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Gendered Pasts

Gendered Pasts: Historical Essays in Femininity and Masculinity in Canada

Kathryn McPherson
Cecilia Morgan
Nancy M. Forestell
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 360
  • Book Info
    Gendered Pasts
    Book Description:

    Unusual in its breadth,Gendered Pastsis essential to the understanding of the various threads and themes in Canadian gender history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2797-0
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Conceptualizing Canada’s Gendered Pasts
    (pp. 1-11)
    Kathryn McPherson, Cecilia Morgan and Nancy M. Forestell

    Not so long ago, it seems, historians who placed the question of gender at the centre of their research did so from the margins of academic scholarship. But in more recent times, the analysis of how femininity and masculinity shaped and were shaped by specific historical contexts fuels the research of a wide range of scholars, using diverse theoretical and methodological approaches. The proliferation of articles, books, and even journals devoted to gender history reflects the new intellectual and international importance given to gender as a ‘category of analysis’.¹

    The dramatic growth in the field has not occurred without controversy....

  6. 1 ‘When Bad Men Conspire, Good Men Must Unite!’: Gender and Political Discourses in Upper Canada, 1820s–1830s
    (pp. 12-28)
    Cecilia Morgan

    One of the most studied episodes in Canadian history is the Upper Canadian Rebellion of 1837. Conflict between the established ‘conservative’ élite (who answered to the British Crown) and political reformers (who demanded responsible government) escalated into armed rebellion and repression, but had been brewing for several decades as a war of words in the local press. As that public debate made clear, conservatives and reformers alike laid claim to the cornerstones of the British political structure: neither law nor constitution, as historians of Upper Canadian political and legal history have pointed out, held identical meanings for the political groupings...

  7. 2 The Homeless, the Whore, the Drunkard, and the Disorderly: Contours of Female Vagrancy in the Montreal Courts, 1810–1842
    (pp. 29-47)
    Mary Anne Poutanen

    One late summer day in September 1836 Constable Henry Hébert spotted Catherine McDonald, Betsey Allcart, Eleonor Galarneau, and Harriet Hamelle inebriated and lying in a street near the Quebec Barracks in the old city. They were reputed to be lewd, idle, and disorderly women, common vagabonds, and prostitutes who frequented the red-light district, so Hébert apprehended them for vagrancy.¹ Five years later, Rachel Young was arrested for the same misdemeanour when a policeman discovered her wandering about the city streets attired in male clothing. For this penchant to cross-dress, the justice of the peace sentenced her to two months’ imprisonment.²...

  8. 3 No Double Standard?: Leisure, Sex, and Sin in Upper Canadian Church Discipline Records, 1800–1860
    (pp. 48-64)
    Lynne Marks

    Like many Presbyterians across Ontario during the first half of the nineteenth century, William A. of Bond Head was confronted in September 1836 by the leaders of his church, who had heard rumours that he had had ‘illicit antenuptial intercourse with his wife’. William A. acknowledged that he had in fact had sex with his wife prior to marriage, but he clearly did not think that he had committed a major sin. He argued that ‘his having married the woman ought to be considered as sufficient reparation’. The church elders, who expected both men and women to express deep contrition...

  9. 4 ‘It Was Only a Matter of Passion’: Masculinity and Sexual Danger
    (pp. 65-79)
    Karen Dubinsky and Adam Givertz

    Much ink has been spilled in recent years coming to grips with the stunningly simple insight that ‘gender’ means ‘men’, too. Perhaps the most important historical contribution to this discussion was penned by British historians Michael Roper and John Tosh several years ago. Their argument that masculinity ‘has been formed in relationship to male social power’ has been kept central by too few historians of masculinity in general, particularly those studying the history of masculine sexuality.¹ It seems almost anachronistic to suggest that sexuality—and especially sexual conflict between women and men—also exerts considerable influence in shaping the contours...

  10. 5 Gender and Work in Lekwammen Families, 1843–1970
    (pp. 80-105)
    John Lutz

    Recent studies of the interaction between gender, race, and colonialism in North America and the Pacific are forcing a reorientation of Canadian history. In the light of this new work, the settlement of Canada is exposed as a ‘colonial project’ that involved the displacement and marginalization of one people by another. Even more important, it is becoming clear that while the words ‘colonial project’ or even ‘colonialism’ are convenient shorthands, they do not describe a single process. What we call colonialism was a constellation of factors that had distinct, even contradictory, impacts on different indigenous people. It is increasingly apparent...

  11. 6 ‘To Take an Orphan’: Gender and Family Roles Following the 1917 Halifax Explosion
    (pp. 106-122)
    Suzanne Morton

    In the days following the Halifax explosion, an Alberta farm woman who had immigrated to Canada from Holland wrote to ask, ‘what [will] they do with all the parentless children?’ Frustrated with her limited ability to communicate in English she revealed, ‘I can not explain myself the way I wanted, but I do feel sorry for all the poor little ones…. I was an orphan child myself and know what it is, to be without a home.’¹ Her letter joined hundreds of similar inquiries addressed to Halifax bank managers, ministers, municipal officials, and relief organizations. From across North America, offers...

  12. 7 ‘A Fit and Proper Person’: The Moral Regulation of Single Mothers in Ontario, 1920–1940
    (pp. 123-138)
    Margaret Hillyard Little

    For 14 years Vera Jackson¹ lived with a husband who had fits of uncontrollable rage in which he lashed out, both verbally and physically, at her and their children. In 1935 Vera made the difficult decision to leave her husband and she wrote to request Ontario Mothers’ Allowance (oma), a monthly welfare payment established in Ontario in 1920 to support single mothers and their children. Her letter clearly detailed her experience:

    My children have seen scenes since babyhood of absolute terror for them, and many times have been in real fear of my being killed by him [her husband] and...

  13. 8 The Miner’s Wife: Working-Class Femininity in a Masculine Context, 1920–1950
    (pp. 139-157)
    Nancy M. Forestell

    From its inception in the early twentieth century, the sights and sounds of the Hollinger Consolidated Mining Company permeated the northern Ontario town of Timmins. Rising thousands of feet above the ground, its headframe dominated the local landscape. Signalling the rhythmic tenor of mining operations, its whistle blew with each shift change. Hollinger’s visual and sonorous prominence enunciated the importance of this gold-mine, and other mines in the Porcupine gold-mining district, to the longterm prospects of this resource town and its inhabitants. As an additional reminder, with repeated regularity miners filled the streets on their way to or from work....

  14. 9 Sex Fiends or Swish Kids?: Gay Men in Hush Free Press, 1946–1956
    (pp. 158-178)
    Eric Setliff

    Historians have characterized the postwar period in North America as one of social and political conservatism. Reacting to the disruption produced by the Depression and World War II and the new insecurities of life in the nuclear age, Americans and Canadians came to desire security and prosperity at both the national and personal levels. The family—consisting of a breadwinner husband and homemaker wife along with their children—was soon viewed as the source of social stability and individual well-being. A ‘family-centred culture’ developed, which relied heavily on the ‘reaffirmation of domesticity’ and on distinct gender roles.¹

    In a society...

  15. 10 ‘The Case of the Kissing Nurse’: Femininity, Sexuality, and Canadian Nursing, 1900–1970
    (pp. 179-198)
    Kathryn McPherson

    On a lazy Sunday afternoon in January of 1959 Mrs Bew and Mrs Sulman discovered they had a problem. Right in front of their office window sat a parked car in which a young couple were engaged in passionate kissing. As matrons of the Vancouver General Hospital nurses’ residence, Bew and Sulman were responsible for ensuring that more than 500 student nurses adhered to the residence rules and thereby maintained a sterling reputation for the school and hospital. Here lay the dilemma. Owing to the nature of the activity in the car, the matrons could not see the woman’s face....

  16. 11 Defending Honour, Demanding Respect: Manly Discourse and Gendered Practice in Two Construction Strikes, Toronto, 1960–1961
    (pp. 199-222)
    Franca Iacovetta

    Neither historians of masculinity nor their subjects—men—are monolithic groups. The emerging field of gender history, though sometimes considered a site reserved for reified post-modern exercises in literary deconstruction, already has produced a literature marked by various approaches and topics.¹ Earlier polarized debates over the role of ‘representation’ versus ‘structure’ in shaping history—debates that saw discourse analysts and historical materialists locked in battle—have given way to sophisticated efforts by scholars, including both class-oriented feminists and Marxists, to consider ways of integrating key insights from both approaches.² The willingness of some ‘social determinists’ to entertain post-structuralist insights regarding,...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 223-291)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 292-293)