Despatch from Lieutenant-General J. Michel to the Earl of Carnarvon, No. 6 (4 January 1867)

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Date: 1867-01-04
By: J. Michel
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant-General J. Michel to the Earl of Carnarvon, No. 6 (4 January 1867) in UK, Parliament, Correspondence respecting the Proposed Union of the British North American Provinces (London: George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1867).
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COPY of a DESPATCH from the Officer Administering the Government to the Right Hon. the Earl of CARNARVON

(No.6.) Montreal, January 4, 1867.
(Received January 25, 1867.)
(Answered, No. 132, January 30, 1867, page […]


I HAVE the honour to transmit herewith to your Lordship an address to Her Majesty the Queen, from the governors, principal, and fellows of McGill College, Montreal, and to request that it may be laid at the foot of the Throne.

I have, &c.

(Signed) J.MICHEL.

Right Hon. the Earl of Carnarvon,
&c. &c. &c. Administrator of Gov.

Enclosure 1 in No. 29.

To the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty.

The memorial of the Governor Principal, and Fellows of McGill College, Montreal,

Humbly showeth —

THAT in prospect of the changes contemplated in the political constitution of Canada, the COrporation of the McGill College, the oldest University in this country, and the most important educational institution pertaining to that portion of the population of Lower Canada which is of British origin, desire humbly to present the following statement respecting the condition and prospects of education.

Under the provision of the resolutions agreed to at the Quebec Conference, which leaves the entire control of education with the Local Governments and Legislatures, unless adequate guarantees be introduced into the Imperial Act, one of the most momentous interests of Your Majesty’s subjects in this country will be subject to local views and feelings, and will be deprived of those enlarging and improving influences which are anticipated from the union of the Provinces.

With regard to University education, it is much to be desired, that, as far as possible there should be a uniform standard for degrees : and that the degrees of any University in British America should be recognized throughout the whole Confederation : and also, that the undue multiplication of Universities, which has become so great an evil in some parts of these Provinces, should be arrested. These most desirable results, can in the opinion of Your Majesty’s memorialists, be secured only by vesting in the General Government and Legislature an effective control over these important interests.

With regard to the schools, it may be observed, that under the existing union of Upper and Lower Canada, two distinct school systems have been established : and that, as the system existing in Lower Canada has led to a classification and management of schools and school districts, rather in accordance with the educational views of the clergy of the Roman Catholic church, than with the wants and wishes of the Protestant population, the latter have, even under the present constitution, been subjected to serious disadvantages in regard to the education of their children. More particularly, they have not been able to obtain the benefits of a general system of education, with public and properly classified schools, as enjoyed by their fellow subjects of Upper Canada : under certain circumstances of not infrequent occurrence, they are liable to taxation for the support of schools exclusively Roman Catholic in character they do not possess the privileges with reference to the establishment of separate schools, which have been accorded to the Roman Catholic minority of Upper Canada : and they have occasion to complain of the distribution of the legislative grants, more especially of those for superior education. Further, though the Protestant minority in Lower Canada comprises a large proportion of the wealth, education, and science of this country, it is not represent in the office of the Educational Department.

These evils have been felt by the Protestant population even under the existing union with Upper Canada : and those representatives of the Protestant constituencies who consented to the arrangement of the Quebec Conference for the dissolution of that union, did so only after distinct pledges on the part of the Government, that at least the more weighty of these grievances would be redressed by Legislative action, before Confederation. But these pledges have not been fulfilled : a measure to this end, but of an imperfect character, which was introduced by Government in the last session of the Legislature, having been withdrawn. Under these circumstances, it appears necessary that provision should be introduced into the Imperial Act of Confederation, to afford adequate protection to Protestant General Government and Legislature to interfere effectively on behalf of the minority.

Your Majesty’s memorialist desire also to represent, that while in other colonies munificent endowments have been made, out of the public domain, for institutions of higher education, no such grants have ever been made in Lower Canada : and that while our fellow-subjects of French origin have enjoyed the benefits of large endowments in land, given before the conquest, and which in some instances would have been forfeited but for the liberality of the British Government, the Protestant population of Lower Canada have been placed in an exceptional position of disadvantage ; and that had it not been for the endowment by Mr. McGIll, and the liberal contributions of other benefactors, they would not have had access to the benefits of a collegiate education, except in institutions under the exclusive control of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is however well known that it was the intention of the British Government that such Protestants as had settled or should settle in Lower Canada should possess the same educational advantages which were awarded by Royal liberality to the inhabitants of other colonies.

In evidence of this Your Majesty’s memorialists would state, that the Governor in Chief in 1801 by speech from the Throne, assured the Parliament of Lower Canada “that His Majesty had been “graciously pleased to give directions for the establishment of a competent number of free schools for “the instruction of children in the first rudiments of useful learning, and in the English tongue, and “for foundations of a more enlarged and comprehensive nature, and that His Majesty had been “further pleased to signify His Royal intention that a suitable proportion of the lands of the Crown “should be set apart, and the revenues thereof appropriation to such purposes.” Inn acceptance of this offer the Act incorporating the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning (now the Board of Governors of McGill University) was passed, reciting the above language in its preamble, the declared intention being that the “liberal grant of Crown Lands” referred to in the speech should be made to that body in trust for free schools and “foundations of a more enlarged and comprehensive request for the foundation of the McGIll College, it was still expected that such grants would be made, and his endowment was placed in the hands of the Royal Institution under the belief that the intentions of the Crown would be carried into effect.
At a later period in the Royal Institution had reason to expect that they would not have to incur the heavy expense of erecting buildings for the college, and that the whole or Mr. McGill’s endowment would thus have become available for its future support. In the early part of […] Lord Bathurst, then Colonial Secretary, instructed the Governor General, the Duke of Richmon, to adopt with as little delay as possible the necessary measures for erecting upon Mr. McGill’s property was an adequate building for the instruction of youth, and his Grace was authorized to defray the expense therefore from fund then at the disposal of the Crown.

But these liberal intentions on the part of the Crown were not carried into effect, and finally the control of the public lands was given to the Provincial Legislature, which has proved unable or unwilling to fulfill these engagements of the Crown, and which for many years rendered no assistance whatever to the University, In […] a small amount of aid was given as an annual grant, but this has in subsequent years been diminished to a sum still less adequate, and which is derived from a fund which is already to small for the growing wants even of the preparatory schools.

FOr more full details of the wants and claims of the University, Your Majesty’s memorialists beg to refer to their petition on this subject presented to his Excellency the Governor General in 1865, a copy of which accompanies the present memorial.

Your Majesty’s memorialist would further state that during the administration of Sir Edmund Head these claims were to some extent acknowledged by loans, partly granted in aid of the University itself, and partly in furtherance of other public educational interests, and which loans were principally derived from funds partaking of an Imperial character : but that though these loans, or so much of them as was really granted with that view, relieved the University in some degree from immediate pecuniary difficulty, the University remains liable for their whole amount, and should the claim be enforced by the Government serious embarrassment and injustice to the University would result.

Your Majesty;s memorialists, with the Protestant population of Lower Canada, hold that the obligation rests upon the Imperial as well as upon the Provincial Government to aid in securing an adequate endowment for institution of the higher education in Lower Canada on that broad general basis of public utility on which this University rests ; but while especially referring to the case of their own University, they must even more strongly insist on those more general constitutional guarantees which in their judgement are required for the protection of the rights of the Protestant minority in Lower Canada, weather in regard to common schools or to institutions of higher learning.

Your Majesty’s memorialist would further state their willingness to give additional information or explanations, and to support by documentary or other evidence the statements of this memorial should such information or evidence be desired.

Wherefore Your Majesty’s memorialists humanly pray that Your most Gracious Majesty will be pleased to take the matters above referred to into favourable consideration, in order to the introduction of proper and just safeguards into the Imperial Act of Confederation, should such Act be passed, and to the granting of such other measures of relief as to Your Majesty may seem fit. And Your Majesty’s memorialist will ever pray.

Signed on behalf of the University by the Chancellor.

Montreal, December 18, 1866.

Enclosure 2 in No. 29.

To his Excellency the Right Honourable CHARLES STANLEY Viscount […], Baron Monck of Ballytrammon in the County of Wexford, Governor General of British North America, and Captain General and Governor in CHief in and over the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Island of Prince Edward, and Vice – Admiral of the same, &c. , &c., &c.

The petition of the Governors, Principal ,and Fellows of McGill College and University —


That your Excellency’s petitioners, in view of the present condition of the University and its limited resources, feel themselves justified and called upon earnestly to press upon the Legislature its claims for a permanent endowment, in support of which they beg leave to make the following statements :

In an educational point of view, the growth of the University under its new character has surpassed the most sanguine expectations of its friends. It was in the past session […] in the education of 928 persons, of whom 305 were students in law, medicine, and arts, 74 teachers in training, 249 pupils in the high school, and the remainder were pupils in the model schools. It has in the faculty of law, 6 professors : in the faculty of medicine, 9 professors : in the faculty of arts, 10 professors ; in the high school department, 10 masters. There are also two professors, two teachers, and several assistants in the McGill normal and model schools.

In its buildings, the University was long inadequately accommodated ; but recently by the exertions of the BOard of Governors, and the liberality of one of them, Wm. Molson, EsqHis disadvantages has been in great measure removed. By the liberality of some leading citizens of Montreal, it has recently been endowed with gold medals in law, and in most of the principal branches of study in arts.

The University now challenges comparison with any other in North America, in the efficiency of its staff and the thoroughness of its course of study, and is prepared to carry the scientific and literary education of young men to degree a perfection not heretofore attainable in Lower Canada, and comparable with that of the British Universities.

While these results, so editable and useful to Canada, have been attained, your petitioners have, from the first, had to complain that the important objects committed to their care have not received an adequate amount of provincial pecuniary support, and that their labours have in consequence been prosecuted under many disadvantages.

The total expenditure of the University for the past year, including […] of interest on its debts, and $2018 for repairs, &c. Of building (but exclusive of the normal school and of fees paid to professors in medicine and law ), may be stated at […] : and that an institution of this character, with so many instructing officers, should be supported on such a sum, must be regarded as an instance of economy scarcely equalled in any other similar case.

Of the above sum, $6,702 are paid by the revenue of the original endowment of Mr. McGIll ; $2,816 by the interest of the endowment fund contributed by the citizens of Montreal ; $6,019 by the fees in the high school, and […] by the fees in the faculty of arts. Toward payment of the balance the Province contributes as follows:

(1.) A sum of $1000 per annum to the medical faculty, being the same amount paid to each o=f the other medical schools, none of which equals that of McGill in the number of professors and students.

(2.) The sum of $1,128 to the high school department, on condition that it shall educate, free of expense, 30 pupils appointed by the Government, and whose education at the annual rate of fees would cost $1,320 ; the high school being distinguished from every other superior school in Lower Canada by receiving no free grant.

(3.) The sum of $2,803.94 to the College, in aid of the University generally, and of the faculties of arts and law. The sum thus granted has been progressively diminished from […] up to the present time, as stated in the following table, though in the meantime the number of students at the University and its annular expenditure for their benefit have largely increased.

*See PDF for table

Taking into account account all these sources of revenue, an annual deficiency remained in 1863, of […] not provided for by the income : and this deficiency appeared so alarming that the Governors were under the necessity of withdrawing the aid formerly given to the high school, and of discontinuing the course of engineering in the faculty of arts. They were also obliged further to postpone the just claims of several professors for increase of their salaries, and to abstain from all additions to the library, museum, and apparatus.

It should also be stated that the extension of the University renders additional expenditure necessary for examinations and printing, which there are no means to defray.

Your Excellency’s petitioners would further state that an inspection of the accounts will show the the utmost economy has pervaded the expenditures of the University, and that its efforts have been steadily directed to the provision of means of education not otherwise accessible in this country, and of a higher character than those afforded by the ordinary academies and colleges : thus fulfilling the wise and benevolent intentions of the founder, and giving to our young men the opportunity of raising their mental culture to the level of that in older countries. It has further been an object of solicitude with the Governors to promote practical scientific training bearing on the more important professions, and they would gladly do more in this direction did their resources permit.

The following statements, contained in a former […], may be here repeated, as enforcing the claims of the University to public aid.

First. — The late Mr. McGIll undoubtedly made his bequest under the expectation and implied promise that a further and […] endowment would be made by the Provincial Government. This is apparent from the circumstance under which the request was made. The Governor in Chief in 1801 laid before the Provincial Parliament a message in the following terms :

“ That His Majesty had been graciously pleased to give direction for the establishment of a competent number of free schools for the instruction of children in the first rudiments of useful learning “and in English tongue, and for foundations of a more enlarged and comprehensive nature, and “that His Majesty had been further pleased to signify His Royal intention that a suitable proportion “of the lands of the Crown should be set apart, and the revenues thereof appropriated to such purposes”. As a preliminary step, the Act incorporating the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning was passed, containing this message in its preamble, and thereafter it was intended that the “Liberal grand of Crown Lands” referred to in the message should be transferred to its control, in trust for free schools and “foundations of a more enlarged and comprehensive nature ; “but no grant was ever made.

The late Mr. McGill was only an active member of the Legislature at this time, but an Executive Councilor, and therefore must be presumed to have been thoroughly conversant with the intentions of the Imperial and Provincial Governments. By his last will he bequeathed a sum of money and his estate of Burnside to the Royal Institution for the purpose of erecting and maintaining a University : but his endowment, liberal as it was, was yet quite inadequate for the object contemplated, and it is reasonable to infer that he looked beyond it to the Royal Institution, to whom he believed that a liberal grant of Crown Lands was to have been entrusted for a kindred purpose.

His endowment was loug anterior to the establishment of any Protestant College in the Province, and still is the only one made in it for that purpose. Since that time hundreds of thousands of pounds have been bestowed by annual grants on Roman Catholic educational institutions in Lower Canada ; while in Upper Canada several Universities had been founded, aloof them participating more or less in the grants of public monies. ONe of them, the University of Toronto, enjoys an endowment of 226,201 acres of land conferred by Royal grant in 1828, from which a sum exceeding 293,888, has been already derived : and in addition to this received during many years, for the college connected with it, a grant of […] annually. Upper Canada College, established in 1832, was endowed by various grants between that year and the year 1835, with 63,805 acres of land, which has yielded […] and has also received an annual grant of 1,000/., which still continues. It is further to be their grants raised to […} each, beside the usual aid to their medical schools. Yet no permanent provision whatever has ever been made for McGIll College, and all the monies received by it from public sources (oh which the first was in 1851) fo not together amount to one-fourth of the annual revenues of the University of Toronto, or to one-tenth of the value of Mr. McGIll’s bequest.

The largeness of that bequest, and the munificence with which the fund has since been increased in the sum of 15,000/. By subscription in the city of Montreal, and the completion of the College buildings by Mr. WIlliam Molson, coupled with the character of the University, justify your memorialists in the hope that a corresponding spirit will be manifested by the Legislature, and that after so much has be been done by private beneficence the work may be completed by granting the relief now sought, and providing for the future a permanent public endowment. These donations also show how urgently the want of a Protestant university has been felt, and how highly its benefits are esteemed by the English population.

Secondly, — Not only was the late Mr. McGIll warranted in believing that his exertions to establish a University would be supported by a grant from the Crown Lands, but the members of the Royal Institution subsequently were led to expect that they would have been saved the heavy expense of correcting the College buildings, and that the endowment would have been rendered available for its future support. In the early part of the 1819 the Lord Bathurst, then Colonial Secretary, instructed the Governor General, the Duke of Richmond, to adopt, with as little delay as possible, the necessary measures for erecting upon Mr. McGill’s property an adequate building for the insurrection of youth, and his Grace was authorized to defray the expense thereof from the funds which might be in the hands of the Receiver of the Jesuit’s Estates.

But, for the reasons unknown to the Governors, these liberal intentions on the part of His Majesty were not carried into effect.

Thirdly, — The University of McGill College’s the only one in Lower Canada which is non-sectarian. As such it is entitled to claim — and, as your Excellency’s petitioners believe, it possesses — the confidence of the Protestant community of every religious denomination. This is shown by the list of subscriptions of the endowment fund, in which are to be found the names of members of the English and Scotch Churches, and of the Free Church, Methodists, Congregationalists, American […], and Unitarians ; members of the Jewish faith have also contributed.

Fourthly, — The University is not a mere private institution founded by individual benevolence, but is public and Provincial in its character. It is prepared to confer degrees, not only upon the students of its own Colleges, but, under just and salutary rules, upon those of any others which may be established in the Province; thus rendering it unnecessary, as without doubt it is inexpedient, to multiply the number of educational institutions possessing that power.
A large number of scholarships in the faculty of arts are at the disposal of your Excellency, as alos the presentation to 30 scholarships in the faculty of arts are at the disposal of your Excellency, as also the presentation to 30 scholarships in the High School department.

Fifthly, — This Provincial character of the University, and the prosperity and influence which it has attained, mark it out as the great center and support of the higher Protestant education in Lower Canada. As such the management of the Provincial Normal School have been concluded to it with the approbation of the whole community : and the confidence has thus far been justified by complete success. A further indication of the same nature is afforded by the affiliation with it of the St. Francis College, Richmond, made the liberal terms provided by the statutes of the University, Still more recently Morrin College, Quebec, has been affiliated, and has already sent up […] students who have passed creditably the preliminary examinations of the University ; and arrangements are now in progress for affiliating the Congregational College of British North America.

The affiliation of other colleges and theological schools is expected, and thus the aids to higher education, which this country so much needs, will always be available to all who may require them, and that in the simplest form ; for it is to be observed that this University offers to its students not only an ordinary liberal education, but the means also of high scientific culture and of thorough instruction in the professions of law and medicine, and that its present position in this respect will enable it, with additional pecuniary resources, to extend itself still further in the direction of professional education.

The importance and claims for support of such a central institution are too obvious to require argument and these, great as they now are, will be augmented by the increase of population, wealth, and intelligence, bringing with them an appreciation of the value of learning and ad demand for the ordinary schools and other educational establishments, sectarian or non-sectarian, which abound in Lower Canada. It stands alone in its character and objects, and requires from the Government a direct and special support adequate to its importance and its wants. To place it, in the distribution of Legislative aid, upon the same footing with those minor establishments which share in the fund placed in the hands of the Superintendent of Education is an error and injustice, not only to the University itself, but to the whole Protestant community of Lower Canada. Your petitioners would further, in view of the proposed Federation of the Provinces, large the necessity of an immediate consideration of the claims above set forth, and of a permanent provision for the support of the University.

Your Excellency’s petitioners would therefore pray for a permanent endowment, and that this should be equal to an annual income of $20,000 for the College and University, and of $4,000 for the High School, independently of any […] the latter may receive for the education of Government scholars. And your Excellency’s petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

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