A Century of Excellence - SRC #17

I know that somewhere one of you just fell off your chair. You're reading that right. I finished a Summer Reading Challenge book. Woohoo! What's more is that I finished THIS book because it's been sitting over in the "Currently Reading" section of the side bar (*pokes the sidebar cause it likes it*) for over a month. I wasn't really planning to blog about this tonight but I only finished work a hour or two ago and am still trying to get into my "down time" mode. I bought it at the Reading Well Bookstore when I was in PEI back in June.

I should start by saying that Marian Bruce's A Century of Excellence will be of little interest to most of you. And that it's most certainly qualifies as an elusive Canadian book. Put it this way - it doesn't even show up in WorldCat (I have to fix the WorldCat link in my side bar, I'm aware of that, in the meantime go to www.worldcat.org). It's of interest to me because I grew up in PEI, some of my teachers went to Prince of Wales College and I really knew very little about it as it no longer exists and never did in my lifetime. SO yeah, this post is mostly about me and what I found interesting and well...you know it's all about me anyway right?

I learned a lot of things about POWC.

  • In its 108 year history it had five, yes FIVE, principals.

  • I am very glad that I've never had to write an entrance exam (I didn't even have to write SATs - we don't have those in Canada). From the sounds of it the POWC's entrance exam was brutal. Any Anne of Green Gables fans out there? Remember when she was writing the exam for Queens? Yeah - Queens was based on POWC. In the year 1899, 337 students wrote the entrance exam and only 116 passed. Ouch!

  • Not only was the entrance exam brutal but the classes were pretty darned tough too and as such there was a high failure rate. Approximately ever year 1/3 of the student population would flunk out.

  • Male and female students had to use separate staircases and entries. Ok, this wasn't really all that surprising but the whole co-ed descriptions kind of made me laugh as I lived in a fully co-ed dorm - that means I shared a bathroom with 10 guys. Not something I'd recommend by the way.

  • Religion and education can be a hostile combination. A lot of fights about religion during the POWC years. While it was a secular college (no religion courses at all were taught), it was largely thought of as the "Protestant" college whereas St. Dunstan's was very clearly the Catholic college. This causes issues because as a secular school POWC got funding from the provincial government but as a religious school St. Dunstan's often did not. I never really thought about PEI being divided along religious lines, although I had read/heard about it before, because it wasn't something I ever experienced personally.

  • There were a lot of connections through the years between POWC and McGill. At one point POWC almost became an affiliate of McGill. I find this cool because I went to McGill and it was like two of my homes merging (see - all about me).

The book has good appendices. I really liked the inclusion of some pages from Entrance exams (I have mentioned that I'm really happy I didn't have to write them right??? Cause they are scary, very scary). The index is ok.

As I mentioned I can't really recommend this to anyone because well, this selection was all about me. Well that and none of you would ever be able to find a copy. But I enjoyed it.

And if you're ever in PEI stop by the Reading Well Bookstore on Water Street in Charlottetown. Not only do they have books but they have organic fair trade coffee. Yum!