The Welfare State in Canada: A Selected Bibliography, 1840-1878


246 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 0-88920-114-5




Reviewed by Alexander Craig

Alexander Craig is a freelance journalist in Lennoxville, Quebec.


Social welfare concerns us all. As a consequence, many of us, at one time or another, must find out about specific aspects of its manifold activities and the historical background thereof. The bibliography under review facilitates the search.

A brief introduction (12 pages) is entitled “Social Welfare and Society.” Another chapter is an “Introductory Guide to the Use of the Bibliography.” The index is divided into subject and author, and there are appendices on primary source material in the Public Archives of Canada, on libraries, periodicals, and bibliographies of bibliographies, and a chronology of social welfare legislation.

The bibliography itself is divided into two major parts. The first is concerned with major themes in the development of the welfare state. It’s organized in five sections, as is Part Two of the main bibliography, which looks at the four main groups for whom social welfare policy is designed (those out of work, those who cannot work, “outsiders,” and women, children, and the family), and the final section groups material and policies for maintaining the labour force.

In their introduction the authors admit that it was not possible to annotate the citations or to do a systematic search of papers held in provincial, university, or private archives. Nonetheless, they have obviously done a good deal of work covering vast areas of material, and much has been achieved in giving references to government documents, unpublished academic research, and other material which is often difficult to trace. Much of the government material is briefly summarized. This bibliography should be an indispensable tool for anyone doing research on social welfare policies, past and present, anywhere in Canada.


Moscovitch, Allan, “The Welfare State in Canada: A Selected Bibliography, 1840-1878,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,