The first half of the nineteenth century brought two major revolutions, the British Industrial Revolution and the French political revolution, which devastatingly heralded the modern world.
In Newfoundland, an important strategic outpost island within the powerful British Empire, the period brought the start of religious, educational and class identifications and divisions, particularly in the capital, St. John’s, writes Dr. Phillip McCann, professor emeritus, Faculty of Education at Memorial.
It also marked the beginning of the growth of a popular culture: citizens of St. John’s enjoyed amateur and professional theatre, on par with that in London, as well as horse-racing, the Regatta, circuses, concerts and exhibitions of art and natural history, opening the eyes of residents to worlds they would never have experienced.
Overall, argues the historian, the years 1800-55 can be seen as a crucible in which Newfoundland society and identity was born.
Dr. McCann is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and is author of numerous articles and books concerning the history of education in Newfoundland and Labrador.