The Bi-Religious Basis of Quebec's Public School System: Its Origins and Subsequent Development

Type of resource
The Bi-Religious Basis of Quebec's Public School System: Its Origins and Subsequent Development
The main source of bi-religionism originated during Quebec's first three decades under British rule when, having respectively received de facto or de jure recognition of certain basic cultural liberties, Roman Catholics and Protestants came to accept a state of co-existence. Roman Catholics considered religion as their fundamental liberty and also as the essential dynamic of all education. The author points out that this became evident in 1789 when the Catholic Bishop opposed a proposed system of common schools for the colony because the Protestant Governor would exercise final authority. Although Catholics generally continued to voice opposition to all such proposals, the Provincial Legislature passed a Protestant-sponsored Education Act in 1801 which provided for a system of free common public schools under the Governor's control. The subsequent control of the system by a Protestant-dominated Board prompted the Catholic hierarchy to condemn the schools and re-assert its right and responsibility for all Roman Catholic education. In 1824 an Education Act received royal assent authorizing Roman Catholic parish "fabriques" to organize and administer public schools. After the repeated failure of Protestant attempts to institute separate Catholic and Protestant divisions within the framework of the 1801 law, the appearance of the principle of dissent in the 1841 Education Act for the Province of Canada formally introduced a religious basis into the public school system. Although dissent theoretically permitted any religious sect to establish a public school with full rights and responsibilities, the principle soon came to apply in practice to Roman Catholics and Protestants only.
PhD dissertation
Teachers College, Columbia University
New York, NY
# of Pages
Finley, Eric Gault. “The Bi-Religious Basis of Quebec’s Public School System: Its Origins and Subsequent Development.” PhD dissertation, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1959.
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