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Biography of the Day

MILLS, Sir THOMAS – Volume IV (1771-1800)

d. 28 Feb. 1793 in London, England


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

The Manitoba School Question

During the 1880s pressure was building among Manitoba’s English-speaking Protestant majority to abolish Roman Catholic schools in the province and to ensure that the language of instruction in public schools would be English [see The Manitoba School Question]. In 1890 the provincial government of Thomas GREENWAY established a publicly funded secular school system, and stipulated that Catholic schools would receive no public money. This decision violated the minority guarantees of the Manitoba Act of 1870, but Prime Minister Sir John A. MACDONALD refused to disallow Greenway’s legislation. In 1896 the new prime minister, Wilfrid LAURIER, attempted to steer a course between those English Canadians who believed that the west should be British, Protestant, and English-speaking, and French Canadians, who supported separate schools and French-language rights throughout the country [see The Election Campaign of 1896 and the Manitoba School Crisis; and The Laurier–Greenway Agreement (1896)]. Laurier’s biographer has this to say about the compromise between the prime minister and the premier:

“[This agreement] stood as a dangerous precedent since it marked the emergence of an increasingly unicultural and English-speaking Canada, a truncated vision of the country foreseen by the Fathers of Confederation.”


For more information on the Manitoba school question, see the following biographies.

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