleges was just as important as that played by Anglican bishops like John Strachan and G.J. Mountain. Three early bishops, Alexander Macdonnell (1762-1840), Angus MacEachern (1759-1835) and Colin MacKinnon (1810-1879), should be particularly noted.

Bishop Macdonnell made a beginning in "higher education" with the establishment of a school in his house at St. Raphael's in Upper Canada in 1821. Like other Protestant and Roman Catholic establishments it commenced as a combination of high school and divinity school.60 In 1826 the institution opened as Iona College with Fr. W.P. MacDonald as its first rector. In 1828 the bishop reported eight divinity students in the second year, one in the first year and two in philosophy. Macdonnell's removal to Kingston in 1836 ended the career of Iona, which was succeeded by a new institution at Kingston, Regiopolis. The Scottish influence in Regiopolis is clear from the fact that it was established by Bishop Macdonnell in 1838 and its first rector was his nephew, Fr. Angus Macdonnell. Regiopolis secured a university charter in 1866 but was closed in 1869, as a result of the decision of the Ontario government not to support denominational colleges.61

The Scots were active in the establishment of colleges in Prince Edward Island. Bishop Angus MacEachern, the first Bishop of Charlottetown, was the moving spirit in the establishment of St. Andrews College. MacEachern, who was born at Kinloch Moidart in Scotland, was trained at the Royal Scots college, Valladolid, Spain. After ordination by the Bishop of Valladolid he served in western Scotland before emigrating to Prince Edward Island.62 MacEachern, with the support of William Fraser, the first Bishop of Antigonish, established St. Andrews near the head of the Hillsborough River in 1831, with the Reverend Edward Walsh, an Irish priest, as rector. Walsh was succeeded in 1835 by another Irish-born priest, Charles Macdonald.63 St. Andrews was more the forerunner of a college than a college in its own right. MacMillan, the historian of the early Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island, reports that the curriculum consisted of Greek, Latin, French and mathematics, as well as the subjects taught in an ordinary commercial course.64 The school attempted to secure students from the Protestant community in Prince Edward Island and exacted no religious tests from its students. Under MacEachern the emphasis was no doubt heavily Scottish. He was always anxious that his ordinands should have the Gaelic and wanted his seminarians studying in Quebec to read Gaelic so that they could minister to the Gaelic-speaking Roman Catholics of the Maritimes.65 Unfortunately his quasi-Scottish college was short-lived. After a series of rapid changes in staff it was closed in 1844.

St. Dunstan's College succeeded St. Andrews in 1855 after an interval of eleven years and provided a new area of activity for Scottish educators. St. Dunstan's in its early period had a curriculum the rough equivalent of a French classical college, and prepared candidates for the priesthood for further study in the seminaries of Quebec and Montreal. Its first rector, Angus MacDonald, was succeeded in 1869 by James MacDonald (1869-1880). The names of appointees to the teaching staff under James MacDonald indicates the variegated character of the faculty: James Charles MacDonald, Michael J. Macmillan, Cornelius O'Brien, Stanislaus Bou-dreault and Allan J. MacDonald. A subsequent list of the staff in 1889-90 indicates the same ethnic variety: J.C. MacDonald, Greek and mathematics; J.A. MacDonald, physics and mental philosophy; J.A. Blaquire, Latin and French; Ronald MacDonald, history and mathematics; J.M. Sullivan, bookkeeping, business and telegraphy; W.P. McNally, French and English.66

In Nova Scotia, as in the other two Maritime colonies, the Scots were associated first with a small, short-lived college and afterwards with a larger one which survived. Bishop Colin MacKinnon, the Bishop of Arichat, was the moving force in the establishment of Arichat Seminary on Cape Breton Island in 1853. Dr. John Cameron, perhaps the most distinguished of the early Scottish Roman Catholic educators, became its principal in 1854. Born in Antigonish and educated at Rome, Cameron has been described as "a thorough scholar and an eloquent preacher."67 Later, in 1877, he became Bishop of Arichat.

In 1855 the seminary was moved to Antigonish and its character changed. Instead of an advanced seminary, the plan at Arichat, it became a 'college for the public' and was intended to be a training school not only for priests, but also for others. Thus it became St. Francis Xavier College (it was so named in 1859), with a curriculum resembling that of a French-Canadian college. Many of its graduates proceeding towards the priesthood went to the Laval Seminary. St. Francis Xavier was dominantly but not completely under Scottish control. Cameron was its first rector, holding office until 1863. Its initial staff was largely Scottish, including two Camerons, Father William Chisholm, Mr. Rod MacDonald but also Dr. John Schulte. Unlike Presbyterian institutions like Knox and Presbyterian College, Montreal, which began and remained purely theological schools, St. Francis Xavier did not become a theological school, but instead had a long and distinguished career as the most Scottish of the Roman Catholic universities.68


A consideration of some leading educators in the latter part of our period provides further evidence of the ubiquitous Scottish influence. Some were Presbyterians; but others made their contributions in other Protestant academic communities. George Douglas began his life as a Presbyterian but made his great contribution in another denomination. His father was a staunch Presbyterian who reared his family in that faith. After the arrival of the family in Montreal in 1832, George was converted to Methodism and in 1850 ordained to the Wesleyan ministry. After holding charges in Bermuda and in several Canadian cities he became Principal of Wesleyan Theological College, Montreal, in 1874. As principal he laid especial emphasis on the study of metaphysics; but he is chiefly noted for his eloquence as a preacher. Rattray asserts, "It is a remarkable fact that the most eloquent preachers of the Methodist Church in Canada are Scots, and Dr. Douglas is one of the most eloquent."69 A consideration of Douglas's published Sermons and Discourses indicated that he was indeed eloquent in the nineteenth century sense with a highly rhetorical style.70

R.A. Fyfe (1816-1878), a Canadian Scot, was ordained to the Baptist ministry and was briefly (1843-44) Principal of the Canadian Baptist College in Montreal.71 Fyfe played a large role in changing the thinking of Ontario Baptists in regard to education. Prior to 1850 they were opposed to church participation in education at any level, except for the training of the clergy. While opposing King's College in the period 1827-1849, the Baptists made no effort to establish a Baptist college, nor did they favour denominational participation in primary and secondary education. In the 1850s Fyfe undertook to change the thinking of his fellow Baptists. In the Baptist periodical, the Christian Messenger, in an article bearing the unobtrusive title, "A Proposal," Fyfe suggested founding an academy in a western locality, where Baptist parents might send their sons and daughters. He proposed that the academy should provide theological training and a good secondary school under Christian supervision. He asserted that education under religious influence was the best training for other spheres of Christian activity as well as for the pulpit. Largely as a result of Fyfe's influence the Canadian Literary Institute (later Woodstock College) was established. Under Fyfe's principalship three departments (preparatory, literary and theological) were developed. So was begun a train of events which culminated in the establishment of McMaster University in 1887.

Malcolm MacVicar, a leading Baptist teacher, was a brother of the equally redoubtable Presbyterian academic, Donald Harvey MacVicar, the Principal of Presbyterian College, Montreal. Malcolm MacVicar, born in Argyleshire, Scotland, held various academic posts in the United States and was appointed to Toronto Baptist College in 1888.72 He played an active role at Baptist College, representing the institution in negotiations with the University of Toronto in 1884 and was the first Chancellor of McMaster University.

In Winnipeg, St. John's College was derived from a church school, Red River Academy, which was established in 1833. During the regime of the first Bishop of Rupert's Land, David Anderson, the Academy became a theological college as well as a secondary school. Anderson mentioned St. John's Collegiate School and St. John's College in his charge of 1850; but by 1865 little was left of the institution but some dilapidated buildings. The revival and real beginnings of St. John's College was the work of the second Bishop of Rupert's Land, Robert Machray (1832-1904).73 Born in Aberdeen, Machray had been trained at King's College, Aberdeen, where he took the traditional Scottish combination of courses in mathematics, natural philosophy and moral philosophy. Later he graduated from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. A Presbyterian during his early career, Machray joined the Church of England while at Cambridge and in 1856 took holy orders. Shortly after his consecration as bishop in 1865 he displayed great concern for the development of education in his diocese at every level. Under his vigorous support St. John's was reorganized and was incorporated in 1871. The Scottish influence in the college was exercised not only by Machray himself but also by others including the first warden, Reverend John McLean, a classmate of Machray's at Aberdeen and a prizeman in Latin, Greek, natural and moral philosophy;74 Canon S.P. Matheson, who became Professor of Exegetical Theology in 1873; and Canon Robert Machray, the Bishop's nephew, who became Professor of Church History and Liturgics in 1883.

Of the early teachers at Manitoba College, George Bryce, a Canadian Scot, was the real founder, a brilliant and versatile figure, prominent in the life of the college, the Presbyterian Church, the Manitoba and Winnipeg school systems and a prolific writer on the history of Manitoba. His publications included Manitoba: Its Infancy, Progress, and Present Condition (London, 1882), A Short History of the Canadian People (London, 1887), and the Life of Lord Selkirk (1912). Dr. Andrew Baird, one of Bryce's colleagues, wrote, "Dr. Bryce was admirably fitted for his work as a pioneer. Quite competent in his own department, he was versatile and capable of giving help and leadership in all sorts of spheres. Always cheerful, always ready, there were few benevolent or religious enterprises in which he had no hand."75

Thomas Hart, a Canadian Scot and another early teacher at Manitoba, had been trained at Queen's and Edinburgh. A quieter type than Bryce, he confined his activities to teaching. Baird wrote dryly that Hart, with fewer outside commitments, "was always on hand and kept the wheels going round. One of the gentlest and kindliest of men, . . . was so memorable that men who had no gift for Greek, which was compulsory in those days, plugged faithfully because even their modest degree of success so pleased their beloved teacher."76

Dr. John Mark King, born and trained in Scotland, became Principal of Manitoba College in 1883 and carried on in the Scottish tradition. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, who had distinguished himself in the departments of philosophy and mathematics and who had supplemented this with post-graduate training at the University of Marburg in Germany, King was a great administrator. A man of penetrating critical judgment, he had unusual gifts as a teacher. According to Baird, "His mind was analytical and delighted in making distinctions between things or opinions which are liable to be confused with each other but which ought to be kept separate. Quite beyond his gifts as a teacher was the impression made by the intensity and weight of his moral character."77 He had many of the qualities obviously derived from a Calvinist background.


The history of a "tradition" is twofold: it is concerned with thought and action. This article has been an account not only of Scottish thought but also of the roles of particular Scots in Canadian education. The role of both the native Scot and also of his Canadian descendant has been to project into Canada a Scottish intellectual tradition. Largely it has been a tradition of Christian orthodoxy and of a Scottish university curriculum, transmitted by Presbyterians like McCulloch, MacVicar, Dawson and Bryce; by other Scottish Protestants like Fyfe, Strachan and Wilson and by Roman Catholic educators like MacEachern, Macdonell and John Cameron. Other Scots, like Grant, Watson, Young and Murray were no less a product of Christian orthodoxy, although they were in reaction against much of the orthodox Christian position.

So much for the background of the Scottish tradition in higher education; but to say that their basic ideas were derived from Scotland is only to tell part of the story of the Scots in Canada. Their chief contribution was to identify themselves with the Canadian environment and to make their ideas part of the intellectual tradition of the Canadian community. Of all the ethnic groups who have come to Canada, the Scots were the quickest in acclimatizing themselves. Witness the long list of Scottish politicians, clergymen, bankers, textile manufacturers, lawyers and others who made so considerable a contribution to Canadian development. The Scots in higher education were part of this tradition. Probably the Scots born in Canada, like Grant and Dawson, were more completely adjusted to the local milieu than were those born in Scotland, like Strachan and Daniel Wilson. Yet Strachan was sufficiently Canadian to realize the importance of developing a native clergy, as distinct from one trained in Great Britain,78 and Wilson was regarded as sufficiently Canadian to be offered the post of Minister of Public Instruction in the Ontario government in 1875.79

The long-run influence of the Scots in Canadian higher education has been profound. In the Roman Catholic world Scots helped to organize colleges which preserved the Scottish identity in a religious community in which the Scots were in a minority. In the Protestant world in Canada the quality of academic life has often reflected the influence of Scottish Calvinism. Its rigorous intellectual discipline tended to produce men with a capacity for sheer hard work and with a penetrating, critical spirit. Thomas McCulloch, the great religious controversialist in Nova Scotia; John King, who delighted to make distinctions between things often confused; G.P. Young, vigorously denouncing competing philosophies as "palpable absurdities,"80 reflected this influence; but there were many more who displayed the same qualities. They exemplified the Puritan spirit, and the Puritan tradition in Canada was largely, although not completely, Scottish in its origins.


1. John H. MacVicar, Life and Work of Donald Harvey MacVicar (Toronto: 1904), pp. 69-70. Actually MacVicar was born in Scotland (Dunglass, Argyleshire) although he came to Canada at an early age.

2. Quoted in D.B. Horn, A Short History of the University of Edinburgh 1556-1889 (Edinburgh: the University Press, 1967), pp. 119-120.  

3. George W. Spragge, ed., The John Strachan Letter Book: 1812-1834 (Toronto: 1946), pp. 67-8, Strachan to Samuel Sherwood, Andrew Stewart and James Stewart, February 14, 1815.

4. R.G. Cant, The University of St. Andrews, A Short History (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1946), p. 89.

5. Horn, pp. 161-162.

6. James Coutts, A History of the University of Glasgow (Glasgow: James Maclehose & Sons, 1909), p. 343.

7. Robert Falconer, "The Scottish Influence in the Higher Education of Canada," Royal Society of Canada, Proceedings and Transactions, XXI (1927, Third Series), Section 2, p. 14.

8. Horn, p. 160; Cant, p. 107; Falconer, pp. 13-14.

9. Memorials of the Life and Ministry of the Rev'd John Machar, D.D. (Toronto: John Campbell & Son, 1873), pp. 14-15.

10. Ibid, p. 16.

11. For an account of the small Presbyterian theological colleges which functioned in the Maritime Provinces between 1839 and 1863 see D.C. Masters, Protestant Church Colleges in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966), pp. 81-82.

12. Strachan to S. Sherwood, Andrew Stewart and James Stewart, February 14, 1815. There is some evidence that Strachan was originally brought over to Canada for much the same reasons as he later advanced for bringing Scots to Canadian colleges. Henry Scadding, who was one of Strachan's clergy, wrote that the Kingston families who brought Strachan to Canada "when casting about for the education of their sons appear to have looked toward Scotland rather than England, partly perhaps from national predilection, and partly from a reasonable impression that the economic and primitive university system of Scotland was better adapted to a community constituted as that of Upper Canada then was, than the more costly and more complicated systems of England." Scad-ding: The First Bishop of Toronto, p. 12, quoted in W.J. Rattray, The Scot in British North America (Toronto: Maclear and Company, 1880) II, 430.

13. Bishop's University, Nicolls Papers, G.J. Mountain to Jasper Nicolls, June 12, 1845.

14. H.A. Nicholson, a medical graduate of Edinburgh, held the chair of natural history at Toronto, 1871-73. Robert Ramsay Wright, an Edinburgh graduate, held the chair of natural science, later biology, at Toronto 1874-1901. From 1901 to 1912 he was vice-president of the university.

15. Colonial Advocate, Queenston, May 18, 1824.

16. H.L. Scammell, "The Rise and Fall of a College," Dalhousie Review, xxxii (1), 1952. The opponents of the college insisted on the letter of its charter which entitled it to be merely an "Academy" and not a "College."

17. H.M. Tory, A History of Science in Canada (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1939), p. 44.

18. H.L. Scammell, "Why did Thomas McCulloch come to Dalhousie," Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections, 31, (1957), 68.

19. One gets a very human picture of Strachan in a letter from young George Ridout to his parents in York shortly after George and his brother Tom had arrived at Strachan's Cornwall school; "Mr. Strachan asked us to night, as we went to get some paper from him whether Tom had rather be called Tom than Tarn as he generally calls him. Tom told him which he had rather be called and Mr. Strachan laughed and when he does he laughs hearty." Ontario Archives, Ridout Papers, George Ridout to his parents, January 27, 1806.

20. Henry Scadding, Toronto of Old (Toronto: Adam, Stevenson & Co., 1873), p. 162.

21. John Strachan, The Christian religion recommended in a letter to his pupils (Montreal, 1807).

22. See above.

23. Some of the early Scottish educators can merely be mentioned. At Dalhousie: James Ross, born in Forfarshire and trained at Pictou College, Principal of Dalhousie (1864-1885) and Professor of Ethics and Political Economy; James Gordon MacGregor, a Dalhousie graduate who studied at Edinburgh and held the chair of Physics at Dalhousie (1879-1901); Charles Macdonald, a graduate of Aberdeen and Professor of Mathematics at Dalhousie from 1863 to 1901.

The McGill Medical Institution, the earliest active part of McGill College, was founded by Dr. Stephenson, a native of Montreal, who studied at Edinburgh. Dr. Caldwell, the first holder of the chair of medicine, was born in Ayrshire, studied in Edinburgh and had been a surgeon in the 13th Regiment of Dragoons. Dr. Robertson, first lecturer in midwifery and diseases of women and children was descended from a Perthshire family and a graduate of Edinburgh. Like Caldwell he had been a military surgeon. See J.J. Heagerty, "Medical Practice in Canada under the British Regime," in Tory, pp. 73-75.

24. Masters, pp. 12, 66-68, 70-71.

25. Frances A. Firth, "King's College, Fredericton, 1829-1859," The University of New Brunswick Memorial Volume, Alfred G. Bailey, ed. (Fredericton, 1950), p. 25.

26. Ibid., p.26.

27. Scammell, "The Rise and Fall of a College."

28. J. George Hodgins, Documentary History of Education in Upper Canada, 1 (Toronto: Warwick Brothers and Rutter, 1894), 1790-1830, 214. Strachan's proposed curriculum for a college in Montreal in 1815 was very similar to the York proposal. Strachan to Sherwood, A. Stewart, J. Stewart, February 14, 1815.

29. Falconer, p. 14.

30. Rattray, I, 191.

31. Queen's College Calendar, 1845-1846, p. 5.

32. MacVicar, pp. 121-122.

33. Ibid.,p. 122.

34. Canadian Christian Examiner and Presbyterian Review, August, 1839, p. 252.

35. William Snodgrass, The Sacredness of Learning, Address delivered at the Opening of Session 1864-5, Queen's College, Kingston, 1864, p. 13.

36. Ibid., pp. 9-10.

37. Toronto Globe, July 5, 1871. Elgin's immediate concern in this speech was primary and secondary education; but it indicates a general attitude which is relevant to this paper, since Elgin was also concerned with higher education, i.e. the problem of the University of Toronto.

38. John Irving, "The Development of Philosophy in Central Canada from 1850 to 1900," Canadian Historical Review, XXXI (1950), 252-287.

39. Two of these three, Leach and George, were Scots, the former educated at Edinburgh and the latter at St. Andrews and Glasgow. Beaven was English and a most rigid Anglican.

40. Murray was more difficult to classify than Watson and Young. Irving describes his final position as "eclectic idealism." Irving, p. 279.

41. John Watson, "Edward Caird as a Teacher and Thinker," Queen's Quarterly, XVI (1909), 303-313.

42. Queen's College Journal, December 15, 1877, pp. 5-6.

43. W.L. Grant and F. Hamilton, Principal Grant (Toronto: Morang & Co. Limited, 1904), p. 206.

44. T.R. Clover and D.D. Calvin, A Corner of Empire [Queen's], (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1937), p. 146; Irving, p. 272.

45. Charles F. O'Brien, Sir William Dawson, A Life in Science and Religion (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1971), p. 2. For other material on Dawson's career see also Sir William Dawson, Fifty Years of Work in Canada Scientific and Educational (London and Edinburgh: Ballantyne, Hanson & Co., 1901).

46. O'Brien, p. 144.

47. Annual Calendar Presbyterian College Montreal, Session 1876-77, p. 16.

48. Queen's University Domesday Book, 1831 -1924, p. 32.

49. Quoted in D.C. Harvey, An Introduction to the History of Dalhousie University (Halifax: McCurdy Printing Company, 1938), pp. 19-20. Dalhousie did not persevere in the plan of making the College an imitation of Edinburgh.

50. The Elgin-Grey Papers 1846-1852 (Ottawa: J.O. Patenaude, King's Printer, 1937) Public Archives of Canada, II, 726-727, Elgin to Grey, October 25, 1850.

51. Scottish episcopalians were usually high, not evangelical.

52. H.H. Langton, Sir Daniel Wilson (Edinburgh: Nelson, 1929), p. 88.

53. Ibid., pp. 88-89.

54. That the members of the Church of Scotland were anxious to maintain Queen's as a Presbyterian institution was indicated by a pamphlet published in 1871, Presbyterian Union and the College Question (Kingston,

1971), by an alumnus of Queen's College. The alumnus argued that the Church of Scotland must reject union with the Canada Presbyterian Church if its members insisted upon secularization of Queen's.

55. Grant and Hamilton, p. 184.

56. Ibid., p. 185.

57. Masters, p. 110. The footing of Queen's had been a delicate point in the negotiations leading to the union of 1875. An arrangement was effected which left Queen's nominally Presbyterian, but which virtually transformed it into a private institution. Hitherto, the governing body, the Board of Trustees, had been elected by the Synod from a list of persons nominated by the individual congregations. After union, the Board became a self-perpetuating body. Theoretically the corporation of the University consisted of the communicants of the Presbyterian Church in Canada; but practically the church as a body had no control of the university.

58. Grant and Hamilton, pp. 208-9.

59. Masters, pp. 93-94; A.B. Baird, The Story of Manitoba College, radio script, February 12, 1930.

60. Lawrence K. Shook, Catholic post-secondary education in English-speaking Canada: A History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), pp. 18-19.

61. The Universities of Canada Their History and Organization, Appendix to the Report of the Ontario Minister of Education, 1896 (Toronto: Warwick Bros. & Rutter, 1896), pp. 142-143.

62. Rev. John C. MacMillan, The Early History of the Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island (Quebec: Evenment Printing Company, 1905), pp. 51-55.

63. Shook, p. 37.

64. MacMillan, p. 293.

65. Shook, p. 14. When MacEachern was in failing health he stipulated that a possible coadjutor should be able to speak English, French and Gaelic. He preached a sermon in Gaelic shortly before his death. MacMillan, pp. 300-301.

66. Shook, pp. 39-44.

67. Rattray, iii, 845-846.

68. Shook, pp. 75-78.

69. Rattray, iii, 842.

70. See Douglas's "Educational Address" in his Discourses and Addresses (Toronto: William Briggs, 1894), pp. 299-311.

71. A. J. MacLachlan, "Canadian Baptists and Public Questions before 1850," unpublished BD thesis, McMaster University, R. Hamilton, "The Founding of McMaster University," unpublished BD thesis, McMaster University. For a brief biographical note on Fyfe see The Universities of Canada, pp. 128-129.

72. In 1881 the Theological Department of the Canadian Literary Institute was moved to Toronto where it became the Toronto Baptist College.

73. Rev. Charles H. Mockridge, The Bishops of the Church of England in Canada and Newfoundland (Toronto: F.N.W. Brown, 1896), pp. 209-230; T.C.B. Boon, The Anglican Church from the Bay to the Rockies (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1962), pp. 67-70, 95-96; Masters, pp. 87-88; Rattray, Vol. III, p. 847.

74. After his consecration as Bishop of Saskatoon in 1874 Bishop McLean founded Emmanuel College, Saskatoon.

75. Baird, op. cit., Rattray, III, 848-9.

76. Baird, op. cit.

77. Ibid.

78. Strachan, "An Appeal to the Friends of Religion and Literature, in behalf of the University of Upper Canada," [1827], Hodgins, Documentary History of Education in Upper Canada," I, 217.

79. Langton, p. 86.

80. John Watson, op. cit.

Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus