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Making Good

Making Good: Law and Moral Regulation in Canada, 1867-1939.

  • Book Info
    Making Good
    Book Description:

    Examines the official institutions which regulated moral conduct in Canada, and analyses the ways in which different social groups had distinct relationships to legal modes of regulation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7690-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Lawʼs connection to morality is ancient. Originally expressed in religious codes, laws relating to morality were packaged with regulations governing a wide range of prohibited behaviour. According to the Ten Commandments, for instance, Hebrews were not to kill or steal, but also not to commit adultery or to worship idols. The current-day Canadian Criminal Code, a much more comprehensive statute, is similar to that ancient code of law in many respects: it defines penalties for a broad range of offences (among other things, crimes against the person, and property offences), and it pronounces certain breaches of morality illegal.

    The most...

  5. Part I: Framing the Nation, 1867-1896

    • 1 Building the Moral Dominion
      (pp. 15-36)

      And things were forever changed. With the successful conclusion of their 1,000-mile trek in 1874, an event that became known as the ʻGreat March,ʼ the newly formed Mounties secured the West for Canada, despite the imperialistic designs of the United States, thus ensuring that the young dominion would stretch from sea to sea. For many Canadians, these geographic gains paled in significance compared with the moral victory represented by the Great March. When the Mounties raised the red ensign at Fort Whoop-Up, they not only established Canadian sovereignty in the West, but also guaranteed that a distinct kind of order...

    • 2 Instituting Morality
      (pp. 37-56)

      The Mountiesʼ Great March West little resembled the mythology it spawned. In fact, it was nothing short of disastrous: they got lost and rained on, ran out of water, were attacked by grasshoppers and mosquitoes, and came down with dysentery so severe that they retched in their saddles. To add insult to injury, when they finally found Fort Whoop-Up, lair of the evil American whisky traders, it was deserted. The contrast between myth and reality reminds us that the law on the books is often very different from the law in action. Legal regulations might be framed to achieve certain...

  6. Part II: Envisioning Morality, 1896-1919

    • 3 Recruiting the State
      (pp. 59-78)

      In the 1890s, one of the more curious controversies in Canadian history - the debate over the morality of Sunday streetcar service - mushroomed from a spat in Toronto civic politics into a successful parliamentary campaign to reinforce sabbath observance across the country. The achievements and frustrations of the Sabbatarians, as these reformers were called, symbolized the most notable characteristics of legal moral regulation in Canada at the turn of the century. Presbyterian and Methodist ministers, as well as concerned lay people, led campaigns to uplift morality with the help of the state. More important, the national government began to...

    • 4 Incorporating Moral Visions
      (pp. 79-100)

      More ambitious forms of legal moral regulation called for nothing less than new techniques of policing, new courts for the hearing of morals offences, new institutions for the care and control of the immoral, and, above all, the stateʼs commitment to regulate morality uncompromisingly. In several parts of the country, particularly in the biggest cities, many of these changes were instituted by the 1910s. Morality squads, juvenile and womenʼs courts, and a growing roster of reformatories and correctional institutions were established and staffed both by amateur morals monitors and by professionals, including social workers and doctors. Families, communities, and churches...

  7. Part III: Widening the Net, 1919-1939

    • 5 Returning to Normalcy
      (pp. 103-123)

      ʻOur boys fought in one great war in France against the mailed fist to keep Canada free. May I not enlist you as soldiers in this new Great War against disease to make and keep Canada clean?ʼ Thus the Honourable Mr Justice Riddell, president of the Canadian Social Hygiene Council (CSHC), concluded his 1927 speech on the councilʼs mission to promote Canadiansʼ health and happiness. By this time the panic over venereal diseases had subsided, however. In the 1920s, the treatment of syphilis and gonorrhoea became a responsibility of the federal Health department, an agency which had not even existed...

    • 6 The Moral Crises of Capital
      (pp. 124-144)

      The ʻreturn to normalcyʼ after the Great War involved a return to a traditional gender and sexual order, but also a return to a rigidly defined political and ideological order. The government increasingly regulated marriage, the family, immigration, and drugs and alcohol, but it also stifled political dissent in the name of protecting the ʻCanadian way of life.ʼ During the war, the federal government had interned thousands of Austrians and Germans, as well as southern and eastern European men - enemy aliens whose loyalty was suspect because of both their nationality and, in some cases, their earlier involvement with revolutionary...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 145-152)

    While we have not recounted every conceivable story of legal moral regulation, we have illustrated that the overarching aim of Canadian laws regarding morality was to forge a nation by making good its citizens. Officially successful in achieving this goal, but frequently futile in reality, it was a project rife with irony and contradiction.

    Consolidating a group of colonies into a new dominion initiated a project of nation-building. The definition of moral standards for the nation was as important as building a transcontinental railway, if less celebrated. Young Canada was often portrayed as a virginal woman or as a sturdy...

  9. References
    (pp. 153-162)
  10. Index
    (pp. 163-170)