A Wedding Has Been Arranged? The Unhappy Courtship of the Hamilton Teachers’ College and McMaster University


  • Elizabeth Smyth University of Toronto


Teacher Education, Teachers' Colleges, Hamilton Teachers' College, McMaster University, MacLeod Report, Elizabeth Smyth, 2008, 2009, HIC


This article is a case study of the long and complex history of teacher education in Hamilton, Ontario. Hamilton's first institution of teacher education, the Ontario Normal School, was an attempt to create an environment in which to effectively prepare secondary school teachers outside of a university setting. Its closure in 1907 was the result of the placement of secondary school teacher education within a university setting. The Hamilton Normal School (later Hamilton Teachers' College) that replaced the Ontario Normal School was eventually closed in 1979, a result of the failure of negotiations between Hamilton's McMaster University and the Ontario Department of Education. The role of local and provincial politics and the tensions in professional education are analyzed. Further, this article unravels a complex tale of competing objectives, and what could best be described as bad timing. Debates are identified from deep inside the core disciplines of the academy on the nature of teacher education that still haunt faculties of education today.

Author Biography

Elizabeth Smyth, University of Toronto

Elizabeth Smyth liz.smyth@sgs.utoronto.ca is Professor and Vice-Dean (Programs) at the School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto. She is member of the Department of Curriculum Teaching and Learning and is cross-appointed to the Department of Theory and Policy Studies. Her research interests include the history of education, the history of the professions and professional education, and the pedagogy of new technologies. She is co-editor of Historical Studies in Education, the journal of the Canadian History of Education Association. Her current SSHRC-funded research includes: as principal investigator "Leading Sisters, Changing Times: Women Religious in English Canada in the Post-Vatican II World," and as collaborating investigator, "Disciplining Academics: The Tenure Process in Social Science," and "The State of the Consecrated Life in Contemporary Canada." Her most recent edited book is Changing Habits: Women's Religious Orders in Canada (Novalis, 2007).