Spring/printemps 2011

“I thought the people wanted to get rid of the teacher:” Educational Authority in Late-Nineteenth Century Ontario

Jennifer Anne Goldberg
Published May 12, 2011
  • Teacher Misconduct,
  • Educational Authority,
  • Educational Bureaucracy
How to Cite
Goldberg, Jennifer Anne. 2011. “‘I Thought the People Wanted to Get Rid of the teacher:’ Educational Authority in Late-Nineteenth Century Ontario”. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire De l’éducation 23 (1). https://doi.org/10.32316/hse/rhe.v23i1.2993.


By the late-nineteenth century, Ontario’s educational state was firmly established. However, the rise of provincial bureaucracy did not preclude the continuing influence of community authorities and expectations. This complex relationship between central and local spheres of power is a difficult one to assess, particularly because school board-level records are perfunctory in their coverage of such issues. However, during the 1870s and 1880s, the secretary of the Lambton Board of Education was unusually fastidious, and so this cache of records offers a view of school management rare in its detail and nuance. This paper will use Lambton County as a case study to illuminate local-provincial educational power relations. Specifically, it will examine the contested space of teacher authority, through close study of the four cases of teacher misconduct brought before the board in the late 1800s.