This article is cross-posted with Borealia: Early Canadian History, where it was published on 23 October 2023.
I am very sorry to see Quebec raising the fees on students not from Quebec. A long time ago I was one of those out-of-province students. I grew up in British Columbia and had never been east when I transferred from UVic to McGill University in the fall of 1985, thanks to a Pierre-Trudeau-era program that gave money to Quebec students to study outside Quebec and to non-Quebec students to study in Quebec. I moved to Montreal and completed a BA in history, followed by an MA. Then I left Montreal, just as François Legault says such students do. I completed a PhD in history at the University of Toronto, focusing on nineteenth-century Canada and lending fairly equal attention to Anglophone and Francophone history and sources. That bilingual interest and capacity was a strength that opened many doors. I turned down offers of postdoctoral fellowships and spent the next four years at Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine in London, writing a commissioned history of an English teaching hospital. But I felt I had unfinished business in Canada: there were things I needed to better understand. So I refused permanency in England and returned to Canada on the tenure track, first at Queen’s University, and then McGill, where I was invited to take up a Canada Research Chair in early Canadian history. It’s worth taking a long view in assessing the return on education. Continue reading