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Household Counts

Household Counts: Canadian Households and Families in 1901

Eric W. Sager
Peter Baskerville
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Household Counts
    Book Description:

    This collection not only makes an important contribution to family history, but also to the widening intellectual exploration of historical censuses.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8443-0
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Population Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    The chapters in this book are linked by a shared goal: to trace the contours of family as a dynamic and adaptive social grouping and cultural construct in Canada at the turn of the twentieth century. The authors are members of the Canadian Families Project, who have created a computerized national sample of individual-level information from the 1901 census of Canada.¹ The census is an indispensable source of evidence on the Canadian population in the past. Census takers attempted to interview members of all Canadian families or households and to find answers to long series of questions. The completed enumerators’...


    • 1 Transitions in Household and Family Structure: Canada in 1901 and 1991
      (pp. 17-58)

      In 1901, a census enumerator working in rural Ontario called upon the Trussler household. David Trussler, a never-married 40-year-old farmer, reported that there were six individuals, other than himself, living in his ten-room house. Two of these occupants, William and John Trussler, were listed as boarders, although presumably there was some sort of familial relationship with the household head. William was a 50-year-old never-married retired farmer and John a 37-year-old married carpenter (although his wife was not enumerated and, presumably, not present). There were also three servants in the household: 33-year-old Henry Dietz, 21-year-old Henry Kaehler, and 25-year-old Emma Wagner,...

    • 2 Canadian Fertility in 1901: A Bird’s-Eye View
      (pp. 59-109)

      Since the late 1960s, historians dissatisfied with Whiggish, institutional, ‘nation-building’ approaches to Canadian history have framed their enquiries in terms of overlapping levels of diversity: the famous ‘limited identities’ first articulated by J.M.S. Careless and Ramsay Cook.¹ Historians had long been interested in the linguistic, ethnic, and religious duality of a country whose institutions, as the story goes, were founded on the often rocky marriage between two ‘founding peoples’: French and English. But the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s saw a flourishing of studies focusing on class, gender, region, ‘race,’ and sexual orientation, while interest in ethnicity and religion expanded far...

    • 3 Family Geographies: A National Perspective
      (pp. 110-128)

      The demographic, economic, and socio-cultural characteristics of families in turn-of-the-century Canada possess a little-understood geography. What types of families characterize the neighbourhoods, cities, and regions of Canada? What role do social, economic, and cultural factors play in shaping family structure across the country? Answers to questions like these are revealed by creating a portfolio of maps that draw upon the Canadian Families Project’s rich database sampled from the 1901 Census of Canada. These maps, of course, constitute a snapshot of family life rooted in space at one particular moment in the country’s development. In making these maps – whether for the...


    • 4 Family Geographies: An Urban Perspective
      (pp. 131-146)

      In 1901, Canada was in the throes of an urban-industrial transformation. Joining long-term urban residents, more and more families, some from overseas, some from the Canadian countryside, were migrating to towns and cities in search of jobs and a different way of life. But did the experience of living in towns and cities have an impact on family life? The family geographies discussed in this chapter are those of Canadian families – about one in three – who, in 1901, lived in towns and cities of at least 2500 people, whether these places were incorporated or not. Below this population threshold, sample...

    • 5 Rural to Urban Migration: Finding Household Complexity in a New World Environment
      (pp. 147-179)

      The linear paradigm of modernization has faced its share of challenges in recent decades. In Canada, as elsewhere, a sizeable body of work questions the idea that nineteenth-century urbanization and industrialization created anything like a labour force of ‘fugitives in motion.’¹ But even if kinship and social networks have been written back into the narrative, it is often difficult to assess the change brought to rural families byfin-de-siècleindustrialization, in part because less is known about the evolution of social structure in the countryside or how permeable the boundaries were between rural and urban life. In Canada patterns of...

    • 6 Family Geographies: Montreal, Canada’s Metropolis
      (pp. 180-194)

      By the turn of the twentieth century, Montreal stood firmly at the forefront of modernity. As the country’s undisputed metropolis, Montreal led all Canadian cities in population size and control of key economic sectors: manufacturing, wholesaling, transportation, and financial services. These activities gave shape to an urban landscape that was becoming increasingly segregated into separate land-use districts. As Robert Lewis has shown inManufacturing Montreal: The Making of an Industrial Landscape, 1850–1930, these distinctive areas included a Central Business District (CBD) and various industrial zones lying adjacent to the St Lawrence River and the Lachine Canal.¹ By 1901, segregated...


    • 7 Families, Fostering, and Flying the Coop: Lessons in Liberal Cultural Formation, 1871–1901
      (pp. 197-246)

      In his classic workThe Sociological Imagination, C. Wright Mills famously argued for the theoretical and empirical understanding of the ‘minute points of intersection’ between personal biographies and historical formations.¹ More recently, the history of families has been said to hold one of the keys to unravelling these connections between individual lives and larger political, ideological, and social structural changes: for most people family life is the most immediate everyday milieu, yet it is inescapably implicated in and part of the fashioning of larger historical transformations.² From the middle of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth in North America, households...

    • 8 Canadian Children Who Lived with One Parent in 1901
      (pp. 247-301)

      The men hired to enumerate Canadian households in 1901 recorded over 180,000 children under the age of 19 – more than 100,000 of whom were under 15 – living in a household with only one parent present.¹ Over two-thirds of these youngsters were living with their mother. These children with just one parent were in all parts of the country, in rural as well as urban areas and among all classes and cultural groups. Their ages, sex, history of schooling and work, and residential situations were diverse. So too were their parents’ marital status. Bertha Whipley, aged 4, lived with her 34-year-old...

    • 9 Boundaries of Age: Exploring the Patterns of Young-Old Age among Men, Canada and the United States, 1870–1901
      (pp. 302-336)

      The census is a snapshot that captures lives and relationships in flux and holds them still. Among the movements frozen by the census frame, aging is the most fundamental. Demographic studies that use sources such as the census have discovered that age stages and boundaries are particularly susceptible to demographic, economic, cultural, and political change. The boundaries between stages shift when fertility falls, pensions are introduced, gendered options are broadened, and divorce liberalized. The stages of old age are both biologically real and socially constructed.

      This paper uses census microdata to investigate the boundaries of old age among Canadian and...


    • 10 Inequality, Earnings, and the Canadian Working Class in 1901
      (pp. 339-370)

      Historians of Canada now possess a unique source for the study of working-class earnings in the period of industrialization. Beginning in 1901 the census of Canada asked all employees to state their earnings from their occupation or trade, as well as earnings from any secondary occupation. The national sample of the 1901 census created by the Canadian Families Project contains the most comprehensive data on annual earnings of working people in Canada before the middle of the twentieth century. Such data at the national level are extremely rare for any country in this period.¹ Census takers in the United States...

    • 11 ‘Leaving God Behind When They Crossed the Rocky Mountains’: Exploring Unbelief in Turn-of-the-Century British Columbia
      (pp. 371-404)

      There has been much ink spilled in English Canadian historiography on the ‘secularization debates,’ in which historians stake out different positions on when, exactly, secularization occurred in English Canada. Some point to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while others state that secularization did not take serious hold in this country until after the Second World War.¹ Much of this debate has been fought on the terrain of intellectual history, or by looking closely at the social reform movement of the pre–Second World War era. As there has been very little work done in the English Canadian context...

    • 12 Giving Birth: Families and the Medical Marketplace in Victoria, British Columbia, 1880–1901
      (pp. 405-420)

      Midwifery did not occasion much public debate in Victoria, British Columbia, in the latter part of the nineteenth century. For other areas, however, historians have documented the public displeasure of doctors and registered nurses over the practice of birthing by ‘ignorant’ amateurs. While some scholars suggest that the medical establishment was far from being of one mind on the benefits or dangers of midwifery, the dominant explanation for midwifery’s decline is situated in the context of the rise of professionalism.¹ Midwives failed to professionalize and as a result succumbed to the ‘properly’ accredited and better organized medical practitioners, doctors, and...


    • 13 Language, Ancestry, and the Competing Constructions of Identity in Turn-of-the-Century Canada
      (pp. 423-440)

      In 1901 the Canadian government introduced questions about language into the decennial census in keeping with a key shift in how personal identity was being defined at the turn of the century. This enumeration included three columns for reporting the language attributes of all those over the age of five: ‘mother tongue (if still spoken),’ ‘French spoken,’ and ‘English spoken.’ These questions joined a substantial array of census inquiries about the personal identities of residents in Canada. In light of questions such as those dealing with birthplace, ‘origin,’ and religion, the Canadian government painted a portrait of the population of...

    • 14 Constructing Normality and Confronting Deviance: Familial Ideologies, Household Structures, and Divorce in the 1901 Canadian Census
      (pp. 441-476)

      The Canadian Families Project was conceived as a multidimensional inquiry into Canadian families based mainly on the rich information gleaned from the 1901 national census. This collaborative endeavour has also offered the potential for bridging the divide between two main streams in the discipline of family history, whose respective adherents have at times looked upon each other with a degree of suspicion. These include those historians who have focused on investigating the ideological or discursive constructions of ‘family’ and ‘household’ as well as the character of family-household relations and the interaction of families with other institutions, such as the state,...

  11. Index
    (pp. 477-486)