Growing Up

Growing Up: Childhood in English Canada from the Great War to the Age of Television

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Growing Up
    Book Description:

    By laying out the structure of children's lives and their childhood experiences in such settings as the home, the classroom, the church, and on streets and in the playground, the author describes how English-Canadian children grew up in 'modern' Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7552-0
    Subjects: Education
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments (pp. xvii-2)
  5. 1 Listening to the Winds of Childhood (pp. 3-23)

    A woman born in Vancouver in 1941 recalled that her merchant-seaman father died during the Second World War, as did her maternal grandfather a year and a half later. She remembered, ‘as a child going to school... sometimes I would worry ... not sometimes but a lot, that something would happen to my grandmother. Everybody seemed to be ... leaving.’ Since her widowed mother went out to work, the woman’s maternal grandmother lived with them and looked after the house, staying on even after her mother remarried. ‘If I wanted to talk to anybody I would go to my grandmother...

  6. 2 Children in Their Families: Contexts and Settings (pp. 24-47)

    The men and women who people this book lived their childhoods in the context of the great events of their times. They also lived them in the physical settings of their homes and neighbourhoods, and the emotional setting provided by their parents. Some grew up in the aftermath of the Great War and the influenza epidemic, and the unevenly distributed prosperity of the 1920s. Others spent childhoods menaced by the Depression or the Second World War. Still others began their lives in the era of relative affluence that followed that war. Since this book focuses on a decade or a...

  7. 3 Children in Their Families: Relationships and Identities (pp. 48-72)

    In a recent essay summarizing three decades of research on the history of the family, American historian Tamara K. Hareven explained ‘that the modern family is privatized, nuclear, domestic, and based on the emotional bonding between husband and wife and between parents and children.’¹ The families of those who described their childhoods for this study also fulfilled the objective characteristics – ‘privatized, nuclear, domestic’ – laid out in this description.

    One must emphasize, however, that the ‘emotional bonding’ of families ranged along a spectrum from love to hate. The family of the man who reported that ‘I accepted what my...

  8. 4 Children in Their Families: Using and Abusing Parental Powers (pp. 73-95)

    As dynamic entities, families actively undertook important as well as trivial activities for and with their youngsters. This chapter explores the children’s perspective as to how their families carried out two important tasks that social convention assigned to them. First, families directed or helped their children to set life goals for themselves and to acquire the appropriate training and education necessary to achieve them. Second, families taught their children the behaviours they (and the community) considered appropriate to their age and status. Although siblings and the extended family played some role in each activity, parents assumed the primary responsibility.


  9. 5 Children in a Wider Environment of Care (pp. 96-112)

    Children lived in extended as well as nuclear families. Indeed, many people’s most cherished memories – discussed in a later chapter – are of events that took place in their extended families. Especially at times of crisis, many children also found in step-parents or in other relatives an additional measure of the sort of physical and emotional nourishment customarily provided by their parents. Other youngsters had to look for support to neighbours, to foster parents, or to fellow inmates and staff members of the institutions in which they spent some or much of their lives. In this regard, recent autobiographical...

  10. 6 The Paid and Unpaid Work of Urban Children (pp. 113-141)

    Whatever else they did as they grew up, most children spent some of their waking hours working. However, historians examining the topic of children at work focused on efforts to control or prevent the most visibly exploitive forms of child labour. Traditional accounts of child labour give little attention to the place that work itself played in the life course of boys and girls in all social classes. This chapter and the next examine how work crafted much of the lives of both urban and rural youngsters.

    Recently some historians have looked at the ways in which families interwove the...

  11. 7 The Working Lives of the Children of Modern Pioneers (pp. 142-167)

    From the time the apothecary Louis Hébert, his wife, Marie Rollet, and their three children began to cultivate land in New France until the present day, children have played a central role in pioneering in Canada.¹ This chapter describes how work permeated the lives of children growing up in a modern pioneering community. It shows how, like their urban counterparts, rural families tried to integrate new notions with traditional practices. It begins by outlining the daily round of chores, moves on to discuss ‘the greater circle of the seasons’ tasks,’ and then considers two sorts of work – house and...

  12. 8 Children in Their Families: Special Occasions (pp. 168-185)

    No account of children’s experiences within families would be complete without reference to those special, sometimes cherished moments, events, and occasions that still stand out vividly in adult memories. ‘Those were,’ as one woman put it, ‘the best things, the little things.’ Many such special memories have a strong emotional dimension, binding children to their parents, grandparents, and other family members. Most grew out of the homely, routine scripts of daily life. ‘I used to go to meet my father as he came off shift,’ reported a man who grew up in Coleman, Alberta. ‘Dad came out of the mine...

  13. 9 Children in ‘Formalist’ Schools (pp. 186-219)

    Of the three central elements in adult memories of childhood – family, friends, and school – those of school display the greatest amount of consistency from one person to the next. Whether as children they loved, hated, or were indifferent to school, they described in interviews and memoirs a structure and set of classroom scripts that, over the whole of these years, were characterized by a remarkable degree of similarity from school to school, from place to place, and from public to separate and parochial systems. That structure, in turn, was a product of a mode of thinking about schooling...

  14. 10 Children in the Culture of Childhood (pp. 220-253)

    Imagine the playground of a Vancouver school as it was on a dry October morning sometime between the 1920s and the 1960s.¹ In the few minutes before the bell rang for the first time, it became a noisy, and overwhelmingly physical, scene that could be heard for a couple of blocks in all directions.² Most boys in the upper grades had assembled on the boys’ field. Some raced after the soccer ball, trying, as they said, to get a ‘kick in.’ Sometimes a group of the older boys tried to keep the ball to themselves, passing it within a tight...

  15. 11 Conclusion: Continuity and Change in the Lives of Children (pp. 254-266)

    In the Preface I described how this book followed on fromChildren in English-Canadian Society. As I came to the end of it, I began to reflect on what I had learned from writing both volumes, and also from my research on the period since the 1950s. In consequence, I decided to extend this final chapter both backward and forward in time from the rest of the book’s contents. In this conclusion, I comment on the present condition of English-Canadian children in the light of continuities and changes in childhood over the years from the concluding decades of the nineteenth...

  16. Notes (pp. 267-316)
  17. Photo Credits (pp. 317-318)
  18. Index (pp. 319-327)


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