Households of Faith: Family, Gender, and Community in Canada, 1760-1969


381 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-7735-2271-9
DDC 261.8'3585'0971




Edited by Nancy Christie
Reviewed by Karen F. Danielson

Karen Danielson, Ph.D., is a research consultant at Laurentian
University who specializes in leisure, textiles, family life, and Japan.


Households of Faith is as important for contributing to the history of
daily life in Canada as it is for contributing to the history of
religion in Canada. It provides well-researched information about
patriarchy, family, gender, and individualism in Canadian religious
communities. The 11 contributors report on a wide range of topics and
cover a 200-year period when organized religion was a significant aspect
of daily living.

Old church documents reveal the importance of family and children in
the 19th century and they also reveal the ways women contributed to
social welfare and community life. One article describes 18th-century
Quebec where community-based rituals and mass confessions were the norm.
The persistence of traditional forms of kinship and culture among the
Tsimshian in British Columbia is recorded in another article. A couple
of contributors have searched through old records to discover why people
might have changed from one religion to another.

Although the articles cover a wide range, the ways people adapted to
their situation is a common theme. Often these adaptations were not
understood by church officials of the time. The contributors offer
explanations that reveal both the complexity of these changing
situations and the challenges faced by officials as they tried to
provide meaningful guidance to community members. Italian immigrants
attended church infrequently because of their work but also because they
satisfied their needs by maintaining ties to the festivals in the
communities of their birth. Fatherhood became an issue as activities
outside the home increasingly drew parents away from Protestant families
in the 1920s. Personal fulfilment became a priority in the Quebec
marriage preparation movement of 1940–66. Privatization of family life
was recognized in the United Church as secularization and the welfare
state freed families from traditional responsibilities.

The editor concludes that patriarchal relations persisted throughout
this period. She also notes that communal relationships were maintained
not because they were imposed from above but because they met the needs
of the people.


“Households of Faith: Family, Gender, and Community in Canada, 1760-1969,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 15, 2024,