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Regulating Public Space

Judith fingard reveals the seven poverty of the nineteenth century which was worsened by the biting cold that were more deadly than the lack of other necessities. She noted that Irish migrants arriving in the busy parts of the east cost of St. Lawrence during the months of mercantile activity as laborers were much in demand and wages were attractive, were tempted to take a job as day laborers.

However, Fingard pointed out that these migrants were “grossly misinformed about the colonial environment; learned too late that winter employment seldom compensated for winter distress” (p. 67). Thus, migrants along with other less fortunate settlers were the casualties of the biting cold of winter and the exploitation of the employers who took advantage of the situation. Judith Fingard’s main argument as presented in her thesis is the sharp contrast between the wealthy and destitute during winter.

She noted that there is stark contrast “between the amusements of the well-to-do and the privation of the indigent classes” (p. 65), particularly during winter. Fingard focused on the miseries of the colonial settlers and poor Canadians particularly during winter; as the cold was biting yet they did not have enough wood to use for fire and food as these diminished in the market and those available would double or sometimes triple the price making it more difficult for them to buy.

Fingard also discussed on the exploitation of employers for their own narrow advantage; and the poors’ responsibility to prepare during this situation by saving money during the abundance of summer, and the entry of women into the workforce as well as the government action against the horrible condition of poor people during winter an the lack of enough facilities to care for the sick and to provide them warm shelter.

In the article entitled “Regulating Public Space in Early Nineteenth-Century Montreal: Vagrancy Laws and Gender in a Colonial Context” focused much on the Legislation made by the state to solve the existing problem on vagrancy in which women and children were more vulnerable to destitution. These legislations allowed apprehending and punishing any caught vagrants in the city, especially those who were not licensed to beg. However, laws had been subjected to revision or change over time for some reasons such as the role of gender in the society, the economic condition of that time and the state’s intervention in the lives of the poor (pp.

35-36). Indeed, as the author stated, “vagrancy was one such social nuisance demarcated in police regulation that posed problem in the society. MA Poutanen’s main arguments were the plight of vagrant against the bourgeois nations of industry, sobriety, and discipline. The author discussed on the “political crises of the rebellions of 1837 and 1838” (p. 38), that altered the social relations of family, childhood, marriage, community, work and region’ (p. 38). Then proceed on the identifying the vagrants and the problems brought by them.

Poutanen also discussed on the government response on the problem by intensifying police action and establishing institution to control illegal beggars and vagrants” (p. 48), particularly the house of correction and the consequences of vagrancy laws on public behavior, which the author pointed out that these vagrants resorted to commit more misdemeanor for their survival and to ensure incarceration over the winter months. Explain if and how the authors agree on specific arguments or approaches.

There were several points that both authors agree on specific arguments although they were writing on different contexts. Fingard emphasized on the plight of Irish immigrants particularly workers and laborers who were attracted by relatively good wages and plenty of opportunity during the summer months. They migrated to Canada without enough information about how life there was during winter and arriving there badly unprepared for the miserable life situation of the winter months. While Pontanen discussed on the problems of vagrants on the streets.

These vagrants were also Irish who were also unprepared for the winter dilemma in Canada. Though these authors were writing in different subject but they saw the same conditions of poor people during winter months. Both authors emphasized the miseries suffered by poor migrants and settlers as well as Canadians. Fingard did not mention any violent reaction on these miseries but noted that children and adult women were frozen to death and some died of starvation and illness due to extreme cold weather. Poutanen gave accounts too, of women frozen to death and other people who died of starvation.

She cited the case of Kelly in October, 1821, who died of hypothermia and malnutrition. Both authors noticed the lack of sufficient shelter facilities to accommodate those who had not enough capacity to protect themselves from the biting cold of the winter. There may not have much disagreement as both authors were consistent in their views that poverty and exploitation of people were worsened during winter. They were also consistent in their opinion that there were not enough facilities and government action to address the problems of society brought by poverty and worse winter condition.

Their differences if any many not be in their view of opinion but in the approaches of the subject. Fingard dealt with the problem of inadequate supply of precious winter commodities resulting to the miseries of poor settlers and the exploitation that employers had on their employees. Fingard also discussed on the entry of women on the workplace. While MA Poutenen discussed solely on vagrancy and its expression and domination in the public places. Poutenen discussed also on the views of the bourgeois’ public denouncing of these vagrants without looking at conditions of these people.

Many of them died of hypothermia and malnutrition. Thus, I do not notice that they disagree on some issues; rather, in most part of their respective books, they have the same opinion. They had similar views in most of the cases and their only difference as I see it is their subject matter. Explain which article you find most convincing Both articles are really convincing as they were both backed up by testimonials, dates and events, and records of actual cases as this period is quite not too distant from our own time.

Records of history even the oldest one when important technology for keeping records were not yet available, survived and were held intact and convincing, must both authors account of the history of Canada during the 18th hundred. These records I would say was not only documented by one person, and many historians could attest to the reliability of these articles. Both authors have mentioned that people would even force themselves into the prison house in order to escape from freezing winter as they had no way to contend their miseries due to lack of wood to make fire.

Both authors also pointed out the exploitation of he employers for their own narrow advantage. Fingard pointed out that during the winter months, “employed workers found themselves completely at the mercy of employers who took advantage of this surplus, as well as shorter hours to reduce wages for both skilled and unskilled labourers” (p. 68). Poutenen on the other hand, cited a man who was perhaps impatient on the condition he had in his workplace began to turn to alcohol and demanded money from factory owner whom he was working (p. 44).

The issues that the society was facing during that period were not exactly the actions and crimes committed by the individual but the vicious weather and hopelessness of poor people to survive its worst case situation. Both authors have seen this reality and contrasted the prevailing opinion of the public in some cases. Poutanen cited the case of Mary Kelly who died from hypothermia and malnutrition in October 1821. Poutanen noted that “the newspaper editors reporting this death were more outraged by her immoral behavior, living with a man not her husband, than the fact that she died from hypothermia.

Her corpse reduced to the “last meagerness and emancipation” (p. 46). Explain if and how the authors disagree In the first place, the authors were discussing on different subjects, cases and experiences although there was a common condition of life – misery during winter and poverty. However, I would say that Poutanen’s article is more convincing because it is heart breaking and intriguing. This article presented too many people both young and old, men and women, were helpless and hopeless against the fangs of worst condition especially during winter.

These people spent their lives on the street wasting their vigor and potentials on nothing but idleness until they succumb to the merciless freezing weather of winter.

Work Cited

Fingard, Judith. “The Winter’s Tale: The Seasonal Contours on Pre-industrial Poverty in British North America, 1815-1860. ” In the Historical Papers 1974 Communications Historiques Poutanen, MA. “Regulating Public Space in Early Nineteenth-Century Montreal: Vagrancy Laws and Gender in a Colonial Context. ” In the Histoire Sociale/ Social History

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