I-19926 | "The Newsboy", William McF. Notman, Montreal, QC, 1866

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"The Newsboy", William McF. Notman, Montreal, QC, 1866
William Notman (1826-1891)
1866, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process
25 x 20 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Genre (188) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

The emergence of factories in major towns and cities meant that young working women were out on the streets of the city unescorted and therefore unprotected. Men and women concerned with women's safety or eager to preserve public morality supported restrictive measures aimed at limiting the risk of assault on the streets and injury on the job. Protective labour legislation limited the number of hours per week women could be employed, prohibited them from working after 10 p.m. and restricted the types of jobs they could take.

One of the occupations that fell under this new wave of protective legislation was newspaper selling. Both young and adult women were prohibited from hawking papers on the streets. In Toronto for example, only boys under the age of eight faced the same restriction.

But working women wanted better wages, not increased protection. Lady Drummond, a prominent Montreal citizen who supported working women's rights, argued that protective legislation "would lend countenance to the popular assumption of an inferiority that does not exist."

  • What

    This portrait is titled "The Newsboy."

  • Where

    Notman created scenes such as this one in his studio.

  • When

    This image was made in 1866, one year before Confederation.

  • Who

    Notman's son, William McFarlane Notman, posed for this photograph. It is extremely unlikely he was ever a newsboy himself.