Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
June 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Adult Education in Canada


[This article was published in 1948; for the precise citation, see the end of the document.]

Education, Adult. In Canada, by adult education is understood further or continued education, applicable to both boys and girls, and men and women, which enables them to increase their knowledge after regular schooling in completed. Though the phrase was first used in Canada as a generic term in 1925, such education has been provided in the older provinces since about 1890. Naturally, in the ancient civilizations of the world, many forms of adult education may be discovered in very early times. There are in Canada certain adult educational problems, which increase both the difficulties and the need for this work. First, there is the fundamental problem shown by statistics of the steady rise in the average age of the population. Added to this there is the Canadianization of immigrants, a task for adult educationists which would become immeasurably greater were immigration barriers ever lowered. Again, there is the problem of ever-increasing leisure, due to the advance of science. Here the necessity becomes apparent both for suitably filling that leisure, and lessening the hiatus between social progression and the rapidly-moving scientific progression. In Canada both the Dominion government and the provincial governments engage in adult education; the former indirectly through publications, and directly through experiment stations and radio programmes, and the latter through the departments of education, agriculture, and public health. Then there are institutions which devote themselves entirely to adult education. Such are the university departments of extension, the Worker's Educational Association, the Frontier College, the People's High Schools (native to Denmark and not highly successful in Canada ), the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Royal Canadian Institute, the Vancouver Institute, the National Council of Education, and the Canadian Council on Child and Family Welfare. The Worker's Educational Association, formed in Canada in 1918, has been active only in Ontario. It is financed by the provincial government, through the department of university extension of the University of Toronto, by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and by membership fees. Its purpose is to bring higher education to farmers and industrial workers. The Frontier College, dominion-wide, and founded in 1900, is supported by private contributions and government grants. Its basis is the labourer-teacher, who works in lumber and mining camps with the men during the day and teaches in the evening. The college hopes to bring to new Canadians an understanding of Canadian customs and speech. The university departments of extension, connected with universities throughout Canada, provide adult educational courses in the evening, on payment of a small fee, and a variety of teacher's courses during the summer. Of the. other institutions, the National Council of Education is definitely important. Its first triennial conference was held in 1919, and its work centres round these triennial conferences, its national lectureship scheme, and its radio lectures. It unites the provinces with each other and Canada with the world. Mention must be made of certain types of adult education in Canada which are difficult to classify. In 1913 and 1919 the Dominion government made grants to the provinces for agricultural and technical education. These grants stimulated the building of schools and the procuring of equipment which were naturally used for adult night classes. In rural Canada there are numerous organizations which cater to the agricultural programme of adult education. In music and drama Canada is not so far advanced as Europe , but impetus was given to drama in 1930 by the Dominion Drama Festival, and interest in music is being stimulated by the Canadian Radio Commission.


There is much to be done in Canada with the advancement of adult education . through libraries. In Ontario there is a definite value in the "reader's advisory work", and in Prince Edward Island and British Columbia interesting and valuable union library schemes are being financed by the Carnegie Trust Fund. There cannot be said to be much real support in Canada for museums and art galleries. The Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Toronto are noteworthy for their public lectures and study groups, and other art galleries have made a beginning, but the people as a whole need education in the use of these treasure houses. There are many women's organizations such as the Women's Institutes, the "Cercles des Fermières" in Quebec , the I.O.D.R., and Women's University Clubs doing good work in adult education. Home and School associations and Parent-Teacher organizations are most active in Ontario and British Columbia. Each province has an efficient department of public health which disseminates knowledge in many ways. Recently political summer schools have been held by leading political parties. With regard to religious institutions, it is difficult to disentangle the religious and educational element, but all carry on adult educational work. Many large corporations such as the Bell Telephone Co. of Canada, the Canadian National Railways, various insurance companies, and the Canadian Banker's Association supply both technical and first-aid courses to their employees. Finally, there are numerous miscellaneous types of adult education such as are provided by Teacher's Associations, Settlements, the Canadian Handicraft Guild, the Boy Scout and Girl Guide Associations, the Ontario Historical Society, the Canadian Political Science Association, the National Social Hygiene Council of Canada, etc.

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. IV, Toronto, University Associates of Canada , 1948, 411p., pp. 262-263.



© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College