We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Ontario Boys

Masculinity and the Idea of Boyhood in Postwar Ontario, 1945—1960

Christopher J.Greig

Publication Year: 2014

Ontario Boys explores the preoccupation with boyhood in Ontario during the immediate postwar period, 1945–1960. It argues that a traditional version of boyhood was being rejuvenated in response to a population fraught with uncertainty, and suffering from insecurity, instability, and gender anxiety brought on by depression-era and wartime disruptions in marital, familial, and labour relations, as well as mass migration, rapid postwar economic changes, the emergence of the Cold War, and the looming threat of atomic annihilation. In this sociopolitical and cultural context, concerned adults began to cast the fate of the postwar world onto children, in particular boys.

In the decade and a half immediately following World War II, the version of boyhood that became the ideal was one that stressed selflessness, togetherness, honesty, fearlessness, frank determination, and emotional toughness. It was thought that investing boys with this version of masculinity was essential if they were to grow into the kind of citizens capable of governing, protecting, and defending the nation, and, of course, maintaining and regulating the social order.

Drawing on a wide variety of sources, Ontario Boys demonstrates that, although girls were expected and encouraged to internalize a “special kind” of citizenship, as caregivers and educators of children and nurturers of men, the gendered content and language employed indicated that active public citizenship and democracy was intended for boys. An “appropriate” boyhood in the postwar period became, if nothing else, a metaphor for the survival of the nation.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada


pdf iconDownload PDF

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. v-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

There are a number of debts associated with this book. First and foremost, I would like to thank Rebecca Coulter who has always been a constant source of inspiration. Her continuous support and encouragement, as well as her wise, prudent, generous, and thoughtful counsel, has helped sustain...

read more

Introduction: Approaching Boyhood In Postwar Ontario

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xxviii

As these observations suggest, in country town as in burgeoning metropolis, among local commentators and highly trained professionals alike, the early post–Second World War years saw Ontarians much preoccupied with the nature and potential of boyhood. Ontario Boys explores these public discourses during the so-called Baby Boom years, from roughly 1945...

read more

1. Home, Family, Citizenship: Shaping the Boyhood Ideal

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-26

The popular and professional ideas on boyhood in the late 1940s and the 1950s took shape in a social and political context impacted by dislocations and upheavals in marital and familial relations brought on by Depression era and wartime conditions. Out of this social and political turbulence came a...

read more

2. One for All: Teamwork and the Boyhood Ideal

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 27-54

The growth of corporate culture in postwar Ontario compelled corporations to draw attention to the problems of administration and management that arose when men worked in groups rather than individually. What corporations required during the postwar period was the right kind of...

read more

3. One above All: The Heroic Ideal in Boyhood

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 55-74

Competing models of masculinity emerged as traditional notions of rugged individual manliness were superseded by a much more corporate mindset. Some adults promoted a version of boyhood that would help boys become men in grey flannel suits, who would slide easily into corporate...

read more

4. Dissonant Ideas: Other Boyhoods

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 75-100

As Ontarians strove to regulate boyhood, a key issue was the bad boy. For many adults, this version of boyhood stood in direct contrast to the normal boy. The bad boy was imagined as probably from a workingpoor neighbourhood and as incapable of integrating himself with the “normal”...

read more

5. Changes and Continuities: Historic and Contemporary Boyhood Ideals

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-120

Looking over the postwar years, it is not hard to see this period as something of a familiar story: concerns about boyhood ran alongside a broader “crisis” in masculinity. Once again, concerns about the status of boyhood have emerged front and centre in the gendered landscape of public discourse...

read more

6. Conclusion: Making Ontario Boys, 1945–1960

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 121-128

In the immediate postwar years in Ontario there existed a deep preoccupation with boyhood, in reaction to the uncertainty, insecurity, instability, and gender anxiety brought on by Depression era and wartime disruptions in marital, family, and labour relations, rapid postwar economic changes, the emergence...


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 129-162

References and Sources

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 163-172


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 173-182

Series Page

pdf iconDownload PDF

E-ISBN-13: 9781554589012
E-ISBN-10: 1554589010
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554589005

Page Count: 220
Illustrations: 1 Illustrations, black and white
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 857325844
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Ontario Boys

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Boys--Ontario--Historiography.
  • Masculinity--Social aspects--Ontario--History--20th century.
  • Ontario--Civilization--20th century.
  • Boys--Ontario--History--20th century.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access