MP-1975.26.25 | Woman standing in a living room, Trois Rivières (?), QC, about 1900

Woman standing in a living room, Trois Rivières (?), QC, about 1900
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
Silver salts on paper
23 x 25.4 cm
Purchase from Mrs. Pomelitto
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  informal (1120) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

"A lady should not venture out upon the street alone after dark," wrote Maud Cooke, the English-Canadian author of a guide to social etiquette. "By so doing, she compromises her dignity, and exposes herself to indignity at the hands of the rougher class."

Women who defied this taboo were often assumed to be prostitutes. In 1886 Toronto's mayor passed a law allowing police to charge any young woman out walking alone at night with vagrancy. Most Canadians felt that young women who defied such conventions were ultimately responsible for any "misfortune" that befell them.

Cooke's warning highlights the enduring myth that a woman is more likely to suffer "indignities"-by which she meant anything from unsolicited verbal comments to physical assault-out on the street and at the hands of "rough" men than she is in her own home, at the hands of men within her own social circle.

Alvin Finkel and Margaret Conrad, History of the Canadian Peoples, 1867 to the Present, Vol. II (Toronto: Addison Wesley Longman, 2002), p. 133.

Source : Straitlaced: Restrictions on Women [Web tour], by Elise Chenier, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    Posing with a walking stick and what appears to be a cigarette in her hand, this woman is ready to venture out for a walk.

  • Where

    This picture was taken by an amateur photographer in or near Trois-Riviéres.

  • When

    The date of the photograph is not known, but judging by the clothing, it was taken sometime in the early 1900s.

  • Who

    The identities of the photographer and of the subject are unknown.