Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Colin Gordon

Second Advisor

Katrina M. Sanders

First Committee Member

Laura Rigal

Second Committee Member

Michaela Hoenicke-Moore

Third Committee Member

Douglas Baynton


The Manitoba School Question is representative of a larger problem of possible tyranny by the majority. Mob rule is often less recognized when seemingly legitimized by legislative action. This long term event shows the danger resulting from assumptions that constitutional provisions provide adequate protection for a minority. When legislation is enacted which removes Constitutional rights, and there is no violent opposition, are assumed to be accepted by all. Once opposition develops decades later, it comes as an apparent surprise, even to individuals in prominent political positions.

Language is clearly a major issue in the Manitoba School Question but all elements of culture including religion and ethnicity play important roles in the controversy. While other North American communities like Prairie du Chien and St. Louis have retained little to mark a distinctive French culture, aside from street names, in Manitoba, the language and other cultural elements continue in theater, literature, and education. Even as the minority language continues, there is virtually no one who claims French as their native language who is not fluent in English. As other locations in North America debate the question and propriety of imposing an official language, much could be learned from the experience of Manitoba.

The primary sources utilized in this study were mainly documents generated by the Manitoba and Canadian governments and by the Manitoba Department of Education. Much information was also gleaned from the correspondence of Catholic missionaries and Archbishop Taché as well as from leadership in the Protestant school systems. Few of most important participants in this pageant lived to witness the Constitutional crisis resulting from the quick and easy legislative responses to popular sentiments.


Biculturalism, Manitoba constitution, Manitoba education, Manitoba history, University of Manitoba


ix, 237 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 230-237).


Copyright © 2016 Melvin J. Prewitt

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