Making Canadians, citizenship education and the Manitoba public school curriculum, 1916-1927

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Rempel, Gwen Louise
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This thesis explores the idea of Canadian citizenship found in Manitoba's public school curriculum between 1916 and 1927. It argues that during this period the Manitoba government responded to the pressures of war, economic recession, and foreign immigration by using its recently created state controlled school system to integrate future citizens into the province's dominate British-Canadian society. The thesis examines English language instruc ion, values education, history and geography lessons, and the observance of patriotic exercises as outlined in the Manitoba Department of Education's published syllabus for grades one through eight, its prescribed elementary textbooks and its recommended professional journal. The thesis presents two key findings. First, it argues the formal curriculum embraced a common perception of good citizenship. At the core of this citizenship ideal was a code of correct individual conduct combined with a philosophy of responsible service. Second, the thesis asserts the ManitobaDepartment of Education's efforts to assimilate future citizens into British-Canadian society forced the Department to present desirable British qualities as both cultural and racial characteristics. The resulting civic nationalism was based on the curriculum's ideal of socially responsible citizenship. It allowed the Department of Education to accommodate a wider variety of ethnic groups within its idea of Canadian citizenship. The thesis concludes that the Manitoba Department of Education had a clear idea of good, if not autonomous, Canadian citizenship between 1916 and 1927. This idea laid the foundations of western liberal nationalism that would allow Canadian citizenship to eventually move beyond cultural assimilation.