Inventing Secondary Education is the first contemporary examination of the origins of the Ontario high school, and one of the very few which focuses on the development of secondary education anywhere in Canada. The authors chart the transformation of the high school from a peripheral to a central social institution. They explore the economic and social pressures which fuelled the expansion of secondary education, the political conflicts which shaped the schools, and the shifts in curriculum as new forms of knowledge disrupted traditional pedagogical values. By the late nineteenth century the high school had acquired a secure clientele by anchoring itself firmly to the educational and professional ambitions of young people and their families. Drawn from an enormous amount of empirical data derived from school records, census manuscript material, assessment rolls, and literary and biographical sources, Inventing Secondary Education enriches our historical understanding of schooling in nineteenth-century Ontario society and illuminates some of the roots of modern educational dilemmas.