Penmanship and Education in the BC gold rush

penmanship in the Victorian era

penmanship in the Victorian era

Education in the early part of the gold rush era was done by private tutoring. Mr. Mallandaine, an architect by profession, taught his pupils “penmanship, declamation, arithmetic, French, English, English and French Composition and Grammar, English and American History, Geography, Elements of Euclid, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and Astronomy.” Other courses such as needlework, drawing, mensuration (measuring), elementary algebra, and the principles of architecture and design were also taught by other tutors.

Declamation was the practice of reciting passages out loud for the purpose of study of formal speaking in pronunciation, grammar, style, and tone. Penmanship or the art of writing by hand was an important area of study during the time of the BC gold rush. Handwriting during the 1860’s had a distinct style as shown by the open letter p which looks like an h with a long tail. The letter q was left open.

In 1860, Mr. Mallandaine later became the Professor of Modern Languages and Drawing at the newly opened Collegiate School for Boys in Victoria. The Collegiate School was modelled after the grammar schools of England:

“In addition to sound Religious Instruction, the Course of Education comprises:
A Thoroughly Sound English Education,
Arithmetic, Penmanship, Mathematics, and Book-keeping
Modern Languages – French, German and Spanish, Hebrew, Greek and Latin
Elements of Natural Philosophy
Drawing – including Landscape, Figure, and Line Drawing, with the principles of Architecture and Design”