NAMELOCATIONDATESTanswell's Academy, His Majesty's Royal Quebec AcademyUpper Town market, and other unknown upper town locations1801 - 1819Tanswell's Academy, His Majesty's Royal Quebec AcademyParc Montmorency, Parliament buildings1779 - 1801Tanswell's AcademyRue du Parloir (location uncertain)1778 - 1779
James Tanswell’s academy received more public funding than any other school in Quebec City during the eighteenth century. Born in England, Tanswell had managed schools in London and Halifax, Nova Scotia, before being induced to settle in Quebec by Governor Carleton in 1778.
Quebec City had several small private schools at the time, notably John Fraser’s School
. Tanswell opened his academy and boarding school on November 23, 1778. Five years later, he applied to have it renamed His Majesty’s Royal Quebec Academy. This school offered a blend of the classical and the practical: reading, writing, arithmetic, bookkeeping, English, French, Latin, Greek, geography, and mathematics. Boys and girls were educated separately. Over the years, more science and foreign language classes were added, as well as evening lessons in ballroom dancing.
Tanswell struggled at first but eventually received enough government support to take in about half his students free of charge. He was helped by his son and other assistants with the wide range of courses offered.
Tanswell drew some opposition because of his questionable status as a "Protestant schoolmaster.” Although he claimed to be an Anglican before his arrival in Quebec, he married a French-Canadian Catholic and probably converted to Catholicism at some point. He died in 1819 at the age of 74 and was buried in a Catholic cemetery.