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Before Confederation

Created in 1890, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association has played a significant role in the development of education in our province. The idea of a teachers’ association was not entirely new in 1890. As early as 1875 the joint report to the inspectors of the Church of England and Methodist schools suggested forming an organization which would stimulate professional development and raise educational standards. Similar associations had been constituted in many of the Canadian provinces but organizing teachers in Newfoundland had faced the barriers of geography and the denominational system.

On October 18, 1890, 13 teachers met in Bay Roberts to discuss the lack of a living wage, their financial future and security, the idea of a pension fund, an insurance scheme, and professional development. This meeting was held at the school of James Frederick Bancroft and a committee was struck to
“secure the formation of a teachers’ association for the island”.

A second meeting was held in November, again chaired by Bancroft, and it was unanimously agreed to form a Newfoundland Teachers’ Association. The immediate agenda was set and a committee was formed to draft a constitution and by-laws.

In January 1891 the Association adopted its first constitution. One of its most notable and, for the time, remarkable sections, was Article 10 which strictly prohibited party politics and religious discussions. This newly formed Executive was scrupulous to have representatives of all major denominations on its first executive.

From this period on there was very little record of activity of the NTA except several petitions in the House which resulted in an increase in the Education Grant and an increase in teachers’ salaries. It was not until after World War I that the NTA found its bearings again, and in the wake of the great depression, another world war, and Confederation, eventually came into its own as a powerful force for the profession and the new province.