Adolphus Egerton Ryerson (Adolphus Egerton Ryerson)

Adolphus Egerton Ryerson

Canadian clergyman and educator.  “The Father of the Public Education System in Ontario.”  Born into a prominent Loyalist family, he left home at the age of 18 when his Methodist beliefs conflicted with his fathers staunch Anglican leanings.  He quit law school after a serious illness in 1825, studying to become a Methodist minister instead.  Ryerson spent much of his early adult life traveling preaching all over the province. In 1829, as an increasingly vocal proponent of the rights of Methodists and other non-conformist religious groups, he helped found the influential newspaper, the Christian Guardian, and served as its editor for eleven years.  At a time when the old Anglican guard ruled much of Upper Canada, he became an early advocate for the separation of the church and state and, despite his youth, he emerged as a leader, fighting for the religious freedoms of Methodists, the Presbyterians and the Baptists.  He did battle against the powerful Bishop John Strachan, the Anglican clergyman who denounced the Methodists as ‘traitors and republicans,’ and who attempted to enact laws that would prohibit non-Anglicans from holding positions in Canadian universities.  In 1840 he took a job as the first principle of Victoria College.  In 1844 he became general supervisor of common schools in Canada West (Ontario).  His greatest legacy was in enacting the Schools Act of 1871 which decreed that public schools would henceforth be tuition free. The act also included mandatory attendance and dictated the distribution of textbooks and school supplies.  Much of that act helped define the Ontario school system of today and was duplicated in other provinces.  Ryerson University in downtown Toronto is named in his honor.   (bio by: Patrick R)  Family links:  Parents:  Joseph Ryerson (1761 – 1854)  Sarah Mehetable Stickney Ryerson (1766 – 1850)  Spouses:  Mary Ryerson (1808 – 1884)*  Mary Armstrong Ryerson (1808 – 1884)*  Children:  James Edmond Ryerson (1834 – 1834)*  Sophia Ryerson (1845 – 1898)*  Charles Egerton Ryerson (1847 – 1909)*  Siblings:  Mary Ryerson Bostwick (1786 – 1821)*  Mehetable Ryerson Williams (1789 – 1832)*  George Airey Ryerson (1792 – 1882)*  William R. Ryerson (1797 – 1872)*  Adolphus Egerton Ryerson (1803 – 1882)  Edway Morris Ryerson (1807 – 1858)* *Calculated relationship


  • March, 24, 1803


  • February, 02, 1882


  • Mount Pleasant Cemetery
  • Ontario
  • Canada

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