If Kingston had to reconcile herself to the disappointment of losing the coveted distinction of the seat of Government, she has earned the greater one of having been, throughout her whole history, an educational centre. As has been already noticed, in the very year after the arrival of the first Loyalist settlers, the Rev. John Stuart opened a private school for the children, which, during the earliest days of the settlement, provided the means of elementary education. Towards the close of the eighteenth century, the Hon. Richard Cartwright, desirous of securing for his sons a more advanced and liberal education, sent to Scotland for a competent tutor through a Scottish clergyman, the brother of his friend, the Hon. Robert Hamilton, of Queenston. It has been said that the afterwards celebrated Dr. Chalmers received the first offer ; but the choice finally fell upon a young man of twenty-one, John Strachan by name, who was at the time teacher of a small Parish-school in Fifeshire, while at the same time prosecuting his studies for the ministry of the Church of Scotland. He accepted the position, and arrived in Kingston on the last day of the outgoing century. Colonel John Clark, whose reminiscences have already been quoted. gives the following interesting particulars concerning this first grammar school of Upper Canada :-
“He (i.e., Mr. Strachan) came from Scotland in the year 1899 by authority of the Hon. Richard Cartwright, of Kingston, and the Hon. Robert Hamilton, of Queenston, as teacher for their sons. In addition, Mr. Strachan was allowed to take ten other boys; at £10 a year each, and I had the good fortune to be among the number.” “Among these were (the late) Chief Justice Robinson, Chief Justice Macaulay, the Hon. George Markland, Archdeacon Bethune, Rev. W. Macaulay, Captain England, R.E., James and Samuel Hamilton, Mr. Justice McLean, and the writer, John Clark.”
Mr. Strachan soon proved his native force of character, shrewdness and ability as a teacher, earning the grateful remembrance of his early pupils. But his school did not long remain in Kingston after the three years of his engagement had expired. During his residence there, probably under the influence of Dr. Stuart, he decided to connect himself with the Episcopal Church, and was appointed to the Anglican Mission at Cornwall, whither the future Bishop removed, taking with him almost all his pupils, and becoming, when grammar schools were at length founded, teacher of that which was placed at Cornwall, whose success he soon assured.
Kingston, having thus lost its much appreciated teacher, remained temporarily destitute of adequate school facilities ; but this condition did not last long. The early settlers of Ontario were men who valued education, and as early as 1797 a joint address from the two Houses of Parliament had been presented to George III., asking him, through his Government, “to appropriate a certain portion of the waste lands of the Crown for the establishment and support of a respectable grammar school in each district, and also for the support of a College or University.” In reply to enquiries as to the amount of appropriation necessary, the Executive Council recommended an appropriation of 500,000 acres, or ten townships, as a sufficient provision for the maintenance of four grammar schools and one university, and further suggested that the former be placed at Cornwall, Kingston, Newark, and Sandwich, and the latter at York. The last suggestion was not, however, carried out until some twenty-eight years after the grant of 549,000 acres had been made for the above purposes.
A share of this grant, amounting to 190,573 acres, was placed at the disposal of a Board of Education, for the establishment of common and grammar schools, and the foundations of liberal education in the Province seemed well assured. The exact date of the establishment of the Kingston Grammar School does not seem clear. It was probably later than 1811, since in that year an academy of the same kind was opened at the village of Bath, in the township of Ernestown, and taught for some years by Mr. Barnabas Bidwell, afterwards prominent in politics. Of the opening of the Kingston Grammar School we have no record, even through the Kingston Gazette; but it seems to have been incorporated about 1815, and in the twenties we find it known as the “Public School of the Midland District.”
In 1824 the Rev. J. Wilson, who had been five years Principal of the school, resigned his position. The Board of Trustees, at that time consisting of Rev. Archdeacon Stuart, T. Markland, F. Smith, Dr. J. Sampson, C. Hagerman, and John Macaulay, seems to have reported directly to the Governor, Sir John Colborne, by whom Mr. George Baxter, previously assistant teacher, was appointed to the headmastership. About this period the attendance numbered some thirty-one pupils, and the fees amounted to £1 per quarter for instruction in English, with a rising scale for Classics, and a small fee for “repairs.” The course of instruction included, besides the elementary English studies, Horace, the Greek Testament, Virgil, Cornelius Nepos, Telemaque, Euclid and Algebra. A little later it is recorded that a new school edifice was contemplated, and that satisfactory progress had been made in Homer and Cicero. In the list of pupils we find the well-known Kingston names of Strange, McLeod, Hardy, Rees, Stoughton, Molson, Goodearle, and Baillie. Among those of trustees we find the added names of the Rev. R. Cartwright, with W. S. Gray, representing Ernestown, and R. Smith, Belleville, Rev. John Machar, Alexander Pringle ; and, three years later, those of Messrs. Talbot, Garrett and Sellars, added to the Board.
In 1831 the Rev. R. V. Rogers, afterwards for many years the revered rector of St. James’ Church, was appointed headmaster, which office he exercised for about nine years, resigning it on taking the charge of St. James’ ; and during the next year or two there seems to have been a vacancy. In the forties we find the roll of Trustees including the Rev. Father Dollard. and Messrs. Waudby, John Macdonald, B. Smith, B. Seymour, D. Roblin, Donald Macpherson, and Dr. John Stewart. About this time some representation was made regarding the unequal distribution of public money between the four grammar schools, Kingston, it seems, then receiving £270 as its share.
A headmaster named Lightburne was appointed after the resignation of Mr. Rogers, but his regime does not seem to have been satisfactory, for we find a record of his dismissal in 1849. Meantime Queen’s University had been established by Royal Charter, and several of its Trustees, not satisfied with the teaching of the grammar school, instituted a new grammar school for the preparation of students to attend the University classes, which was called the “Queen’s Preparatory School,” giving a good grounding in Classics and Mathematics. After the dismissal of Mr. Lightburne in 1849, and the appointment of his successor, Mr. Irwin, the school management began to assume a more satisfactory condition, and as the building in use seems to have fallen into great disrepair, Archdeacon Stuart offered a wing of his newly completed residence for its temporary housing. At this time the fees appear to have ranged from £4 to £8 per quarter. The sessions each day were opened and closed with prayer, and the Bible was the unquestioned religious text-book. Other class-books seem to have been similar to those then used in Toronto. About this time, too, the longtalked-of new schoolhouse was built, where it still stands, transformed into a Business College.
In 1861 a movement was made to amalgamate the Queen’s Preparatory School with the County Grammar School, as it was then styled, and a committee consisting of Principal Leitch of Queen’s University, with the Revs. Dr. Machar and Professor Williamson, and Messrs. John Paton and Thomas Kirkpatrick was appointed to draft a resolution to this end, which was carried into effect in 1862. Mr. John May, previously Master of the Preparatory School, became the first Principal under the new regime, but was succeeded before .the close of the year by Mr. Samuel Woods, who successfully discharged the duties of the office for more than ten years. He was succeeded, in 1878, by Mr.now ProfessorKnight, M.D., of Queen’s University, during whose term of office the school building was badly damaged by fire, but was rebuilt about 1876. Among the names of trustees of that period we find those of Senator Sullivan and the late Sir George A. Kirkpatrick. Dr. Knight’s successor for one year was the present Professor Burgess of Hellmuth College, London.
The present able headmaster, Mr. Ellis, assumed office in 1893, with a staff of nine teachers. The school had long ceased to be the County Grammar School, having become the “Kingston Collegiate Institute,” and had quite outgrown its narrow quarters. A new building, adapted to modern requirements, had become indispensable, and in 1892 the present spacious and commodious building was erected on an airy site on Earl Street, surrounded by an ample playground. Here some four hundred pupils are yearly taught according to approved modern methods, a staff of thirteen masters being fully employed in the work. The curriculum has been expanded to include not only subjects designed to prepare pupils for the professions, but also such as may fit them for the general occupations of life. Parallel courses are now carried on in commercial work, preparation for technical employments, matriculation, and the studies necessary for teachers’ certificates. The school, managed in earlier years by trustees appointed by the County Council, has no longer any official connection with that body, but is under the control of the city’s Board of Education. Fees vary from $10.00 to $25.00 per annum, according to the nature of the course and the advancement of the pupils. Of these nearly five-sixths belong to the city, the remainder chiefly coming from the surrounding townships. The expenditure of the school amounts to about $14,000 a year, derived from the fees, augmented by a grant from the city and one from the Provincial Government.
But while the Grammar School at an early period provided advanced teaching for the children of those who could afford the fees, there was, for the first quarter of the century, little of even the most elementary education open to the children of the poor. Rochefoucault, on his visit to Kingston in 1795, says: “In this district there are some schools, but they are few in number. The children are instructed in reading and writing, and pay each a dollar a month. One of the masters taught Latin, but he has left without being succeeded by an instructor in the same language.” These must, of course, have been private schools. Mr. Gourlay, writing in 1817, says: “No provision is made by law for free schools. The inhabitants of the several townships are left to a voluntary support of schools, according to their own discretion.” About 1818 a class of “common or parish schools” seems to have been founded by the Legislature, but these were few, and for a time comparatively useless, owing to the indifferent character of the teachers, who were often very carelessly appointed, being sometimes described as “incompetent persons and common idlers !”
But about the year 1815 a number of the public-spirited citizens of Kingston, already individually mentioned, feeling strongly the need of education for the poor, subscribed among themselves a fund to maintain a school, to be conducted on what was called the “Lancastrian” or “Monitorial System,” and then incorporated themselves into a Society “for the education and moral improvement of the poor.” Among the names of the trustees at that time appear those of Cartwright, Herehmer, Geddes, Markland, Smith, Bartlett and Pringle, with the Rev. George 0 ‘Kill Stuart as President. Some aid was obtained from Government, and also from an English Society for promoting the education of the poor in Canada ; and a school was opened in September, 1818, a teacher being brought from England for the purpose. The experiment seems to have been on too expensive a scale, but came to an end after a few months, on account of the teacher’s incompetence, and the plan was dropped for the time, the “Lancastrian” system never having really been put in practice. Owing to the death of some of the trustees, and to other causes, the Society remained for some years dormant, and the schoolhouse, which had been built on land acquired by the Society, was rented to other schools, and finally let as a dwelling-house.
In 1829 we find three of the founders of the Society, being also trustees of the Grammar School, expressing regret “that no poor children are educated gratis,” in accordance with a provision of the Statute, admitting ten common school pupils, free of charge, into the Grammar School ; and suggesting that, in order to encourage native genius in humble circumstances, some means might be devised of maintaining all the ten children whom the Statute authorises the trustees to select for gratuitous instruction.
In the meantime an Association of benevolent ladies, known as the “Female Benevolent Society,” had opened a school for poor children, which by its success proved the existing need for reviving the work of the Midland District Society. Two of these ladies Mrs. Cartwright and Mrs. Macharlong and deeply interested in the education of the poor, brought this need to the notice of the trustees, who, having got the Act of Incorporation amended, re-commenced operations with a re-constituted Board, including the Revs. R. D. Cartwright and John Machar, Hon. John Kirby and Thomas Markland, and Messrs. Benjamin Alcott, George Smith, William Stoughton, Alexander Pringle and Stephen Myles. This Board adopted the school already begun by the ladies’ Association, and engaged a Scotchman named Hamilton, newly arrived in the country, as teacher of the boys’ school, being not now bound to any particular system of instruction. He received the very moderate salary of £80 a year, and the teacher of the girls’ school was “passing rich” on half that sum; these amounts being, however, supplemented by the low fees which it was thought expedient to charge, remitting them when, as often happened, the parents were too poor to pay them. These fees ranged from one shilling per month for reading and plain sewing, up to two shillings for bookkeeping, geography and elementary mathematics, with a certain reduction of even these rates when more than two of a family were in attendance.
Although these schools were by no means “charity schools,” and were attended, in not a few cases, by children of respectable families of limited means, who afterwards took their places among the leading citizens of Kingston, no pains were spared by the trustees and the ladies who actively assisted them to make them chiefly available for those who most needed them. The town was divided into districts, which were personally canvassed by the trustees, in order to ascertain by actual investigation all cases in which children were kept at home by poverty. School books were, in such cases, supplied by the trustees, and clothing by the auxiliary ladies’ Association. During the winter of 1842 these reported that “sixty-seven families, comprising 234 children, were provided with clothing to attend the scriptural schools of the M. D. S., as well as their places of worship.”
There were in those days no difficulties concerning religious instruction, in these schools at least, the Bible being always used as a text-book, and the teachers being enjoined to see that their pupils duly prepared the lessons for their respective Sunday schools. The two original schools were conducted in the substantial low building of squared logs, called, from its previous destination, “the Line Barracks,” still standing in a remodelled form opposite to Sydenham Street Church. The ceilings were low and the windows small, and the narrow benchesminus backsfell far below our modern requirements. But the log walls were whitewashed and brightened with pictures of animals, Scripture mottoes, and maps ; and the pupils were usually well, docile and happy. The attendance grew so large that, in the Annual Report of May, 1842, it appeared “that the schools of the Society had afforded to 200 children, during the year, those advantages which the institution was originally designed to confer upon that portion of the community which has hitherto been without the means of education.”
Miss Morrison, the first teacher of the girls’ school, had been obliged, through ill-health, to resign her work into the hands of her assistant, Miss Masson, a woman remarkably gifted for teaching and training, who, for many years continued to mould the characters of successive pupilsboys, as well as girls. Her strong, gentle influence proved most beneficial, and turned out many good citizens, some of the boys becoming professional men, and not a few of them teachers, while the girls became equally useful in the home sphere, as good wives and mothers, or efficient domestics. To the moral training of her pupils she was especially attentive, teaching them to be truthful, honest and upright, courteous and respectful, kind to dumb animals, andanticipating the era of “Nature study”to be intelligently interested in the shrubs and flowers, which made her little school-yard a delight to the eye. None of her “children” would have been guilty of the petty cruelties, the vandalism and flower stealing too common in later years.
When the free “common schools,” as they were then called, began to grow in numbers and efficiency, these excellent schools had no longer the same raison d’être, and in time one after another was closed. “Miss Masson’s school” survived, however, conducted by pupils of her own, even after she left Kingston, and, being maintained for a considerable time in connection with the Orphans’ Home, it afforded needed assistance to many poor families, besides being the only sewing school for children of the class attending it. Altogether, the “Midland District Society” did important work for primary education in Kingston, at a time when that was most needed, and well deserves a place in the story of its development.
Mr. C. W. Cooper, in his Essay on Kingston, thus refers to the increased efficiency of the “Common Schools” in 1855, about the time when the M. D. schools were discontinued. ” There is,” he says, “a great want of proper .and sufficient school housesa want which, it is anticipated, will soon be supplied, the Board having in contemplation the immediate erection of proper buildings. The free school system has been adopted here; the difficulties usually attendant on its establishment have not been altogether escaped, the public seeming loth to tax themselves to any great extent for the purpose of general education. A marked increase in the attendance at the city schools has taken place during the last two years, and there are now taught as large a number of children in the common schools of Kingston as in any other Canadian city, in proportion to its population.” This improvement has kept pace with the growth of the city, and today Kingston is well equipped with good school buildings and flourishing schools.
Various private schools also existed at an early period, at which many good citiezns of Kingston received their education. An “old inhabitant” recalls his teacher of sixty years agoJohn Hopkins, “nicknamed ‘Polly’ by the boys, an old-time schoolmaster, who did not spare the cane.” One of the best of these private schools deserves special notice, both from the length of its existence and the thoroughness of the teaching, so far as it went. It was that of Miss Anne Douglas, long a well-known and respected citizen, who for more than a generation most carefully instructed a large number of the girls of Kingston, and some of the boys, in the elementary branches of a plain English education, insisting upon thoroughness and accuracy in all things learned, and on the attainment by her female pupils of proficiency in the art of needle work, then considered an indispensable part of their education.
But while Kingston has been favoured with many good schools, both primary and secondary, and with other institutions for higher education, her crowning educational glory is, of course, her university, one of the oldest in Canada, which has grown with her growth, and conferred upon her the distinction and privileges of a university town. It was foreshadowed as early as 1789, when the U. E. Loyalist settlers of the Midland District memorialised Lord Dorchester, setting forth the educational privations they endured, and praying him to establish a “Seminary of Learning” at Frontenac (Kingston). The schools were indeed forthcoming in course of time, but we hear no more of the “Seminary.”
Six years later, in 1795, we find Governor Simcoe urging the Protestant Bishop of Quebec, having at that time jurisdiction in Upper Canada also, to promote the foundation of a Protestant Episcopal University in the Province, an enterprise which he hoped might be aided by contributions from England. No steps in this direction seem to have been then taken beyond a letter written by the Bishop to the Colonial Secretary. After the subsequent departure of Governor Simcoe, the King’s answer to the memorial of the Legislature for the grant of land already mentioned for educational purposes, set forth its objects in these two clauses :
“First, by the establishment of free grammar schools in those districts in which they are called for, and, “Secondly, in the process of time, by establishing other seminaries of a larger and more comprehensive nature, for the promotion of religious and moral learning, and the study of the arts and sciences.”
It was, naturally enough, expected in Kingston, so far the premier settlement in Upper Canada, that when a larger and more comprehensive “seminary” should take actual shape, it would be placed there. But here again the expectation of the citizens was disappointed, for when the foundation of a university was at last seriously contemplated, it soon appeared that York was its destined site. The whilom teacher of the Kingston boys already mentioned, who was afterwards better known as Bishop Strachan, was now Rector of York, and took a leading part in agitating for the proposed university. He secured its location at York, in 1828, and a Royal Charter, which, by making it compulsory that both professors and students should sign the Thirty-nine Articles, practically confined its benefits to members of the Anglican Communion. The institution, which was to be styled King’s College, had no existence except on paper until 1842-3 ; but when the terms of the Charter became known, they naturally excited much dissatisfaction, especially among the Scottish founders of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, who felt that an institution so exclusive in its character and conditions could not be made available for the training of a Presbyterian clergy, and that there was no recourse but the foundation of a more comprehensive and unsectarian university. Unsuccessful in getting, through petitions to the British Parliament, a redress in regard to King’s College, which arrived too late, the Presbyterian Synod, about 1835, began to take steps to secure a university of its own, of which Kingston should be the site. A Commission appointed by the Synod held an enthusiastic meeting in St. Andrew’s Church in 1839, at which a resolu, tion was moved by young John A. Macdonald, declaring that, in undertaking so Christian and patriotic an object, the support of all classes of the community was anticipated ; while another resolution declared that no religious test or qualification should be required of any student or graduate.
After lengthened negotiations, the Royal Charter passed the Great Seal in October, 1841, incorporating the University of Kingston, under the name of ” Queen’s College,” with “the style and privileges of a University.” And thus the little town secured in the same year its metropolitan and its academic elevation. As there was, in this case, no public endowment available, the necessary funds had to be raised mainly by private subscription. Members of the Presbyterian Church, and other friends of higher education throughout the country, responded heartily to the call on their liberality, and a generous grant in aid of the scheme was made by the Church of Scotland, whose Colonial Committee was appointed to assist in launching the new venture. This committee, having very little idea of the difficulties still to be overcome in a new country, rather prematurely appointed the first Principal and Divinity Professor, the Rev. Dr. Liddell, a man of marked ability and attainments ; who, in the following October, arrived in Canada to take charge of a university, which, as yet was without a “local habitation.” Worse still, he found very few of the intending students really fitted to matriculate in Arts, and only two ready to enter the classes in Theology.
As the limited resources of the town were at the time heavily taxed to provide the necessary accommodation for Government requirements, it was with difficulty that a plain two-storeyed frame house of very moderate size was secured for the first home of the new university. A most competent classical professor was found in the Rev. P. C. Campbell, whose ability and scholarship finally found a wider sphere in the Principalship of the University of Aberdeen, but who had to begin his professorial work by undertaking that of a preliminary tutor, to prepare his intending students for matriculation. A few months later, there arrived from Scotland as professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, the well-beloved and highly accomplished Dr. Williamson, who also had to conduct for a time a preparatory class, necessitated by the general deficiency in secondary education. This faithful professor remained at his post through all the struggles and vicissitudes of the university, and, having become Vice-Principal, passed away in an honoured old age, after more than a half century of untiring service.
Like other seats of learning in Canada, Queen’s University has had to encounter many and trying discouragements, as well as a series of crushing blows that seemed to threaten its very life. In July, 1844, only two years after its work began, there occurred the unhappy disruption of the Presbyterians in Canada, already referred to as an echo of the previous one in the Church of Scotland ; which, of course, by weakening the forces of the Church which had established it, bore very hardly on the fortunes of the infant university. One result was the loss of its Principal and its Classical Professor, who, discouraged by this addition to previous difficulties, soon left their trying fields of labour for a more congenial one in Scotland. Their places. therefore, had to be filled by others, and the Principal’s Chair and Hebrew Professorship were held for eight years by the Rev. Dr. Machar, of St. Andrew’s Church, who was enabled to take the duties by securing assistance in his charge. Under his fostering care the university passed through many difficulties incident to its minority, steadily growing in the number of its students and its teaching facilities.
The scanty finances were for a time supplemented by a Government grant of $2,000, afterwards raised to $5,000, and continued till 1868, when it was finally withdrawn by the Sandfield-Macdonald Government. The chair of Classics was soon filled by another accomplished scholar, Professor Romanes, the father of the late celebrated biologist, George John Romanes, who was born in Kingston in 1848, shortly before the removal of his father to Great Britain. Other professors were gradually added, and the University received an additional equipment by the affiliation of the “Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons,” founded mainly by the active efforts of the late Doctors John Stewart and John R. Dickson. About the same time, the Chair of Moral Philosophy was occupied for a time by a man of marked original ability, the Rev. James George, LL.D., whose brilliant prelections were much appreciated by the students who en- joyed them.
When Dr. Machar laid down the cares of office as too onerous in conjunction with his pastoral work, the duties of Principal were temporarily discharged by the Rev. Dr. Cook, of Quebec, until the appointment of another Scottish clergyman, the late Principal Leitch, who entered on the office in 1860, and from whose known ability, brilliant record and genial character, the happiest results were anticipated. Under his administration, the University added to its equipment a Faculty of Law, and received additions to its small teaching staff, notably Professor Clarke Murray, in later years the much esteemed Professor of Metaphysics at McGill University. Unhappily, the premature death of Pricipal Leitch in 1864 again left the office vacant, to be filled by the Rev. Dr. Snodgrass, who, for the ensuing thirteen years, ably presided over the University, carrying it through another crisis arising from the withdrawal of its small Government grant, in 1868, which threatened its extinction through the loss of what was a considerable proportion of its yearly income.
By this time, however, Queen’s had sent forth a numerous body of attached graduates, already doing good work in all the professions, and these did not fail their Alma Mater in her time of need. Through their generous aid, and the indefatigable labours of the Principal, as well as of the devoted and lamented Professor Mackerras, whose life was sacrificed to his untiring zeal, the University not only escaped the peril of starvation, but was placed, by an endowment of $10,000, upon a much more assured financial basis, with brighter prospects for the future.
But a new era in its progress began, when, on the retirement of Principal Snodgrass in 1877, shortly after the reunion of the Presbyterian Church, the Rev. George Monro Grant, D.D., of Halifax, was called to the Principal’s chair. A Nova Scotian by birth, he was the first native Canadian to fill the office, and well and brilliantly did he fulfil the high expectations of his friends. As the University was still most inadequately endowed and under-manned for the fast growing needs of the country, as well as greatly cramped for accommodation, the patriotic Principal at once recognized the arduous task before him in order to fit Queen’s for maintaining her honourable standing in the face of the demands of the times; and with characteristic enthusiasm, energy and sagacity, he braced himself to his great work. One of the first visible results of his labours was a fine Arts’ building, Norman-Gothic in style, erected, in response to his earnest appeal, at a cost of about $80,000, by the citizens of Kingston, the corner-stone being laid by H. R. H. the Princess Louise during her sojourn in Canada. The nucleus of endowment, subscribed a few years before by the sons and friends of Queen’s, was increased from time to time by a steady flow of generous gifts and bequests, one of the first and most generous, from a graduate, being that of Robert Sutherland, a grateful West Indian “coloured” student of early years. One new building after another arose on the Campus, until, by the time when, to the deep regret of all the University’s friends, its energetic Principal was removed by death, a stately group of substantial edifices for teaching Arts, Science, Medicine, Physics, Engineering, Mining, etc., stood witnesses to the success of his labours and the rapid growth of his charge. The Prince of Wales, when visiting Kingston in 1902, laid the corner-stone of the new Arts Building, and paid a gracious informal visit to the Principal, then lying ill, practically worn out by his strenuous and unremitting toil. It only needed the noble “Grant Hall,” built by students and graduates in his memoryat the time of its erection the finest Convocation Hall in Canadaand the gymnasium and medical laboratory more recently added, to complete an imposing equipment and an enduring monument to the twenty-five years of Principal Grant’s administration.
As a University open to all desiring to avail themselves of the privileges of a liberal education, Queen’s never closed her doors against any female students who might find their way into her class-rooms ; and under the regime of Principal Grant they did so in rapidly increasing numbers. The first facilities for the medical education of women were supplied by her Faculty, and a Woman’s Medical College was founded, which, during ten years of active work, educated a number of competent female physicians, including medical missionaries to India ; though the formation and growing competition of other such schools eventually led to the decision to close the classes at Queen’s. Many female graduates in Arts also have gone forth to fill important positions in Canadian High Schools and Collegiate Institutes, which Queen ‘s, during her half century of active service, has supplied with many able and progressive teachers of both sexes. Nor should her athletic prestige be forgotten, for the prowess of her football and hockey teams has won renown throughout the Dominion.
As might have been expected of a University with such a history and traditions. Queen’s declined to accede to the project. formulated in 1884, that she should merge her time-honoured status and individuality in one great central University at Toronto. Too many personal sacrifices had been made for securing her privileges of independent existence ; and by a practically unanimous vote of her trustees and graduates, Queen’s elected to retain her independent existence and local habitation. which last. indeed, it would have been a breach of faith with Kingston to desert. And this position was fully endorsed at an enthusiastic Jubilee meeting held in the University in 1889, in commemoration of the one which originated it in 1839, and in honour of its far-sighted founders, and the success which had crowned their efforts.
The recent history of Queen’s scarcely comes within our sphere. It is sufficient to say that under the wise and able guidance of its present head, Principal Gordon, the University has progressed with increasing impetus. She has more than doubled the number of her students during the last decade, and the tale of her graduates now numbers some three thousand. She enrolled last session, in all faculties, 1,200 students, under a staff consisting of some fifty professors, with about twenty additional lecturers and assistantsan added population yearly supplying life and animation to Kingston’s social atmosphere. The University functions are always objects of general interest, and in the tone imparted to the place by the presence of so many literary and scientific men, among whom it is not invidious to particularise Vice-Principal Dr. John Watson, so widely known by his philosophic writings, and Professor N. Dupuis, whose luminous scientific lectures the citizens have so often enjoyed, Kingston has good reason to consider her University one of her best intellectual assets, as well as a crowning glory to her civic life.
The Royal Military College, another important academic institution, intended to train young men for the defence of the country, was founded at Kingston by the Mackenzie Government. Point Frederick, so long associated with the early naval depot and dockyard, was appropriately selected as the site of the fine buildings, and the old “Stone Frigate” was turned to account for its use. The first Commandant, Colonel Hewett, was appointed in October, 1875, and the College was opened in June, 1876, with eighteen cadets. Since that time 720 young men have passed through the institution, the number in 1907 reaching ninety. Of these, 129 have joined the Imperial army, and not a few, among whom might be particularised Sir Percy Girouard and Major Arthur Lee, have won honourable distinction by their services to the Empire. Sixty-six are employed in the Canadian forces in the N.-W. Provinces, some sixty have already passed away from this earthly scene, and the remainder, so far as is known, are employed in some department of civil life. The teaching staff, including the medical officer and Quartermaster, numbers sixteen, and the course, which was originally arranged for four years, now occupies but three. Entrance examinations were at first held half-yearly ; but, since 1880. they have been held annually, cadets joining the College about the first of September.
Six Commandants have held office since the College was established, the present one being Colonel E. T. Taylor, a native Canadian, and one of the early cadets. Besides its more specific usefulness to the country, the Royal Military College adds another interesting element to the social and intellectual life of Kingston. The occasional volunteer camps also held in the vicinity help to maintain the ancient military prestige of the loyal old city.
Regiopolis College was founded under Roman Catholic auspices about 1850, as a Seminary for educating youths of that Communion, but has been closed for a number of years. It was originally conducted in the large, substantial building, now greatly enlarged and known as the Hotel Dieu; but, a few years ago, when that structure was turned into a hospital, a new Regiopolis College was opened in the building on King Street, formerly known as the “Commercial,” and later as the “Merchants” Bank.
The Public Schools of Kingston have, within the last two decades, greatly grown and improved, and now, as in other places. occupy some of the best buildings in the city. The “Louise School,” in particular, erected near the Collegiate Institute, and at about the same time, is a large, well-equipped institution adapted to meet the growing requirements of the age. The Separate Schools have also been much improved. and the “St. Vincent Academy,” built on the site of the first Roman Catholic church. in Kingston, is also a handsome modern structure, educating a large number of the children of the R. C. community.
Kingston possesses also two business colleges. for the benefit of those who desire merely a business training. One of these, of a good many years’ standing, was long conducted by the late T. McKay, who has been succeeded by Mr. Metcalfe. The other, occupying what was the old Collegiate Institute. is taught by Mr. Stockdale, and in its close vicinity is a Dairy School. where young farmers obtain instruction in the scientific principles of dairy farming. which, in time, will no doubt tend to improve the character of farm products in the vicinity.
An enumeration of the educational facilities of Kingston would he incomplete without a reference to its Mechanics’ Institute, which has been, for more than sixty years, doing good work in the circulation of useful books and periodical literature, while at times it has made more actively educational efforts, in the direction of evening lectures for artisans and others willing to improve their spare time. Kingston has, as yet, no free library, though it possessed for a good many years a Public School library which to a certain extent answered the purpose, but is now divided among the city schools. Queen’s University has, of course, a large library, adapted to the needs of its own constituency, but not intended for public use.
As Kingston furnishes a large proportion of the mariners who sail the inland seas, it is most fitting that it should possess a school in navigation for seamen, which is held in the former Collegiate Institute ; and one of its substantial old residences, near the site of old Fort Frontenac, has been fitted up as a “Sailor’s Home,” for the use of strangers in port.
In conclusion, a brief reference must be made to the Young Men’s Christian Association, which has done good work in Kingston for nearly half a century, for young men and boys, and now occupies a handsome building on Princess Street. A Young Women’s Christian Association has also for some twenty-five years past offered opportunities of mental and physical improvement to young women, and has recently taken a step in advance, in the purchase of a fine and commodious building, with grounds attached, on Johnson Street.
With all her facilities of education in different degrees, a small Art Association, a Musical Union, and clubs of various sorts for mutual improvement, the modern city well maintains the honourable traditions of “Old Kingston” as a chief educational centre of the Province of Ontario.
The Story Of Old Kingston:A Growing TimeA Political CrisisKingston As The Capital Of CanadaAn Educational CentreChurches And CharitiesSixty Years AgoDecree Of Louis Xiv. Granting To La Salle The Seigniory Of CataraquiRead More Articles About: The Story Of Old Kingston