Born in Charlotteville, east of Toronto, on March 24, 1803, Egerton Ryerson was the founder of Ontario's public school system.
Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Ryerson earned the degree of Doctor of Divinity, worked to regulate public education, made government revenue responsible for the "non-sectarian" (non-religious) public schools, standardized both curriculum and textbooks, and developed teacher training programs at provincial Normal Schools.
Before becoming Superintendent of Education of Canada West (Ontario) in 1845, Egerton travelled to the United States, England, and Europe to study different education systems. He took what he considered to be the best parts of each of these systems and used them to fashion his own system in Ontario.
Dr. Ryerson's goal was to provide free schools throughout the province. This was accomplished in 1871 when the rate-bill (parents were taxed according to how many of their children attended school) was thrown out and substituted for general taxation of property.
Egerton Ryerson died in Toronto February 19, 1882.