Evangelical Social Work in Canada: Salvationists and Sailors’ Friends, 1890-1920

  • Judith Fingard

Abstract

In nineteenth-century Canada, social experiments aimed at rescuing or protecting the weaker members of the lower orders came in all shapes and sizes. Zealous individuals and indigenous societies opened institutions and launched programmes of relief and rescue, ranging from houses of industry to soup kitchens, from the Young Men’s Charitable Firewood Society in Quebec, designed to provide fuel for the poor in winter, to the Halifax Infants’ Home, dedicated to the eradication of baby farming and infanticide. These ventures drew heavily on the voluntary forces of religious philanthropy directed at alleviating intractable human problems that plagued urban society, particularly those involving outcasts like public prostitutes and rowdy seafarers whose behaviour offended the middle-class sense of moral order. For all their worthy aims, such undertakings were usually rewarded with failure: down-and-outs and transients stubbornly preferred their customary means of survival. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, evangelical social work re-emerged, charged with a new fervour and blessed with more apparent success. Despite the persistence of the religious inspiration, changed circumstances enabled evangelical agencies to play an important role: they bridged the transition from the amateur, voluntary, religious, casual social work of the nineteenth century to the emergent practices of the twentieth century: professional, state-supported, secular, scientific.

Keywords

Europe Steam Shipping Liner Burial 

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NOTES

  1. 1.
    For their antecedents see J. Fingard, ‘Masters and Friends, Crimps and Abstainers: Agents of Control in 19th Century Sailortown’, Acadienis, VIII (1978–79), pp. 22–46; Jack in Port: Sailortowns of Eastern Canada (Toronto, 1982), chapter 5.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© D. C. M. Platt 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Fingard

There are no affiliations available

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