Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Poor as a church mouse

Growing up I had heard the expression “You’re going to put me in the poor house!” but I never knew what it meant exactly until I started doing genealogy.  From the records you will see most are women, some old and some with young children.  Perhaps their husband died, or left them, or they didn’t have one to begin with.  Some are men, perhaps old or sick. All of them are there as a last resort! You will see from some of the letters that the conditions were often terrible.  But it wasn’t all bad and the workhouses and poorhouses saved thousands of lives over the years.

The Women's Christian Temperance Union began in the USA in 1873 and within the year spread to Canada and soon to Australia, and other countries. These women believed that alcohol was the root of all evil and they fought for prohibition. Besides alchohol their other issues were women’s sufferage, child labour, and prostitution. You can check at local branches for archived membership books and roll calls. Today they still strive to help people get out of the loop of alchohol and drug abuse.  

pages at McCord Museum website

The McCord Museum in Montreal has a hand written register of over 3000 entries of people who passed through their doors on Dorchester Street in Montreal. The above is a page from their register.



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