Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
June 2005

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


Technical Education in Canada


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

Education, Technical. A necessary preliminary to technical education was the introduction of science teaching in the schools. Before 1850 practically nothing towards this end had been done. The legislature of Upper Canada in 1806 granted £400 "to procure certain apparatus for the promotion of science", but the instruments appear to have served chiefly as a museum exhibit. Academies taught "natural philosophy", or physics, surveying, and other practical subjects to a few, and by the thirties grants were sometimes given to mechanics' institutes to assist them in providing books or lectures on scientific and technical subjects. Between 1850 and 1870 text-book science, or "useful knowledge", invaded the schools; but the first high school laboratory appeared in Ontario in 1872. By this time the writings of Spencer and Huxley and the example of England 's failure to keep up with improvements in industrial processes effected by technical education in Europe had awakened educational leaders in Canada. As a result the College of Technology was established in Toronto in 1871 for advanced technical education. Evening schools were initiated in the province of Quebec by the Council of Arts and Manufactures, incorporated in 1872. Government schools for miners were opened in Nova Scotia in 1888. But technical education in secondary schools under public control belongs to the present century.


In 1900 the Toronto City Council purchased a building for evening technical classes; in 1901 they added day classes; in 1904 they placed the school under the control of the board of education; and in 1915 they completed the magnificent Central Technical School at a cost of $2,000,000. Meanwhile Hamilton had built its Technical and Art School, and many other town and city schools in Ontario had introduced technical departments or classes. This work was encouraged by the appointment of a provincial director of industrial and technical education in 1911, and by assisting legislation. To Nova Scotia goes the honour of the first appointment of this kind, made in 1907, at the time of the opening of the Technical College at Halifax. In Quebec the provincial government itself established large schools at Montreal and Quebec to give three years' training for boys intending to become skilled mechanics. Two fine technical schools were built in Manitoba in 1910 and 1911. In most other provinces beginnings were made, but the important developments came after the Great War.


Dominion Government Grants.

A Royal Commission on Industrial Training and Technical Education was appointed by the Dominion government in 1910, but owing to the War action with regard to technical education was postponed until 1919. In that year annual grants to the provinces, amounting to $10,000,000 in ten years, were provided with the object of increasing the earning capacity, efficiency, and productive power of Canadians. The money was to be spent for any of a variety of types of vocational or technical education, and was to be matched by provincial expenditure equal to the grant received. Within about a year every province had applied for a share of the grants, and in the ten-year period the number of day-time pupils in vocational schools rose from 8,512 to 45,617. Since Ontario was the only province that had earned its full portion of the grant, an extension of five years was allowed to the other provinces to claim unappropriated balances.



In 1933 day technical schools of secondary grade existed in seven provinces: the Vocational School at St. John, New Brunswick, had 280 pupils in industrial and technical departments; Quebec in five technical schools had upwards of 1,600 pupils; Ontario had nearly 10,000 pupils in five large technical schools, and perhaps 7,000 more taking technical courses in sixty-two other vocational high schools; in the prairie provinces, schools at Winnipeg, Calgary, and Edmonton had about 1,500 pupils in technical work; and the Vancouver Technical School enrolled over 3,000 students in the technical course. These figures are by no means complete; in British Columbia, for example, there are eighteen smaller schools with technical departments. In the whole of Canada in 1933 some 40,000 full-time day pupils were enrolled in secondary vocational courses other than commercial. To these must be added large numbers in part-time and evening classes.

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. IV, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 279-280.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College