October 1, 2003
How to Cite
Perry, George. 2003. ““A Concession to Circumstances”: Nova Scotia’s ‘Unlimited Supply’ of Women Teachers, 1870-1960”. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire De l’éducation 15 (2), 327-60. https://doi.org/10.32316/hse/rhe.v15i2.458.
Many thousands of single rural women were hired as
teachers in Nova Scotia between 1870 and 1960. Their
qualifications and salaries were among the lowest in Canada.
This article shows how their availability to teach, if only for
a year or two, sustained and even made possible the survival of
the province’s original school-section system of financing
public education. Constrained by weak centralized municipal
units, and by the politics and finances of 1,700 autonomous
school sections, provincial education authorities made repeated
“concessions” in the qualifications required of teachers. While
the practice created what was described at the time as “an
unlimited supply” of teachers, it reinforced gendered attitudes
about teaching and undermined provincial attempts to raise
teachers’ professional status.