“Among the drawbacks of colonial life, not the least is the difficulty of obtaining good education.... The greatest deficiency has been in means for training the daughters of professional men, and of others above the working population…. At London, in the province of Ontario, Canada West, an institution has this year been opened, named the Hellmuth Ladies College.”

The Leisure Hour, 1869

With the rising affluence of London in the second half of the nineteenth century, the question of what constituted a suitable education for young women of comfortable means was widely debated. Where the children of middle class families had previously been educated at home by governesses or private tutors, parents in this period sought a different type of education for their daughters. They desired an environment that not only provided high quality instruction in a wide range of academic subjects, but would also provide young women with a solid grounding in the “arts and graces of life.”

In both the city of London and the surrounding area, a number of institutions were formed in the following decades to meet this need. This exhibition provides an intimate glimpse into several of these schools, exploring the question of what was considered an appropriate education for young women “above the working population.”