Acland’s Schooling: 1896 – 1907….

23040LRBorn in 1891, Peregrine Acland’s schooling began at the Model School in Toronto.

A “model” school, as I understand it, was an elementary school designated as a teacher-training school.  Student-teachers, themselves high-school aged children (i.e., 14-17) that had demonstrated an interest or aptitude for teaching, would assist regular teachers in the classroom, learning the craft by observing and then trying their hand at it.  Once certified at a “model” school, teachers would receive further training at a “normal school” where they would learn educational theory and the like.

According to the Report of the Minister of Education, for Ontario, published in 1891, school attendance in the province was mandatory for children ages seven and older, though students as young as five were enrolled in classes.  Assuming Peregrine began schooling at the earliest opportunity, he would have began as a five year old in 1896.

In 1902, Peregrine was sent to University College School, London, England “when it was located at the south wing on Gower Street” according to Michael Joyce, one of the school archivists.  Acland was enrolled there until 1904.   Why Peregrine was sent to England for schooling I cannot say, though suspect his father, F.A. Acland, still had relatives living in and around London.  Former pupils of UCS are referred to as ‘Old Gowers;’ one particularly notable one being Ford Madox Ford, who attended UCS from 1888 – 1890.  Acland wasn’t especially shy about approaching famous writers, as you’ll recall from his account of dropping in on Bernard Shaw during the war, but it is possible the old school tie provided the initial link, however tenuous, that eventually led to Ford’s preface to All Else is Folly.

23042LRAcland returned to Canada after the spring term in 1904, and that fall was enrolled at Canada’s most exclusive boys school, Upper Canada College.  In 1905, he won the Form IV-B English prize; in the Easter 1907 edition of The College Times, the school magazine, Acland contributed a poem entitled Camp Dreams, as well as an account of driving cattle called, The Drive (which I will post separately).  In April of ’07, Acland published a short story in The Canadian Magazine titled Larraby’s Lope, (which is posted elsewhere on this site), that covers similar ground.  Acland would graduate from UCC in the spring of 1907.

Much of Acland’s juvenilia, as well as the opening chapter of All Else is Folly, deals directly with experiences from his summers working on a cattle ranch in Alberta.  He mentions this in the Pearson’s Magazine article, My Life, War Adventure & Poems:

[W]hen I was fifteen years old I had gone to Alberta for a few months as the guest of a school-chum whose father owned a big cattle-ranch.  Being forcibly dragged away from books for a time (though I used to go on round-up with a copy of Poe’s poems in my pockets),  I gradually came to learn that literature is less interesting than life.  I was still, however, very much of a loafer, liking better to look at things than to do them.  Subsequent short experiences of cow-punching on the prairies and tramping through the mountains effectively weaned me from the library drug-habit and gave me a taste for attempting adventures instead of merely reading about them.

This friend from Alberta was likely Peter Lawrence Naismith, whose father was the general manager of the Alberta Railway and Coal Company, and owned a large farm in Lethbridge, (Acland wrote of the ‘Conditions of the Cattle Market’ there), though this is little more than informed speculation, given the dates, hometown & father’s occupation listed in the UCC roll of pupils.

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In the fall of 1907, Acland entered the University of Toronto, which is detailed elsewhere here.  I have some more to add about Upper Canada College regarding the war, but will save that, as well as the Acland’s poem & short story from The College Times for a subsequent post.

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