lower canada: society, politics, and economy to 1837

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28 Feb 2011
Lower Canada: Society, Politics, And Economy to 1837
I. Economic Challenge and Change
Urban context:
Disparities in wealth: most workers were unskilled, and poor in the early 19th C.
Many, spent upwards of half their income on food (most basic of human
necessities). This is evidence of . Women are working in large numbers. For
example, in 1825, 25% of women were working as domestic servants,
laundresses. This complimented the income obtained by the men, whom were
primary breadwinners. The significance is that the number of women working
was quite high.
Separate spheres ideology: in theory, held that the public domain in things like
politics and business were for men (naturally well suited). Women by contrast,
participated in the private sphere of the home (child birth, and domestic
responsibilities). Over the course of the 19th C, this ideology crystallizes and
becomes a model for middle class people. There are always exceptions for this
ideology. Much middle class people would hold up this ideal, but many women
would need to work because of their state of poverty.
Diseases such as cholera ran rapid. Caused by severe hydration, which resulted in
an excruciating death.
‘chateau clique’: members of business elite which include influential politicians
and civil servants. Called this, because they spent a lot of time socializing in the
home of the Governor. English speaking
Rural context:
A vast majority of French population live in rural communities where they exist
as small-scale farmers.
Standards of living and agricultural productivity get worse as the 19th C unfolds
for three reasons: fields of lower Canada had been intensely cultivated for more
than 150 years (exhaustion of soil), they tended to be conservative in terms of
their practice and did not engage in crop rotation, and burdens (imposed on
farmers by local seigeurs and thye). As a result, they have no choice but to exploit
their land all the time, and standards of living decline.
1851: average upper Canadian farmers were twice as productive as its lower
Canadian counter-part. It also was 4 times more valuable
Because of this decline, it became extremely difficult for average Canadian
farmer to purchase more land.
As a result, there is subdivision of individual seigneuries, so a younger division of
farmers could occupy the other part. As a result, it becomes more difficult to grow
larger volumes of productivity
There is an increasing frustration by these economic and agricultural
circumstances. They resent the seigneurs, and the arrival of new English speaking
people. They are wealthier, and are able to obtain the lands that the French
Canadians are unable to obtain for themselves.
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