The foundations of the present-day Canadian public education system were laid in the 19th century when Canada was still a British colony. The goal of those who were set the task of reforming the education system was to better meet the needs of British colonial interests and the interests of a colony whose cities were growing. When you examine the artifacts in this collection, you always have to ask the question “whose needs are being met as public education evolved?”

There are a few key questions to keep in mind, when considering the social issues that the public education system attempts to address, be it the lack of care for underprivileged children, corporal punishment, special education or treatment of those outside of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant majority.
These key questions include:
– To what extent does this issue continue? And how has it changed to the present day?
– From whose perspective were changes in the nature of public education advantageous to the larger portion of society?
– To what extent could changes be described as ‘radical reform’ and to what extent were the changes reactions to a changing social and political climate?

Find out more: Radical Reform