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From the Archives: ATA makes an impressive entrance

June 12, 2018 Maggie Shane, ATA Archivist
The declaration for incorporation that created the Alberta Teachers’ Alliance is now a treasured item within the ATA archives. (ATA archives)

Leading up to its official 100th anniversary on
June 24, 2018, the Alberta Teachers’ Association is celebrating its history through a number of initiatives, one of which is this column, entitled From the Archives. Curated by archivist Maggie Shane, this column has appeared in each issue of the
ATA News this year, featuring significant moments and individuals in the Association’s history as well as interesting artifacts or documents from the Association’s archives. This last instalment focuses on the very birth of the ATA.

It is rare for an organization to note the exact date and time of its birth. But the ATA archives houses a document that serves as both court filing and “birth certificate” for the organization that became the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

The Alberta Teachers’ Alliance, as a legal and
corporate entity, was born at 2:45 p.m. on June 24,1918,
at the Supreme Court of Alberta. Its entry into the world was attended by barrister George Van Allen. Witnesses to its birth were Morden Long, T. E. A. Stanley and Rachel J. Coutts. The proud parents were the teachers of Alberta, and the newborn’s guardians were President George D. Misener and John Walker Barnett.

The Declaration for Incorporation is replete with somewhat dense legal language and terminology. Its official title, for example, reads thus:

In the matter of an Ordinance Respecting Benevolent and Other Societies Being Chapter 66 of the Ordinance of The North West Territories in Force in the Province of Alberta, and in the Matter of the Declaration of George D. Misener, Morden H. Long, John W. Barnett, T E A Stanley, and Miss R J Coutts to Become Incorporated in Pursuance of the Said Ordinance Under the Name of The Teachers’ Alliance of Province of Alberta.
Impressive, yes? More impressive, however, are the stated objects of this new benevolent society. These have the weight of statements sworn under oath on behalf of Alberta’s teachers. A century has passed, yet the words have only gained in significance.

The purpose of the Society shall be

  1. to advance and safeguard the cause of education in the Province of Alberta;
  2. to unite the members of the Society in an association for their mutual improvement, protection, and general and individual welfare;
  3. to bring about united action on any matter of common interest to the teachers of the schools under the Jurisdiction of the Province of Alberta.

The entirety of the past century’s advocacy, actions and advancements by and through the ATA flows from this document. It is foundational in every respect and, in the fullness of time, contributed important language to the 1935 Teaching Profession Act.

On a personal note, as our centennial celebrations come to an end, I would like to extend my thanks to all ATA News readers who have read and responded to this year’s series on the ATA archives’ holdings. It is a privilege to be the custodian of the story of the ATA. ❚

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