JUNEAU, FÉLIX-EMMANUEL, teacher, school inspector, and author; b. 27 May 1816 at Quebec City, son of Nicholas Juneau, a merchant, and Josephte de Villers; d. there, unmarried, 17 Feb. 1886.
Félix-Emmanuel Juneau studied at the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1831 to 1833, and again in 1836–37 after attending the Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière the previous year. Forced to abandon his studies, apparently as a result of his father’s financial difficulties, he took up teaching. Around 1840 he opened his own school in the faubourg Saint-Roch in Quebec City; called the Académie commerciale et littéraire, it eventually had up to 160 pupils.
From an early stage Juneau set his mind on advancing his profession and raising the standards of teachers. In Le Castor of March 1845 he announced, as interim secretary, the creation of a committee to set up an association of schoolteachers of the district of Quebec. Soon after a general meeting at his school, the Library Association of the Teachers of the District of Quebec (incorporated in 1849) was formed. The founders of this first organization of teachers included Antoine Légaré*, Clément Cazeau, Charles Dion, and Benoît Marquette. A similar association was also established at Montreal in 1845. The members of the Quebec association met once a month “to learn from each other, to fit themselves the better to meet the needs of society, and to give the status of the teacher all the importance it has in other nations.” They set as their goal, among other things, the standardization of teaching methods, of subjects taught, and of material used, as well as of discipline. Through numerous petitions to the government, the Quebec association promoted measures designed to improve teaching: the appointment of school inspectors from 1852, the setting up of a retirement fund in 1856, and the creation of three normal schools (teachers’ colleges) the following year. It had about 60 members at the outset and grew steadily until 1854, when a fire destroyed Juneau’s house where the records and part of the association’s library were kept. The meetings then became less frequent and were poorly attended. However, in 1857 the superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau, while opening the three normal schools, also set up three associations which were actually a continuation of the 1845 organizations. On 21 July 1857 Juneau was elected president of the Association des Instituteurs de la Circonscription de l’École Normale Laval. He regularly attended its meetings for the rest of his life, frequently contributing to discussions and occasionally giving lectures.
A member of the board of examiners of the district of Quebec from 1849, Juneau was appointed a teacher in the practical division of the École Normale Laval upon its opening in 1857. He remained there only two years, however; on 2 Dec. 1859 he was appointed school inspector for the counties of Lévis and Dorchester. This was a particularly heavy responsibility, since inspectors were legally required to visit their districts twice a year and make reports to the superintendent. In 1859 Juneau had under his charge 99 schools, with an enrolment of 6,837 children, for which he received an annual salary of $700. His reports indicate that the quality of the teaching was generally good and indeed he noted steady improvement every year. On 16 June 1868 he was entrusted with another inspection district, which included the counties of Montmorency, Quebec, and Portneuf, as well as the Catholic schools of Quebec City. Because of its size, his district was subdivided in 1875. A year before his death Juneau had under his jurisdiction 130 schools, with some 8,237 pupils, and his annual salary had increased to $1,000.
Because of his concern to improve the status of the schoolteacher and the quality of teaching, Juneau published several works to assist his colleagues and make schooling more pleasant for children. Thus in 1847 he brought out at Quebec a Dissertation sur l’instruction primaire, dans laquelle on propose de réunir à la fois les avantages pratiques de l’enseignement mutuel, du simultané et de l’individuel, one of the first pedagogical texts by a French Canadian lay teacher. Having to deal with the problem of small, ill-ventilated schools, too many pupils, and often archaic teaching materials, he proposed resorting to the Lancaster system, which was based on the use of monitors but left the teacher an active role in the instruction. That year at Quebec he republished La Nouvelle Méthode pour apprendre à bien lire by the Frenchman Jean Palairet; according to Charles-Joseph Magnan*, “this method was laborious, illogical and devoid of interest,” but it long remained on the list of books recommended by the Council of Public Instruction. In 1866 Juneau published at Quebec a Traité de calcul mental à l’usage des écoles canadiennes, which in Edmond Lareau’s view had the great advantage of finally giving the pupils “exercises in dollars and cents.” Two years later, in collaboration with Napoléon Lacasse, he published at Quebec an Alphabet ou syllabaire gradué, d’après une nouvelle méthode, which was designed to be more sensible and better suited to the minds of children than similar earlier works.
After devoting nearly half a century to the field of education, Félix-Emmanuel Juneau passed away at Quebec in 1886. He could lay claim to having been one of the first lay teachers who worked unremittingly to enhance the dignity of his profession and the quality of teaching.
AC, Québec, État civil, Catholiques, Saint-Roch (Qué.), 20 févr. 1886. ANQ-Q, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Québec, 28 mai 1816. ASQ, Fichier des anciens. Can., prov. du, Statuts, 1849, c.145. JIP, 1857–79. Joseph Letourneau, “Notice nécrologique: feu M. F. E. Juneau,” L’Enseignement primaire (Québec), 6 (1886): 54–56. Catalogue des anciens élèves du collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, 1827–1927, [François Têtu, compil.] (Québec, 1927). Quebec directory, 1854–86. P.-G. Roy, Fils de Québec (4 sér., Lévis, Qué., 1933), IV: 10–12. [L.-]A. Desrosiers, Les écoles normales primaires de la province de Québec et leurs œuvres complémentaires; récit des fêtes jubilaires de l’école normale Jacques-Cartier, 1857–1907 (Montréal, 1909), 83, 148–52. André Labarrère-Paulé, Les instituteurs laïques au Canada français, 1836–1900 (Québec, 1965), 119–33. C.-J. Magnan, “Éducateurs d’autrefois – anciens professeurs de l’école normale Laval – IV – F.-E. Juneau: 1816–1886,” BRH, 48 (1942): 44–50.