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The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick by Katherine MacNaughton

The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick: 1784-1900, Katherine F.C. MacNaughton

Katherine F.C. MacNaughton

Katherine Flora Cameron MacNaughton (writer, teacher, researcher, and scholar) was born in Black River Bridge, New Brunswick, on 2 August 1901 and died 30 October 1993 in Fredericton. She was the daughter of Donald and Annie (MacMurray) MacNaughton, whose ancestors came from Scotland. Her family was active in the St. Stephen United Church. She graduated from Provincial Normal School in 1919 with a first class teaching license. She taught in elementary schools in Lake Edward, Hopewell Cape, Hammtown (on Washademoak Lake), and Chance Harbour until 1923, when she entered the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in the hope of becoming a grammar school teacher. After two years in the programme, she couldn’t afford to continue her education but still managed to qualify to be a high school teacher. For a short period of time, she was principal at Andover Grammar School but then accepted a job at Campbellton High School until she took a leave of absence to return to UNB as a mature student. There she received her BA with Honors in History and English in 1941.

Afterwards, she received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation with the help of well-known New Brunswick poet Alfred Bailey and returned to UNB to complete her Master’s degree. MacNaughton did not feel as though she was worthy of the grant, but Bailey encouraged her to pursue her studies. She began her research in 1943 and soon received a Beaverbrook Overseas Scholarship, which took her to the University of London from 1947 to 1948. She was the first woman to have won this scholarship. She received her MA and completed her thesis in 1947. It was entitled “The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick, 1784-1900.” It was the first piece of work published that discussed the history of educational development in the province. Her book compares the practices of education in other parts of the world to the development of education in New Brunswick. In a review of the work in The Daily Gleaner, Eileen C. Cushing sums up MacNaughton's work: “[her research was to find] facts that lay behind the grouping of the first settlers of this province towards the establishment of schools for their children and towards the more ambitious scheme of coordinating and creating a system of education to embrace the province as a whole.” Other reviewers were not so kind. W.P. Morrell wrote in The English Historical Review that, “[MacNaughton] hardly gives the impression of understanding English educational problems, whether in the eighteenth century or in the nineteenth, and there are gaps in her bibliography” (285).

In 1953, the University of New Brunswick rewarded MacNaughton for her achievements by giving her an honorary doctorate. She returned to Campbellton High School as a history teacher. She was a member of the Canadian Historical Association, the United Nations Society, and the Alumnae Society of UNB from 1955 to 1957. She retired from her teaching position in 1961 and was offered a job at the library in Oromocto, where she worked for four years. Afterwards, she worked part-time at the Teacher's College Library in Fredericton but was laid-off shortly after starting because of her age. She then volunteered her time at the Provincial Archives until she was 80 years old. After her retirement, she remained in Fredericton where she maintained contact with the York-Sunbury Historical Society, the Friends of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the UNB Alumni Society, Fredericton Heritage Trust, and the Retired Teachers’ Association.

Monissa Comeau, Winter 2009
St. Thomas University

Bibliography of Primary Sources

MacNaughton, Katherine F.C. The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick, 1784-1900. MA Thesis. U of New Brunswick, 1947.

Bibliography for Secondary Sources

Cushing, Eileen C. “New Books.” Rev. of The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick, 1784-1900, by Katherine F.C. MacNaughton. The Daily Gleaner [Fredericton] 1951.

Gammon, Frances. "MacNaughton, Katherine F.C." Reflections 5.9 (1987): 9-12.

“MacNaughton, Katherine F.C.” Reflections 11.2 (1994): 32.

Morrell., W.P. Rev. of The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick, 1784-1900, by Katherine F.C. MacNaughton. English Historical Review 64.251 (1949): 284-5.

Tweedie, R.A., Fred Cogswell, and Stewart W. MacNutt, eds. Arts in New Brunswick. Fredericton, NB: Brunswick Press, 1967.

Wright, Donald. The Professionalization of History in English Canada. Toronto, ON: U of Toronto P, 2005.