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Documents in Quebec History


Last revised:
23 August 2000

French Canadians and Jews

Correspondence Regarding the Admission of Jews to the Université de Montréal (1941)

[Note from the translator: this correspondence was published in the Quartier Latin, the student paper of the Université de Montréal, on April 25, 1941, p.5. While the university did not accept many Jewish students, they were apparently well treated when admitted. The university was the target of antisemites for accepting Jewish students, while some of its faculties and schools refused a number of French Catholic students. The response of the Université de Montréal was to demand the best of records from Jewish applicants, rather than apply a quota as McGill University did in those days. On this issue consult Pierre Anctil, Le rendez-vous manqué. Les Juifs de Montréal face au Québec de l’entre-deux-guerres, Québec, 1988, 366p.]

Quartier Latin, , April 25, 1941, p. 5.

"So as to answer, once and for all, to all those absolutely unjustified letters, we publish here the following correspondence, while giving notice that, from now on, the University will throw into the garbage all such documents"

Letter from M. A. Ferland to
the Vice-Rector of the Université de Montréal

Montreal, April 4, 1941.

To the Vice-Rector,
University of Montreal.

Does our Catholic university fulfill its national duty by giving the advantage and opportunity to foreigners to study in the various sciences that lead to the liberal professions? Won’t these foreigners do harm to our people one of these days?

Yours truly,

M. A. Ferland,

1616, Leclaire Street,


Response from the Vice-Rector of the Université de Montréal,|
Mgr. Emile Chartier

April 18, 1941.

M. A. Ferland,
1616, Leclaire Street,

Dear Monsieur Ferland,

Your letter proceeds from the idea that the University of Montreal is Catholic and French Canadian.

From the fact that it is Catholic, two things follow: that its teachers and their teaching must also be Catholic; that those who attend as students accept to be so instructed. It does not follow from it that one must be Catholic in order to be accepted as a student.

As to your other departure point, I must indicate to you that our institution is neither French-Canadian nor French. It is a Quebec institution: this means that it is situated in the Province of Quebec, and that it is supported, in part, with provincial funds. As the provincial government is also supported by those you call foreigners, as much as by the money of French Canadians, the University cannot close its doors to anybody that the Province has admitted to live among us. The University can only demand one thing: that all submit to its pedagogical, disciplinary and financial requirements.

When admitting these students, the University believes that it follows a course of action that is anything but an antinational one.

The Vice-Rector of the University,

Mgr. Emile Chartier

© 1999 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College For the translation