A history of education in the Evergreen School Division

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Gottfried, John Charles
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The primary aim of this study is to document the chief contributions made towards the growth and development of education by the many racial groups that emigrated into the area now within the boundaries of the Evergreen School Division. Chief amongst these groups are the settlers of Icelandic descent in their principal area of settlement outside of Iceland, and those who had emigrated from Eastern Europe. In recent years a Mennonite colony has been established in the north portion of the Division. Equal in importance but secondary to the main purpose will be an attempt to indicate significant factors in the cultural and religious background of each ethnic group, and to relate these to their contributions toward the historic development and growth of education in the province. Consideration will also be given to the school system as a force for the unification and assimilation of Canadians as exemplified by the forces at work in the Divison. The history of the settlement, and the history of the development of education in the Evergreen School Division both divide readily into two separate periods marked by the year 1897. In the history of settlement, the first settlers were almost exclusively Icelandic until the original agreement for the establishment of New Iceland was rescinded on July 30, 1897. Thereafter, the immigrants from Eastern Europe began to arrive. These newcomers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire were primarily tillers of the soil, in contrast to the settlers from Iceland, who were mainly fishermen. The year 1897, therefore, marks the beginning of an effort to convert the frontier wilderness into an agricultural region with well-tended homesteads and thriving country villages. As for the history of development of education, of major significance was the fact that the Icelanders upheld the Protestant religion, while the immigrants from Eastern Europe were adherents of the Catholic Faith. The time of arrival of the latter coincided with the temporary settlement of the Manitoba School Question through the Laurier-Greenway Compromise of 1897. With the Protestants in the majority and not favourably disposed towards the Catholics, the Icelandic settlers were able to effect a more satisfactory transition from their church-related schools into the Manitoba Public School system. Professor W. L. Morton, of the University of Manitoba, comments in his history of this province that the Manitoba School Question was certainly concluded to the satisfaction of the Protestant majority. Thus, in any chronicle of the growth and development of education in the Evergreen School Division...