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Caught: Montreal's Modern Girls and the Law, 1869-1945

Tamara Myers
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 348
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Caughtexposes the attempts made by the juvenile justice system of the day to curb modern attitudes and behaviour; at the same time, it reveals the changing patterns of social and family interaction among adolescent girls.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2799-4
    Subjects: Sociology, 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. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    Les jeunes filles moderneswere integral to the development of Quebec’s juvenile justice system.¹ From 1869 to the Second World War the province’s largest and most modern city, Montreal, played host to the rise of reform schools and a juvenile court and also an urgent social problem known as the young, modern girl.Les jeunes filles modernesbecame a feature of the industrializing landscape, as a public presence that revealed the apparent deficiencies in their material, spiritual, and moral lives. Modern girls appeared to manifest a homeless quality, belonging to a world beyond thefoyerand the parish, where the...

  5. chapter 1 The Foundations and Framework of Juvenile Justice in Montreal
    (pp. 19-36)

    In the period from 1869 to 1945 girls in conflict with the law in Montreal were initiated into a legal process called juvenile justice. This system was one of several historical projects directed at the amelioration and regulation of children’s lives. It comprised laws, institutions, personnel, and competing ideas about child welfare and youthful deviance, all of which were historically contingent and evolving. In these formative decades, Quebec introduced an abundance of legislation, constructed incarceration facilities, instituted a separate tribunal for youth in trouble in Montreal, and hired a coterie of personnel to focus on children’s delinquency and dependency. Beginning...

  6. chapter 2 Behind Convent Walls: Quebec Juvenile Justice in the Reform School Era, 1869–1912
    (pp. 37-56)

    Behind a stone wall surrounding the Bon Pasteur convent on Sherbrooke Street just east of downtown Montreal stood the province’s first reform school for girls. Prior to the establishment of the city’s juvenile court in 1912, girls judged delinquent, regardless of religious or linguistic background, experienced juvenile justice from behind these walls. How juvenile justice for girls began in a nineteenth-century Catholic convent reform school is the departure point for this chapter. It locates the Soeurs du Bon Pasteur reform school in the context of the nineteenth-century penal reform movement that promoted the creation and separation of specific age and...

  7. chapter 3 Les jeunes filles modernes: Reformers, French-Canadian Nationalists, and Experts on the Problem with Adolescent Girls
    (pp. 57-88)

    In 1910 a modern twist on an old seduction tale made headlines in theMontreal Herald. Certain city streets had become home to a new public nuisance, the male ‘masher,’ whose chief aim, according to the newspaper, was to hinder young women’s ability to conduct their daily business of working and shopping. These men subscribed to a new youthful urban style that offended journalists and readers alike: smokers of ‘cheap’ cigarettes and sporting ‘faddy’ clothes and greased hair, they assumed a slouched position on busy street corners. An alarmist journalist attributed their body language not to a rebellious attitude but...

  8. chapter 4 ‘Maternal Rule’: Gender, Religion, and Professionalization in the Juvenile Court Era
    (pp. 89-134)

    In February 1908, Montreal’sDaily Starreproduced aPunchcartoon in which ‘humanity,’ personified by a woman armed with the Children’s Bill, attempted to save a terror-stricken boy from a policeman and the local jail (figure 4.1).¹ The image of the imperilled child caught by the cruel realities of an unforgiving criminal justice system undoubtedly resonated with Montrealers who had recently joined the national campaign for a Canadian Juvenile Delinquents Act (JDA). The cartoon was a harbinger of sorts, for just months later the JDA achieved royal assent, ushering in a new phase of juvenile justice, characterized by the birth...

  9. chapter 5 A Girl’s Place: Family, the City, and Juvenile Court
    (pp. 135-176)

    For most juvenile court girls, adolescence was marked by the end of schooling and a series of low-paying jobs, resulting in an increase in independence from family and neighbourhood. The Montreal economy readily and indiscriminately absorbed the cheap labour of the young and female of Montreal-born and immigrant, francophone and anglophone, and Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish communities. Work sites, such as the city’s tobacco and textile factories, facilitated a public meeting and mixing of young people from across ethnic, religious, and linguistic lines, unlike the parochial and often gendered school system. With their wages, these girls could be found in...

  10. chapter 6 ‘Did You Bleed?’ The Juvenile Court, Girls’ Bodies, and the Sexualization of Female Delinquency
    (pp. 177-203)

    The roots of early-twentieth-century girls’ transgressions lay in the assertions of their autonomy and nothing symbolized the inherent danger of their independence than girls’ ‘immorality.’ Quebec moral authorities denouncedles jeunes filles modernesfor their role in the ubiquity of ‘lust, sexual pleasure and immodesty’ in Montreal. Antivice reformers and the medical establishment focused on venereal disease and prostitution rates, while the Catholic clergy determined that young unmarried women should be ignorant of their own sexuality and all but the most deviant were free of sexual desire.¹ To arrest the trend in unmarried sexual relations and the loss of female...

  11. chapter 7 Reform, Rehabilitation, and Riots: The Training School Experiment in Quebec
    (pp. 204-248)

    By the time she reached eighteen years of age Lorna H. knew well the Protestant system of ‘care’ in Montreal. Despite the Montreal Juvenile Delinquents’ Court’s (MJDC) preference for probation, Protestant institutions that kept girls off the streets, away from delinquent parents, and out of Catholic reformatories, proliferated in the early twentieth century. Lorna’s relationship to the juvenile justice system began at age ten when the court declared her and her three siblings protection cases. Although baptized Roman Catholic, some confusion over her ethnic identity¹ initially resulted in her being funnelled through the Protestant network of care institutions. Responsibility for...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 249-258)

    In recent years the long-forgotten dossiers generated by the first juvenile court in Quebec travelled from the dusty shelves of the Ministry of Justice’s warehouse (also known as the Pré-archivage) to the basement of the Chambre de la Jeunesse to their final resting place in the hallowed Archives nationales du Québec à Montréal. This physical voyage from obscurity and neglect to prominence and accessibility finds a parallel in the place of juvenile justice and delinquency in Quebec history. Although dependent and delinquent children are ubiquitous throughout modern Quebec history, scholars until recently have scarcely included juvenile justice practice and politics...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 259-316)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 317-336)
  15. Index
    (pp. 337-346)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 347-348)