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Canadian Association of Irish Studies Canadian Journal of Irish Studies Sources for Further Research: Irish Female Domestics in Canada: Evidence from the 1901 Census Sample Author(s): Kevin James Source: The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, Irish-Canadian Connections / Les liens irlando-canadiens (Spring, 2005), pp. 86-89 Published by: Canadian Association of Irish Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25515563 Accessed: 18-06-2015 17:26 UTC

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Kevin JAMES

Further

for

Sources

from the

Evidence

servants occupy a prominent place

in studies of female immigration to America and Canada in studies

of

social

as

prevalent

broader

in the

later

of

face

changing

and

economic

social,

domestic

was

intersection

the

what

of

female

domestic

are

the

Table

1

of

the

Place

of Birth of Female

cultural

implications in late-Victorian

service

8 percent

were

servants,

in

greater

number than all of the other districts of the United Kingdom combined (the overall English-born population of Canada in 1901 was 3.8 percent).

servant

Irish

if not,

and,

century

in

gendered

stereotyping1, and the

and migration2, and labour.3 But

ethnicity

gender,

ethnic

a focus

become

have

They

mobility,

work

of

experiences of

century.

Sample

1901 Census

Irishgeneral domestic

the mid-nineteenth

in Canada

Domestics

Female

Irish

Research:

Canada?

preliminary research seeks to locate Irish female domestic servants in Canada in 1901, highlighting the utility

1901 Census

Servants

and Maids

(n.=4,281)

Sample

This of

one

of

continuing

These the

opened

and

social

demographic,

of

with

detailed

domestic

on

draws

research

a national

in Canada

service

samples into

Place of BirthPercent Canada

78.7

Ontario

have

studies

Nova

which

girls

servants

Irish-born

place

alongside at the service

can more

in domestic

engaged in turn

women

other turn

of

can our of advance the help understanding in Canada, Irish migrant and the experiences ethnic of the largest recorded female changing complexion most of the nineteenth and category occupational through centuries. early-twentieth

This

character

of

Considerable

are noticeable

1870s.7 There

proportion from

grouping. numbers

records

sample of

Ireland

on

data

following from the 4,281

percent

and

patterns

immigration

paid

domestic

female

servants

data were

suggest

second-largest 4 percent of

that

in 1901, most

largest those

the

recorded

in domestic

86 JAMES

Irish Female Domestics

2.2 percent

service

were

U.K.

of

immigrant

the English,

0.1

"Keewatin"

0.02

"Canada"

1.7

8.4

England Ireland

3.9

2.2

Scodand U.S.A.

2.0

Newfoundland

0.9 0.7

Germany Iceland

0.6

Other*

2.2

0.3

Unknown/Illegible/None * In no

case

is any birth

than 0.4 percent

While

who

domestic

of

in this category

place the sample.

claimed

more

by

female

work

the Irish-born clearly did not predominate such

service,

occupation those who

none-Canadian-born

represented

substantial

North-West

Alberta

in the 5 the

their total, sample were double 1.9 percent the of the country's that was Irish-born. 1.6 percent Scots, who were

population of the population domestics. The

1.2 0.1

are drawn

servants

Canadian-born:

the

about

service

in Canada.

servants

female

of

female

the

in the complexion

conditions

Irish-born

1901.8 The

to

reflect broader changes in

economic

from

were

At

been

changes

in 1901 which

of the workforce The

already

level of Irish females in domestic

disproportionate in the

has

attention

0.2

Manitoba

and

the century.

5.3

2.0

British Colunbia

closely examine a trend which Marilyn Barber identified as the disappearance of the Irish Bridget by the Great War6 and

Brunswick

P.E.I.

reconstruct

we

So doing,

8.1

Scotia

New

service in 1871,4 to

39.2 21.1

Quebec

the

nineteenth

urban

sample

in 1901.5

(and

are

of Canadian

inquiries of history

have illuminated Canadian urban domestic this

been

micro-data

economic

In contrast

Canada.

have

by a consortium

public-use to a range

door

that

samples

to be) developed

universities.

century

census

several

related

for

to

of such workers was

sample lower than

Irish-born an

recorded

was

work

the

females. occupation household

personal

principal 34.7

Indeed, in the

The

higher those who

that

were

of

Scottish-born

born

cohort at over

inCanada

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in

England

some

proportion

in the Irish-born female population than

of

percent listed

sample

service.

in

recorded

females, and

in the but

inWales.9

2

Table

a

as

Servants

Various

of

Proportion

of the U.K.,

Countries

Country of Birth

45

England Ireland Scodand over

#

Females

Wales

Just

half

Female

of

Immigrants

1901 Census

Sample

Servants per 100

of Servants

English Irish 21.1

24.0

Scottish

17.5

6.5

1,902

4.9 were

Catholic,

followed by Episcopalians and Presbyterians. This is further evidence that the stereotype of the Irish Catholic "biddy" which dominates American scholarship cannot easily be to

applied shown Irish

that

the

periodisation related differences

Irish

of

experience

features

Irish

have

the Canadian of

America's The

century.

to the two

immigrants,

two

does

not,

dominated by

Table 3 of

Irish-born

Female

Proportion of Female Servant (%)

in the

servant

domestic

was

Irish

by "tribal

female or

servants,

racial"

outnumbered

there was though servants who

colleagues, Canadian-born

claimed Irish ethnic origins. Indeed, English

origins were followed

by

origin.

4

Ethnic

Origins of Female Servants 1901 Census Sample (n.=4,281)

6.1

Other*

4.6

service

domestic

and Maids

Irish-born

if we analyse (1) and

life-cycle

links

and

this

centuries. There early-twentieth the age structure of immigrant domestic

paid and

ageing,

was

period

in

labour

were

in Canada

and between

the Irish a very

expressing the

raising

population

living and working

immigrants and the Irish from

arrived

emigrant marked of

domestic

life-cycle,

Irish-born

young

ports

service women

by the markedly servants,

English-born

for

Irish-born

especially

as

on

their

of

to 25,692

historically

a much

Scots

linked

smaller

pool fell. This is

numbers

higher average ages of in

total

Between

female domestic

compared

drew

in the

points

proportion to Canada.

Kingdom

54,396 English

at ocean

the

at other

than

a smaller

the United

during

preference

in Canada. Overall numbers

lower

were

for instance,

1904-14, servants

age

were

the Irish-born cohort

structure

America,12

Irish

service:11

Irish

to Canadian

comparison

counterparts:

6

of Domestic Average Ages of Birth, Places By Selected

Country

Servants 1901

(n.=4,258)

AverageAge

Ireland 42 Scotland

35

U.S.A.

29

England Canada

30 27

Wales

27 Other1 24 Newfoundland

23

Percent

28.3 English French 22.0 Irish Scottish 16.6 German

later-nineteenth strong

and

and English-born by Canadiana much of higher proportion

Only those records with ages recorded have been calculated in these averages. * The "other those servants and maids for category" comprises a whom place of birth was specified.

21.2

in domestic service was Employment historically highly correlated to age, with periods of such paid work usually

1.2

Unknown/Illegible/None** *

paid

between

of

position

sample.

amongst females of all ethnic origins and places of birth; and (2) the broader contours of Irish irnrnigration to Canada

Table

claimed

the

than 0.83%of

the relationship

to

1.2

commonly and then French,

to understand

begin

more

service workforce

0.6

most

by

females in the domestic

confirmed

female

claimed

and only 8,983 Irish.13As an occupation

0.6

(Race/Tribe"

can

We

domestic

Irish-born

Table

* In no case is any one origin

of

Movement

1.3

Unknown/Illegible/None

immigrants

1.8

Congregationalist

The

2.9

century,

Presbyterian 13.0 Methodist 7.1

Quaker

Other*

Servants

(n.=169)

Sample

Denomination Roman Catholic 53.8 Church of England 21.9

Holiness

6.0

of

1901 Census

Baptist

German

cohorts

scholarship.

Denominations

27.1

were

populations.10

servants

a historiography

and

countries,

for

regions in the

immigrant

therefore, fit neady within American

of that

nineteenth

immigration in source

to distinctive

contributed

the

studies

Indeed

complexion contrasted with in

points of

The

confessional cohort

immigrant at many

Irish

Canada.

turn-of-the-century

Servants & Maids

Percent

8.6

94 servants

"

'RaceI Tribe French

4,206 2,591

Irish-born

Table 5 Ethnic Origins of Can.-born Female 1901 Census Sample (n.= 3,371)

offemale pop.

817.8 361 169

the

from

In no case is any one origin claimed ** one "FRE Includes (SCOT)"

by more

preceding than

.07% of

marriage.

After

marriage

many

women

withdrew

sample CJIS/RCfil

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31:1 87

service. In 1901, 86.6 percent of the

from paid domestic of

sample

and

widowed,

6 percent

was

servants

domestic

female

married.14

7.2 percent single, the Irish a much

Amongst

(17.9 percent) and high proportion were both widowed married (10.7 percent). As Irish immigration to Canada slowed, the bulk of women who had participated in domestic in their

earlier

service and were

not

from

Irish-born

by replaced Irish-born females

Those

numbers.

lives had withdrawn

such work, in

immigrants

who

remained

in domestic

employment were drawn in relatively high proportions women

in more

Table

advanced

the

of

stages

equal

from

life-cycle.

7

1st Quartile 1864 1881

Median 1883 1890

England

1884

1890

of records which

The

number

291

for England

3rdQuartile 1892 1896

this data was

1 See, for instance, Maureen of the Irish Servant Girl

and Biddy: 1880-1890"

Murphy, "Bridget in Puck Cartoons,

on the Irish ed. Charles Perspectives Diaspora, Fanning Southern Illinois University 152-75. Press, 2000), Barber's

have

studies in Canada.

service

illuminated

See,

for

in Canada

Servants

(Ottawa: Canadian Ontario Welcomed:

"The Women

Images in New

(Carbondale:

the

of experience Immigrant Domestic

instance,

Historical

Association,

1991); for

Domestics

Immigrant

Ontario

in The Neglected Majority: Essays in Homes, 1870-1930," Canadian Women's History no\. 2, eds. Alison Prentice and Susan Mann Trofimenkoff and Stewart 102-21; (Toronto: McClelland 1987),

for British Girls, inLooking intoMy Sisters 1900-30" "Sunny Ontario inWomen's History, ed. Jean Burnet (Toronto: Eyes: An Exploration Multicultural of Ontario, "The 55-73; History 1986), Society Women Ontario Welcomed: Domestics for Ontario Immigrant

1896

included

I am grateful for the Ireland-Canada Foundation's University support of this research, and to Dr. Kris Inwood and team members in the 1891 census digitisation of Guelph project at the University for advice on this piece. Data in this analysis is drawn from the 1901 census Families Project. by The Canadian sample developed

2 Marilyn domestic

Quartiles forYear of Immigration of Female Servants and Maids from Ireland, Scotland and England, 1901 Census Country Ireland Scodand

Notes:

117 for Ireland,

Homes,

Ontario History,

1870-1930,"

Lorna

and 69 for Scodand.

R. McLean

and Marilyn

Barber,

72:3

(1980): "In Search

148-72.

See also

of Comfort

and

Irish Immigrant Domestic Servants Encounter the inNineteenth-Century in Sisters Courts, Jails, and Asylums Ontario," or Strangers? Immigrant, Ethnic, andRaciaUyed Women in Canadian History, Independence:

There are a number of agenda for which census

of

exploration to what extent were

overall

this preliminary

a foundation.

data features

provides of the domestic

One

servant

asks cohort

to

influences. We know that immigrant regional as we move the different westward15; given of in the Canada's composition population regions,

subject

numbers

increased

ethnic

we might find that the Irish-born occupy different positions in workforces.16 regional servants had a propensity constituted

they

5.8

of

populations

1,000

We

also

to work

that

while

Irish-born

centres:

servants

of

percent or more,

know in urban

in 1901,

in centres

with servants

Canadian-born

stood at 74.3 percent. The varied complexion of populations and

domestic

service

in

workforces

these

diverse

us that the study of such servants' work a of a "Canadian" narrative homogenizing experience. are also to draw and contrasts interesting comparisons

environments resists There with

remind

servants

domestic

America: States

as Australia in places such and to the United female immigration

Irish certainly remained much higher

affording opportunities there is a set of Last,

in the

for

later nineteenth

cultural

and

social

century,

study with

comparative

around the dissolution of the Irish biddy as the archetype of service. Did domestic immigrant contemporaries recognize the of the workforce, and did images changing complexion and discourses that surrounded servant the Irish girl, and servants domestic The generally, change? pronounced

contrast between servants have

which

examined

now

be

these

Claudette Barber, Marilyn in earlier decades and

in Canada

numbers

explored

place

by

the turn

using

of

birth,

of

new

this us

It allows

questions.

between

the high proportions

to

ethnicity,

the

of

structures

in years

of

base

empirical

declining

Minister

of

and others

Ontario,

1850-1930,

Irish Female Domestics

in Canada

(Toronto:

Shepard 71-125. 3

In histories

debates

of

have

to answer

the

relationship and work and will

Irish

and Canadian immigration.

in Canada,

1987).

See

also Genevieve in Women

1880-1920,"

eds. Janice Acton, Penny Goldsmith Canadian Women's Educational

Irish

revolved

servants immigrant around motivations

Leslie, and Work:

and Bonnie Press,

in the United behind

1974),

States,

key

independent whether the

female migration and paid domestic was motive great economic primary

labour, especially and promise of independence Erin's Daughters inAmerica: Irish Immigrant

(Hasia R. Diner, prosperity Women in theNineteenth Century

Press, [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Ourselves 1983]) or expanded marriage opportunities (Janet Nolan, Alone: Women's Emigration 1885-1920 from Ireland, [Lexington: Press of Kentucky, are debates University 1989]). These neady summarised Kelleher,

in Kerby '"For Love

A. Miller, with David N. and Patricia Doyle and Liberty': Irish Women, and Migration

in Ireland and America, in The Irish World 1815-1920," Domesticity Wide: History, Heritage, Identity, vol. 4, Irish Women and Irish Migration, ed. Patrick O'Sullivan Press, 1995), (Leicester: Leicester University 41-65. of

Diane

M. Hotten-Somers

domestic

service

to

has proposed between relationships

to extend mistress

the study and maid

and how these operated within of powerful gender ideologies see "Moral Maids and Materialistic Mistresses: Irish domesticity; Domestic Servants and their American in 1850-1920," Employers, Walsh

Oonagh

Politics (Dublin:

and Professions Four Courts

in theNineteenth Press

2003),

Century, 108-118.

ed.

4

See Marilyn Barber's studies above; Lacelle, op. cit:,Courtney Harris, "Irish Women in Mid-Nineteenth Toronto: Century Image and of Guelph. thesis, University Experience" (unpublished M.A. 1999). 5 The

Canadian

Baskerville 88 JAMES

the Environment, Service

"Domestic

Ireland Abroad:

yield new insight into female immigration labour

Irish

modest relatively can twentieth century

examine gender

female

Lacelle

and Frances Swyripa (Toronto: Epp, Franca Iacovetta of Toronto Press, 2004), 133-60. Early works which drew University on local urban census from 1871 included Claudette manuscripts Urban Domestic Servants in 19th-century Canada Lacelle, (Ottawa:

Canada.

that revolve

questions

eds. Marlene

microdata

Families headed Project by Eric at the of Victoria have University enumeration sample from the Canadian

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Sager

and Peter

developed of 1901.

this

6 Barber,

Immigrant Domestic

in Canada,

Servants

11

9.

See B. W.

Melbourne 7 Lacelle, 8 This

op. cit., 76-7.

12 See Eric

data uses

the occupational by the Canadian coding developed in team to identify in Canada those engaged Project with all in Households": records Service hence,

Families "Personal

codes

occupational

beginning

with

"614"

are

employed

in this

survey. 9 At

sample profile

the number

45,

of

is low. Without

females more

returned

robust

of Canada's Welsh-born

10 See, for instance, and Canadian of Toronto

Cecil

J.Houston

Settlement Patterns, Links, Press,

^^^^^^^^^^L*

data,

population

as Welsh-born conclusions

in this about

J(Bl |y^TSi|jB^^^^^^^^^^B[

"A group of Irish maids."

Britannia's

2004),

13 Barber,

and Ireland

since

remainder

status,

recorded.

(Melbourne:

58.

Children: 1600

Emigration from England, Hambledon and

(London:

210-14.

Immigrant Domestic

14 The

15 Barber,

Smyth, Irish Emigration andEetters (Toronto: University

1990).

Richards,

in Australia

Service

2002),

of

in Canada,

Servants

the 4,281

females

had

2.

another,

or no, marital

the

are tenuous.

and WJ.

Press,

Scotland, Wales London,

Domestic

Higman,

University

16 Higman, proportion nineteenth-

Immigrant Domestic

Servants

in Canada,

8

in the variations regional op. cit., found significant servants the domestic of Australian-born throughout and early-twentieth

^^^^^m

From Hasia Diner's Erin's Daughters

centuries

Hill

of America

(61-3).

^H -r-*^iS^8ll^^^^^^^^^^^Bfc__

(1983), 87.

CJIS/RC?l31:l

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89