Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Michael Heine

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Janice Forsyth

Joint Supervisor


Pelican Lake Indian residential school, also known as Sioux Lookout Indian residential school, was an Anglican run institution that was a part of the Canadian residential school system; the school operated from 1926 to 1970. It is well established in the literature that the Department of Indian Affairs intended to evangelize, assimilate, and civilize its students, but the function of citizenship in the residential schools is less well known. The focus of this study was to examine physical culture activities, specifically sport, exercise, and recreation as a form of training for citizenship. In particular, I centered this research on the intent and purpose that local administrators at Pelican Lake School identified in their use of physical culture activities. I used archival sources about the school to examine the issue, primarily using correspondence between local school administrators, such as the local Indian Agents and the Principals at the school.

Prior to World War II, Indian Affairs’ education policy was shaped by the ideas of assimilation, evangelization, and civilization, but after the War it changed to a focus on integrated education as the preferred policy option. This study of Pelican Lake School is contextualized by this policy change, and includes chapters that specifically examine physical culture at Pelican Lake School during the pre-War policy period (1926 to 1944), during the policy transition (1945 to 1951), and the post-War policy period (1952 to 1970). The central rationale for implementing physical culture activities at Pelican Lake School was to develop the character traits of a sportsman, predominantly in the boys, which was understood as developing the character traits of the desirable citizen. Despite the changes in the approach to citizenship within the residential school system, physical culture activities continued to attempt to assimilate the students into a Euro-Canadian vision of physical culture and citizenship. Interestingly, local level school administrators began to justify and value the use of physical culture activities because they believed it brought about enhanced control of the school by developing more disciplined and compliant students.