An examination of the evolution of correctional education in Upper Canada and Ontario: 1835-1900

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Committee Member

Eveleen Lorton, Committee Chair


This study examines educational and vocational programme development in the penal system of Upper Canada and Ontario during the nineteenth century. Educational programmes from the following five long-stay correctional facilities are described: Kingston Penitentiary, The Ontario Reformatory for Boys, The Central Prison, The Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women and The Industrial House of Refuge for Girls. The primary data for the examination of these educational programmes is provided from a variety of sources: relevant correctional education literature, the annual reports of the inspectors of prisons and reformatories contained in federal government and provincial government sessional papers, special reports on education, Royal Commission reports, and the holdings at the Archives of Ontario and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.The main findings are: (1) Correctional education programme development in Upper Canada and Ontario during the nineteenth century paralleled developments of correctional education in European and American jurisdictions. (2) Correctional education programmes were influenced by initiatives in public education in Upper Canada and Ontario. (3) A process of cross-fertilization of ideas by several European, American and Canadian penal reformers influenced the development of correctional education. (4) Two Canadians had a major influence on the advancement of correctional education in the province. They were George Brown and John Langmuir.The study documents the literacy problem amongst the prison populations and how awareness of this problem catalyzed those participating in the penal reform movement. The study also closely examines curriculum development, learning materials, teaching methodology, innovative correctional programmes, daily attendance patterns, class size and the general availability of prison education programmes. Twenty-eight correctional teachers are identified. Also reviewed are the internal conditions in the correctional facilities that allowed educational programmes to flourish and the extent to which social reformers and social reform agencies influenced correctional education. Twenty-nine illustrations and photographs and fifty-two tables highlight the main findings.


Education, Adult and Continuing; Sociology, Criminology and Penology

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