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Revivals and Roller Rinks

Revivals and Roller Rinks: Religion, Leisure, and Identity in Late-Nineteenth-Century Small-Town Ontario

  • Book Info
    Revivals and Roller Rinks
    Book Description:

    In this examination of the social and cultural meanings of religion and leisure in nineteenth-century small-town Ontario, Lynne Marks looks inside churches, hotel bars, fraternal lodge rooms, and roller-skating rinks to discover the extent to which a particular Protestant value system and lifestyle dominated small towns of the period. In assessing the extent of Protestant cultural influence, Marks also illuminates the nature of social relations and group identity, particularly with regard to gender, class, religion, age, and marital status.

    Based primarily on a study of the towns of Thorold, Campbellford, and Ingersoll - communities situated in different areas of southern Ontario and differing significantly in economic and occupational structure and in religious composition - this investigation seeks as well to determine the nature of commonalities and differences in patterns of participation in religious and leisure activities within both middle- and working-class families. To further examine working-class values and beliefs, Marks moves beyond the local level to explore two popular working-class movements of the 1880s, the Knights of Labor and the Salvation Army, providing insights into the complexities of class and gender identity among working-class women and men and shedding light on the nature and meaning of working-class religious beliefs and practices.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7934-4
    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-xii)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-21)

    What dominant images are associated with small-town life in late-nineteenth-century Ontario? Families setting off to church together in their Sunday best, strawberry socials, temperance campaigns, and Orange parades come to mind. These and other activities appear integrated into a seamless Protestant way of life, which not only prescribed Sunday observance but also shaped leisure activities throughout the week - a culture that linked small-town folk, rich or poor, male or female, a culture whose heritage we still struggle with today in conflicts over Sunday shopping, gambling casinos, and restrictive drinking laws.

    Images of unified, temperate, churchgoing communities do not quite...

  6. 2 Church Ladies, Young Men, and Freethinkers: Church Involvement and Beyond
    (pp. 22-51)

    The predominance of church spires in the nineteenth-century landscape has often been commented on.¹ The physical dominance of the churches has led to general assumptions about their cultural centrality. Nowhere has the hegemony of religious values been assumed to be stronger than in the small towns of southern Ontario. People moving to the big city might lose their faith and drift away from religion, but those remaining in the smaller communities have been characterized as sharing a strong Christian lifestyle and belief system. In fact, small-town realities were considerably more complex. In these small communities, as in the largest cities,...

  7. 3 Gender, Class, and Power: Church Associations and Church Improvements
    (pp. 52-80)

    In 1894 the Ontario Baptists sent out a survey to ′discover the inner life of our churches.′ The results were not pleasing - they revealed that the majority of church members were at best minimally involved in church-based organizations. The Baptists wondered how they might ′organize different classes in the church into organizations of their own, and get the whole church harnessed for work.′¹ In the late nineteenth century, most churches dramatically increased their efforts to found associations for various ′classes′ of members, by which they meant groupings by gender, age, and marital status as much if not more than...

  8. 4 Rough and Respectable: Loafers, Drinkers, and Temperance Workers
    (pp. 81-106)

    Moralistic editors and indignant letter writers filled the columns of late-nineteenth-century small-town newspapers with frequent complaints about the problem of ′loafers,′ men who spent much of their time ′hanging around′ on street corners. John Thompson, editor of theThorold Post, was particularly vocal here. In the fall of 1894 he noted the problem once again, commenting, ′Sunday evenings it is most odious, because the people are bent on church and thoughts gained in attendance there; and there are just two classes on the streets - the loafers and the church goers.′ He went on to complain that on a recent...

  9. 5 Mostly Male Worlds: Leisure and Associational Life
    (pp. 107-139)

    In April 1891 the people of Thorold were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Emerson and Joseph Peart, father and son, who died within a week of each other. Both men had worked in local factories and, as their funerals demonstrated, both had been active participants in Thorold′s associational life. Joseph Peart had been a member of Thorold′s Orange Young Briton Band. As thePostnoted, ′The O.Y.B. band attended [the funeral], and the solemn dirges played to the memory of their departed comrade seemed to speak the sadness that pervaded all ... There was also a...

  10. 6 The Salvation Army and the Knights of Labor: Religion and Working-Class Culture
    (pp. 140-168)

    In 1884 the Salvation Army marched on Thorold. In the first few months after their arrival, they preached to crowded houses at the Oddfellows Hall. As was the case in towns and cities across Ontario, most of the men and women who flocked to the Salvation Army′s tumultuous all-night meetings and rowdy parades were working class. One of the many local converts was a labourer, George Doherty, who played a cornet in the Salvation Army band as it marched through the streets of Thorold. For Doherty, as for many other Thorold converts, involvement in the Salvation Army was fairly brief....

  11. 7 Hallelujah Lasses: Working-Class Women and the Salvation Army
    (pp. 169-188)

    Some of the Salvation Army′s activities were of particular interest to women. This was certainly true of the ′Hallelujah Weddings,′ as the marriages of officers were popularly known. A Hallelujah Wedding that took place in Hamilton in the summer of 1884 attracted more than 1500 people, each of whom had paid fifteen cents to attend. The local press claimed that the event was ′the biggest display ever seen at a wedding in Hamilton.′ The waving of banners, the banging of tambourines, and the frequent choruses of hallelujahs helped keep excitement at fever pitch throughout the ceremony. Afterwards, the couple rode...

  12. 8 ′Safe in the Arms of Jesus′: The Thorold Revival
    (pp. 189-207)

    Thorold, January 1893. The Salvation Army has departed years ago, and the tiny remaining Knights of Labor assembly will fold before year′s end. Economic conditions, while bad throughout the country, are particularly grim here. There have been frequent bankruptcies among the local merchants, and many Front Street stores have been left vacant. No new industry has replaced the silverworks, which left Thorold three years ago, and in the fall of 1892 the owner of the casket factory died, precipitating the temporary closure of the establishment and prompting fears of permanent shutdown.¹

    In the fall of 1892 the leaders of Thorold′s...

  13. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 208-218)

    Sedate Sunday services, anti-Scott Act riots, roller rink crazes, Hallelujah Weddings, and strawberry socials ... Despite the stereotypes of dour Protestant small-town life, the religion and leisure activities of smaller communities in late-nineteenth-century Ontario were both complex and diverse. This in turn reflects the complexity of culture and identity in these communities and the danger of making facile assumptions about monolithic cultures, whether of Ontario Protestants, the working class, or women. To understand fully the nature of religious and leisure involvement and the larger social meaning of this involvement, we must weave together a range of intersecting issues.

    First, to...

  14. Appendix A: Methodological Notes
    (pp. 219-224)
  15. Appendix B: Class and Occupational Groupings
    (pp. 225-226)
  16. Appendix C: Tables
    (pp. 227-260)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 261-302)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 303-322)
  19. Index
    (pp. 323-330)