Download PDF Heavy Burdens on Small Shoulders: The Labour of Pioneer Children on the Canadian Prairies

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Farm life-Prairie Provinces. Review by Thomas F. Based on the foregoing, I argue in this book that although farm children those between four and sixteen did not receive payment or documented recognition for their economic contributions, boys and girls expected, and were expected, to work and did in fact perform essential duties and necessary tasks that contributed to the success of farms and family survival.

In this way, children were in a position similar to that of women in that they worked hard to assist in achieving success, but were treated as economically invisible labour on the farm. In Heavy Burdens , she shows that children, of both sexes, were essential to the success of farms at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries in Western Canada.

Large families were, therefore, more likely to succeed than small ones.

The labour could be quite light, such as caring for livestock, or very heavy, such as helping to clear the land. While today, much of what prairie children were expected to do would be frowned upon, at the time it was considered essential for a proper upbringing. Farm work, in fact, was thought to be more beneficial than a classroom education. Heavy Burdens is a well-researched and documented study which illuminates an important aspect of pioneer life on the prairies.

In many books of this nature, children are rarely, if ever, mentioned. In this book, their contribution to the establishment and survival of farming is the story. Pioneers, given land grants for moving to Canada, were expected to have their farms up and running in three years. Without the help of children, this would have been impossible.

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