Cape Breton's Magazine

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Page 17 - Alexander Munro, Early Schoolmaster

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1978/8/1 (1155 reads)
 

Alexander Munro, Early Schoolmaster "Boularderie, Cape Breton, March 7, l847 "Sir: "Yours of Feb. 23rd I received March 5th and will be glad to give you what informa? tion I can respecting our school. Our sys? tem is called Stow's training system as taught in the Glasgow Normal Seminary, We ever keep in our view that to gain the confidence of children, is to become chil? dren, to join in their amusements and by this we soon come to a knowledge of the dispositions of those under our care. In school we endeavour to train them to think and reason, to cultivate the understanding, the affections and physical habits. In a word, we endeavour to train the whole man to make them good moral characters, "We open and conclude the school with praise and prayer, one of the children leading the psalm tune. Then a bible les? son is given to the whole school at once. As we belong to the Church of Scotland, we teach the doctrines of the bible as taught by it, and we find our Roman Catholic friends equally ready to answer the ques? tions as the other children. "The whole school receives lessons in Ge? ography, Natural History, etc. We have a- bout 100 scholars. Branches taught: Read? ing, Writing, Arithmetic, Grammar, Naviga? tion, Latin, Mathematics, Algebra, etc. We have had 1? young men, 5 of them Roman Catholics, that came to improve themselves. They had been teaching before. They re? mained with us from 3 to 9 months. They are again teaching in different parts of the island. We have three at present. One from Whycocomagh a married man, two Roman Catholics, one from Port Hood, the other from St. Peters. Boarding can be got in the houses near the school. We have the son of Geo. Handley Cage, Halifax, board? ing in my own house. I could make it con? venient to train teachers were the school fitted up for a model school. "Mrs. Munro learned the system in the Glas? gow Normal Seminary and was appointed Mis? tress of a school of Industry in Manches? ter, England, which she left to come here. She teaches from 20 to 30 girls sewing and other female branches, besides assisting in other departments. "I will be most happy to give you any oth-' er information or answer any queries you may think proper to ask "Yours faithfully, A. Munro" Alexander Munro was sent out from Scotland in the early nineteenth century to help fill a void in the educational needs of the Scottish settlers in Boularderie. The area, like many others in Cape Breton at this time, was affected by increased popu? lation from Scottish migration. The major? ity of settlers were Protestant and Roman Catholic. Religion was very important in deciding where people settled. Roman Cath? olics generally settled on the south side of Boularderie Island; the Protestants, the north side. They tended to settle in family name groups. Basically two types of Scottish settlers came to Cape Breton. The Highlanders, Gaelic-speaking, tended to settle in rural areas. Here they were faced with the problems, and thus priori? ties, of food, clothing and shelter. The Lowlanders, more English-speaking, tended to settle in the mines areas intermingling more with the English. The Highlanders soon saw the need to have a command of the English language to be able to improve com? munication with English-speaking settlers. A Rev, Farquharson, sent out from Scotland, in 1836 commented that less than twenty per cent of family heads could read, and hardly anyone over thirty years of age. The task of education in Boularderie was undertaken occasionally by itinerant teach? ers. These people were of dubious qualifi? cations; they often did not possess a li? cence and so did not gain support from the govenment of the colony nor from Scotland. The area was also served by only an occa? sional minister, that is, the north side of the island. Thus without schools and minister, the area became the pet project of Mrs, Isabella Gordon McKay of Rockfield, Scotland, She was a very active member of the Ladies Association of the Glasgow So? ciety for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Lands, The Ladies Society had been formed in 1825 to promote religious inter? ests in the North American colonies. The society aimed at remedying the religious and educational needs by attempting to pro? vide the colonists with a means of self- improvement, Mrs, McKay's avid interest and personal support • she contributed from her own personal fortune • enabled the col? onists to be provided with ministers, teachers, bedding. Bibles, school sup'plies and many other items. Mrs, McKay seemed to have been the backbone of the society. Fol? lowing her death the society apparently disbanded. Along with her financial con? tribution, she maintained a correspondence with the people she sent out. Deeply af? fected by news of the deplorable condi? tions in Cape Breton, she was instrumental Border Motel (902)667-3865 at the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick Border We Feature Full Services • Showers • TV • Phone • Radio • and Reasonable Rates A Family Operated Business, We Serve Everyone Leaving or Entering Nova Scotia by Car EXIT La Planche Street off Trans-Canada • HOSTS: Joe & Billie Smolenaars • 902-667-3865
Cape Breton's Magazine
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