George Bryce, Manitoba scientist, churchman and historian, 1844-1931

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Macdonald, Catherine Logan.
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Rev. George Bryce (1844-1931), Presbyterian educator, churchman, scientist and historican, came to Winnipeg to found Manitoba College in 1871. As a member of the elite group of businessmen and professionals who came to dominate Manitoba society after 1870, he participated in the creation of many of the basic social and cultural institutions of the Province. Using his history books, pamphlets, sermons and papers, this thesis analyzes his attitudes, mores and convictions in an attempt to reconstruct his worldview. Since this was a worldview shared with others of his class, this study is intended to be a contribution to the social history of the Winnipeg elite, 1871-1920. Bryce's personality was characterized by a pragmatism which imposed a certain order on his values. Progress, both material and spiritual, was the ultimate value. The order and stability which were the ncecessary preconditions of progress could only be assured by a strong Protestant church, a strong public school, British values and institutions. Science and technology were seen by him as the best tools for speedy advancement. This belief gave him a powerful incentive to set aside his religious qualms with regard to the Darwinian theories and the new science. British values and British people as the carriers of those values were the heroes of Bryce's history. The Hudson's Bay Company was cast in the role of guardian of British interests, law, order and morality in opposition to the moral and social anarchy of the fur-trade life. Later in his life, Bryce would champion British imperialist sentiment as the touchstone of a Canadian identity.