Honorary Protestants: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997

By David Fraser

© 2015

When the Constitution Act of 1867 was enacted, section 93 guaranteed certain educational rights to Catholics and Protestants in Quebec, but not to any others. Over the course of the next century, the Jewish community in Montreal carved out an often tenuous arrangement for public schooling as “honorary Protestants,” based on complex negotiations with the Protestant and Catholic school boards, the provincial government, and individual municipalities. In the face of the constitution’s exclusionary language, all parties gave their compromise a legal form which was frankly unconstitutional, but unavoidable if Jewish children were to have access to public schools. Bargaining in the shadow of the law, they made their own constitution long before the formal constitutional amendment of 1997 finally put an end to the issue.

In Honorary Protestants, David Fraser presents the first legal history of the Jewish school question in Montreal. Based on extensive archival research, it highlights the complex evolution of concepts of rights, citizenship, and identity, negotiated outside the strict legal boundaries of the constitution.

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Product Details

  • Series: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 536 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.6in x 1.6in x 9.6in
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SKU# SP004321

  • PUBLISHED NOV 2015

    From: $66.00

    Regular Price: $88.00

    ISBN 9781442630482
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2015

    From: $66.00

    Regular Price: $88.00

Quick Overview

In Honorary Protestants, David Fraser presents the first legal history of the Jewish school question in Montreal.

Honorary Protestants: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997

By David Fraser

© 2015

When the Constitution Act of 1867 was enacted, section 93 guaranteed certain educational rights to Catholics and Protestants in Quebec, but not to any others. Over the course of the next century, the Jewish community in Montreal carved out an often tenuous arrangement for public schooling as “honorary Protestants,” based on complex negotiations with the Protestant and Catholic school boards, the provincial government, and individual municipalities. In the face of the constitution’s exclusionary language, all parties gave their compromise a legal form which was frankly unconstitutional, but unavoidable if Jewish children were to have access to public schools. Bargaining in the shadow of the law, they made their own constitution long before the formal constitutional amendment of 1997 finally put an end to the issue.

In Honorary Protestants, David Fraser presents the first legal history of the Jewish school question in Montreal. Based on extensive archival research, it highlights the complex evolution of concepts of rights, citizenship, and identity, negotiated outside the strict legal boundaries of the constitution.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 536 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.6in x 1.6in x 9.6in
  • Reviews

    Honorary Protestants is an impeccably researched history of the tensions, contexts, and meanings of the struggles to delineate how, in what manner, and with which accommodations Jewish children were schooled in the Montreal public school system.’


    David S. Koffman
    University of Toronto Quarterly vol 86:03:2017

    ‘With the appearance of Fraser’s Honorary Protestants, I can refer to a full legal history of the topic that is exhaustive in its attention to detail. The book is extensively researched and forcefully argued.’


    Roderick MacLeod
    Canadian Jewish Studies vol 24:2016

    “The story of the ‘Jewish School Question’ has never before been told in such compelling detail, nor within the context of a learned discussion of ‘rights,’ ‘citizenship,’ and ‘identity.’ ‘Honorary Protestants’ constitutes an exceedingly important contribution to the history of Canadian education, the social politics of the Montreal Jewish community, and the relationships between the Jewish, Protestant, and Roman Catholic constituencies in the province of Quebec.”


    Gerald Tulchinsky, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Queen's University

    ‘Honorary Protestants’ presents an important corrective to the twentieth-century focus of much of the history of civil liberties in Quebec and Canada. As David Fraser demonstrates, fundamental rights and liberties were being debated already in the nineteenth century, long before conscription crises, the Red Scares, and Duplessis’s guerre sans merci of the 1930s and 1940s.”


    Eric H. Reiter, Department of History, Concordia University
  • Author Information

    David Fraser is a professor in the School of Law at the University of Nottingham.

  • Table of contents

    Chapter 1: Introduction: Constituting Law, Constituting Justice in the Jewish School Question
    Chapter 2: Invoking Equality, Invoking Legality: Jews Constituting Their Canadian Identity
    Chapter 3: Schools, Taxes, Jews, Catholics (and Protestants): The Origins of the Jewish School Question
    Chapter 4: Jews and Roman Catholics, School Taxes and Protestants: The First Jewish School Question
    Chapter 5: Taxes, the Rabbi and the Schoolboy: S 93 and the Pinsler Case
    Chapter 6: Promises, Promises: “Honorary Protestants” in Protestant Schools
    Chapter 7: Jews, Protestants, and Taxes (Again): The Jewish School Question in the 1920s
    Chapter 8: Jews, Protestants, Roman Catholics, and the Law: The Jewish School Question Goes to Court
    Chapter 9: Jews, Protestants, and Roman Catholics: Two Crises, and the Jewish School Question, 1928–31
    Chapter 10: The Protestant Jews of Ste. Sophie and La Macaza: Constituting School and Community in Rural Quebec
    Chapter 11: Outremont and Beyond: The Jewish School Question Moves West
    Chapter 12: Hampstead and Beyond: From the Ghetto to Citizenship and Equality under Law’s Shadow
    Chapter 13: TMR, St. Laurent, Côte Saint-Luc: Democracy, Law, and the End of the Jewish School Question
    Chapter 14: Constituting Canada and the Jewish School Question in Montreal

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