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Children in English-Canadian Society

Framing the Twentieth-Century Consensus

Neil Sutherland

Publication Year: 2000

“So often a long-awaited book is disappointing. Happily such is not the case with Sutherland’s masterpiece.” Robert M. Stamp, University of Calgary, in The Canadian Historical Review

“Sutherland’s work is destined to be a landmark in Canadian history, both as a first in its particular field and as a standard reference text.” J. Stewart Hardy, University of Alberta, in Alberta Journal of Educational Research

Such were the reviewers’ comments when Neil Sutherland’s groundbreaking book was first published. Now reissued in Wilfrid Laurier University Press’s new series “Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada,” with a new introduction by series editor Cynthia Comacchio, this book remains relevant today. In the late nineteenth century a new generation of reformers committed itself to a program of social improvement based on the more effective upbringing of all children. In Children in English-Canadian Society, Neil Sutherland examines, with a keen eye, the growth of the public health movement and its various efforts at improving the health of children.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada


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pp. iii-iv

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pp. v-viii

The eminent sociologist Norbert Elias postulated that no true understanding of human society is possible without a grasp of the "historicity of each individual, the phenomenon of growing up to adulthood." According to Elias, civilizing processes involve a continual redefinition of certain forms of conduct as "child-like" and consequently not appropriate to adults, and, at the ...

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pp. ix-xii

I had originally intended to write a book called "Children in Canadian Society." As I worked my way through the sources, however, I soon found that Canadians working to improve the lives of youngsters—those most vulnerable members of their society—did so almost entirely within the boundaries of one or the other of the principal cultural communities. In creating organizations to respond to the challenges posed by the "transformation" of the ...

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Acknowledgments [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. xiii

Each stage in the preparation of this study has been immeasurably lightened by the help of others. A Canada Council fellowship gave me the necessary period of uninterrupted time to shape the original draft of the manuscript. The Committee on Research, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of British Columbia, assisted me with research expenses. I am deeply indebted to the ...

PART I: 'ELEVATE THE HOME': Changing Attitudes to Children in English-Speaking Canada, 1870-1900

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1 'A Good Home and Kind Treatment': Late-Nineteenth-Century English-Canadian Attitudes to Children and Child-Rearing

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pp. 3-12

In July 1886, six-year-old Alice Maud Johnson said goodbye to her mother in England and left for Canada in the care of Miss Charlotte Alexander.2 Alice's mother had deserted her husband, a Camberwell shopkeeper, because, although 'he was so peculiar [she] could not live with him' the lunacy commissioners would not declare him insane. Since she was 'very poor and often without food,' ...

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2 'Multitudes Better Equipped ... than Their Fathers': A New Childhood for a New Society

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pp. 13-36

'There have always been beautiful homes and lives,' explained Dr Emily Stowe in 1894; the real task then at hand was to increase their number. Dr Stowe contributed this.remark to a discussion held by the first meeting of the National Council of Women on the need for Canadian schools to teach girls the art of homemaking. The discussion reflected the quickening interest of English-speaking Canadians in children and families. In her opening address to the meeting, its ...

PART II: TO CREATE A STRONG AND HEALTHY RACE': Children in the Public Health Movement, 1880-1920

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3 'Our Whole Aim Is Prevention': Public Health in the Schools, 1880-1914

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pp. 39-55

Of all the reform efforts for children that grew and flourished between the 1880s and the 1920s, the public health movement had the most immediate, the least ambiguous, and the most precisely measurable positive effects on the lives of Canadian children. Over these years an increasing number of private, semi-public, and public organizations tried to improve many facets of public health. They generated their own knowledge and put to use that which was discovered ...

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4 'Education ... Carried on Principally in the Home': The Campaign to Reduce Infant Mortality, 1895-1920

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pp. 56-70

Within a few paces of the main gate to the cemetery in New Westminster, British Columbia, a representative headstone, that of the Ladner family, records: 'Lena Aged 21 Days / Freddy Aged 1 year 1 month / Edith Aged 3 Years 11 Mos / Ella Aged 3 Years 10 Mos.' Nearby stones record similar family tragedies. Thomas and Martha Bradshaw Allen, both natives of Madoc, Ontario, had three children. The first born, George, lived to middle age, but his sister, Martha, born 25 December ...

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5 'Invariably the Race Levels Down': Mental Hygiene and Canadian Children

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pp. 71-78

From the earliest years of the movement to improve the health of children, Canadians expressed concern over the effects of what some of them called 'the inexorable law of heredity.'2 In the 1880s, Dr Daniel Clark, medical superintendent of the Asylum for the Insane in Toronto, explained to Canadian Methodists that people inherited their 'moral, intellectual, emotional, affectional qualities and instincts' in the same way and 'even through collateral lives of ancestry' as ...

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6 'How Can We Reach Them?': Making Child Health a Nation-Wide Enterprise

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pp. 79-88

By 1914, a physician or school nurse regularly examined most Canadian children who attended school in the large cities of the nation. Sanitary inspectors made routine visits to school premises. The pupils themselves studied personal health care from interesting and up-to-date textbooks and learned of the wonders wrought by modern bacteriology. In their new domestic science laboratories, older girls discovered and practised a wide range of practical health and nutritional ...

PART III: 'REMOVE THE YOUNG FROM SCHOOLS OF CRIME': Transforming the Treatment of Juvenile Delinquents, 1885-1925

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7 From Reformatory to Family Home: Late-Nineteenth-Century Young Offenders in the Context of Changing Theory and Prevailing Practice

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pp. 91-107

On a cool Saturday evening in September 1887, over two thousand Torontonians and delegates assembled in the Horticultural Pavilion for the first public session of the annual meeting of the National Prison Association of the United States. Many of them had undoubtedly come to hear the address of the association's president, who for this year was the former president of the United States, ...

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8 Towards 'Intelligent and Progressive Legislation for the Prevention of Crime': Preparing the Way for the Juvenile Delinquents Act, 1886-1908

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pp. 108-123

In the years immediately following the Toronto Prison Congress, many English Canadians tried to come to grips with the problem of juvenile delinquency in their society. As part of this task, promoters of family-focused care had to demonstrate the greater efficacy of their approach over more traditional practices. Since their plans for preventing delinquency dovetailed into other aspects of child-centred reform, they found this part of their effort relatively easy to ...

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9 Trying to Make a 'Child into What a Child Should Be': Implementing the Juvenile Delinquents Act, 1908-1925

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pp. 124-151

In her report to the fifth Canadian Conference on Child Welfare in September 1925, Charlotte Whitton boasted of the 'advanced state' of the way that Canada cared for its juvenile delinquents.2 She thus celebrated the fact that, a generation after they had embarked on the task, Canadians had moved a long way towards institutionalizing those ideas on the use of family-centred means of preventing and curing juvenile and adult crime which some had found so novel and so exciting ...

PART IV: THE SCHOOL MUST BE THE AGENT': Using the New Education to Make the New Society

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10 Changing Albert School: The Institutional Context for Education Reform in Canada, 1890-1920

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pp. 155-171

On Monday, 24 June 1889, the last school day before the eight-week summer vacation, the elementary schools of Saint John, New Brunswick, conducted their closing exercises of the first term of the year. While most rural and some urban schools in Canada still customarily centred such affairs around the oral examination of the pupils, the Saint John elementary schools gave a more modern air to ...

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11 'A Very Strong Undercurrent of Dissatisfaction': Setting the Stage for the 'New' Education, 1885-1900

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pp. 172-181

As they gave increasing attention to their children, a growing band of English-speaking Canadians in the 1880s and 1890s came to believe that schools were not doing all they ought to prepare children for the future. Mrs Adelaide Hoodless of Hamilton, Ontario, said that she saw growing in Canada 'a very strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction' with the educational system, 'a sort of unsatisfied want, so vague that its existence ...

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12 'The Common Centre from which Radiated Plans and Labours': The Macdonald-Robertson Movement Demonstrates the New Education to Canadians, 1900-1913

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pp. 182-201

As a product of his growing concern for the learning of farm children and of the difficulties he found in teaching their parents, in 1899 James W. Robertson organized a contest for youngsters to select choice heads of grain from one year's crop to be used as seed in the next. Robertson later explained to the National Education Association that, as commissioner of dairying and agriculture, he had discovered that farm families often failed to appreciate the advantages 'of a plan ...

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13 From Proposals to Policy: The 'New' Education Enters the Main Stream, 1910-1920

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pp. 202-224

In September 1915, the Reverend Edmund H. Oliver, PHD, principal of Presbyterian Theological College in Saskatoon, spoke to the founding meeting of the Saskatchewan Public Education League on 'The Country School in Non-English Speaking Communities.' He argued that the solution to the difficulties he saw arising from such schools did not lie 'in making concessions' but in 'a programme of reform.' Such a program would include larger administrative units, medical inspection, a uniform treatment ...


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14 'Launch a Generation': Organizing to Implement the New Consensus

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pp. 227-241

One of the duties the nation owed its many young men 'doing their bit at the front,' explained Ontario's provincial secretary, W.J. Hanna, to the first meeting of the Civic Improvement League of Canada in January 1916, was 'to make home life ... better worth fighting for, better worth returning to ...'1 To accomplish this worthwhile goal, Hanna insisted that Canadians should pass labour laws that would ensure each child a healthy mother and, if necessary, provide her with ...


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pp. 243-313

Bibliographic Note

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pp. 315-322


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pp. 323-336

E-ISBN-13: 9780889205895
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889203518
Print-ISBN-10: 0889203512

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2000

Series Title: Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada