Heavy Burdens on Small Shoulders

The phrase "child labour" carries negative undertones in today's society. However, only a century ago on the Canadian Prairies, youngsters laboured alongside their parents' working the land, cleaning stovepipes, and chopping wood. By shouldering their share of the chores, these children learned the domestic and manual labour skills needed for life on a Prairie family farm. Rollings-Magnusson uses historic research, photographs, and personal anecdotes to describe the kinds of work performed by children and how each task fit into the family economy. This book is a vital contribution to western Canadian history as well as family and gender studies.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Front Cover 1
Title Page 4
Copyright 5
Epigraph 6
Contents 8
Preface 10
Acknowledgements 12
1 The Division of Labour in the Family Farming Economy 14
Research Method: A Sociological Analysis of Historical Data 25
A Typology of Children's Labour Contributions to he Operation of Prairie Farms 27
Outline of the Book 30
2 Attitudes toward Child Labour and Children's Assistance in the Pre-production Work 32
The Labour Needs of the Pioneer Family Farm 32
Initial Demands on Children's Labour: Establishing Prairie Farms 39
3 Productive Labour 56
Field Work 57
Livestock Production 66
4 Entrepreneurial Labour 74
Paid Employment 75
Raising Animals for Sale 82
Gopher Bounties and Trapping 87
Sale of Fruit and Other Produce 91
5 Subsistence Labour 94
Obtaining Water 95
Obtaining Fuel 100
Animal Products 104
Hunting and Fishing 106
Gardening and Harvesting Wild Fruits and Vegetables 110
Protection of the Family from Insects and Other Animal Life 115
Protection of the Family from Prairie Fires 117
6 Domestic Labour 124
Gendered Roles 125
Food Preparation 130
Washing Clothes and Making Beds 133
Cleaning the Home and its Contents 135
Sewing, Knitting, Crocheting, and Other Practical Skills 137
Caring for Children 140
7 Conclusion 146
Notes 160
Reference List 170
Index 182