Domestic Reforms tells a complicated story of family andwelfare law reform within the context of British Columbia'stransformation from a British colonial enclave to a white settlerCanadian province. It inherited a British legal system that grantedmarried men control over most family property and imposed fewobligations on them toward their wives and children. Yet from the 1860sonward, lawmakers throughout the Anglo-American world, includinglegislators on the Pacific Coast, began to grant women and children newrights. Feminist scholars have long debated the reasons for thesereforms. Why did male legislators choose to depart from patriarchalnorms, enacting laws that eroded husbands' control over propertyand increased their obligations? More important, what were the legaland social consequences?
Chris Clarkson examines three waves of property, inheritance, andmaintenance law reform, arguing that each was related to a broaderpolitical vision intended to precipitate vast social and economiceffects. He analyzes the impact of the legislation, with emphasis onthe ambitions of regulated populations, the influence of the judiciary,and the social and fiscal concerns of generations of legislators andbureaucrats.
Chris Clarkson is a History Professor at Okanagan College.
Part 1: The Yeoman Dream 1. Deserted Wives and Independent Men 2. Married Women, Country Wives, and Destitute Orphans 3. Chivalry and the Democratic Judiciary Part 2: A Vision of Mutualistic Hierarchy 4. Creditors' Rights, the 1887 Married Women's Property Act,and the Emergence of a Liberal Femininity Part 3: 'The Conservation ofChild-Life' 5. Maintaining the 'Hope of the Race': Child-Saving in aConservative Era, 1901-15 6. Child Protection and Women's Equality in the Liberal Era,1916-23 7. Public Policy, Published Decisions, and Police Courts Conclusion Notes; Select Bibliography