Canada – The Macdonald Institutes

With the organisation of these manual training departments in rural schools came the demand for well-trained teachers to supervise them, and this was met by Sir William Macdonald’s generous foundation of two large buildings at the Ontario agricultural college at Guelph for the residence and the training of teachers. There are three departments in the institution. 1. The department of home economics which aims at teaching the vocation of home-making in a scientific fashion, and includes such subjects as physiology; cooking, sanitation, etc. Amongst its more practical subjects may be mentioned phycology, the study of seaweeds and among the theoretical, child study. The courses range from a three months’ course in domestic science to a two years’ housekeepers’ course, or a normal course of domestic science for which diplomas are given.

The department of manual training includes instruction for teachers in that subject. The department of nature study trains teachers in the science of observation and in the best methods of bringing to the child mind that familiarity with the common things of nature which means so much to the rural dweller.

A short course of four weeks in the summer, when taken four successive years, qualifies the student for a rural science certificate. A two years’ course qualifies for instructor in elementary agriculture and school gardens. The Macdonald Hall in connection with this, consists of a home for women students, capable of accommodating 110, who are charged for board and instruction $3.50 a week. Students who are not over-burdened with this world’s goods may partly defray the cost of their study in science by serving for four months as waitresses, at the same time receiving their board and lodging and the privileges of a full-paying student.

Returning after this excursion into the training of teachers to our main theme of the training of children, the next step on the educational ladder is the agricultural college. Naturally only a few of the students of the rural schools will ever reach the agricultural college ; those who do, will be the pick of the elementary schools, and will have had a more or less thorough training in elementary nature study and manual training. The first provincial government to provide agricultural education for dwellers in its borders was Ontario. The Ontario agricultural college at Guelph was established in 1874 with the twofold object of training young men in the science and art of farming and of conducting experiments.

There has been a steady increase of students ever since the college was started, and in 1898 they numbered 920, and they now number about 1,000.

The volume of young men passing through an educational institution of this kind cannot fail to have a great effect upon the agricultural methods of the community, and it is a notable fact that in the last twenty years the amount produced by the land of Ontario has practically doubled and that without a corresponding increase in the acreage under cultivation. A farm of 400 or 500 acres is attached to the college, and the buildings and appointments are of the most complete character. Before admission to the college a student must produce proof of having spent at least one year at work upon a farm or of having a working knowledge of such ordinary farming operations as the care of horses, ploughing, and other ordinary operations connected with farming. He must, in addition, produce satisfactory evidence that he intends to follow either agriculture, horticulture, dairying, or some practical work connected with these pursuits as a means of livelihood. The greatest stress is laid upon this previous experience of farm life, and the aim of the school is not so much to teach a young man how to become a farmer as to teach the young farmer how to become a successful farmer. There are various courses of study, ranging from a stock and seed judging course of two weeks, a poultry course of four weeks, and a two years’ course in agriculture leading to the Associate Diploma, and a four years’ course leading to the degree of B.S. of Agriculture at Toronto University, The cost of the two years’ associate courses ranges from 75 dollars to 100 dollars a year for a resident who works regularly in the outside departments and receives pay for doing so, and 100 dollars to 150 dollars a year for a non-resident.

The Field and Animal Husbandry departments of the college are special sections. The former has 50 acres of land devoted entirely to experimental work, and students spend a good deal of their time on these fields observing the results of the experimental crops.

The animal husbandry department is also of the greatest importance, and specimens of fifteen or more breeds of horses, sheep and pigs are kept. So thorough has been the teaching of the college, that the trophy offered to teams of students from agricultural colleges has been won for two years at Chicago by the Guelph team.

Almost ever since its inception the college has been carrying on the most valuable experimental and research work in the laboratories and in the open air. Professor Zavitz, the chief of this department, has a world-wide reputation for his work on the improvement of farm crops, and more than 30,000 people come to the college every season to view the experimental field and growing crops. The most extraordinary care is taken in the selection of seed and the threshing of the grain, and no results are published until the experiment has been carried on for five years. The introduction of improved varieties of crops, the prevention of crop diseases and the great advances in the dairy industry which Ontario has been able to show in the last few years, are largely due to the results achieved by these experimental departments.

In connection with the work of the Guelph College is the experimental union which includes several thousand farmers. It need hardly be said that this conducting of field trials of manures, methods of cultivating of forage and grain crops has an enormous influence on the trend of public opinion regarding field-work. By bringing the combined experience of its thousands of members within the reach of other farmers it has been of inestimable benefit to the province.

Both Nova Scotia and Manitoba possess colleges of agriculture on a smaller scale, but with the same objects in view as the Ontario College. That of Nova Scotia is non-residential, and is free to all. The courses are comparatively short, the longest being that which leads to the associate diploma which is obtainable in two years. Should a diploma student desire to go further he is received by other agricultural colleges as a ” third-year man,” and can proceed to the degree of B.Sc., after leaving Truro College. A great point is made at Truro College of the live-stock department which devotes itself to improving the admittedly inferior stock of the province. Connected with the college is a farm of 200 acres, an interesting part of which is the marsh land, of a kind very generally found in Nova Scotia. It is an admirable example of what can be done with very difficult land, and should tend to improve the not entirely satisfactory methods employed by the average farmer.

The Manitoba College at Winnipeg, although it was formed only five years ago, is capable of accommodating 250 to 300 students. The fees and cost of living are much the same as at Ontario, being round about 100 dollars for residence, books and tuition during the winter months from October to March. The province of Quebec had no agricultural college, and to the assistance of this province came Sir William Macdonald with the princely gift of the Macdonald College of St. Anne de Bellevue, whose aim it was to help the overflowing population of Quebec to a better knowledge of their occupations, to increase their prosperity, and to re-direct the practices and ideas of country life. The college is situated in a beautiful position overlooking the Ottawa river some twenty miles to the west of Montreal. The 560 acres in its possession are divided into three parts, consisting of the Campus, with experimental plots extending to 74. acres, a small cultures farm for cereals, husbandry plots, poultry-keeping, and horticulture, and the live stock and grain farm of 387 acres. The fittings and apparatus of the buildings, and indeed all the appointments are of the most astonishingly complete description, and could only have been supplied by private benevolence. There are three schools in the college : 1, the school for teachers ; 2, the school of agriculture ; and 3, the school of household science for women. In the first two schools the course is free to Canadians, and in the school of household science there is a nominal fee of 35 dollars per session, residents occupying a double room with single beds pay 3 dollars 25 cents a week for board and lodging, and the courses of instruction are on precisely the same lines as those we have already fully described in the Ontario college.

It is a special advantage that the school for teachers and the school for household science are run side by side with the school for agriculture, since both teachers and housewives if they are to be successful in Canada must be in the closest touch with agricultural problems. Some idea of the size of the college may be gathered from the fact that the floor space covers 151 acres, and that the perimeter of the buildings is over a mile and a half, and the cubicular contents of the buildings is over 4,000,000 cubic feet.

The following is a list of the courses at the Manitoba College :

1. Short course in stock and seed judging and in poultry raising, fruit and vegetable growing. These courses give practical instruction to practical men and women.

2. Two year course in agriculture. This course gives training in the several branches of agriculture to the boy who intends to remain on the farm.

3. Four year course in agriculture, a course leading to the degree of B.S.A., given by the McGill University. A thorough and scientific course of training in animal husbandry, cereal husbandry, horticulture, etc.

4. A three months’ course in household science which provides training in practical work in all branches connected with the home.

5. One year home-maker’s course in household science.

6. Two years’ home-maker’s course in household science. Courses 5 and 6 are planned to give the student a good foundation in the different branches of ordinary household work, supplemented by those scientific studies which have a bearing on the subjects of cookery, laundry, household art, hygiene, etc.

The Protestant Central Board of Examiners for the province of Quebec grants diplomas only to teachers in training at Macdonald College, who have received the necessary training. Three diplomas are given. 1. Elementary Class, studying for the Elementary diploma. 2. Kindergarten Class, studying for the Kindergarten diploma. 3. Model School Class, studying for the Model School diploma.

Before closing this most interesting section of Canadian life one must not forget to mention the farmers’ institutes. These organisations, established in the province of Ontario for over a quarter of a century are to all intents and purposes farmers’ clubs. They are assisted by grants from the provincial legislature and by grants from municipalities and counties. The object of these clubs is to bring together successful and unsuccessful farmers so that the latter may learn from their more skilled fellow-members the most profitable methods of farming, stock-raising, dairying, and so on, in short, all branches connected with the local agriculture. The money grants are given on condition that the membership reaches a satisfactory minimum, that at least five meetings are held every year, and that all moneys are spent within the district in which the club operates. The Superintendent of the institution is an official of the provincial department of agriculture, and he directs and advises the local executive, arranges the administration of the funds, and provides lecturers for some of the meetings.

There are also women’s institutions created by the Department of Agriculture with the object of spreading knowledge relating to domestic economy, sanitation, value of foods, etc., and generally with a view to raising the standard of health and intelligence of the people. These institutions have an official publication called the Home Journal, and judging by the excellent results achieved during the short time they have been in operation, are likely to be of enormous service to the women and so to the men of Canada.