Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Michael Gauvreau
"On Common Ground: Voluntary Associations and the Construction of Community in Central Canada, 1840-1900" examines the formulation of a clearly articulated ethos of community found in the Victorian voluntary association movement. Although forged in a crucible of intersecting value systems, beliefs and identities, certain ideological principles and assumptions about the meaning of "community" surfaced that were common to all social classes and intersects in the nineteenth century. While at times a rather vague ideology, the community ethos enabled a rather convoluted and unclassifiable occupational structure of early to mid-Victorian Canada to resemble a unified and harmonious whole. On the surface, it was the promotion of this community ethos within such organizations as Mechanics' Institutes, agricultural societies, fraternal orders and temperance societies that enabled a colonial society in a state of flux to achieve a sense of cultural identity. While largely successful in creating this aura of community within voluntary associations, in many respects the inclusive nature of these societies were simply illusory as they only camouflaged social, economic and political conflicts simmering just under the surface. Due to the proliferation of these associations in both the urban and the rural environment, the intersection of class, religious, political and gender issues made complete cultural consent over the nature of "community" simply impossible. Exposing the fissures in a society that had always barely concealed the class, gender and racial dissonance lurking underneath a consensual exterior, the resulting chaos in turn of the century Canada illustrates just how fragile was the "constructed" social order of the community in the Victorian age.
Ferry, Darren, "On Common Ground: Voluntary Associations and the Construction of Community in Central Canada, 1840-1900" (2003). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 833.