From the Archives: Canadian Teachers’ Federation forever connected to Alberta

February 27, 2018
Maggie Shane, ATA Archivist
This photo of the first Canadian Teachers’ Federation executive was taken on July 27, 1920. Alberta members are T E A Stanley (back, left), H C Newland (back, third from right), Charles Peasely (back, right) and J W Barnett (front right).
(ATA ARCHIVES)

Leading up to its official 100th anniversary in June 2018, the Alberta Teachers’ Association is celebrating its history through a number of initiatives, one of which is this column, entitled From the Archives. Curated by archivist Maggie Shane and appearing in each issue of the ATA News this year, this column will feature significant moments and individuals in the Association’s history as well as interesting artifacts or documents from the Association’s archives.

The seeds of a national organization run for and by teachers were sown in Winnipeg at a 1919 conference on the topic of character education and Canadian citizenship. Ironically, the Winnipeg conference was neither sponsored as an education conference, nor attended by teachers. It did, however, pass a resolution on bilingual university education that was of sufficient interest to the leaders of the four western provincial teachers’ associations that they decided to host a meeting.

The following year, at a meeting in Calgary, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) came into being. It was an impressive accomplishment and boasted that the total membership in 1920 was 25,000 teachers.

As documented in John W Chalmers’ book Teachers of the Foothills Province: The Story of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, ATA president H. C. Newland made the following comments on the CTF in 1921:

This Federation has been formed for the purpose of guiding the teacher organization movement throughout the Dominion, and I may say that it has already begun to function … An interesting point about the constitution, and the fundamental basis of the organization, was that it should begin from the ground and build upward. Each provincial organization maintains its own identity, and its own individualism.

Four ATA representatives — John Walker Barnett, T. E. A. Stanley, H. C. Newland and Charles E. Peasley — helped to found the Canadian Teachers’ Federation on July 26, 1920. The drive to create and maintain a national voice for teachers continues to this day, as does the connection to the modern Alberta Teachers’ Association. ATA past president, H. Mark Ramsankar, was elected to the presidency of the CTF in July, 2016 and assumed office in July of 2017. ❚