Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




J. Synge


This study deals with the private schools of English Canada with a special emphasis on Upper Canada and later Ontario. Its approach is microsociological: it covers three hundred years of schooling in Canada and compares private schools in Canada with school systems in one hundred and fifty-three societies. Various sociological models are used during the course of the study and at the conclusion the private schooling principle is connected to general sociological theory.

Chapter One discusses the relationship between mass schooling and modernization. Drawing on the ideas of Durkheim and Weber a developmental model of the rise of the state schooling is presented. It is suggested that in modern societies private schools result from the strains of social differentiation; this yields two kinds of private schools: schools of privilege and schools of protest.

Chapter Two includes an international survey of private schools; this helps to place the private schools of Canada in a comparative perspective. The survey revealed that communist and communist-inclined societies have abolished private schools. To non-communist societies the mount of private schooling is variable and shows no clear relationship to the degree of industrialization. From the comparative data a topology of school systems is developed. Further analysis shows that private schooling in English Canada is relatively small; only Norway and Britain among modern industrial non communist societies have smaller private schooling systems.

Chapter Three draws the first four stages of the development model in an account of the rise of state schooling in the ten school systems of Canada. In a more detailed treatment of Upper Canada (later Ontario) it was possible to explore a conflict model of educational change presented by Scotford-Archer and Vaughan (1968). The conflict model was found to be inappropriate for the Canadian experience. The account of schooling in Newfoundland also indicated that the developmental model also required further modifications. Changes in the patterns of private schooling in nineteenth-century Ontario were discussed.

Chapter Four deals with the two types of private schools. The schools of privilege are examined from a national point of view since they play an important role in the formation of the English Canadian elite. The special characteristics of private elite schools are presented in a national survey of private school enrolment. In discussing the second type of school, the schools of protest, the study confines itself to the contemporary private schools of Ontario. The private schools run by the Roman Catholics, Reformed Church members, Mennonites and regular groups are described.

Chapter Five turns to the problem of the contribution of schools to the economy. Since state schooling seems not to be a necessary feature of industrialization a diffusionist account of the spread of state schooling is given. Private schooling is discussed in connection with two important sociological approaches: normative functionalism and conflict theory. An account of private schooling and the formation of communities shows the limitations of both these theories. Modern critics of state schooling are mentioned, included in some of their proposals is the suggestion that more private schools should be opened.

Finally there is a concluding section with suggestions for further research in the area. A lengthy appendix is attached which provides technical information, data and further comment on problems raised in the text; this appendix is intended for future researchers in the field.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Sociology Commons