Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 335 pages of information about Canada under British Rule 1760-1900.
orders.  In the inception of education the French endeavoured in more than one of their institutions to combine industrial pursuits with the ordinary branches of an elementary education.  But all accounts of the days of the French regime go to show that, despite the zealous efforts of the religious bodies to improve the education of the colonists, secular instruction was at a very low ebb and hardly reached the seigniories.  One writer tells us that “even the children of officers and gentlemen scarcely knew how to read and write; they were ignorant of the first elements of geography and history.”  Still, dull and devoid of intellectual life as was the life of the Canadian, he had his place of worship where he received a moral training which elevated him immeasurably above the peasantry of England as well as of his old home.  The clergy of Lower Canada confessedly did their best to relieve the ignorance of the people, but they were naturally unable to accomplish, by themselves, a task which properly devolved on the governing class.  Under the French regime in Canada the civil authorities were as little anxious to enlighten the people by the establishment of public or common schools as they were to give them a voice in the government of the country.

Evidence of some culture and intellectual aspirations in social circles of the ancient capital attracted the surprise of travellers who visited the country before the close of the French dominion.  “Science and the fine arts,” wrote Charlevoix, in 1744, “have their turn and conversation does not fail.  The Canadians breathe from their birth an air of liberty, which makes them very pleasant in the intercourse of life, and our language is nowhere more purely spoken.”  La Gallissoniere, a highly cultured governor, spared no effort to encourage a sympathetic study of scientific pursuits.  Dr. Michel Sarrasin, who was a practising physician in Quebec for nearly half a century, devoted himself most assiduously to the natural history of the colony, and made some valuable contributions to the French Academy.  The Swedish botanist, Peter Kalm, was impressed with the liking for scientific study which he observed in the French colony.  But such intellectual culture, as Kalm and Charlevoix mentioned, never showed itself beyond the walls of Quebec or Montreal.  The province, as a whole, was in a state of mental sluggishness at the time of the conquest by England, under whose benign influence the French Canadian people were now to enter on a new career of political and intellectual development.

Pitt and Wolfe must take a high place among the makers of the Dominion of Canada.  It was they who gave relief to French Canada from the absolutism of old France, and started her in a career of self-government and political liberty.  When the great procession passed before the Queen of England on the day of the “Diamond Jubilee”—­when delegates from all parts of a mighty, world-embracing empire gave her their loyal and heartfelt homage—­Canada

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Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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