The Cult of Domesticity

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Introduction MP-1977.9.1 I-14013.1 I-22189.1 I-37457 I-28154.1 M2001X.6.59 M4577


Jennifer Salahub, 2003

The period 1840-67 can be characterized as an age of domesticity in the history of Canadian women. This was an era when appearances and material possessions played a major role in establishing a family's social and cultural aspirations. Daughters were educated to be modest and virtuous, and young wives to be industrious and self-sacrificing. Middle-class women were expected to be models of domestic respectability and arbiters of good taste. In theory, women's life was defined by appearances and social conventions. While many adhered to these rules, it will become evident that in urban centres like Montreal, others were creating an identity that served their own needs.