July 14, 1999
RIVIÈRE-DU-NORD (CNB) - Tourists visiting the Village Historique Acadien today had the opportunity to witness the inspector's visit to the small village school - a visit that usually causes quite a stir.
In the 19th century, the inspector's visit generally took place in an atmosphere of suspicion. In the villagers' eyes, his presence meant trouble, especially if he was anglophone.
The inspector's task was to quickly look over the school facilities - slates, desks, maps, curtains, outdoor toilets - and score them.
The visit would last around 45 minutes on average, and the inspector would visit four or five schools a day. Getting from one village to another was not always easy, especially during the winter.
After the inspector finished with the school, he would then turn to the teacher and ask for an explanation of the poor attendance. At the time, the average attendance was as low as 50 per cent.
The reason the rate was so low was that many parents insisted that their children return home after roll call. They thought it was more important for the children to go out on the fishing boats, pick blueberries, or look after their younger siblings.
A number of parents would keep their children home because they refused to let them learn English, while others could not afford shoes for their children, so the children had no choice but to stay home. Some parents would use the pretext that the teacher should teach only catechism.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sylvain Godin, historian, Village Historique Acadien, 506-726-2600.