Born into French nobility on November 30, 1811, Joseph Marshall d’Avray went on to make a significant impact as an educator in New Brunswick, Canada. His early years were influenced by his father’s pioneering work with Edward Jenner on vaccination and his subsequent role as a royal physician in Naples. The family spent considerable time in France, and Marshall d’Avray was tutored alongside Louis-Philippe’s children. He inherited his father’s title upon his death in 1838.
With the family fortunes dwindling due to changes in the French monarchy, Marshall d’Avray took up a professorship in the Royal College in Mauritius. However, his wife Margaret Emma Glenn’s health suffered in the tropical climate, prompting a move to Fredericton in 1848. Here, he established the first teacher training school in the province.
As the head of the normal school until it was destroyed by fire in 1850, and later as the chief superintendent of education from 1854 to 1858, Marshall d’Avray introduced educational reforms considered ahead of their time. Despite resistance from critics like John Gregory, secretary of the board of education, he advocated for vocational education and proposed an agricultural college with a model farm. His views were grounded in the philosophies of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and Philipp Emanuel von Fellenberg.
As the chief superintendent of education, Marshall d’Avray also defended King’s College, Fredericton, against legislative attempts to divert its funding to a Methodist institution. To enhance his advocacy efforts, he took on the editorship of the local newspaper, Fredericton Head Quarters, in 1854.
After losing his position following a governmental transition in 1858, he dedicated the rest of his life to his professorship at King’s College, Fredericton, and subsequently the University of New Brunswick. His teachings encompassed English and French literature, political economy, and modern history. Former students, like Eldon Mullen and Bliss Carman, remembered him fondly for his elegant scholarship and charming wit. His influence also extended to the first national movement in English-Canadian literature through his students.
Marshall d’Avray passed away on November 26, 1871. The University of New Brunswick commemorated his contributions by naming a hall in his honor. His resting place is the Forest Hill Cemetery in Fredericton.
This post has already been read 2872 times!