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Household Politics

Household Politics: Montreal Families and Postwar Reconstruction

Magda Fahrni
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 350
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  • Book Info
    Household Politics
    Book Description:

    Through in-depth research from a wide variety of sources, Fahrni brings together family history, social history, and political history to look at a wide variety of Montreal families - French-speaking and English-speaking; Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish - makingHousehold Politicsa particularly unique and erudite study.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2745-1
    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-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-27)

    No one could have accused Montreal Liberals of failing to grasp the end-of-warZeitgeist. On 1 June 1945 an advertisement appeared in the city’s mass-circulation daily,La Presse, urging readers to vote Liberal in the upcoming federal election. Sponsored by Montreal’s Comité Central Libéral, the advertisement featured a photograph of Prime Minister Mackenzie King and was headlined ‘King, ET LA FAMILLE CANADIENNE.’ This astute piece of electoral propaganda captured both the self-fashioning of King and the federal Liberal Party, and the ways in which visions of family were central to reconstruction and the postwar public realm.

    The advertisement positioned the...

  6. chapter one Summer 1945
    (pp. 28-43)

    On Tuesday, 8 May 1945, Montreal residents awoke to a city that was, if not yet at peace, nonetheless triumphant. Victory in Europe had been declared the preceding morning, and Montreal streets had teemed with revellers the entire day. Beginning at around ten o’clock on Monday morning, people congregated along Sainte-Catherine Street, celebrating with friends and strangers alike at every intersection. Streetcars ground to a halt behind crowds of celebrants and cars overflowing with teenagers. Civilians applauded men in uniform. Shopkeepers locked their doors and joined the crowds. Now, on a cloudy Tuesday morning, municipal workers had already begun to...

  7. chapter two A Web of Welfare: The Mixed Social Economy of Postwar Montreal
    (pp. 44-62)

    The wages earned by members of Montreal households were not always reliable or sufficient. Many of the city’s families counted, at least on occasion, on additional kinds of support in the immediate postwar years. This was certainly the case for many working-class families, who had long had intermittent recourse to charity and to public welfare measures. As the federal state began to adopt more universal provisions in the 1940s, however, social welfare increasingly became part of the world of middle-class families as well.

    In Montreal, as in other Canadian cities, social welfare had historically been largely a private matter, looked...

  8. chapter three ‘Pour que bientôt il me revienne’: Sustaining Soldiers, Veterans, and Their Families
    (pp. 63-86)

    The narratives of homecoming told in Canada during the last years of war and the first months of peace included many of the elements of a literary romance. Like a romance, these war stories had young, valiant heroes and loyal, virtuous heroines who had suffered through a period of trial and tribulation. As in a romance, these heroes and heroines had vanquished evil and been vindicated by victory. These narratives of reunion, like romances, ended with the welcoming embrace between the returning hero and the girl he’d left behind.¹ And, like romances, these stories had great popular appeal. ‘Integrating’ myths,...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. chapter four Commemorating the Cent-Mariés: Marriage and Public Memory
    (pp. 87-107)

    On 23 July 1939, six weeks before Canada entered the Second World War, 105 Catholic, francophone, working-class couples were married in a baseball stadium on the east side of Montreal. More than 25,000 observers crowded the stands on this sunny Sunday morning. Local dignitaries and public officials were present, as were reporters from more than 150 Canadian and American newspapers, and numerous newsreel companies filmed these extraordinary events.¹

    The mass wedding was the project of the Jeunesse Ouvrière Catholique (JOC), one of the specialized movements of the Action catholique canadienne (ACC). The Action catholique canadienne, modelled after its Belgian predecessor,...

  11. chapter five A Politics of Prices: Married Women and Economic Citizenship
    (pp. 108-123)

    A concern with prices, and a politics centred on purchasing, figured prominently in Canada’s urban centres in the 1940s. As Mrs Patrick Conroy, the Canadian Congress of Labour’s representative to the all-women Canadian Association of Consumers, suggested, this politics of prices was thoroughly gendered. In cities across the country, women used their intimate knowledge of their household finances to demand better social welfare measures and a reasonable cost of living in the context of the Second World War and postwar reconstruction.

    This chapter explores the ways in which Montreal women drew on a sense of economic citizenship cultivated over the...

  12. chapter six In the Streets: Fatherhood and Public Protest
    (pp. 124-144)

    This chapter explores two instances of household politics being played out in the streets of Montreal in the 1940s: postwar calls for affordable housing and, specifically, the Squatters’ Movement of 1946–7; and the Catholic schoolteachers’ strike of January 1949. It focuses particularly on the role of fathers in these episodes. The Squatters’ Movement shows us men taking to the streets as fathers to demand better housing for their families. The teachers’ strike reveals both male teachers striking as fathers, and pupils’ fathers passing judgment on the strike in the name of their children’s needs and rights. While fathers were...

  13. Conclusion: City Unique?
    (pp. 145-150)

    In its particular configuration of language, religion, ethnicity, and class, mid-twentieth-century Montreal was, perhaps, a ‘city unique,’³ or as long-time resident Hugh MacLennan christened it, a ‘curious city.’ Canada’s commercial and industrial metropolis, Montreal differed from other Quebec cities because of its significant English-speaking minority and its increasingly cosmopolitan nature. Yet its francophone majority, its role as the cultural and intellectual capital of French-speaking America (‘l’Amérique française’), and the institutional importance of the Catholic Church meant that it was a city in certain ways distinct from its North American neighbours. Montreal’s history, then, is not necessarily ‘representative’ of some Canadian...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 151-246)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-268)
  16. Photo Credits
    (pp. 269-270)
  17. Index
    (pp. 271-280)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-282)